We all know that ordering from cheap, online stores is a gamble. Frequently, the images on the sites are stolen from other websites and the garments are knock-offs of the original – sometimes good knock-offs, but often a pathetic attempt resulting in a awful garment. In my experience, I’d say 75% of what I have ordered was wearable and either very similar or exactly as pictured while about a fourth of the items I have ordered were either extremely small, flimsy, or not as pictured. I have purchased dresses, skirts, tops, and swimsuits from places like Make Me Chic, Shein, Zaful, Cupshe, and Linkshe. I’ve probably purchased the most items from Shein, as they have a wide variety of dresses and tops. Cupshe sells just swimwear, and for the most part the suits I have purchased have been of good quality and fit well. The worst swimsuit I purchased came from Linkshe. It didn’t look like the picture, was cheap, and ran very small (and could not be returned).
I tend to stick with tops, everyday dresses, and swimwear and stay away from pants and skirts, since getting pants that fit right is a bit more difficult that tops and dresses. Twice I have ordered skirts that ran incredibly small. I wear a 2 petite, and ordered this skirt from Goodnight Macaroon in a medium instead of a small because I read that it ran small. Even though I sized up, I could barely pull the skirt up, and couldn’t even come close to zipping it. However, they allowed me to return it for a store credit which made me a happy customer. Note: Goodnight Macaroon isn’t really on the same level as the other stores I mentioned above; their products are a bit nicer and the prices are higher. There are lots of fashion bloggers who feature their clothing as well, so based on that and the good experience I had returning an item, I will order from them again.
Overall, these cheap retailers make it possible to enjoy the latest trends without spending a ton of money on something that very well could be out of style next year.
Because I’ve had prior success with Shein, I decided to purchase some dresses that looked like they were “office appropriate” for work. Each dress was folded and individually packaged in plastic bags, some zip-top and some sticky-sealed. Overall, I am pleased with the quality of the items. It took a month to receive the items, however so if you order from there, don’t expect to receive your items quickly. Amazon they are not! They do, however have reviews of the items. A note about reviews: Pay attention. You can usually tell pretty easily if a review is “real” or “fake” by the spelling, grammar, and use of language. Look at reviews that have real users posting real pictures, too.
*For size reference, I am a very short 5’0″ and wear a size 2 petite. If you are of average height or if you are tall, the dresses will be much shorter on you.
- Flower Print Flowy Dress: This dress was just $12 and had 51 reviews, with an average of 4.6 with some favorable and some not. Shein does reply to any negative review (they even reply in the customers language – I saw a French review with a French response). Some customers described the dress as “true to size” while others said it ran big, for me I found it to be a little on the big side. The dress is navy blue with a floral print and what I would call a “shift dress” meaning it hangs straight down from the shoulders, skimming the body but is roomy and a little flowy (versus a sheath dress that is more form fitting). It flares out just a little too much for my taste, so I may try adding a belt to it to bring in the waist. The dress is 100% polyester, and has no stretch to it. It’s a little on the thin and stiff side, so definitely not a winter dress, but perfect for spring. I’m wearing a small. $12
- Color Block Raglan Sleeve Tee Dress: The first thing I noticed when I pulled this out of the bag was the nice feel of the fabric – not too thin, not too thick. It’s 94% Cotton and 6% spandex so it has a very nice stretch to it. It, too looks exactly like pictured.
- The stitching on the hem is secure with no loose threads, but the stitching around the neck was done in white thread, which is fine for the white part, but they should have switched to black thread for the black part. Minor detail, but mistakes and sloppiness like this is what differentiates good quality clothing from cheap imitations. That said, it’s not really noticeable because my hair hangs down over it. I think overall it was good purchase, I mean, you can’t go wrong for just $9. Even if I only wear it once or twice I’ll feel like I got my money’s worth! This dress will make a nice piece for hot summer days. I’m wearing a small. $9
- Contrast Collar and Cuff Textured 2 in 1: This dress is much thicker/heavier than I expected. It feels like a sweatshirt, but it is textured with a sort of chevron or criss-cross pattern. I thought it would make a cute “transition to spring” dress, but I think this is more of a winter dress. It’s 96% Polyester/4% spandex and has plenty of stretch for comfort. The dress part is put together well, but the stitching on the collar isn’t the greatest. It’s even on each side and the button is sewn on securely but the stitches are uneven with a few loose threads. Not a huge deal, but I’m wondering how well it will wash up. The cool part is on the back of the neck is another small button with a loop, making it easier to pull over your head. I’m wearing a small. $16
- Trumpet Sleeve Zip Back Plaid Dress: Again, looks like pictured, and fits ok. It is made of 100% polyester and has no stretch, but it has pockets, which normally I’d be really excited about (dresses with pockets are awesome), however they are located right at the hips so the dress kind of hangs funny through the hips. Hem and seams are sewn in perfectly and the zipper up the back works well. The color of this dress makes it a good option for spring, and the bell sleeves are very much in style. I’m in a small. $16
- Striped Tie Neck and Bishop Sleeve Pleated Dress: So this was my biggest gamble because it is so trendy looking and I don’t usually get items with pleats or ties around the neck. The body of the dress has a nice stretch (95% Poly/5% spandex) and the pleats on the front and back allow the dress to hang nicely. I don’t think I look good in pleats, so I’m not crazy about it, but all in all it’s a cute dress and would probably look better on someone taller. It appears to be put together well and and has a hidden zipper on the side. Size small. $16
I’m sure I’ll be tempted for more purchases from either Shein or one of the other online boutiques sometime in the future. But when it comes to quality and on trend clothing, I think I’ll stick with my go-to stores like Loft and Banana Republic.