Thursday, June 26, 2008

Special Feature: Dear Diabolina

A million years ago, AT wrote:

Hey there! First off, I wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog and have it marked as one of my favorites! I love checking it out for some fashion advice. I have a question for you. I have recently been a little obsessed with ordering from Forever 21 (there isn't one anywhere close to me so I have to do the online thing). Would you mind recommending some good pieces from their website? I have ordered a few things but it's hard to pick things without trying them on. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

The Dear Diaboina Answer:

After profusely thanking AT for her kind words I promptly started fretting about getting her the "right" answer. After all, I just don't shop online. Cannot.

Can count the number of times I have on one hand. The Armani Exchange dress at right is the only thing last year.

I miss out on alot of great designer sales being this non-savvy way but I just can't seem to get into it. I enjoy the actual visceral experience of shopping too much. Love the hunt and the high of it all. Also like to feel up the goods, if you will. And closely analyze the fit on my rather difficult to fit body.

To make her question extra tough, AT threw my beloved Forever 21 into the equation. When you add the inherently hit or miss nature of more cheaply made clothing then I'm really at a loss. The fit and material can be sooooo off soooooo often with mass production. Plus online photographs can be very deceiving when it comes to material and detailing.

So I am hoping some of you can help a sista out. I know many of you are ninjas at online shopping. So please feel free to give some of your online shopping do's and don'ts in the comments. Lurkers, this is your chance to delurk for the good of a fellow fashionista in need :)

In the meantime, here are my piddly two cents about online shopping:

* I look at the return policy really carefully before I buy something online. I need to be able to return something right away if it doesn't work out. And I prefer being able to return it at a store.

Though that doesn't help AT much since she doesn't have a Forever 21 close by. I weep for her ;)

* Try to know what designers work best for your body and what size you are in a given designer. Like I know I am generally an 8 in Marc Jacobs and that the pants don't tend to cut me very well. I know I am a 6 in a DVF if it's jersey, an 8 if it's button down and as small as a 4 if it's voluminous. I am a 9 in Manolos and YSL shoes if they are pointy. And typically an 8 1/2 in Marc Jacobs round toe shoes.

Again tho, this doesn't really help at Forever 21 or other mass retailers because each piece is made so differently. I have smalls, mediums and larges from Forever. Similarly my Nine West shoes are a whole range of sizes. Sigh. So far my advice sucks...

*I would say buy accessories freely online if you fall in love with them. After all with purses and jewelry, you don't have to worry about the fit in quite the same way as clothes or shoes.

Sunglasses are slightly different because fit does matter. Especially on chubby cheeks like mine. But at Forever they are just $5 so what the heck.

I ended up buying the Chloe lookalikes from Forever online last week. In red and black. Was a bit worried that I might look like an Olsen in them. But I tried the real things on at Saks in NYC so I knew that yes, they'd likely be a bit buggy but overall, the shape worked.

Let me tell you these sunglasses have been the best purchase I've made in long long time. I never want to take them off. In fact I woke up the other day, put them on and then brushed my teeth - much to Mr. Diabolina's amusement. They just make me feel glam and ridiculous which I guess is EXACTLY like being an Olsen twin.

* Finally, let's get down to some Forever 21 specific advice: I would say if it looks remotely cheap in the picture, it will look ten times worse in person. Try to steer clear of the 100 percent synthetic garments. Also anything too chiffony or sheer will likely fall apart quickly. Stick to the jerseys and the cottons.

If in doubt, buy it in a darker color. Lighter colors tend to show cheap construction more. Zoom in on seams. Remember if the buttons are a bit too plasticy, you can replace them and really luxe up the piece. Or if there's a detachable satin sash that looks like trash, it's easy to snip off. I do that all the time.

As for items I'd recommend getting from Forever 21, unfortunately there's not alot to chose from currently. Here are a few that caught my eye after a quick perusal:

Pretty little summer top with nice rosette detail.

Artsy tunic with great fluttery detail at the neckline

And I still heart this dress that I bought back in March. It's still online after all this time but it's actually in the tops section. Weird.

May get it online in this color combo. Incredibly soft and great fit. Which I would never have known if I didn't try it on and paw it at the store, unfortunately.

Ok, ladies and gents, now it's your turn to share your words of wisdom with AT. Have at her question...


tam pham said... much as i LOVE to shop online, i never do it at F21 since it's either crap or a treasure. my advice for online shopping is FREE SHIPPING CODES!!! i absolutely refuse to pay shipping...just google the store name and coupon code, and something should pop up.

amber said...

i tend to shop online quite a bit , but only from stores that i frequent in-person. since i usually know my size from certain retailers, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of ordering.

however, i do find that for the most part, i do a lot of "window shopping" online to find the things i fall in love with and then hit the store to see them in person.

free shipping codes and return policies can make or break a sale with me. even though it seems f21 is not made for me, i'd imagine online shopping there is difficult b/c of the hit or miss nature of that store, like you mentioned.

Milly said...

I wanted the chloe look alikes as well but didnt want to dish out all that i bought similar ones from Beverly Johnson...which i really like but then i found the ones at F21 and i soo love them even more...i wear those more than my Beverly ones

Tracee said...

having made my first online f21 purchase, i completely agree that everything is hit or miss. you really have to just bite the bullet if you want something and hope for the best :( sadly i ordered 3 things and will be sending 2 back. but you really can't go wrong with their accessories!

Milly said...

i just realized i said the sunglasses were from beverly its not....its from Betsey Johnson...oopppss...duh!

Cee said...

ditto amber and tam. I hate paying for shipping and always have to find a discount on it unless I HAVE to have it.

Such great advice online shopping. I'm scared of purchasing clothes online unless I have seen it in person and tried it on. Or seen it on someone and know I have to have THAT dress.

I also stay away from lycra. That L word scares me.

lookrichbitch said...

I agree with Miss D about the importance of fabrics when ordering from F21. I totally steer clear of anything chiffon because it rarely looks good when it's cheaply done. The seams never lay flat the way it should. Definintely stick with cottons and jerseys.

I guess I'm one of the few who likes to order from F21 online. Mainly because I'm too lazy to drive to the actual stores! I do appreciate that their online return policy is much better than in store tho. Sometimes I feel to much pressure to have to make decision in the store!

And I too refuse to pay shipping/tax. It's either one or the other.. Not both.

PS: Miss D - I gotta check those sunglasses out! They're H-O-T!

. said...

ahh your blog is so great! The story about brushing your teeth in your sunglasses is amazing and probably sometime I would do.

Erin Palmer said...

So helpful! I plan to gamble and order from F21 for the first time--I'll report back.

I will say that the return policies and shipping costs usually make or break my decision to order clothes online.


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