A Definitive Guide to Online Shopping

A Definitive Guide to Online Shopping

I'm a shopaholic. I just love it. There's the thrill of the chase, the splendor that is sales, and that euphoric moment when you find that one thing you never knew you always wanted.

Shopping online, however, had, until recently, always eluded me. There are just so many different sites with so many different products, and, most frustratingly of all, there seems to be no logic at all to the fluctuating prices and continuous sales. Yet, there is also something so enticing about it. Such a wider range with so much more diversity, plus the added potential to snatch up some amazing deals too.

And it was this enticement that led me to try and get to grips with the world of online shopping. I certainly had my fair share of fashion faux pas, of adding that one colorful top to the basket, when deep down I knew it wouldn't quite suit. But I've also found some pieces I truly adore - items I would never have discovered, or been able to afford, had I not be surfing the world wide web.

Time to get surfing! Image  via

Time to get surfing! Image via

When looking to the online market, the first thing to establish is some general rules:

1. You must be willing to return whatever your purchase.

It can seem like the most monumental of hassles, but to be honest it really isn't so bad, and if you set out determined that whatever you buy needs to be a perfect fit then you won't buy anything at all.

2. Establish a set of designers that you feel is diverse, yet tailored to your fashion sense.

This list can and should be dynamic and constantly evolving, but knowing what brands you'll always love is key. 

3. Do not constrain this list by a perceived price.

Yes, some designers are expensive - and some are very expensive - but filtering for price should happen on the relevant website itself, not in the brand list.

4. Know your size.

This one, though seemingly self-explanatory, is in fact rather challenging. For example, I have a 29 inch waist with a couple brands, a 30 inch waist with some others, and a 31 inch waist with still more. So keep a catalog of both your generic sizes and also your designer specific ones - it will save you time and effort in the long run I promise!

5. Be open to committing some real time to this endeavor.

You're going to need to get to grips with some frustratingly un-user friendly formats, and accept that for some reason it seems like your size is particularly impossible to find. Go in with this in mind.

Here we go!  Image  via

Here we go! Image via

Okay, so with these rules established what next? Where on earth do you actually go to shop online? There are thousands of sites, and it can seem immensely confusing sifting through them all. Here are the ones I, with an admittedly limited experience, would recommend:

Your One Stop Shop

Lyst might not have the most user-friendly of interfaces, but, with over 12,000 designers and retailers, it offers the ultimate shopping experience. You need to be willing to browse, and I recommend being as tight as possible on filters.

I really cannot emphasise enough how useful Lyst is - their compiling process leads to a product line that includes most everything worth being found. But there are, of course, plenty of fish in the sea. Climbing a rung up the ladder, Matches Fashion and Net-a-Porter/Mr Porter present great outlets for high-fashion (and high prices). Century 21 and Bluefly are perfect for those with slightly less deep pockets. And FarFetch and Yoox are good all-around online warehouses.

Yet the wide world of shopping on the web need not stop with first-hand goods. In fact, there are a whole host of sites that cater to the second-hand market. Deciphering which ones to trust and which ones to avoid can be tricky, so here are my favorites:

Mostly for Men

Grailed is the most popular vintage men's site, and for good reason. Their interface is easy to navigate, and their range is impressive. On top of all that, the ability to negotiate can lead to some pretty amazing deals. They even have the odd womenswear item too!

Mostly for Women

The RealReal is a great source of consignment goods. The items are all sold directly from the site, which leads to quality photos and customer service. They also have a great deal of diversity, and even sell furniture and art to boot!

Alongside these two top players, Vestiaire Collective and SnobSwap, among others, also offer great options. The second-hand market can be quite tricky, so be willing to do some research before pulling the trigger.

And there you have it! Keep the rules in mind, and give the linked websites a shot. The tools are in your toolbox, and now it's up to you to use them. Happy shopping!

Feature Image via

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