Skip the Crowds, Get Your Christmas Shopping Done Early

Imagine getting all your shopping done in one afternoon, from the comfort of your couch!

The Pros And Cons Of Online Shopping

There’s no denying it, online shopping has become a huge part of our lives in the last 5-10 years. Gone are the days when we actually had to go outside to buy something. Ten years ago, I didn’t expect anyone to sell their stuff online.  Nowadays, if a brand or store doesn’t have an online shop, I usually get quite frustrated and question the quality of their marketing department (I mean, hello… It’s 2015!).

RELATED: 7 Online Shopping Safety Tips

I am not a huge online shopper, but I know a lot of people who haven’t set foot in an actual store for a long time. This got me thinking, will there still be shopping centres and stores in 50 years? Probably yes, as there are many benefits, but also disadvantages about online shopping:

Pro: You can shop in your pajamas, from the comfort of your bed. No need to get dressed, put make up on, or even brush your hair. In the virtual world, nobody will see you while you load up your shopping bag.

Con: You are tempted to buy more: Because you are not actually holding or carrying around the items that you want to buy, your virtual shopping bag fills up easily without you noticing that you have just accumulated clothes worth one month’s rent. You’re shocked at the check out and can’t decide what to keep.

Pro: You can shop whenever you want: Who has got time to go shopping during office hours? And being in a shopping centre on a Saturday is like going to Bondi Beach on a public holiday: too many people. Online shops don’t have opening hours. Feeling like buying a pair of shoes at 2am? Done! Ordering a friend’s birthday present during your lunch break? Easy!

Con: You can’t try it on: To me, this is one of the main reasons why I still like to go into actual stores. I prefer to not only see, but feel and try on the clothes, shoes, and accessories I am interested in before buying them. Sure, you can send back any online purchases that don’t fit, but let’s be honest: How many times have you kept something because you couldn’t be bothered to send it back? I thought so.

Pro: You can shop on international sites: In Australia, we know the pain of not having all the cool international labels in our stores. However, the world wide web has given us access to almost all of them and some sites even offer free international delivery!

Con: Nothing is really special anymore: Remember when you used to bring back clothes from your holiday in Europe and it felt really special to have them because they were only sold there? Those days are gone.

 image via expatliving.sg

Shopping Frustration: Why We Need Standard Clothing Sizes

What size are you? Chances are you’re a size 8 in one shop and a size 12 in another. It’s the big shopping frustration: inconsistent sizing.

Especially when it comes to pants, taking three different sizes into the fitting rooms is a standard procedure for most women. It seems as if clothing sizes are just random numbers and a guide too rough to be helpful. This becomes especially problematic when shopping online and is the number one reason for customer dissatisfaction: the clothes don’t fit even though you’ve ordered ‘your size.’

RELATED: Poppin’ Tags: The High Cost Of Shopping Addiction

Now, of course there are many different body shapes and many different styles and cuts when it come to fashion, so I am aware of the fact that none of us will ever be one size only and trying before buying will always be necessary. However, it must be possible to improve the sizing consistency.

According to a Fairfax analysis, most size 10 items at high street retailer Topshop fit size 6 items at H&M. How can there be such a huge discrepancy? Clearly Topshop caters to a different type of body than H&M, while at the same time both retailers’ styles and target group are very similar.

The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a standard sizing guide that all brands rely on. Instead, it is up to each and every fashion designer or label to decide what a size 10 is. The result? Confusion among customers.

So I suggest a national, or even international, sizing survey. Get those 3D body scanners out and start measuring us! I will gladly be the first to participate if that means that I can stop ordering three different sizes during my next online shopping spree.

What is your experience with sizes? Go ahead, open your closet and start counting how many different sizes you have hanging in there. I bet it’s at least three.

Image via fashionfetishism.com

Birthday Gift Ideas When ‘Home’ Is Far Away

Do you remember when you were younger and present giving was so easy? You could pretty much impress your friends and family with anything – a Popsicle frame barely glued together with your favourite picture of you and your best friend or a creative bookmark covered in fun snaps of everyone. No matter what, it always pulled those heartstrings.

Now that you’re older though, birthday present giving requires a little more thought. And it definitely draws a challenge when you don’t even live in the same country. These days, everyone is everywhere and almost everyone is a juggling a long distance relationship of some sort – whether it’s a good friend, a sibling, a parent or your partner. So how do you find the perfect gift that conveys the right message but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? Here’s a few creative ideas to spoil your best friend with their next birthday!

1. Book in a virtual date

No doubt if your best friend lives away you have Skyped a million times before. Setting up a special birthday virtual date though will make the day extra fun for her. Obviously different time zones need to be taken into consideration, and you may find yourself having to wake up at a terrible time to make it work – but hey, it’s their birthday!

Start by ‘booking’ the time in with your best friend via an email so it’s officially locked in. If there’s a close group of you, it can be a good idea to have everyone over and create a virtual date together. Set the scene by dressing up nice, eating dinner “together” with a glass of bubbles in your hand. For whatever reason if your best friend cannot Skype on the day, put together a video message and record it on a CD and post it in time for him/her to watch. You can also get your whole group of friends involved in this one too, if relevant.

2. The perfect delivery

Surprising your friend with a gift basket delivery on their special birthday will definitely bring a smile to her face – and you can tie it into your virtual birthday date as well to make it extra special. Hampers range in price, size and included goodies so it’s super easy to find one to impress your friend this year.

To find the perfect delivery, get a hamper that encourages your friend’s favourite hobbies or offers the perfect excuse to relax with. Some gift basket delivery sites also offer mini gift hampers which are fantastic for places with a higher delivery cost.

3. Get creative

Long distance relationships of any kind force you to get a little creative when it comes to present giving. And just because you’re not a kid any more that can get away with a Popsicle frame, it doesn’t mean you can’t still be creative and tug on those heartstrings.

For close friends and family that do live in a different state or country, keeping up to date with the latest photos and family stories is even a bigger priority. Sure, technology has made it much easier to do this with Facebook being a go-to-source for photos and catch ups but it’s just not the same.

Instead get those creative juices flowing by putting together a scrapbook or journal filled with memories your friend or family member will absolutely adore. Again, it’s a good one for all your friends to get involved in by including a message from them, pictures and anything memorable you might want to add. To really add a personal touch, top it off by doing the old fashioned pen to paper and write a note wishing them a huge happy birthday.

4. Tickets, vouchers and subscriptions

Just because you and your best friend live in a different city or country, it doesn’t mean you can’t source tickets or vouchers they can use. Purchase tickets for his or her favourite concert or event or hunt down a nice day spa near their location you can buy a voucher for online. Post it off in time for their special day complete with a card (go for a handmade card if you’re feeling creative) or a letter with a few of the latest snapshots they can enjoy.

For those friends that love a little quite time with a cup of tea and their favourite magazine, arrange a yearly subscription so they don’t have to worry about heading out to buy it herself. You can always pick a subscription based on her hobbies. For example; if she loves gardening, music or baking look for subscriptions she can pull ideas from all year round.

5. A personal message

You can take almost any gift and customise it with a personal message to give it a unique touch. This is a great idea for long distance friendships as it’ll serve as a constant reminder she’s on her loved ones’ minds. Consider purchasing a jewellery box or a nice ornament for her home you can have engraved with a super special birthday message on it.

Lockets are a beautiful way to keep loved ones close too and can be made even more personal with a nice photo of the two of you inside complete with an engraving on the back. Engraving tends to be a really cost effective way to give a gift a personal touch, just make sure the gift you choose is fine to be customised.

The phase “it’s the thought that counts” really reigns true when it comes to present giving and long distance relationships. Sometimes the smallest gifts can go the longest way. What gift will you send your long distance friend or family member this year?

By Jayde Ferguson, an online blogger and copywriter, who recommends the birthday gift hampers at Boxt.com.au for the perfect long distance gift this year. Boxt are a leading online provider of hampers and other gift ideas and do delivery throughout Australia.

Poppin’ Tags: The High Cost Of Shopping Addiction

Have you got a nasty habit of spend and remorse? Shopping addiction can pose a serious threat to relationships, financial security, your sanity and your health; and experts say it’s much more serious and widespread than you think.

RELATED: Are You Addicted To These Fatty Foods?

In my much younger years, I was guilty of some seriously reckless shopping, sometimes blowing all my savings on expensive heels, thereby neglecting my bills, mortgage and grocery needs in the process. And I was far from alone: if you have a fashion obsession, as many of my friends and I did in those days, acquiring the latest and greatest designer handbag can seem like a matter of life and death when you’re young and immature.

These days, I still love shopping with a passion, but I’ve mostly learnt to control the habit, rather than allow it to have power over me. For far from being glamorous and fun, a shopping addiction can become a dangerous obsession.

At least one in 20 Americans has a shopping addiction, according to the American Psychiatric Association. But “oniomania”, the technical term for obsessive compulsive shopping, is not recognised as a legitimate mental disorder in Australia. This is despite recent claims up to one in 12 Australian shoppers are sufferers of the disorder, according to the Australian Psychological Society. So, what characterises oniomania?

A compulsive shopper gets the same rush or ‘high’ from making purchases as a drug addict gets from using, medical experts believe. And, as with other addictions, once the brain associates shopping with this ecstasy, the compulsive shopper tries to re-create it again and again. Compulsive shopping is also said to be triggered by a person’s low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, loneliness or anger.

shopping addiction, retail therapy, compulsive shopping

Dr Edwina Luck, senior lecturer at Queensland University of Technology’s Business School (pictured), who’s researched shopping addiction, says it’s powerful, pervasive and a huge problem for both young men and women. And top online shopping sites such as eBay; Gumtree; strawberry.net.com; www.net-a-porter.com; and www.shopbop.com are only exacerbating Gen Y and X-ers’ compulsive spending habits, she says.

“With eBay, there have been cases of people who are addicted and every night they have to go online. Many people are obsessed with bidding – it’s like the thrill of the chase,” Dr Luck says. “The thing with online shopping is, it’s more insidious because the effects are not immediate.

“You have to wait for your purchase and with shopping from the US and the UK, it’s somewhat slow, and so often what happens – especially if do you have an addiction – is that you forget what you’ve purchased and so you keep shopping.

“So you’ve got this disappointment first of all, because you’re waiting for your product to arrive, then you’ve got this euphoria when they do arrive and you think ‘Oh my goodness me, I’ve forgotten I even purchased that!’

“A lot of people drink alcohol while online shopping, especially in the winter months, and you do spend hours on it and actually forget about reality – it’s called the effects of flow – and you actually lose time while you’re online searching for all these supposed bargains and you often overspend.

“Then there’s that feeling of depression when you go to your bank account and see your credit card statement. But because the euphoric feeling of purchasing and receiving outweighs the stresses of looking at the debt, what happens is that psychological happiness feeling is addictive and so we go to shop more.”

And new research shows both men and women are equally addicted to online shopping, but women are far more likely to admit they’ve got a problem, Dr Luck says. “It’s a vicious cycle – it’s a very depressing situation to get yourself into,” she explains.

“Shopping addiction is a conditioned response. Some of us go to the gym, have a glass of wine or read a book, while others compulsively shop. You have to unlearn those negative, self-destructive behaviours and perhaps learn new behaviours.

“You can do this yourself – admitting you have a problem is the first step. Counselling is the next step, if you can’t.”



And the huge growth of mobile phone apps can also significantly worsen people’s shopping addictions, Dr Luck says. In addition, new technologies targeting individual shoppers while in-store, via Bluetooth, such as Apple’s iBeacon – which has been trialed in US retailer, Macy’s – may soon be on their way to Australia, thereby further aggravating the problem. “This technology lessons the purchase cycle because it wants you to purchase immediately to get the deal, such as gift-with-purchase, or a two-for-one gimmick,” Dr Luck says.

“If you have a shopping addiction it would be very dangerous because you’d be seduced by the deal and not even think twice about it.” But does a bout of compulsive shopping have to necessarily signal an emotional void and/or negative behaviours, or could it just come down to a simple passion for fashion, homewares or even collectables?

Sunshine Coast wedding musician Marty Sima, AKA ‘my husband’, normally hates shopping of any kind, but readily admits to recently losing his mind over eBay auctions for a rare retro arcade machine from the eighties. “It’s not just about buying the item, it’s about getting it at a bargain price and beating others to it,” he says. “It was a real buzz when I got it – I felt euphoric.

“I really enjoyed buying it online because I could put a bid on it at any time of the day or night and I could do it while at home with my family.

“I could see how online shopping could become extremely dangerous for your bank balance if you became addicted to the high.”

Fall 2014 accessory trends

Meanwhile, Noosa’s Jennifer Porter, a shopping aficionado with a penchant for expensive designer sunglasses, scoffs at suggestions it’s bad for you. “Everyone has a spendthrift in them,” Ms Porter says. “Anyone who says they don’t love shopping is a liar!

“It’s all about the experience. Of course, it’s lovely to get home and open your package too – it’s like Christmas!

“I love that ‘just bought’ feeling. You walk out with a package wrapped in beautiful tissue paper.

“You’re flying! Fashion and shopping are also forms of self-expression.”

Ms Porter, a successful businesswoman and founder of leading global retail marketing company, 5P, is fully aware of how she’s being tempted and drawn in to the retail journey dictated by marketers. “There’s a whole science to shopper marketing,” she says. “The music and smells are important –all your senses are ignited. The marketers create this sensory environment to tempt you – it’s all about making you feel good and engaged enough to shop until you drop.”

The avid shopper happily admits she’s addicted to the high of regularly purchasing new accessories, but never regrets the experience. “I never ever have buyer’s remorse because it’s a guilt-free drug,” she says. “I have three kids and a business, and I’m so busy I rarely get 10 minutes to myself all day, so I online shop. It’s true escapism!

“I equate it to men’s obsession with football. This is women’s holy grail.

“In the past, people once used to congregate at churches every Sunday morning. Now, that place is the shopping mall.” Hallelujah!

Shopping Addiction Fast Facts 

Compulsive shopping warning signs can include:

  • Financial ruin: You can’t pay your credit card bills.
  • Relationship stress: Are you taking your bad debts out on your partner?
  • Depression: If you can’t curb it, can’t control it and can’t afford shopping.
  • Escapism: Using the shopping spree as a way to avoid reality.
  • Compulsive lying: Hiding purchases and being dishonest about it with your partner.

What do you think? Are you addicted to your favourite shopping app or online retailer?

The Dying Art of Customer Service: Who Is To Blame?

It’s almost Christmas and if you’re brave enough to head to a major department or grocery store – as opposed to shopping online – here’s what you will most likely encounter (or not encounter, to be precise): customers as far as the eye can see, but very few sales assistants.

RELATED: 10 Ways To Get Rock Star Customer Service and Tips For Stress-Free Christmas Shopping

“Excuse me,” you say to middle-aged Mavis (*not her real name), whom you catch sight of, gossiping with her colleagues in a stockroom at a major department store. “Can I please get some help over here?”

You just want to purchase an item, nothing too taxing, but poor, ol’ Mavis purses her lips in the manner of a cat’s bum, adopts the air of a seriously slighted victim and regards you with contempt: how very dare you interrupt her, you needy, horrible customer?

Being ignored in retail is an all-too familiar problem these days, but equally frustrating is the barely-legal sales assistant who makes a mockery of helping you, almost as if his or her job is beneath them.

bad customer service, retail, online shopping
Just recently, my best friend and I were shoe shopping at a major department store, and when I asked a young sales assistant for a particular size, she delivered the box, and then asked me to return all the wrong size shoes to the shelves. Say, what?!

Then, another friend recently recounted the tale of when she dared to ask a very young sales assistant for a price on an untagged designer dress, only to have said sales assistant roll her eyes and say her manager would have to get back to her sometime the following week. Frustrated by this appalling lack of customer service, but keen to purchase the dress in a hurry for an event that very night, my friend persevered, and gently suggested: could said sales girl take the time to phone head office to get a price?! Problem solved.

Big business seems aware of the problem – take Myer’s new “Find wonderful” ad campaign: the retail giant’s first brand re-launch for nearly a decade. Finding wonderful? Hell, sometimes, you’d just be happy to find an actual sales assistant in this great era of cost cutting and automated checkouts replacing actual human beings.

And so for many people, shopping online is the Holy Grail: no queues, no parking woes, no one slamming their trolley into your ankles, no sales assistant’s drought = far less stress.

But avid shoppers will surely agree – online shopping definitely has its place, but when it comes to shoe or dress shopping, for example, nothing can replace that actual traditional bricks-and-mortar sensory shopping experience of being able to see, touch and feel different textures and fit.

And, listen up retailers: when you actually do get some great customer service, I don’t know about you, but I’m often so pathetically grateful I feel more inclined –  obliged even – to spend up big!

bad customer service, retail, online shopping
And when it comes to dining out, or staying in a hotel, customer service horror stories abound here too. The smarmy waiter who greets every woman with “Hello lovely lady” who seems more intent on picking up than serving the hordes of actual hungry customers and/or the five-star hotel staff who never even ask you if you enjoyed your stay.

So, is poor staff training and/or an extreme lack of etiquette to blame for the dying art of customer service?

What do you think? Do you have a recent customer service horror story?

Main image via clubtroppo.com.au; second image via setster.com; and final image via blog.zopim.com.

Best Black Friday & Cyber Monday Fashion Deals

With so much competition in the retail space, e-tailers and “real life” stores have been announcing their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as early as, well, yesterday! Here we have a few great bargains to look out for.

RELATED: Sustainable ways to clean out your closet

Get 30% off everything on this global retail giant. With up to 70% off sale stock, you know you’ll be looking at some seriously low prices.

Cult of Individuality
If you’re in the market for some new denim this winter, get 30% off jeans until 2 December. Enter coupon: cultblack14

Re-invigorate your wardrobe with 50% off in-store and online.

Because we know you want to avoid the store this Black Friday, there is also up to 70% off and free shipping on orders over $50, ending on 29 November.

Helmut Lang
Looking for some luxury leather? Head to Helmut Lang for 40% off.

Have you been eyeing a $1,000 coat? Now is your chance! Get 30% off sale items online.

J Crew
Up to 40% off on selected goods online, using the code: HOLIDAY. 50% off everything in J. Crew Factory, instore and online. Free shipping on orders over $50 with code: THANKS.

Kate Spade
Did someone say 75% off a designer brand? Kate Spade did. Visit the online store for additional free shipping on orders over $200.

Find your perfect NYE party dress with 30% off selected clothing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday only.

Because a good sweater is rarely cheap, ShopBop has you sorted with 15% off orders over $250, 20% off orders over $500, and 25% off orders over $1,000. Use code: GOBIG14. Ends Monday.

Weekend Wit: The Online Shopping Debacle

Life is full of those moments that make you cringe. Here’s a one of those “oh heck no” situations, which some of us have experienced along this magical journey we call life!

Online shopping is a marvellous invention, isn’t it? You can shop from the comfort of literally anywhere with your smartphone, tablet or laptop. I recently had an online shopping experience, I’d love to share with you.

It started when I got a re-gifted, store gift voucher, from the sister-in-law. Mmm, I thought, gotta remember that one, when her birthday comes around. So, I jump online in my pj’s, ready for a bit or R&R retail-style. I only have 3 months to use it, so may as well use it now.

I head to the ladies clothing section, select my size and start browsing. Low and behold, it’s a one day sale. Great, I think. I can get more for my money. The only thing is I’m totally naive; everyone else must be thinking the exact same thing. Being pretty new to online shopping, I take my time. It’s the weekend, there’s no rush.

Over the course of an hour, I check the cart and I’ve piled in 3 times as many items as I could actually afford. Hmmm, time to downsize. I notice that the items I initially selected display “out of stock”. Oh buggar! That was the stuff I really wanted. So, I try to get them in a different size or, better still, quickly steal the items from others. Certain that they too have piled in more items than they want to purchase and are going to steadily put them back. That’s exactly what happens, but that takes another hour. I remind you this was supposed to be a relaxing exercise. I felt like I was amidst the Boxing Day sales!

By the time I’m ready to check out it’s two hours later. I have everything I chose initially in the correct size. I’m a persistent women (for want of another word) and never give up! Three hours of pure relaxation – NOT! Of course, once I’m at the checkout, I don’t have an account, so I sign up. I’ve forgotten my store rewards card password and wait another 10 minutes for an email to arrive.

Ok, I’m reaching the finish line. My items should be here in a few days. I’ve filled out all the requirements and get right down to the bottom of the page. “Store gift cards are ineligible to be used for online purchases.” WTF! You’d think that would be one of the first things which should flash up on the screen, not something you read, right as you reach the very last step.

Totally piqued, I replace the re-gifted card back into my purse and shut down my laptop in disgust. No wonder my sister-in-law had taken so long to use it and finally passed it my way! The nearest store being a short two-hour drive away; I’m sure I’ll get there within the next 3 months. Just in time for the damn Christmas rush. Realising I’ve just wasted 3 hours of my precious life, I think to myself, “oh well, at least it’s given me some ideas for my next article!”

Trend Report: Spring Fling

‘Tis the season to stop and smell the roses, put on your flirtiest, feminine frock and spend some girl-time with the ladies at the races. But what to wear? This season is all about colour, bright or pastel, and all kinds of prints. Tone it down with a simple heel or amp up the sexy with some animal print.

SHESAID has taken the worry out of getting glammed up with this selection of on-trend outfits that can be delivered right to door (and within 3 hours, in some cases)!

RiverIslandBandeauStraplessRiverIslandBandeauPencilDre CooperStTheSourceDress



(Left to right):

River Island Bandeau Strapless Pencil Dress

River Island Bandeau Pencil Dress

Cooper St The Source Dress

Atmos&Here Lace Dress

Atmos&Here Harbour Dress

And don’t forget the shoes:



(Left to right)

Crystal heels by Spurr Basics

Senso Riley IV

Spurr Helaine Open-Toe Heels

Spurr Sydney Ankle Strap Heels

What are you waiting for? Start shopping!

Emerging Designer Liz Black For River Island

Design Forum is a platform for collaborating with creative and exciting UK based designer talent. Previous emerging designers have included Eudon Choi, Katie Eary and Joseph Turvey for Autumn/Winter 2014, River Island is excited to announce Liz Black as the latest offering for the initiative.

RELATED: The New Icons Of Fashion

Liz Black takes inspiration from Russian Princess Anastasia Romanova the youngest daughter of the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna. Anastasia is rumoured to have died in tragic circumstances but many believe she survived and made her way to freedom.

Liz Black, emerging designers, River Island

The colour palette ranges from black to midnight blue, with print in blues and greys. Sliver metal hardware details are dotted throughout like moonlight on tree tops.

With her background in print design, the exclusive print Black has created for this collection evokes the feeling of running through the Russian woods where Anastasia made her escape. A collection inspired by night for going out at night.

Big warm cuffs reminiscent of traditional Russian Muffs adorn the sleeves of a contemporary coat. Dresses adopt a corset silhouette as it was believed that a corset dotted with precious stones ensured Anastasia survived the tragic attack.

An oval clutch bag with an elegant metallic cover echoes the extensive collection of Faberge eggs owned by the Romanov family, as do the laser-cut Leather* perforations on several dresses and the stylish shoes. Sculpted separates in Scuba, wool and Leather* are sophisticated yet empower the female wearer.

Liz Black says:

“The first time I visited London I went shopping in River Island, where I ended up buying much more than I intended! I never imagined that 14 years later I would be asked to design a Capsule Collection especially for them. Working with the River Island team has been a fantastic experience and professionally very rewarding.”

Top Online Shops for Designer Bargains

Have you got a tight budget but a big heart for designer goodies? Keep reading for the best places to score a designer bargain from the comfort of your own home


Modnique is based in California, USA and provides daily deals with products up to 85% off, including womenswear, menswear, kids clothing and accessories, beauty, skincare, handbags, shoes and jewellery. Brands that you will regularly find on the site include Tiffany & Co, Louis Vuitton, Missoni, Chanel (beauty) and so many more up-market designers. They say shipping takes 10-17 days, but it’s never taken longer than a week to get to me. The best buy I’ve scored is a Dolce & Gabbana skirt for under $100.


MyNetSale’s buyers are based in Paris, France and you will regularly find brands such as Givenchy, Prada, Burberry and Gucci. Sales start at 7am each day and last for 72 hours, and as well as clothing and accessories, there’s home and living sales too. Did someone say designer interiors?


MYHABIT was founded by Amazon and offers products at up to 60% off, with womens, mens and children’s clothing and home wares. You can always find a designer brand on one of MYHABIT’s sales. Céline sunglasses for $150? Yes please! Shipping is from the USA and can take anywhere from 2-5 days to 8-16 depending on the option you choose.


From my shopping experience, out of all of the sites I’ve mentioned, Gilt is the one that offers the widest variety of designer brands. You will come across designers such as Valentino, Givenchy, Missoni, Gucci and Céline on most of the sites above, but only on Gilt have I seen Thakoon, Carolina Herrera, J.Mendel, Monique Lhuillier, Derek Lam, and, well, the list really does go on. Some items are still on the expensive side, depending on how tight your budget is, but trawl through their sales and you will find designer gems at great prices.

Top bargain hunter tips:

  1. Sign up to their newsletters to know what sales are happening and when.
  2. Most sites will let you refer your friends to gain shopping credits to use on their sales, meaning you get to save a little cash.
  3. Be quick! If there’s a Valentino clutch or Givenchy handbag on sale, chances are  it won’t last long.
  4. Don’t go crazy. It’s easy to get carried away, especially when you first get started with online designer bargain shopping, but you don’t want buyer’s remorse. As Vivienne Westwood said ‘buy less, choose well’.

Are there any other sites you recommend? Or have you scored an amazing find on one of the websites mentioned?

By Natasha Price, a writer, shopper and prolific instagrammer from Sydney. You can follow her musings and fashion habits on Instagram at @corestylesydney or www.corestyleonline.com.

Jess Stein Of Tuula Vintage For The Iconic

Jess Stein of Tuula Vintage showcases winter’s staple pieces as seasonal ambassador for online retailer The Iconic. As part of the collaboration, Jess has styled and shot the winter campaign focussed around nine key pieces. Each shot is based upon a key piece handpicked by The Iconic’s buyers, styled by Jess, and can now be seen by all on The Iconic’s homepage.

Some of the key items of the shoot included a statement military jacket by Camilla and Marc, a stunning trumpet skirt by Lover and pink statement coat by Nicholas. Jess styled these into nine looks, which act as a workbook for the fashion-savvyour customers, and the key styles reflect what you will find on The Iconic now.

Tuula Vintage, Jess Stein, The Iconic, winter wardrobe, shopping, online shopping

What’s Your Gifting Personality?

Have you ever noticed how your best friend always seems to get you that perfect birthday present – something she probably spent months scheming – or that your Dad shows his love with expensive gadgets? Etsy, the world’s handmade marketplace and one-stop-shop for all of life’s gifting occasions, studied Australians’ gift giving habits and uncovered four gifting personalities: The Big Spender, The Thrifty Giver, The Planner, and The Surpriser.

The Big Spender: People who like to buy expensive gifts for family and friends. They are more likely to be male, 25-34 years old. While Big Spenders like splashing out on gifts, they don’t expect costly gifts in return. Bonus! Big Spenders like to dig deep into their pockets and are more likely to splash out on presents the recipient wouldn’t normally buy themselves and which show fine craftsmanship, like jewellery, wood or leather goods, and artwork.  

Big Spender gift guide

The Thrifty Giver: The most popular gifting personality (41%), Thrifty Givers feel it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to give a great gift. They are likely to plan ahead and spend time thinking about the recipient’s personality, hobbies and interests.

Thrifty Giver gift guide

The Planner: The second most popular gifting personality (37%), these gifters put the most time and effort into finding just the right gifts. Planners give themselves lots of shopping time, with more than a quarter (27%) buying gifts at least a month in advance. Planners are thoughtful buyers, who keep their ear to the ground in the lead up to the occasion. They’re more likely to favour gifts that are practical, or something the recipient has mentioned in passing or specifically asked for.

Planner gift guide

The Surpriser: This group of gift givers like to surprise friends and family with gifts ‘just because’. Nearly a quarter of Surprisers also agree that ‘just because’ gifts are a big factor for thoughtfulness (23%). Spontaneous by nature, Surprisers will favour gifts from the heart over practical ones. They’re likely to purchase gifts related to the recipient’s hobby, interests or a shared passion – probably while shopping for themselves!  

Surpriser gift guide

Loving Right Now: El Hummingbird

In a sea of same same but different, I love stumbling upon the new. As a traveller, filling my home with treasures from my travels is a way of connecting to the people and places I’ve experienced, even when I’m far from those dreamy destinations.

So I was excited to discover this new Australian shopping site selling hand-picked jewellery and homewares from Peru. El Hummingbird sources the pieces directly from artisans and designers in Peru, and sells them on their online store, as well as at Bondi Markets and soon, Mosman and Paddington Markets. There are plenty of lovely items to tempt the traveller (and armchair traveller). Here are a few of the things I have my eye on:

These silver rings embellished with semi-precious stones (above) by jewellery designer Alexandra Temple, from $79. I want them all!


This vibrant frazado, $300, a traditional Peruvian handwoven blanket, has precious heirloom woven right through it. Imagine snuggling up underneath it in autumn, or using it as a design piece by draping it over your bed.


Nothing feels as good as alpaca. Warm, soft, luxurious, El Hummingbird sells a number of alpaca blankets, and I love this fringed blanket with alpaca motif, $100.

El Hummingbird is offering free Australia-wide delivery to celebrate their online launch. Visit their website elhummingbird.com.

7 Online Shopping Tips

Love shopping online but worry about becoming victim to the next biggest scam? Ordered a ladies size 12 and received a pair of pants that would be better suited for a six year old? Our online shopping guide is for you.

Fiona Adler, founder of WOMO.com.au, Australia’s number one award-winning business review website, shares her tips and tricks to ensure a safe and sound online shopping experience.

1. Avoid suspiciously low prices
It if seems too good to be true, it probably is! Sometimes we make the decision to save money and start hunting for the very cheapest option available on the web. Unfortunately, this often results in us landing on a less reputable website – and a much heightened risk of the goods never turning up, or running into problems if they’re wrong. Go cheap, but not the cheapest!

2. Buy from a reputable business
Customers run into the most trouble when they buy from businesses that don’t actually exist! To avoid this, only buy from online businesses that you’ve heard of! Ensure they have full contact details on the contact page (a phone number, physical address, and email address) and also an ABN (Australian Business Number). If the website looks shoddy, has spelling mistakes or poor quality images, proceed with caution.

3. Look for customer reviews
The best way to find out what a business is really like is by looking for reviews from other customers. Often websites will include reviews from customers about the specific products they sell, but also about the website itself and what the overall buying experience was like. Ensure these reviews are from a third party, such as WOMO.com.au, and are not simply testimonials that the business has handpicked or worse, manufactured.

4. Check the returns policy before you buy
Don’t make the mistake of ordering first and checking the returns policy second! Once you’ve put those card details in, you’re locked into their T&Cs.  Choose a few sites that have a good policy and track record. Consider what’s most convenient to you and then make your final decision.

5. Take advantage of measurement tools
Numerous online retailers have tools to help you determine which size to order yet most of us dive in with a ‘one size fits all’ frame of mind. Even though measuring yourself may seem like a hassle at the time, it will be less of a headache than returning the item. Also, as long as your size doesn’t fluctuate, you should only have to make these measurements once.

6. Check the description carefully
Often online photos can be misleading and may not even be an exact photo of the item you are purchasing. Sometimes the colours look different and it can be difficult to judge the scale of things. Carefully read the description to see what materials it’s made from, the size/shape of the item, and the uses for the product.  Sometimes it can be useful to take a screen-grab image of the product description in case you need to refer to it at a later date – some businesses have been known to change after being alerted to a discrepancy.

7. Use the megaphone at your fingertips – When you’ve had a bad (or a good) experience with an online retailer, make sure you let others know about it by reviewing online! On WOMO.com.au a new review is posted every five minutes and all of these add to the permanent track-record of a business.  Not only will others come across your reviews when they search on Google – and hopefully avoid any issues you may have had – the business may decide to react to your feedback and change its ways! Never underestimate the power of the consumer!

We want to know – what are your favourite online shopping sites?