Today’s post is brought to you by our very first guest blogger, Cat R. Cat is a long-time reader of the blog, and a fashionista in her own right. Although she will be leaving our fair city soon, we won’t hold that against her – if she promises to keep us posted on the fashion and shopping scene on the West Coast.
Oh, Edmonton. The Whyte Ave boutiques, the upscale allure of City Centre Place and of course, that big ol’ mall. So many shops to choose from – until the temperature drops to deep-freeze and even the glamorous appeal of the Michael Kors store at Southgate isn’t enough to get this rainforest transplant out of the house. What’s a fashion-minded Vancouverite to do?
This is where the Internet comes to the aid of the fair-weather shopper like a knight in shining armour. It took a while to get me on the eBay bandwagon, but as my clothing tastes have gotten increasingly finicky and I started developing my own personal style as a way to relieve the doldrums of a hostile winter, the unique finds on sites like Etsy and Overstock.com have become little digital storks delivering brown paper packages of joy to my door with increasing regularity.
Like Winners, consignment stores and Boxing Day sales, online shopping isn’t always the best approach if you’re looking for something very specific, as a number of online stores seem to be selling off the dregs of last season’s products. Now, this isn’t always a bad thing, as it is often the reason for the amazing deals that are to be found. Also, sometimes the opposite holds true – an item that might be sold out of every store in Edmonton can often be found only online, allowing you to track down the last shoe, belt, or other object of your affection in existence. If you see an item you like in a store or magazine, simply note the brand and style name, switch on your computer and go hunting.
Here’s an online shopping success story: I had been looking for the perfect pair of simple, good-quality black pumps for months and had even shelled out big bucks for a pair of Geox heels that ultimately had to be returned because of the poor fit. Then, while killing time at home one afternoon, I found these babies:
Originally weighing in at a whopping $280, I snagged the last pair of these gorgeous Coach heels for $65, plus shipping. It was a gamble, as you need to know your sizes pretty darned well to avoid constant returns, but they fit perfectly right out of the box. One way around the sizing dilemma is to take a rather sneaky approach. If there is a specific item you like, you can often try it on in a real store, then go home and order it on any number of discount fashion websites. This is a good way to find out what brands look good on you and how their sizing works, and you will quickly learn to identify at a glance what will suit you and what won’t. Another advantage of the online shopping world is that it can be a great way to send gifts to friends and family in far-away lands, as the click of a mouse handles the shopping, wrapping, and shipping for you in one fell swoop.
Some of my favourite sites:
Beyond The Rack
If you want a specific item, most stores and fashion labels have their own websites that you can order products from. The deals aren’t quite as good as you would find on a site like eBay, and they will often have cleared out any older stock to stores like Winners or online sellers, but it’s usually the best place to find current items and ask questions about fit, especially for smaller boutiques or higher-end labels where a real person will call or e-mail you back. One caveat: make sure you check out each seller’s return policy and shipping costs before you commit to buying, or you could be stuck footing an outrageous postage cost to return an item that didn’t work out. As for security, eBay and some other sites will allow buyers to “rate” sellers, giving you a good idea of who is selling a quality product, if they ship on time, etc. A Paypal account will ensure the safety of your credit card number when buying from an unknown seller.
Spring may be months away, but I see no reason to freeze these Fluevog-clad tootsies off anytime soon on my quest for stylistic perfection. eBay, here I come!