I admit it. I’m one of those people that love to shop. And more and more I enjoy doing it in the comfort of my own home. It’s easier, it’s quicker and I have had exceptionally good luck with my online purchases, especially when it comes to clothing. I never thought I would say that – there was a time I thought shopping online for clothing was a huge gamble but the truth is with a little experience it’s not difficult to buy clothing without trying it on first.
This week I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite online destinations to buy women’s fashions. I’ll also share why I love the stores I picked and a few tips to help you make the most out of your online shopping experience at each store.
I first discovered Zulily when my daughter was just a baby. At that time the site really was all about buying for your babies and small kids. But the site has grown and grown over the years and has a really good selection of women’s fashion. They also have a fairly good selection of home/kitchen goodies and most recently have started selling a few men’s lines as well.
Now just in case you aren’t familiar with how Zulily works I’ll give you a quick rundown. Zulily it’s self is not a brand but more of an online clearing house for other brands. Each day, first thing in the morning, they post a dozen or so new “shops” that are available for a limited time. You also have to sign up for a membership – which is completely free. The brands vary widely although you do tend to see quite a few that are featured frequently. If you aren’t familiar with a particular brand you really do have to take a bit of a chance with fit. But I do love that they often bring brands back again so if I’ve already purchased from that line I have a pretty good idea what to expect.
So what do you do if you have never bought a particular brand and you aren’t sure what size to buy? Well they do provide sizing guides which can be hit or miss. The important thing to look at if you are going by the sizing guides is if that guide is brand specific or more of an “international” or “American” sizing guide. If it is brand specific (it will say) then it’s going to be a little more helpful then a generic guide. The other factor to consider is what is the material made of. If you know it’s a material that has some give then you have a little wiggle room with finding the perfect fit. It’s it’s a fabric with no stretch to it then you are taking more of a chance.
Another thing I love about Zulily is the referral program. If you refer someone, when they make their first purchase you will receive a $15 credit on your account. Referring is easy too. You can share via email or social media with a simple click. I’ve had great luck sharing via Pinterest and getting referrals.
Prices: Because the brands vary widely so do the prices but overall the prices on Zulily are very reasonable.
Payment: Zulily accepts Paypal and all major credit cards.
Shipping: Shipping to Canada varies depending on the item but it’s always pretty reasonable and all the duty is included in your charges so there are no surprises. The one thing you need to keep in mind when shopping on Zulily and other similar sites is that shipping times can vary widely. Because Zulily does not actually house the items it sells they have little control over when it is shipped. It can takes days or it can take weeks. They do occasionally (especially around Christmas) have items marked as “quick ship” so you know you won’t be waiting weeks for them to arrive. In addition to Canada Zulily ships to over 100 countries.
Returns: All sales are final. I would imagine that if you had a quality issue with something that Zulily would work with you to figure something out but otherwise once you buy it’s yours.
Beyond the Rack is a Canadian site that operates much the same way as Zulily. It’s basically a membership (free) clearing house with new items added daily where you can find some good deals on a variety of brands. They do sell men’s and children’s fashion as well as items for the home but the main focus is on women’s clothing, shoes and accessories. Some of the brands on Beyond the Rack are well known and many are obscure. The quality ranges from fantastic to cheap. I don’t purchase a lot of clothing from this site (although I do pick up the odd piece) but I have bought quite a few really nice shoes. If you are into handbags you will probably really love Beyond the Rack as they tend to have a really good selection.
Like Zulily, Beyond the Rack has a referral program where you earn $10 for each new member that makes their first purchase.
Prices: Prices vary greatly between the brands featured on Beyond the Rack but they are generally significantly lower then you would pay off the rack.
Payment: Beyond the Rack accepts Paypal, Visa and Mastercard credit and debit, INTERAC online payments, MasterPass and Visa Checkout.
Shipping: Shipping varies but on average I pay about $8 per order. Because Beyond the Rack is Canadian there is no duty to Canadian customers. I believe they do ship to the US and I assume (but don’t know for sure) that since they warehouse a lot of items in the US there would not be any duty for US customers either. Once again shipping from Beyond the Rack can take days or it can take weeks although they also have some “quick ship” items.
Returns: Items, except personal things like underwear, can be exchanged for credit within one year of the date of purchase. You do have to pay for the shipping yourself or, if you still have it each item comes with a return shipping label that is prepaid but will count as a $9.95 reduction of any credit you receive for the return.
If you have a taste for retro fashion then Modcloth may be the place for you. They have a huge assortment of vintage inspired clothing from a variety of brands. They also sell a few home decor items and quirky novelties.
One of the things that sets Modcloth apart from many other online clothing sites is the user feedback provided. Modcloth users love to leave reviews and they are generally pretty honest and specific. They go into detail about fit, fabric and quality. When you are leaving a review you have the option to also include your measurements and the size you bought which is immensely helpful for readers. Customers can also upload pictures of themselves wearing the pieces. Modcloth also does a good job of describing how the items fit including how much stretch the fabric has.
Prices: As someone who loves retro clothing, I’ve bought quite a few pieces over the years from various places. The prices at Modcloth are pretty consistent with other retailers that sell similar items and often just a little bit less expensive. They also have a pretty decent sale section.
Payment: Modcloth accepts Paypal as well as all major credit cards.
Shipping: Modcloth ships to 50 countries, including Canada. They ship USPS to Canada which is great. I’m sure many of us have been hit with the excessive fees associates with other carriers like the brown devil. The shipping costs are not ridiculous but they aren’t cheap either. For example I just put a $80 dress in my cart and the estimated shipping charge is $13.20 (this is in US dollars). I added some more items so my cart total is $270 and the corresponding shipping charges are $21.90. Duty charges are hit or miss when it comes to shipping with USPS. Many times my package arrives with no charges and sometimes there is a small fee to pay. It’s really a crap shoot but it’s never been a big enough charge that it would stop be from ordering again.
Returns: Items returned within 60 days of the date of shipping are eligible for a full return. Items returned between 61 and 90 days are eligible for credit. You must pay for the shipping which is to a US address.
ASOS is a shopping site based in the UK. Don’t let that scare you. I’ll talk more about it in shipping but it’s actually cheaper than shopping form most Canadian sites. ASOS carries a pretty big selection of on trend brands. I would say the target market for ASOS is probably much younger than me but there are still lots and lots of items that I find entirely age appropriate AND stylish. ASOS also has their own brand that they sell and much of what I buy is their brand. The quality is fantastic, the price is reasonable and the fit is always consistent which is a huge bonus.
The shopping experience on ASOS is great. They really do make it easy. You can sort by brand, color, style, size etc. The product sizing and descriptions are very good and one extra feature that ASOS has that I LOVE is the catwalk. The catwalk is a short video of a model wearing the item on the catwalk. It really gives you a much better look at the clothing than you can get with just an image. I love being able to see how the fabric falls and how the piece looks from every angle.
Prices: I generally only buy the ASOS brand which I find to be a really, really, good value. The prices are very reasonable and I’m still wearing pieces I’ve had for years (they stand up very well). As for the other hip brands that they sell – the prices are reasonable and usually less then you would pay in store or directly from the brand. ASOS also has really good sales. Most of my purchases have been from the vast and ever changing sale selection.
Payment: ASOS accepts Paypal and all major credit cards.
Shipping: Despite being in the UK, shipping to Canada (and other countries) is almost nothing. In fact if you spend $45 Canadian your shipping if entirely free. Spend less than $45 and you pay $6.50. Shipping is generally pretty quick considering the distance and I have never been hit with any extra fees at delivery.
Returns: Items can be returned for a refund within 28 days. Shipping the items back, to the UK, is at your expense.
I thought I would add a few sources that aren’t my go to sources for women’s fashion but I do occasionally order from:
Old Navy – I rarely go to Old Navy online to purchase for myself, however, I do buy clothes for my little one there so I will often take a look at what’s on sale in the women’s department when I’m placing an order, especially if I haven’t yet hit my $50 threshold for free shipping yet. I’m not a huge Old Navy fan for me simply because their clothes just don’t fit me right but I do like their active wear. It’s pretty decent quality for the price and does fit well.
Forever 21 – as the name implies, Forever 21 is geared more for the younger crowd but they do have some good deals and I occasionally buy things like t-shirts and cheap skinny jeans from them. Like Old Navy I also like their workout gear. Shipping is reasonable and they often have free shipping deals.
Blame Betty – Blame Betty is a Canadian store located in Calgary and is always on my must visit list when I travel there. Much like Modcloth, Blame Betty specializes in retro clothing and carries many of the same brands. The selection is not huge but if you want to support a smaller Canadian store this is a good option. Shipping varies but is generally around $10 for an average order.
La Vie en Rose – If you are in need some of some pretty under garments or classy lingerie (they also have a good swimwear selection) then La Vie en Rose, another Canadian brand, is a great place to check out. Shipping is fast, and free if you spend $75.