What I learnt from my experience of shopping for clothes online

by Paris B on · 49 comments

in Clothes,Tips

I’m no novice to online shopping. In fact, I love it, because it means I can buy stuff without having to brave the hordes out there, and I get to shop international brands and sales icon biggrin What I learnt from my experience of shopping for clothes online But one aspect of online shopping has always eluded me somehow – shopping for clothes. These days, I’ve even managed to shop for shoes online, provided I’ve tried them on before or provided my shopping buddy has, because lo and behold, we share the same shoe size! You do not know how helpful that is until you actually have that sort of relationship. Trust me! icon biggrin What I learnt from my experience of shopping for clothes online

online clothes jcrew What I learnt from my experience of shopping for clothes online

Anyway, I recently picked up a very lovely shirt dress from J. Crew from an online sale. It looked pretty good online and I have to say the quality is good too. It is, by all accounts a well made dress that fits me well across the shoulders and I must be honest, that surprised me. My other online clothes shopping experiences have not been this successful. The only niggling problem I had is that I never realised just how much material went into that dress.

If I had tried it on in store, I might have balked at it because the dress made me look a little larger than I liked and that was a bit of a tragedy, because I otherwise like it! I love dresses with full skirts and this one had it.

I loved the feminine cut and the gorgeous full skirt that came with it. I suppose my little quibble is that it isn’t fitted at the top before flaring out, so I found myself with too much material up top where I have too little to fill it out icon razz What I learnt from my experience of shopping for clothes online

online clothes jcrew2 What I learnt from my experience of shopping for clothes online

So, if I wasn’t too careful, I’d end up looking top heavy and if I smoothed down the front and pulled the material to the back, I looked like I was wearing a bustle. Darn. So the dress is likely to be going back icon sad What I learnt from my experience of shopping for clothes online

On the upside, the J Crew No. 2 Pencil Skirt I ordered fitted quite well, if not quite perfectly. But then with my sort of body proportions (thanks, hips!)  few pencil skirts fit perfectly where they should so I’m not as fussed about it. The material was very good, but I also found it a little more boxy than I expected.

Whilst this little online clothes shopping encounter wasn’t a 100% success for me (the shoes were a different story, since they were a perfect fit thanks to my shoe buddy!) I’m not going to write it off just yet. I just know I’ll be there at the next sale, scouring the mark downs, hoping to find something in my size that will fit. Something somewhere out there has to! icon wink What I learnt from my experience of shopping for clothes online

So my tip for you after this little episode is this:-

  • Know your style and preferences
  • If possible, and if you have tried on clothes in a particular brand before, know your size
  • Have a measuring tape close at hand (useful when I was deciding between an ambitious Size 2 or a more realistic Size 4 in the skirt. I went for the Size 4 and whilst I’m curious if a size 2 might not fit a little better, I’m also unsure if I’d still be able to breathe in a 2 :D)
  • What you see may not be what you get. True of quality, designs etc. Hence a good, reliable website or brand is best or you risk getting crap.
  • Pick a site with good customer and returns service – my purchases came from Net-a-Porter

Do you shop for clothes online? Do you have tips to share or perhaps your favourite online clothes shopping website?

Afer a very long time, this is my first time dipping my toe into the world of online clothes shopping. Can’t say its been a disaster but its most certainly been an education. I can’t wait to get at it again because I can’t bear to be beaten, you know icon wink What I learnt from my experience of shopping for clothes online

Paris B

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[ 49 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

Jacqueline January 6, 2013 at 9:12 am

I love to shop for clothes online, my favourite sites are ASOS and Modcloth. I have bought stuff from J Crew but in the end I had to return them, their stuff is like you said to voluminous for me. I have a thing for dresses and that is usually what I buy. I have returned many things before. The strange thing about shopping online is sometimes if you tried it in the store you know very well you probably would not have bought it but when you order online sometimes you try to justify and fix it because you have ordered it and the hassle of returning it is just to bothersome. I have some great online buys and wouldn’t stop ever! :)

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Ahh! It’s just the J Crew cutting then, it seems! :D the pencil skirt fit quite well but I think I’ll return the dress because it takes a bit too much work to make it work. I always look at the clothes on Asos, but I’d heard of a lot of quality and sizing issues so I’m very hesitant to try them. Will take a look at Modcloth too. The only reason I didn’t mind taking a chance this time was because return shipping is free. If I had to pay, as I believe most sites have as a condition, I’m less likely to purchase clothes online ;)

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Jennifer January 6, 2013 at 9:16 am

Lovely shirt dress! If paired with a skinny belt in taupe, might go well too :) Haha, I know the part about pencil skirt and hips. Hips don’t lie ;) Ho hum, online shopping has always been an exciting but scary experience for me. Exciting because some deals are great and the clothes just looked so awesome…on the mannequin. Granted my body shape and size are not mannequin perfect, plus I prefer to touch the fabric and see the colour in life, I have to repeatedly remind myself online shopping for clothes is not for me. But I agree with you, it’s better to have tried out the clothes in the store, then there’s a higher chance to score a good online purchase. For e.g., Dorothy Perkins. But one gripe I have is the stitching and seams, sometimes even in store there are defects. There you go, one Fuss Queen :P

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I love the dress indeed! But too much cloth la (and nothing to fill it up top lol!) I love the online deals but Like you, I prefer the old school way of shopping, which means trying on and feeling the material. The problem is, the in store deals are rarely as good as the online ones :( speaking of which its about time for CNY clothes shopping! :D

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Elizabeth Maiorana January 6, 2013 at 9:27 am

What a great post, Paris. I, too, initially was timid about online clothes/shoe shopping, but I have been fortunate and realistic about this endeavor. I have to have a lot of faith in the Customer Service department!! J. Crew passes that test with blazing colors, too!! Anyone shopping for items that aren’t able to be tried on, of course has to opt for sending it back in exchange for an item that’s better-fitting. Better yet: call Customer Service and explain what you don’t like about it, and see if they can’t recommend something more suitable. It’s just implied that not all things are going to be acceptable. I love and appreciate your recommendations, and I love that dress on you. You have lovely taste in all things. Thank you for this. xoxo Beth in Pgh ;-)

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:19 pm

An Beth, I wish we had J Crew here. The clothes look to be of really good quality, and my sort of no fuss style :) I’m still a little hesitant about buying clothes online because for the most part, international returns tend to be expensive. Still, there’s always that thrill of the hunt, I suppose, and the thrill of scoring a gem… If it fits! ;)

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Saphy
Twitter:
January 6, 2013 at 9:28 am

The measuring tape is always a good friend when it comes to online shopping :P I usually get my clothes, bags, shoes, etc. from Taobao but I think I’ll stop buying clothes from there since some of them don’t fit as well on me as I thought they would (sadly) :( but I’ve had plenty of happy experiences from shopping online from there :3 especially when it’s so much cheaper!

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Ahh I never understood Taobao lol! But I hear the stuff there are really cheap. But as you have said, quality will be a trade off, I suppose.

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ishi January 6, 2013 at 10:07 am

I love J. Crew. I was in TX in December and picked up some shirts for myself and men’s sweater for my husband, all at 50% plus additional 15% (x’mas discount I suppose). Love the clothes and regretted not getting a few more. Found that its more expensive online.

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Ah lucky you to have shopped J Crew in store! This was my first time trying it on so I’m guessing they run a little large in size. One day, I hope to score some nice bargains too!

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Sam
Twitter:
January 6, 2013 at 11:43 am

I only shop online for brands and styles I know fit well. I’m more of an online cosmetic shopper which can be a bit miss occasionally if you don’t know the colours!

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:23 pm

I’m the same as you, Sam. Couldn’t do clothes or shoes before but I’ve picked up a couple of bags online too. It’s been hit and miss, because you just can’t tell about the quality till you get it! Cosmetics is less hazardous :P

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Makeup Morsels January 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I usually only buy clothes online from Forever 21. This is horrible, but I’m always so lazy with returning clothes, and by the time I decide to get around to it I’ve usually already lost the receipt LOL. So I figure if I get really cheap stuff, it will lessen the blow. Plus, I usually only buy outerwear and pajamas from them, so there’s a little more leeway with sizing. I LOVE the full skirt on that dress, but I see what you mean about the bodice. Good luck with your future online shopping endeavors :) I am sure you will prevail in the end hahaha. And I wish I had a shoe sizing buddy! It would make life so much easier.
Makeup Morsels recently blogged…Beauty Blog Link Love 1/5/13My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Yes, MM you need a shoe size buddy! I’ve found that for me, EUR shoes sizes are the most accurate but the problem is that you just can’t be sure about how they sit on your feet. Well, unless you’ve tried them on, that is :) As for clothes, I much prefer the old school way of trying them on before buying. international returns can be really expensive!

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Laura January 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm

When it comes to shopping for clothing online, I have learned that it’s very helpful to look at how clothing wrinkles/hangs on the model or in stock pictures, as this is can be indicative of the quality of the clothes overall. I also like to check what materials the clothing is made out of. These two tips help especially with retailers like ASOS, which carry many brands other than their own. It also helps to bear in mind that sizing is not always uniform between brands, even if measurements are given on the site, so if at all possible, I like to order the same item in difference sizes (also helps to fulfill free shipping minimums, but watch out for return shipping where applicable).

I’ve had less luck with shoes, and would say that in the case of shoes, knowing what brands already fit well is pretty important. I also noticed on one or two pairs of shoes/boots, one shoe appeared more worn than the other (probably due to others trying them on, or being floor samples), but since I love the design, I will hopefully be exchanging them in store (I love when I can return/exchange in store!).

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Thank you for sharing the tips, Laura! I have learnt the hard way that photos can be quite deceptive. A lot has to do with the way a photo is taken, or how it is styled or even the height and shape of the model (almost always stick thin :P ) so I’m a little wary. What I found helpful was looking for similar items on blogs! Praise be for fashion bloggers! :D this is especially if its a brand I can’t get here and so may not know how it runs. A friend of mine purchased a pair of shoes online and when it arrived, noticed that the base looked worn. It was a pricey pair at that, so I suppose that’s the risk one takes with online shopping. If it was in store, we’d be asking for a brand new pair from the store!

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Shleesy January 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I didn’t aware that JCrew shipped to Malaysia. I usually get it deliver to SG and pick it up from friend whom I’ll meet for vacation in another country.
Anyway, I usually go for their kids size and so far so good. Tempted to order shoes but worry the size/fit. ASOS is another online store that get me return, still waiting for my 50% off party dress.

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Nope, J Crew doesn’t ship to Malaysia (not yet anyway) I bought these through Net-a-Porter which does ship here and carries a selection of J Crew items :) Do you find that the sizing generally runs large?

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LeGeeque January 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I’m so sorry the dress didn’t work out. It’s a gorgeous shirt dress and shirt dresses are instant chic in my books! Hopefully the return process is painless. Net-a-porter really provides top notch service. You forgot to mention having a friend with identical foundation shades helps A LOT too ;)
LeGeeque recently blogged…Feeling a little restrictedMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Not your fault, my dear! Just preferences ;) it looked amazing in the photo but its a little too much work for me to get it to work cos I know I’d be self conscious all the time :) oh and yes, foundation shade buddies are just as important as shoe size buddies!

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Anna January 6, 2013 at 3:16 pm

I love shopping on ASOS and boohoo.com, as well as many others. However, I have the same issue as you. Sometimes I feel it’s a bit of a gamble and I don’t see the point in spending money to send stuff back.

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:34 pm

You hit the nail on the head, Anna! It is indeed a gamble! I took the plunge this time because I knew return shipping was free but if I had to pay to return (And international returns are pricey!) I’d think twice about making the purchase, unless it was a really really good deal!

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Kay January 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I only buy one brand online because the sizing is very consistent and quality is usually excellent. Otherwise, I stay away because I’m very particular and hard to fit and have been disappointed more often than not.

Oh, I take it back. I have purchased online if I’ve tried it on the store, loved but didn’t buy it and later found it online on sale. Then it’s a no-brainer!

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Hi Kay, which brand do you usually stick to? Unfortunately for us here, local online clothing stores are still in their infancy. So we have to look overseas and the returns scare me silly! Lol

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Kay January 8, 2013 at 11:39 am

I love Eileen Fisher as their clothing is comfortable, classy, flattering, looks good day or night, can easily transition from weekday to weekend. I have a lot of their 100% stretch silks and even travel with them; they have been washed over and over and still look perfect after many years. I also love their 100% linen tanks and sweaters which work in hot or cooler conditions and for professional or casual wear. EF clothing may be a bit plain and not trendy but they are easy to accessorize and dress up. Downside is that they are expensive but the fabric and craftsmanship are excellent and I only buy on sale! One thing you should know is they are generously cut on the bottom so can accommodate (and hide) larger hips if needed. However, except for their woven linen (which is usually obvious in the photos), most of the fabrics used drape well so they don’t balloon out. I buy online at Nordstrom, Eileen Fisher.com and Neiman Marcus and rarely return… but then again, I am familiar with the line and do see a lot of their merchandise in person at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Macy’s.

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I haven’t come across the brand but I looked up Eileen Fisher and I like the style of the clothes! They look so simple and classic, which is better than looking trendy and dated after a few months :) Some day, if I happen to come across it, I’ll be sure to give their clothes a try – seems well worth it :D

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xin
Twitter:
January 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm

unfortunately i am another who cnt shop clothes online :( have returned it once on asos, it was really easy and didn’t cost much, but the heartpain of returning it was huge!
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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Oh yes, I remember you telling me about the Asos no-boob dress lol! I find that if we aren’t the right proportions, it’s harder to buy clothes online, because they tend to fit the majority, and I don’t happen to fall into the majority size :P

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Marla January 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

I love to browse clothes online and see what I might like. I live near a huge mall with a lot of high end stores. Once I’ve decided what I want to try on, I actually go to my mall. I browse makeup online also. Looking at brands and colors that might work best for my skin tone. Then I go into Sephora and actually try them on. Browsing online gives me sort of a game plan to help me when I actually shop. I stopped buying clothes online when I realized how much wasted money I was spending in returns.

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:42 pm

That’s an intelligent way to shop, Marla! It’s like going through an online catalog and then trying on the items before putting down money for them. Also, if we have to pay for the returns, the cost can really add up. More so, when its international, like for me!

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Catherine January 7, 2013 at 6:03 am

I love to browse online and then I try to get it in shop but it usually doesnt happen esp at Prada. They seem to have thousands of variations of shoes and never the one I want.

I bought some clothes online but I have this tendency to choose one size bigger ‘just in case’ and then it looks ridiculous on :D

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Hahaha! I know what you mean! It’s like I can’t believe I’m wearing a size 2, I should size up! And then I look like I’m wearing a sack. Damned vanity sizing :P for designer, I’m he other way around. I go in store, try on some shoes then go online where there could be more choices, because its cheaper :P ecommerce isn’t great for the local stores I think :P

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Indira January 7, 2013 at 9:30 am

I don’t buy clothes online..while I’m relatively slim and tall (for non-models!), I have broad shoulder…not every top can look good on me…(the one that looks good on 175 cm young girl with 85-60-85 measurement probably wouldn’t look good on me :) )

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm

That’s the problem with proportions isn’t it? Clothes seem to be made for ideal proportioned ladies and if you fall out of that range, its hard to just take rough guesses!

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Tine
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I seldom do clothes shopping online. I remembered my shopping experience with ASOS. I did my homework all right. It took me over an hour to even place the order because I was measuring myself furiously with the measuring tape (even had Tim to double-check the figures). What I thought were correct sizes turned out to be too big for me. I ended up paying half of what I paid for the clothes in postage to return the items; essentially I paid $30 just to try on ASOS clothes >.<

Another time was Net-a-porter. I jumped on the order with Geek and bought 2 dresses (one JCrew, one Juicy Couture). Again after lots of measuring, I thought I got it right that time but again, they turned out to be too big. I'm keeping both in case I can wear it when I'm preggers in future :P

The only success I've had so far is with ModCloth and Shopbop. I think it really helps if there are reviews on site from previous customers who will tell you if the sizes run big/small or are true to size. I particularly like the reviews on ModCloth; they have a feature where customers actually upload a picture of themselves wearing the clothes and telling you whether it's worth getting or not.

Since I have little luck with online clothes shopping, I think I'll stick to bags :P

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Oh yes, I remember the Asos mess. Its thanks to your and Geek’s experience that I have not dared buy anything from Asos! Not keen on the hassle and costs of returns. I try to take vanity sizing into account, but clearly, sizing is hard. Even in store, sizing isn’t consistent across designs. What a pain eh? I like reading the reviews on Shopbop too – I find them very helpful! I’m definitely not giving up on bags or maybe accessories, and certain brands of shoes but am still pretty wary about buying clothes. Guess I’m still pretty much old school :(

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pj January 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm

i have a similar dress. gotten it from GAP outlet in Australia.
it was so cheap. fitting top and the fullest skirt ever <3
just had to trim the long skirt to fit my height.

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Ah your dress sounds absolutely lovely, PJ :D I much prefer something with a fitted top too. Its probably to do with my proportions :D

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Becca
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Aww that’s too bad Paris–this dress is really, really cute! I’ve always loved the style but feel I can’t pull it off…especially because I NEVER wear dresses to begin with :P But it looks fantastic on you–truly! I think it goes with the short hairstyle really nicely! Is there any way to maybe take it in a bit on the sides? Shouldn’t cost too much to do that, I don’t think
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Paris B
Twitter:
January 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Sigh, yes its adorable and it would look amazing on most I think or maybe it’d look better on me if I were taller :P There’s a bit too much material because the dress is pretty much a really wide shift without the belt, so I’m going to have to pass on it. But still, I’ll be looking for something similar :D :D

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Connie De Alwis
Twitter:
January 7, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I’ve bought several dresses from http://www.double-woot.com. It’s very much my style when it comes to work dresses and the measurements features on the site are quite accurate. The clothes are generally well-made and they provide good customer service (I’ve bothered them on several occasions)
Connie De Alwis recently blogged…Then and NowMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Thanks for the website rec! I’ll take a look, but you do realise that at your present size, things just fit better than unfit me? :P

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Amex January 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I’ve done my share of online shopping and I do find that the prices are cheaper for imported brands than the bricks and mortar shops in Malaysia. Problem is the sizing as you won’t get to try how the outfits look on you. Then again, when something is half the cost of what it is here it could be worth the risk.

I love J Crew and the quality of the clothing. I know they have a petite line for women 5’3″ and under, so you might want to look into that if the clothing proportions for the regular line don’t suit you.

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 9, 2013 at 9:45 am

Yep, I do find international brands more affordable online or overseas too. Which is why if I do shop in store, its only when there’s a sale on :) Thanks for the reminder of the Petite range. I’ll have to see if Net-a-porter carries the petite range :)

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Amanda January 8, 2013 at 9:55 pm

That’s one cute dress, Paris. It’s such a bummer you have to return it. I’m a fan of J.Crew myself! I wear their Size 4. I’m always careful when shopping online particularly in buying clothes in US sizes. They’re different from the European sizing I’m used to. The only one store I usually buy my clothes online is Forever 21. As long as they are XS or S, I will be fine though sometimes their size S can be a little bit loose on me. I avoid buying skirts and trousers because I’ve smaller waist but wide hips (ugh!).

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Fenny January 14, 2013 at 8:48 am

I LOVE online shopping :D. Some are still hit and miss, but I still love it. I often go to ASOS & Modcloth. I’ve made a mistake buying a US size instead of a UK which is smaller, I didn’t bother reshipping it, as it would be too expensive.

I’ve also bought a cute ballerina flats from loveclothing.com. But, LoveClothing doesn’t always have the best collection. Sheinside.com is also nice, the annoying part is, it takes about a week for them to dispatch an item. But, all of my orders from Sheinside made it safely. One more thing, I wouldn’t recommend shopping at Sammydress.com. Their customer service is like nonexistent, I’ve read so many complaints on their Facebook page & had an unpleasant experience there. It’s better to stay from that store!

Check out wanelo.com if you haven’t, it’s like Pinterest. The best part is you can find so many stores you haven’t heard of before.

Ohh mmyy,, sorry for the long post! hahaha..

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Paris B
Twitter:
January 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm

No need to apologise, Fenny :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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Gina May 31, 2013 at 11:06 am

Hi, i wanted to try online shopping after reading about your experience. How do you ship it over to Malaysia. I noticed that most US/ UK sites do not ship to Malaysia.
I have been lusting over a MK handbag and saw the clothes on J Crew. Looks gorgeous but i’m not sure how to ship it Malaysia.

Thanks. Btw, love reading your blog!

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Paris B
Twitter:
May 31, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Hi Gina, I usually buy from stores that do ship to Malaysia. If you want to buy from a store that doesn’t, then you may have to use the services of a forwarder which is a company that provides you an address in the USA and then charges you to forward the package to you here in Malaysia. I have never used one as I find the shipping far too expensive. Net-a-porter stocks J Crew and some MK and they ship to Malaysia, if you’re keen!

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