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Have you ever been to a sample sale? If you have, the queue above will be no surprise to you. These supposedly 'secret' events are never quite as quiet and exclusive as they claim (rule of thumb - if you know about it, so does everyone else) and even seasoned shoppers like Team CQ tend to forget that lunchtime is not the best time to go hunting for cheap shoes...

The pictures here are from the Rupert Sanderson Factory Sale, an event that saw Isabelle and I nabbing £350 shoes for less than we'd usually pay in Faith or Topshop, albeit after a 45 minute wait. The sale's still going now, so if you fancy designer shoes from £50 a pair, I suggest you get yourself to The Chapel Rooms on London's South Audley Street before 6pm on Saturday 26th Sept.

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Fashion blogs have made finding sample sales easier than ever before, which is great news if you live in London (or can get here - sadly most sample sales do take place in the capital for obvious reasons). Susie Bubble posts all kinds of sales and events on her right sidebar, and we found out about the Rupert Sanderson sale from the fabulous Disney Rollergirl. A lot of brands send news of sales to influential bloggers in the hopes they'll spread the word to the 'right' people. We've had emails from everyone from Georgina Goodman to My Wardrobe informing us of their events.

There is one big problem, of course. Generally clothing samples come in one size - super small. If you're a size 8 you're in luck, otherwise you may find yourself fishing through boxes of accessories with a scowl on your face as you watch the model-types stripping down to try on the £450 dresses that are down to £60. Similarly most shoe samples are either 4s or 7s, meaning the average size 5-6 girls might be out of luck.

That said, some sales (look for big organised events like Billion Dollar Babes or factory clear-outs like the one we attended) may sell the full range of sizes. I was amazed to even find half sizes at Rupert Sanderson, and I had similar luck at a Gina sample sale in Chelsea where I picked up two pairs of satin shoes for £100.

If you're planning on attending a sample sale, the best advice I can give is go early and dress for trying on. There may be changing rooms (there were at Temperley) but you might just as easily find yourself in a tiny room trying things on over your clothes. Wear tights if you're planning on trying shoes (it's only fair to the rest of the people trying on the same shoes!) and take cash as not all sales have card machines.

Places to search for sales:

Style Bible
Fashion Confidential
Daily Candy
London Sample Sales
Urban Junkies
Time Out London

Famous Sample Sales:

Billion Dollar Babes

Secret Sample Sale

Designer Sales UK
Frock Me Vintage Fashion Sale
Designer Warehouse Sales