Aim for the classics - top bargain fashion buys in the sales this week

The sales bargains are calling. Fashion Editor Stephanie Smith has advice on what to look out for on the high street and online, plus top picks.

Melody Satin Silk Liberty Shirt, was £89, now £69, at Cordings in Harrogate and

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (altogether now) – summer sales time. The sun is shining and the shops are open for bargain business. Who could ask for anything more?

It’s all too easy to go mad in the sales, “investing” in wholly unsuitable items simply because they are reduced to astonishingly low prices (I have the evidence in the form of a large box under my bed, crammed with party shoes, little jackets, maxi skirts, sundresses, all unworn and ready for eBay).

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There is, of course, a great deal of summer stock being shifted right now – crop tops, Bardot tops, bright swimwear, some embellished midis – which comes at a handy time for those of us off on holiday somewhere hot or with special events to go to, but with nothing previously unseen and suitable to wear to them.

Butterfly series trapeze dress, was £229, now £114, from Jigsaw.

Keep an eye open for brilliant bargains, but not at any cost. Spend on quality, on those items and pieces you really want and need, the classics and the essentials... and then maybe the odd piece that you simply have to have.

This is where traditional and mid to high-end fashion brands really come into their own, providing hard-working essentials and capsule wardrobe builders at affordable prices.

Check out Cordings, the countrywear outfitters whose joint MD is Eric Clapton (yes, really). It has a beautiful shop on Parliament Street in Harrogate but also has a great online store. You’ll find classic tailored jackets in tweed, bouclé and other fabrics, beautiful shirts to wear all year round, plus light layering knits perfect for looking towards autumn, too.

I have my eye on this satin silk Liberty print shirt, was £89, now £69, which has a gorgeously quirky but grown-up floral print, with yellow-gold flowers popping against a rich, dark backdrop. Pair it with dark velvet jeans (also in the Cordings sale, down from £99 to £69) or a swishy skirt and heels for a striking and sophisticated night-time look.

Blue check suit jacket, was £38, now £14; ankle grazer tailored fit trousers, was £22, now £15.40, both from Dorothy Perkins

Whistles, meanwhile, has an amazing sale on right now, and keeps adding to it all the time. There are loads of sizes left. My top picks include a navy spot flocked sweat dress, was £99, now £49; a lilac devoré blouse, was £149, now £44; and lots of accessories.

Jigsaw has lovely linens and some light knits, ideal for the coming autumn and winter. The print dress featured here is unusual and striking, but it’s in monochrome with a splash of blue so unlikely to look dated any time soon. Plus the cut is so elegant and forgiving, it’s got “special occasion saviour” written all over it.

Snap up the following if you see them in the summer sales: classic spring trench coats (see the White Company one here); tailoring in checks, such as the Dorothy Perkins suit here; romantic midi and maxi dresses that will work for special occasions; striped midi shirt dresses for beach, holidays and most of the year round, the sort that won’t ever date; classic tailored cotton and silk shirts, in white or a print you love; boxy, Chanel-style, bouclé jackets in white and cream (again, see 
Cordings and the White Company); leather and suede jeans belts; all-year-round footwear including knee-high boots, Chelsea style boots, leather loafers and wearable court shoes.

Whatever you buy, don’t make the mistake of thinking the sales are full of tat. This is your chance to make canny style investments.

Mushroom Kimono Style Cashmere Jumper, was £149, now £99, at Cordings in Harrogate and
Trench coat, was £198, now £99, at The White Company and
Victoriana lace dress, was £119, now £79, from Monsoon.