Yesterday I experienced my first designer sample sale. So far I’ve managed to resist – even though they’re most often held in the building next to ours.

When the girl behind me at work asked me if I’d like to go with her, I hesitated because shopping with people I’m not extremely comfortable with often ends badly. There’s pressure to buy stuff and you don’t want to feel like a cheapskate.

The fact is that my shopping ethic often involves scanning a number of items, trying on a few, and then, if they’re expensive, not buying them but giving myself a week to decide if I really like them. But when you’re with someone else, they really want to see you buy something. Which is not my style unless I’m really in love with the clothes or they’re what I would consider a decent bargain (of course, what this is varies).

But she asked me again and I recognised that this was as much about her extending the hand of friendship as it was about shopping. So, despite really wanting to watch to acquiesced with a warning that I was not sure if I would buy anything. “Oh I’m not going to buy anything either,” she staunchly declared. “Except a few Paul Smith shirts.” “Yeah right,” I said and she giggled.

When we got there and rode the elevator up to the 13th floor, a sense of anticipation prevailed. The floor landing was deserted which had us momentarily hoping that nobody else was there (as if!) but the security guy gave us a knowing smirk and as we proceeded further, we saw women with bags trickling out.

On entry, we were confronted with the row upon row of clothes. “This is bad,” said my colleague and I could see the white-shirt resolution fading away. Nevertheless, we dutifully attacked the Paul Smith section first.

My first act was the surreptiously check the prices because designer stuff on sale is often unaffordable anyway. But fortunately at least some of this stuff was so if push came to shove I could make at least one token buy. There were decent partay tops in the HK$400-600 range and lovely black cocktail dresses in the HK$1500 range. Jackets were beautiful but proportionately expensive at HK$2000 at cheapest. I think the best deals were the shoes – Jimmy Choos, previously costing HK$6000 were being retailed for HK$600.

Despite this, both of us came away with nothing. I liked the cocktail dresses but have nowhere to where them to; although people wear cocktail dresses to work I’m not about the waste HK$1000 on sashaying into a workplace in which people are generally dressed in jeans. I would have considered the shoes even though they weren’t the most fabulous designs simply for the pleasure of owning a pair of Jimmy Choos, only none fit me. I was certainly not spending good money on colourful cotton things that could be had in India for one-third the price.

So that was that. We emerged unscathed and empty handed. I’m not sure if I was a fun shop-date (probably not) but I was home in time to catch the second half of American Idol.

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