The Art Of Online Shopping

 

One of the most common questions I get as a stylist is where do you shop? Being a multi-functional stylist, I am always working with a diversity of scenarios and varying budgets. For production, many of my budgets are on the lower side – but clients still demand quality looks. For personal clients, I have a little more leeway, however,  EVERYONE has a budget—be it big or small. In fact, this is one of the first questions I ask when working on any project.

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For purposes of this blog, I am going to focus on personal shopping for both myself and my clients. I am a big believer in mixing higher, quality wardrobe staples with less expensive trends. When you do this—and carry yourself with the confidence I have been preaching—your entire look will exude upscale. The question is — where do you shop for these looks?

It’s Not That Difficult

Online shopping is one of my top choices. While I love to support local boutiques and I do frequent them, online shopping for me is one of the most convenient ways to locate exactly what I am looking for—quickly. Longing for a white dress? Type “white dress” in the search engine and Voila!—a selection of white dresses appears on your screen. Need a pair of nude wedges, type it in and there it is. To make it even easier, you can filter your search for price point and size so you are not wasting your time locating the perfect (shoe, dress, whatever) only to be deflated when it is unavailable or is out of your price point.

Time is Money

Another huge benefit of online shopping is the convenience. I literally can be sitting in a doctors office, or waiting in the drive-thru line of Dunkin for my coffee, while scrolling through the multitude of online shopping apps I have downloaded on my phone. I will throw everything that catches my eye into my “cart” and then edit my selects when I have a little more time to focus. Most of these stay in my cart, however there are a few sites that will remove them after a certain time frame.

Once I have decided what is worthy of pulling the trigger on, I make sure to read the reviews on each item. One of the biggest complaints is that online clothing doesn’t look the same in person as it does in the photo. I have also heard countless times, the need to touch and feel the fabric. It IS true that some of the models are clipped and tucked in such a way that clothing looks nothing like it did in the photo. I get it — this annoys the hell out of me. I will never understand why this is a practice in my industry and I can only assume that those articles of clothing receive the highest return rate. It’s one thing to clip and alter it for an editorial shoot, but when selling something it should be represented authentically.

That aside, the great news is that you can order a plethora of items in multiple sizes (since not all brand sizes are created equal) and then easily return what you choose not to keep. Don’t worry about your credit card bill since its really just on paper at this point and you will be credited for your returns. Be mindful of the return policy, most online stores provide full credit if returned within a set timeframe — do not deviate from their policy and double check that the policy isn’t credit only.

Another benefit to online shopping is that you can try everything on in the comfort of your own home (and in front of YOUR own mirror — not the sometimes altered store mirror, or the horribly lit dressing room.) I love having the ability to assess the look with my own shoes and accessories and on my own timeframe (rather than rushing because I need to get my son to his fencing lesson). I can play around with the look, spin, twirl, do whatever I want for as long as I want in my own home.

My Top Sites

I have a few go-to sites because, not only do I love the selection, but they also offer free shipping AND free returns. For me, I tend to only shop sites that offer both, due to the large amount of pulling and returning I do on a daily basis. Revolve and Shopbop are two of my favs. If you aren’t comfortable mailing back your return and want the money credited ASAP — Revolve now offers drop off return locations (Happy Returns Return Bar) for instant returns and credit. Just look on there site (or app), click on Customer Care and go to Returns & Exchanges (or click on my link). Then locate “Find the nearest Happy Returns Return Bar” to find a location near you. You can also ship your purchase back with the enclosed return label. Whichever works for you, but both options are super simple. If you have a Prime Amazon account you can even get free two-day shipping! Win-Win!

While these sites offer a variety of price points, for trendy and less expensive fill-in clothing and accessories, I love Zara , Asos and Topshop. Although the quality is sometimes compromised due to the lower price point, looks that are trending for a season or two can easily be accomplished without breaking the bank. I have actually been pleasantly surprised by the quality of some of the wardrobe I have received from these sites. If the quality isn’t up to par, but it still looks cute and wasn’t expensive — i’m ok with that also. A bonus—Zara packages their shipments beautifully and you don’t have to battle the sometimes completely disorganized retail store. Plus, you can bring your return directly to the store for an immediate return.

Another great on-line shopping option is department store outlet sites. A few of my top choices are Neiman Marcus Last Call , Saks , Nordstrom , and Barneys.

A few more of my discount favs are Shopstyle, Gojane, Gilt, and for luxury designer consignment — Therealreal.

Keep in mind that some of these outlets design styles solely for the outlet store. In other words, many of items for sale were never actually in the retail store. Designers will create a look with lessor quality fabric specifically to be sold at outlet prices. This can seem quite deceiving, however you are still getting the benefit of a higher-end design. Executives from Off 5th have reported that approximately 10 percent of their stock was leftover inventory, 25% private label and the remaining was created directly for outlet sale. Nordstrom rack confirmed that only 20% of their merchandise is clearance and the rest is bought specifically for the outlet. Bottom line for me, I’m not bothered by any of this, unless I am purchasing a wardrobe essential staple that I will wear over and over again thus requiring finer fabric and overall construction.

Online Shopping Tips

  1. Download the apps for easy and convenient online shopping on your cell phone.
  2. Purchase multiple sizes of the same look if you are unsure of how the brand runs/fits you or if you are in between sizes to save time on having to ship back and forth multiple times.
  3. Order much more than you actually will keep. Think of it like trying clothing on in a dressing room. You bring a lot in to try on — but only keep your favorites and what looks the best on you. And we all know not everything we like on the hanger—we will like on our body.
  4. Look for sites that offer free shipment both ways.
  5. Always search up a coupon code before purchasing. Most sites offer a discount for first time shoppers and sites like Revolve almost always have some coupon deal.
  6. Don’t be afraid to buy and return. Online sites are very aware that purchases are being made from a photo and without having been tried on and they are accustomed to many returns.
  7. Follow brand ambassadors (ME, ME!) on Liketoknow.it, download the app, and you can quickly and easily shop for favorites looks.

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