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.


  • 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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  • 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.




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