Gaby Soutar: 'Sometimes good things (ie, the bargainous dregs) come to those who bide their time'

CAST your gaze over the merlot-coloured jumper I'm wearing in this photograph. Despite the bobbly underarm bits and the hank of wool hanging from a seam (those will have been air-brushed out), it is quite nice isn't it?

I like a decent bit of knitwear, so was chuffed to discover this merino-wool beauty in last year's Harvey Nichols sale. It was originally priced at 140, but had been reduced to 70 on Boxing Day.

This, however, could never be enough of a discount for me.

So, I began stalking a Joseph sweater. In fact, I visited it, oh, twice a week, until the end of January.

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As our relationship deepened, I'd have to dress up (which involved putting on a slick of lipstick), so that the security people wouldn't mistake me for a scruffy filcher.

Also, to avoid being endlessly clocked by the Joseph counter staff, I would have to spy from a nearby Nicole Farhi rail until the coast was clear. Then I could safely approach my jumper, casually glance at its sale tag to see if there had been any further reduction, before throwing myself upon the frustratingly slow-moving downwards escalator.

Thankfully, it eventually became evident that nobody else was interested in this item of clothing, which may be because it falls into the "Miss Jean Brodie meets Grayson Perry via a scruffy filcher" look that I have perfected.

It was then that they slashed the price to 42.50 and I could, at last, theatrically unsheath my blue debit card.

Let this be a lesson to those who want to drag themselves away from a comfortable chair and a cockle-warming re-run of The Railway Children (today, STV, 12.15pm), for a quick fix in the Boxing Day sales. Sometimes good things (ie, the bargainous dregs) come to those who bide their time.

But not, however, Gucci and Prada handbags. According to the staff at Harvey Nichols, whose sale starts today at the relatively lackadaisical time of 10am (Next and River Island in Glasgow's Buchanan Galleries flung their doors open at 7am today), these are, consistently, the first items to get snapped up.

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I suggest that, while others are enduring the anticipated bun-fight over those bling babies, you could sneak off and check out the stuff that nobody else wants. It can be surprisingly easy to convince yourself that you actually like Juicy Couture's pink- velour arm candy, or that sequinned bum-bags might come back into fashion, or that a designer charm keyring is a token of your style kudos.

Which is the problem, you see.

Sometimes I'm not even sure I like this Joseph jumper. It's hand-wash only, so isn't cleaned as often as I'd like (I'm glad that Scotland on Sunday is only in the early stages of their scratch 'n' sniff technology), and it's cut low at the back which, with my Mr Burns-esque postural problems, isn't terribly flattering.

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I suppose, with hindsight, I can say that my year-long relationship with this sweater was ALL about the chase.