1. Don’t drag your purchases around with you.
I didn’t know for years that there is actually a cloak room area in the main hall where you can leave your purchases and collect them when you are leaving, all for a small fee. For years I was the plank walking around, wide as I am high with shopping, sweating buckets with bag handles cutting the circulation off from my fingers while other shoppers bashed into me. The other upside to the cloak room is that once free from your earlier purchases, you forget how much you already bought and can go do it all again. Your welcome!
2. Know your kryptonite.
Mine is jackets. Brown jackets or waterproof jackets, they are like crack to me. That and fancy saddle pads, anything sheepskin and expensive looking, Italian leather and exotic grooming supplies. Once you know your weaknesses you have some hope of defending yourself against your natural impulse buys. It is worth going through what you already have at home before going to the horse show so that you will remember how may of these attractive items you already own. This is coming from a girl who has a ‘favourite’ scissors.
3. Bring someone to ‘shop block’ you
Shop blocking is a bit like cock blocking. Sometimes you just need a well intentioned friend to stop you from getting what you think you want. One of mines programmed to repeat ‘put the jacket down’, ‘that doesn’t fit you just like the look of it’ and ‘you already have one of those’ at regular intervals.
4. Know your dimensions to score the best bargains
The key to this is knowing your size – not just your clothing size but the dimensions of your body parts. For example I have very short legs, tiny calves, big feet, a small waist, longish arms and skinny shoulders. For me this means that finding long boots to fit me is always a challenge as anything that fits on the foot is too long or wide and anything that fits on the leg will be too small on the foot. With that in mind, if I find nice long boots to fit me I will buy them because I have limited choice. Likewise I spent my life trying to find maids show jackets as the adult ones are big on the shoulder but the kids too long on the arm. On the other hand, buying kids jodhpurs saves me a fortune, I have found amazing bargains in narrow half chaps and most shirts and t shirts will fit true to size so I look out for these items in sales and at the horse show. If you can understand the dimensions of your body and how this translates to sizing you can work out what you can afford to try and find a bargain in and what you need to be more concerned about fit than price in. If you are an unusual size in something you can get lucky as these sizes will often be reduced as they haven’t sold.
5. Know your horses size
Sounds like an obvious one but know your horse or ponies rug and girth size in inches and cm, their bridle and head collar size and how they fit in a boot. With many stands travelling from abroad you may not be able to return incorrectly sized items after the show. With horses, like humans, the sizes at either end of the scale are often those on sale too.
6. Your credit card and the champagne bar are not friends
If you are going to be drinking, be wary of shopping. What looks fantastic after a long stint in the long bar might not look so good the next day. At this point your shop blocking friend can often come in handy. Personally, my credit card stays at home for my own financial safety.
7. Make a list
Don’t panic, I am not suggestion you try to stick to it or anything – we both know that won’t happen. Make a long list of things you want to buy. I’d suggest to make it vague enough and break down into things you really need, things you want but don’t need and things you would buy if binge spending your wages on horses didn’t have consequences. Your list serves a few purposes. First, it allows you to make sure you remember to pick up your essentials. Secondly, if anyone does challenge a purchase, point out that it is on the list – to be honest they will be so shocked you had a list in the first place that this will usually silence them.
8. Remember the holy trinity of shopping
If its waterproof, vintage or a genuine (more than 20% off) bargain or all three then you would be mad to leave it there.
9. Learn to read sellers faces
Some will be happy to bargain if you are spending a significant amount. Some will want to kill you in the face if you start mentioning discounts. Learning to pick up on this will save a lot of drama. Also, it can be worth hovering around a stand listening to the other sales going on – this will give you an idea of whether the sellers are bargaining with other buyers or not. Whatever you do, don’t be the person looking for a discount because they are spending €20, no one likes that person.
10. Layer Up
As its Irish Summer outside it will usually be raining, cold or both. Inside, where the crowds surge about, it will be roasting. Layer up so that you can remove clothing easily when inside and replace outside. Avoid heavy coats and scarves inside unless you want to end up feeling like a cooked chicken.
11. Avoid the enabler
This is often a well meaning but misguided friend, your mother (thanks mam), other shoppers or the sellers themselves. These people will convince you that every item looks amazing, you should buy one in every colour, buy a few more to get a discount and worry about the price later because it was a bargain and you are worth it and life is too short to put things back. That’s all fine but bear in mind they are not paying for any of it so afterwards you will probably end up living on noodles and coins found in the couch cushions until pay day.
12. If all else fails…..
“What, this?” “It’s not new, i’ve had this for AGES, god you are SO unobservant!!”