1. Know what's in your closet
Before you go on any shopping trip, take a moment to browse in your own closet. With it fresh in your mind, you will be better able to choose items that complement existing pieces and avoid buying duplicates. If there are any pieces you are specifically looking for, write them down so you have something to help you refocus if you feel overwhelmed.
2. Be prepared to dig
Finding a gem in the chaos of a sale section requires patience. Don't attempt a digging mission unless you are fed, watered and rested or it will quickly become a frustrating experience. If the sale section is organized by sizes, start by searching in your primary size and +/- one size. Some items end up in sale because their fit is different than the brand's "normal," so be willing to try on a couple sizes if your primary size does not work. Also, remember that sale is usually a store's last priority so your size might be mixed up. If you see a piece you like, check through the whole section to see if you can find the correct size.
3. Shop during off-peak hours
Do not try to battle with other shoppers for a great deal because you will most likely lose. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are quieter retail days so you will not only have more room to shop, you will also get more attention from the staff.
4. Whenever possible, shop in-store
Some companies mark down items differently in store than online. Since stores have limited storage area, it is more pressing for them to move product than it is for the online warehouse. Also, don't forget to factor in shipping costs (plus return shipping if it doesn't work) and remember, it's only a good deal if you will get use out of it, so ask the sales associates for honest feedback and suggestions for outfits.
5. Get on the email lists
You don't have to read the emails thoroughly, but at least check out the subject line. Emails will let you know about new markdowns, additional percentages off of sale and of course, promotions on full-priced items. Be informed and shop smart!