Is shopping from the comfort of your home all it’s cracked up to be?

Online shopping is nothing new, but recently online clothing shops have taken the web by storm. My being an incurable shopaholic is also no secret, but I’ve behaved well and frugally for the last year. When I received my severance package in November though, I decided it was as good a time as any to try out some of these online shops.

I dislike trying on clothes very much. I have an unusually shaped body (don’t we all?), with a short torso, long legs, and a middle that’s not in the middle. It also annoys me terribly that clothing sizes aren’t standard in our retail chains. For example, when I shop for clothes at Truworths, I wear what I consider to be my true size. This size from Edgars fits fine too. However, when I shop at Foschini, I need to up-size at least one figure, and sometimes even two, and then it might still be baggy in some places (usually my boobs) and tight in others (upper arms, waist, hips).

When I’m feeling optimistic I’ll venture into the fitting rooms. Mostly I rather buy, try on at home (where I can get an honest second opinion), and return within the week if necessary. Tedious, sure, but it eliminates doubt. And the awful fitting room lighting.

First I ordered a dress and a handbag from 36Boutiques. I was a little worried that the dress would be too short, but with skinny, leggy models it’s not always easy to tell. As a credit-card-free person, I found payment was relatively painless; you need to create (or log in to) a Payfast account, and funds are transferred speedily (even on a Friday night).

After a few days, I asked 36Boutiques via Twitter if they could give me an update on my order since the tracking number on the site was of no help. I was told that someone would be in touch. Two days later, still not knowing where my order was or being contacted by anyone, I tweeted again, but less cheerily. My package had been delivered the previous day, but I never got the message from my parcel-taker-inner (technology is to blame). Very quickly I got a call from an irate lady, giving me the details of the delivery. Thanks for finally getting back to me and the bad attitude.

The dress was too short. Shockingly so. I couldn’t imagine anyone wearing something that length as anything other than a top. Regardless, 36Boutiques does have a return policy, and they organise the courier company to pick up any returns free of charge. Unfortunately, the courier company showed up unannounced a day early, and while I gave them the dress to return, I hadn’t printed/filled out the required documentation and had to e-mail it back the following day. The refund took quite a while to process, but I got it in the end.
The handbag I had ordered is fabulous. I love it! My iPad fits in it, and it goes with everything.

I’ll think twice before ordering from 36Boutiques again, partly because I can’t really afford most of what they’re selling (but that’s just me, being unemployed and all :)).

I also gave Zando a go. No problem with the shipping of my order, but a huge problem with the sizing, in that, despite taking the size I normally would in an actual site, the shirt was too small. A pity, since I really liked it. I decided to return the item at my own cost through the Post Office since I didn’t want a courier bungle-up again. Of course, it took forever for the package to reach Zando, but once it did the refund was quick (although I did have to query this via Twitter again, after a mail I sent remained unanswered). I’m also not sure I’ll shop with Zando again, with the possible exception of shoes. They also have great discounts on various products, just about every day, and they have the option of payment on delivery.

Amanda Laird Cherry dress

Lastly I tried SARIE.com (eventually rebranded to Superbalist). By now I had almost given up on finding well-fitting, affordable clothes online. SARIE.com is by no means cheap, considering they mostly feature top South African designers, but after winning a Twitter competition I decided to buy a dress by Amanda Laird Cherry. I’d bought one of her dresses from The Space for my birthday and loved it. The size was perfect, so I was hopeful.

I placed my order on Tuesday afternoon, again using Payfast painlessly, and prepared for at least a week’s wait. About 18 hours later my parcel-taker-inner informed me that my dress had been delivered. I was stunned! And when I took my tissue paper wrapped dress out of the neat SARIE.com little backpack and tried it on, it fitted perfectly! I wore it to my second day at the new job (technically I’m still unemployed, since I don’t earn an income, but gaining loads of experience), and received lots of compliments.

If I could afford to, and if there were more styles in my size and suitable to my body type, I would definitely shop at SARIE.com again.

In the meantime, I’m back to a shopping hiatus, both offline and on.

P.S. The exception in my break from online shopping will be because of bagMee, an online handbag retailer for whom I write blog posts from time to time, in exchange for bags – how great!

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