How to buy from Aliexpress

Hey!  So with me starting a new job and overhauling my wardrobe recently, all I’ve wanted to do is hop shop shop and pretty much buy everything in sight.  However, D is still looking for a job so with us being on 1 income, that is pretty impractical.  So I’ve been super budget lately.  Melbourne is a shopping mecca, but because I can only shop on weekends, it’s also shopping hell.  Because: crowds.  Ugh.  It’s actually quite unpleasant and more or less soul destroying.

So I’ve reverted to what I do best: shop online.

Now, I’ve been ordering from aliexpress for a long time (mostly small value plastic items, make-up brushes, etc), but I hadn’t really forayed much into clothing.  However, if you’re someone like me who likes novelty pieces, they’re really fantastic.  The first thing I ordered were these pac man tights for the gym.  They were $12 USD.htb1-8wjkvxxxxazxfxxq6xxfxxxf

Then I ordered a swimsuit (which required some alterations, but turned out great in the end) for like $20.

Since then, if I see something I really like, I search aliexpress to see if I can find something similar.

So far, I’ve been pretty happy.  No, the quality is not fabulous.  If you’re paying $12 for something with free shipping, what do you expect?  But honestly it’s no worse than say, Zara.  And no, I’m not going to pay $40-50 AUD for a polyester shirt from Zara or H & M.

Yes, I know fast fashion direct from China is probably not ethical or sustainable.  But if you’re cheap, and willing to wait 3-4 weeks for something to arrive (no, the shipping is not fast), then aliexpress may be a good option.

So here are some tips for aliexpress:

  • The search function is terrible.  Everything will be called “Long Sleeve Slit Open Women Blouse Chiffon Hollow Sexy Casual Shirt Plus Size Women Tops Blusas bluse Polka Dots Shirt Top”.  Start with a very general search like “blouse” or “chiffon” blouse and arrange by most orders. Then scroll and narrow your search down by adding things to your shopping basket (I’m serious).  Once you do, a box will pop up with other items “you may also like”.  I know the natural inclination is to close this box immediately but don’t.  Actually scroll through.  This is one of the best ways to find similar items.  Also scroll through the “More Products” at the bottom of the page.  Again, you may come across items that you wouldn’t find through the search function.  Did I mention scrolling through.  Just keep scrolling.  Eventually you may see something you like the look of.  Alternatively, you may find the item you like is actually being sold by someone else for much cheaper.  It’s worth looking.

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Pro tip:  You can have a maximum of 100 items in your shopping cart at a time.  If you want to add more, you need to delete something.  Make a wish list.  As far as I can tell, this is unlimited.

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  • Found something you want?  Great.  Always, always, always, always scroll down to read the size information!!  Many items are in “Asian” sizes.  Some things are even “one size”.  I often order a size L or XL.  I don’t let it bother me (most pieces don’t even arrive with a size tag in them anyways so it really doesn’t matter).  Know your measurements.
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So I’m a L?  No big deal.  However I do not think these would be long enough for me…  Know your measurements!

  • Look very closely at the photos.  Are they “fashion”photos or photos of the real item?
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Expectation

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Reality

  • Look at the product reviews and store reviews.  Again, scroll down and see if there are any product reviews with real pictures.  The photos reviewers post are much more accurate and will help you decide an item’s quality.

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  • Don’t trust the listing.  Does it say it’s leather, silk, wool?  It probably isn’t (though I did manage to get a genuine leather purse – but you must search “genuine leather” and be very discerning).  It’s all just gobbledygook.
  • Shipping is FREE but it takes a few weeks.  You can get something a bit quicker if you need, explore the shipping options.  Sometimes a faster method is only $3-5/item.  Sometimes, it’s like $30.  You just have to look.
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Free standard shipping

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Other shipping options

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Even more shipping options.  Look, for $5 I could have this in a couple of weeks!

  • A final word of warning: you can’t really return anything.  At least, I don’t think it’s possible.  So you need to be certain, or willing to be out $30 or whatever the item cost.  So just be careful.  There are some protections (you can open a dispute with a seller if the item doesn’t arrive or isn’t as described), but no returns as far as I am aware.

I hope that was a helpful guide, in case you were wanting to try ordering clothes (or anything el from Aliexpress.

 

 

OOTD: Catching up

Hey! I know it’s been a long time. A quick update, we’re finally settled into our house here in Australia! We have furniture, internet, we’re making friends and we’ve been tramping (no, the tramping is not nearly as good as in NZ. There are no mountains here).

I’ve managed to set-up my camera in our 2nd bedroom and am finally getting around to taking some regular photos (yes I look goofy and awkward for the win!)… and then I’ve been really slack about posting them. So my apologies for the photo dump of outfits, but this is what I’ve been wearing lately. Yes, there are a number of new pieces which I’m excited about.  I’ve been working hard to keep to my chosen aesthetic (librarian chic) and a smaller palette.

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top: my ex-work, skirt: aliexpress (new!), shoes: dr. martens

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jersey: uniqlo (new!), skirt: herbergers, shoes: dr. martens

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scarf: camden market, top: zara (new!), skirt: made by my mom, boots: OTBT Hutchinson

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jacket: amazon.com, top & cardigan: witchery (top is sort of new – I bought it right before we left NZ), jeans: 7 for all mankind, boots: dr marens

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scarf: camden market, cardigan & top: witchery, jeans: 7 for all mankind, boots: dr. martens

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jersey: princess highway (new!), top: thrifted, skirt: glassons (also bought right before we left NZ), boots: OTBT

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jacket: amazon.com, scarf: camden market, dress: modcloth, belt: witchery boots: dr martens

Which look is your favourite?

Breaking and re-making a wardrobe

Hey!  Long time, no see.

I have been really slack at taking outfit photos lately, so there hasn’t been much to post.  Sorry about that.  Though I have done a fair bit of shopping recently here in Aus, so there should be some outfits on the way soon!

Instead, I’ve been thinking a lot about fashion and style.  I don’t know when it was that I decided I wasn’t happy with my style.  2014?  Let’s just say 2014.  I bought a bunch of stuff in 2014, then was filled with guilt, so I started my year of no shopping.  Of course, prior to the year starting, I went and bought a whole bunch of new stuff to last me the year.

Even though I can laugh at my former self, I also have come to accept that these were all stages in the process of breaking bad habits, and working out exactly what is my style.

  1. Stop shopping.  I really do suggest a year (if you have a massive wardrobe, like I do).  Or some other length of time that is truly sufficient to really wear nearly everything in your wardrobe.
  2. Read the Marie Kondo book.  Purge.  Purge.  Purge.
  3. Read blogs on how to curate a style (Into Mind).  Read reddit (femalefashionadvice) like it’s the new bible.  Use Pinterest.  Find styles you like.  Try new things.
  4. Purge some more (moving house, and moving overseas is really helpful).
  5. Slowly begin to make new purchases for your new style.  Don’t binge!
  6. Read some more blogs on how to curate a style.  Read reddit (femalefashionadvice) even more, then start to realize (much like the bible), that you don’t believe everything written.
  7. Become addicted to Pinterest.  Create inspiration boards for your style.  Make them as cohesive as possible.
  8. Realize that you don’t care so much about trends (welcome to being in your 30s!) and you simply want to look stylish, wear things that suit you, and also wear clothing you actually like.
  9. Start shopping again to find key pieces you’ve identified as missing to help make your new (old?  more focused?) style more successful.

Phew!  And that’s where I’m currently at.

Pinterest has actually helped a lot.  I thought I was using Pinterest really effectively (just pinning anything cute I came across while online “window” shopping).  Yeah, no.  I finally read the reddit thread on how to use Pinterest effectively.  I wish I had done this sooner – it’s really changed my game and focused me.  I had previously been pinning individual garments, shoes, accessories (which is useful) that I thought were cool.  Then I’d make boards of capsule wardrobes containing actual items, what I thought my style should be, and silhouettes.  But now I’ve started pinning entire outfits, details, and more silhouettes which makes a much more cohesive story.

I’ve also learned that apparently I like something called “modest fashion” (after noticing a trend in the tags of many of the outfits I pinned and liked).  Yes, that’s a thing and yes, many of boards that I follow on pinterest that actually have an appealing aesthetic (e.g. 1, 2, 3) often cater to the modest fashion crowd.  I guess considering my conservative mid-west upbringing, makes sense.  I had previously assumed that modest fashion was a religious based fashion movement (and for many, it is), but for me it’s just personal choice.  I guess it’s because I’m not a fan of bodycon, cleavage, etc.  Though I do have a penchant for mini skirts and bikinis…

And I think a lack of cohesiveness has been a major issue in my wardrobe recently.  I had a lot of cool (statement) pieces that never got worn because I didn’t have enough basics.  I was torn between buying things I actually loved (statement pieces) and things I thought I should be wearing (business casual pieces for work, usually clearance items that were “good enough”).  I didn’t have a cohesive palette – instead I just wore ALL of the colours all of the time (and it worked because my wardrobe was simply ridiculously huge).

Then I went the other direction – I thought I wanted to be like all the other instigrammers/bloggers/etc. and have a wardrobe entirely of neutrals.  So I bought almost exclusively neutrals or internet approved colours for the last 6 months.

Now I’ve pulled back and trying to regain some sense of self.  I’m never going to have a capsule wardrobe.  I’m never going to be happy with a wardrobe entirely made up of business casual black & white basics.  I need to find a style (and palette!) that suits me – e.g. made up of pieces that I’m naturally drawn to and already inclined to buy.  Not things that I’m simply gravitating towards because the internet says I need them.  In other words, I re-evaluated a bit.

I’m nearly finished purging things that I don’t like or no longer fit the aesthetic I’ve been creating and building up my basics (all that black and white will still come in handy).

In other words, a wardrobe, a style – is an evolution.  Sometimes it’s painful (hello, financial constraints).  It also can’t change overnight (so yes, I will continue to wear clothes that I don’t love).  And I am still bound to make some mistakes, but I think this is where I’m headed, aka a style called “quirky but polished” or possibly most apt: “librarian chic“.  If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’re probably just laughing as I’ve essentially decided to do a more grown up version of my previous loud and eclectic style (previously dubbed “PhD chic”).  You’re welcome.

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What do you think?  Have you done a wardrobe overhaul or tried to change your style?  Do you need to?!