Les Soldes! Les Soldes! Les Soldes!

 Photo: Galeries Lafayette

Photo: Galeries Lafayette

That’s right, les soldes! Twice a year, shops in France put their inventory on sale, and for a glorious five weeks, clothes, shoes, housewares and pretty much anything that isn't comestible is discounted. The Winter sales occur in January (they began last week on the 11th and conclude on 14 February,) and the Summer sales take place in June and July (this year they will run from 27 June through 31 July.) In addition to these two sales events, vendors are allotted two weeks throughout the year in which to offer merchandise at a discount. The two weeks don’t have to be consecutive, however they cannot be scheduled within a month of the Winter and Summer sales. Oh, the famous French bureaucracy…

The Soldes’ schedule is a matter of public record. As soon as the dates are published, people bookmark them in their brains and scribble them onto their agendas. Magazines begin listing what they consider to be the best deals. Smart shoppers go one step further, highlighting the week before Les Soldes as the critical period for retail recon. This is the week when you try on clothes and shoes, determine which size you wear in which designer, calculate your budget and weigh the advantages of purchasing one expensive piece against lots of smaller ones. It is also very important to factor in the following cost-benefit formula which helps put perspective on big ticket items: (price of item) divided by (number of times item potentially worn) = actual cost of item in real terms.

 Photo: The Conran Shop

Photo: The Conran Shop

Retail recon has a practical side, too. As the weeks of Les Soldes roll on, inventory depletes to make way for next season’s offerings, prices continue their decline, time slips past, and your size grows endangered and then inevitably, goes totally extinct. This is why knowing what you want is so important! And why getting to the stores early is critical. You have to shop as soon as they throw open their doors to ensure you land your size. Believe me, I speak from experience. A few years ago we mistakenly thought the Claudie Pierlot sale started at 9am and when we showed up, the shop had already been open for an hour. The clothes we had so dutifully researched and tried on—and fantasized about!—were gone. Les Soldes aren’t exactly blood sport, but they do require advanced planning and some sly Napoleonic tactics.

If you’re in the market for new yoga clothes, there are Soldes at both Lolë (9 rue des Blancs Manteaux, 4e) and Yoga Concept (123 rue de Turenne, 3e).