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Monday 14 May 2012

A Beginner's Guide to Internet Shopping

Back in 2003 I bought a bag from a new website I'd read about in Heat magazine.  It was called As Seen On Screen and it specialised in selling the things that you'd seen on TV shows, in films and on celebrities.  You could get a T-shirt that Jennifer Aniston had worn on Friends or a velour tracksuit that Paris Hilton had been spotted wearing.  The bag was a khaki tote, and it was the very first fashion purchase that I'd ever made on the internet.  I'd bought books and videos from Amazon before (yes this was before I even had a dvd player...) and my parents had ordered groceries from Tesco online, but buying your clothes and accessories online was still pretty much unheard of.

Fast forward nine years and As Seen On Screen is now the phenomenally successful ASOS and we all routinely buy everything online all the time.

Internet shopping's amazing - it saves battling through the crowds on Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon, it gives you access to shops all over the world, it let's you shop 24-7 (and most importantly from your desk while you're supposed to be working) and when your purchases arrive they feel like presents...  Since moving to Hong Kong, where everything from Zara to Christian Louboutin is significantly marked-up in comparison to the UK, online shopping has been my saviour (or my downfall depending on how you look at it...).  I've certainly done my fair share of trying and testing various online stores and I think it's only right that I pass on the contents of my little black book of online shopping.  It's Monday - the gloomiest day of the week, put off starting work for an hour or two and use your computer for a much more exciting purpose... happy shopping!

Overview: My go-to website for unusual labels and trusty favourites alike.  This American website stocks a great range of women's mid to high-end clothing, bags, shoes and accessories.  Add in the free, 3-day international shipping and you have the perfect recipe for quick, easy, fuss-free online shopping.
3BM Top Buys: Hanky Panky Low Rise ThongsGinette NY jewelleryKain LABEL basicsanything and everything Mara Hoffman.

Singer 22
Overview: The American ASOS, Singer22 stocks a large range of men's and women's new and up and coming labels.  The site carries clothing, bags, shoes and accessories and features a section showing celebrities who have been spotted wearing labels that the website stocks.
3BM Top Buys: Twelfth St. by Cynthia Vincent Beach ToteCharlie by Matthew Zinc swimwearKeepsake Wide Eyes dressAlexi Vivienne long flared printed skirt.

Overview: This high-end purveyor of designer fashion needs little introduction.  Launched by Natalie Massenet in 2000 when selling designer clothing online was completely unheard of and everyone thought she was crazy but just ten years later she sold the site to Richemont pocketing £50 million.  Net-a-Porter stocks a wide range of designers which can be shopped from the weekly e-zine that the site publishes (the most dangerous app that I have on my iPad..).  The site's styling is great, the glossy black beribboned packaging is beautiful and returns are free and super simple to arrange.  While Net-a-Porter only stocks women's fashion, click over to Mr Porter to shop for the boys.  
3BM Top Buys: Roland Mouret one-shouldered Henleigh gownChristian Louboutin Lipsinka python pumpsIsabel Marant Wonda jacketAlex Monroe jewellery.

My Wardrobe
Overview: Launched in 2006, hot on the heels of the Net-a-Porter success story, My Wardrobe was pitched at a slightly less high-end market.  With the tagline 'Everyday Luxury', My Wardrobe owner Sarah Curran cites the website's customer as the woman with a realistic budget who has to do the school run and then head to work but isn't going to compromise on wearing killer heels while doing it.  This glossy website stocks a good range of carefully edited women and men's labels and delivers your brand new purchases wrapped in plenty of tissue paper and ribbon (and last Christmas the website collaborated with Alice Temperley to create a leopard print wrapping paper that you could choose to have your gifts wrapped in - I may have opted to have my normal shopping wrapped in this too...).  
3BM Top Buys: House of Harlow 1960 Chelsea leopard print cat eye sunglassesEquipment black daddy shape jewel collared blouseAmerican Vintage basicsEstelle Deve gold Solis set of two rings.

The Outnet
Overview: Launched in 2009, The Outnet is Net-a-Porter's outlet site selling women's previous-season designer fashion.  Originally the majority of the site's stock was from Net-a-Porter, but these days many brands (including Christian Louboutin and Balmain) partner exclusively with The Outnet using the online store as their sole past-season outlet.  Like a sample sale without the need for sharpened elbows and cat fights with other bargain hunters - I love the Outnet for basics, wardrobe staples, shoes and cocktail dresses.  With all the customer service of Net-a-Porter and luxe tissue paper wrapping, you get a high-end shopping experience with the added bonus of bagging a savvy bargain.  
3BM Top Buys: Tibi Venice appliqued mini skirtPistol Panties swimwearJoseph white shirtCamilla Skovgaard Spear platform sandals.

Overview: In a similar vein to Singer22, Revolve stocks a large range of more unusual, up and coming labels alongside a good range of trusty denim labels.  With free international shipping on all orders over US$100 - another easy, seamless shopping experience.
3BM Top Buys: Winter Kate Neela RomperOne Teaspoon original Bonitas cut-off denim shortsAkiko detailed maxi dressMaison Scotch loose lace dress.

Overview:  Since the first boutique opened in Wimbledon in 1990, Matches has been synonymous with cutting-edge chic.  The online store brings the boutique shopping experience to your home.  With exclusive designer collaborations each season and marbled delivery boxes which are just as gorgeous as their contents - Matches is designer online shopping at its best.  Even better, the website's offering free worldwide delivery during May...
3BM Top Picks: Isabel Marant Snakeskin fringed bootsIssa strapless lace dressAge of Reason Bondage Doll ScarfGoat Cleopatra silk jumpsuit.

Overview: The site that sparked my internet shopping habit has evolved from a small website selling clothes you'd seen in films and TV to the online retail giant that it is today.  Aimed at fashion-hungry twentysomethings, the site stocks a huge range of men's and women's fashion with over 50,000 branded and own-label product lines.  Also selling accessories and beauty products, the website really is a one stop shop which I've lost many an afternoon browsing.  ASOS also publishes a shoppable monthly magazine, ASOS is Net-a-Porter's younger, funner, much more affordable little sister.  
3BM Top Buys: Aqua Floyd DressKore by Sophia Kokosalaki silk GGT swing dressAsh Cool suede strapped wedge trainersASOS Africa printed knicker shorts.

HQ Hair
Overview: This online make-up, haircare, skincare, accessories and appliance retailer stocks all your beauty favourites.  Free UK delivery and international delivery from £2.99 and great customer service.
3BM Top BuysBlax snag-free hair bandsKorres Lip ButterTweezerman Slant TweezersKerastase Shampoo & Conditioner.

Beauty Bay
Overview: This online beauty boutique stocks a large range of make-up, skincare, fragrance, haircare, accessories and appliances.  Offering free international shipping, it's a God send for those of us living in a country without Boots and means that hard to find beauty must-haves are just a few clicks away for all of us.
3BM Top BuysTangleTeezerNeom CandlesCiate nail varnishSeche Vite Top Coat.

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