Nov 5, 2013

*MIZGUIDE* How to Gain Access to a Private Sample Sale

It's the one question every fashion-obsessed, bargain-obsessed New Yorker has on her mind. How in the name of Anna Wintour do I get into those exclusive, holy grail, invite-only sample sales? If you're a long time follower of Mizhattan, you know that in the early days I avoided publishing details on private events like the plague because I didn't want people feeling left out or teased. I just didn't think it was fair. But as I write more and more, I have come to realize that non-invitees actually do want to know about these private affairs. Part of it is because, even though they aren't on the list, readers still earnestly hope of getting in with a little wink, a friendly smile, a minuscule fib, and a whole lotta confidence. For instance, the CĂ©line, Christian Louboutin, Marc Jacobs, Reed Krakoff, and Stella McCartney sample sales are all well guarded private events that only a select group of VIPs are privy to. After writing the hush-hush details and reading your many comments, I've learned quite a few brave and savvy non-invitees were able to sneak in & shop the discounted goodies at these shopaloozas. So, after doing some thinking over the weekend, I decided to write this special MizGuide article and share some of my tips on how to gain access to these posh private sales.

Money Talks
There is no doubt that clipboard girl(s) works for the company. But, more often than not, the security guard(s) is an outside hire. Slipping a twenty or more when Clipboard isn't watching should magically open doors. Think of it as an initial investment and look at the big picture. If you're saving hundreds inside, what's a loss of twenty or so outside? The only caveat to this tip is if there is a clone Clipboard upstairs double-checking names. In all my sale experience, I've only seen this type of tag team duo at one sample sale.

Bullsh*t Doesn't Walk
Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger is attributed with saying "Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity". Take a deep breath and channel your Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Social Engineering. A day or two before the sale, prepare a few plausible excuses as to why you must attend this exclusive event. Don't let security guards or snotty name checkers scare you. Explain your "reasonable" story with confidence, gusto, and bold attitude.

What Do You Say, SA?
I've heard as a professional you need to befriend two people: a great lawyer and a great CPA. Well, I would like to add a third: a great sales associate. A close relationship with an SA can do wonders for budget shopping fashionistas. This may be the easiest solution to getting into a private sample sale. Building a relationship with a store's SA can lead to that golden ticket. High-end fashion companies almost always give their SAs a certain number of spaces on the guest list. Even if you don't have a close SA at a brand, it's never too late to start. And if the SA is worth his/her salt, they'll add your name to the private list even before you have to ask. Now, that's service!

Flashing The Goods
We've all heard the saying "Don't bring a knife to a gun fight". Try bringing an instantly recognizable status symbol handbag to these exclusive events. I can't believe I'm saying this but as much as I find ladies flashing their designer goods incredibly obnoxious, it's been proven that aesthetics do sway the mind. Why? Because you're dealing with people from the fashion industry. Know your audience and play their game by portraying yourself as someone in high status who is about to do some serious damage with your credit card. But remember, this tip only works for people who are bold and confident.

Trading Places
Have family or friends who work in the fashion industry or fashion publication industry? Give them a call! With all the invites they receive, chances are they won't be attending every single sale that comes their way. Grab their invite and pretend you're them.

Stuck On You
Speaking of friends in high places, try going as a +1. Even if the invite explicitly states "no +1", clipboard girl will usually be a low level minion who won't want to ruffle any feathers by offending a VIP customer and his/her friend.

Hollywood Is Calling
If you're not adverse to displaying a bit of grandiose theatrics, then this tip is for you. Though I personally would never resort to this type of behavior, I've seen time and time again ladies pouting and shouting as to how special they are and that entrance MUST be granted. To each their own, I guess.

Timing Is Everything
If you really want access to a closed door sale, be clever by choosing the right time. Your chance of getting in on the first day opening is FAR less likely than trying on the last day. Accept that invited guests have the right to shop first. When the line dies down and the door becomes much more relaxed, this is the chance to strike.

Now that the fall sample sale season is nearing its peak, I hope my fellow Mizhattanites find these tips helpful in achieving the ultimate goal of getting into these exclusive events. Please feel free to jump in and join the conversation by sharing your comments, thoughts, and experiences below.

P.S. A long long time ago, I wrote a MizGuide on sample sales. Not much has changed in the world of bargain shopping since then so, for novices and veterans alike, I suggest brushing up with a read.

{Image credit: Allure, August 2013}


  1. Quite an interesting shopper's guide. Thank you for sharing Miz!

  2. hahaha luv the titles

  3. I am always too afraid to lie because I think they will see through it in an instant. I should really gather up more courage. Fun article nonetheless.

  4. Where do you get the names to these titles? They're all so quirky and witty.

  5. Are there any sample sales in Chicago?

    1. Not that I know of. Mizhattan is only focused on New York City. More specifically, Manhattan.

  6. Oh Miz the reasons why we love you! Even if I don't get in your time and your previews are always my #1 guide <3


    1. Aww... Thank you so much for your kind words & readership.

  7. I thought that these were great tips, I am daring enough to do all of these things!!! My only question is how do you find out about these great events? I saw some stylist pics posted on instagram, but they didn't share any details besides you were limited to 5 pair each, and how they had to bribe their way into being able to purchase more!!!
    Thanks, this was a quick and informative nice little read;-)
    ~Lady Tai

  8. I read this article last year. But I didn't take a try! Guess I am not that confident! This year, I read it one more time! God... Still don't know going or not?


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