Shopping styles

What is your shopping style? Are you the type who enjoys visiting the boutique in person? Try things on, a size up and a size down? Get personal service, fussing over free alterations, try before you buy? Passionate about close up quality inspections, the feel and finish of the garment? Do you enjoy scouring rails to find the ‘one’ perfect piece? Do you dress up for the occasion and then meet a friend for a chat, tea and crumpets?

Or do you enjoy reclining on a tufted sofa, with a glass of vino, and a lap top?  Endlessly checking out eBay? Or online stores? On-line always has the right size, (sort off) and the fit is clearly shown on some gorgeous teenage model, with implausibly thin waist and long legs. No need to change out of your pyjamas – style is just a mouse click away.

What’s your shopping style?
Most of us will be a mixture of the two types. Just checked  inside my own wardrobe: most of my actual clothes were bought in person. Items like underwear, socks and leggings, were mostly ordered on line. Having said that I was familiar with the size and fabric before I ordered. Cashmere socks from Brora, organic cotton leggings from people tree. Vintage and second hand shops also abound, though shopping there takes time and patience.

That’s one of the perks of living in the heart of London, the shops are only a stone’s throw away from me. I have to be disciplined, temptation is always on my doorstep. I stopped dropping by ZARA and H&M a long time ago, (but still visit Top Shop boutique and uniqlo)

My shopping is pretty targeted and I try (and often fail) to follow a list. I check out the new collections at the start of the season and make notes. I have also made peace with my body shape and have a reasonable idea if the new silhouette is a realistic option, before I try it on. (Worth trying on though ladies, our personal style is a constant evolution!)

I replaced hours lost, endlessly on line browsing, with brushing up on my French (goodness a lot of brushing up is needed) using the Dualingo app. More yoga, more fashion research, (exhibitions anyone?) more clothes maintenance! I read a few blogs, for inspiration and entertainment, but no longer order clothes on line. They were so often a disappointment.

I check out the new collections at the start of the season and make notes. Pink is absolutely everywhere, nice to see how the masters put colours together.

“personal style is a constant evolution, just like our lifestyle” observe the silver slides and the shape of the jeans. No longer skinny.

Tailored shorts are all the rage this season…It’s worth visiting up market shops, to refine visual style and become accustomed to quality.

I have a soft spot for anything tweed, especially CHANEL. I have to watch it though, not an easy look to carry, tweeds do add pounds!

Nowadays there is a budget to work with and try things on in person. My wardrobe is much smaller but I am much happier with what I buy, can’t even remember the last time I returned anything I bought.

shopping rules
Handbags & shoes
I have been asked how to go about buying vintage and second hand clothes. In general I only ever buy things seen in person. I’ve never bought shoes on line, since it’s impossible to be sure of the fit.
Handbags are an easier option. At the very least you should have seen the style of the bag in real life and be familiar with size and quality. I am always amazed how anyone wants to spend a fortune and buy a vintage Hermes Kelly bag – without having ever seen one in real life. I mean how do they know they will even like it?

Observe and share your shopping style ladies… there will be a follow up post.
Check out this great post here– would love to know your shopping habits. You can write to me confidentially at

Do you have a set time for online browsing? Do you search for specific items? What is your go to site? Do you ever consider second hand or prefer new? how long on average do you spend shopping per week?

© Ladysarahinlondon

Stay relevant and up to date, study in depth my previous style and current affairs posts – get the password for ‘protected posts’ And help Save the elephant!

How to access password protected posts: To get your password please support our favourite animal charities such as Save the Wild Elephant Or rescuing baby elephants, by making a donation.Please make your donation directly to the charity and contact me for your password.


23 thoughts on “Shopping styles: on-line vs in-store?

  1. SA.

    Thank you Lady Sarah for linking my post. You are very kind!

    I am appreciating shopping in person as I get older. You are so right about the fit being absolutely perfect on the model. May be I am the only one, but Zara just doesn’t work for my body type at all. The either make the arm holes so big, showing so much under arm sides, or they have a back cut out or some silly detail on most of their clothes which just seems too trendy. I squealed with joy when the Nordstrom in my city started carrying Topshop. I actually like to wear my best clothes when shopping. You never know who you will run into. Also, dressing up well makes me compare any potential purchases against what I am wearing. I don’t feel dingy, thus, don’t impulsively buy everything that looks interesting 🙂

    My biggest luxury splurge is most definitely shoes. I’ve been sticking to Ferragamo and Charlotte Olympia since last year. They are hideously expensive but so sturdy, especially the Ferragamos. I bought all my pairs in person, except for two. Now that I know my size and shapes that work for me, I feel more comfortable shopping online for these brands. As overrated and elitist as it my sound, I actually love talking to my SA at the shoe store. She really keeps an eye out for my wishlist and actually talks to me about styles and fashion news, any upcoming sale alerts.

    I have a very very tiny collection of modestly priced handbags and 3 out of 4 were bought in person. I cannot imagine buying a Chanel or Hermes online. That is a disaster waiting to happen, despite of people telling how successful they were at getting the best price online.

    P.S. That bluish-green jacket with those straight cut jeans in the last picture – looks très chic!

  2. happyface313

    🙂 Hello, Lady Sarah,

    I don’t do much online shopping – only a few tops I buy from Land’s End that don’t have a shop and where I know my size.

    In general I prefer to buy in the store, as I like to try on things and see if they suit me and also if they fit. As you said correctly – clothes are photographed on slim young girls…

    I have purchased vintage bags online, if I have communicated online with the seller and I feel I can trust what he/she told me. Those purchases felt great and I really liked the bags. Some of them were good for a couple of years and then I re-sold them online as well.
    Hence buying and selling online makes sense to me.

    Have a very HAPPY weekend 🙂

  3. Leslie

    Skirts I can buy online if I read the details carefully and call and ask questions if I’m not sure about the length or cut- but anything else, I need to see try in person. But shoes, while I’d prefer to buy in person, I am such a hard fit/size that I end up using a lot since they offer free delivery and free returns. I have bought a Garden Party second hand /online – but I’d seen one person; knew I wanted one but was not willing to pay full retail, so held out for ‘good’ one to show up on a reputable resale online shop.
    (Please tell Lady Beatrix that Thomas says hello)

  4. dottoressa

    Generally,I like to buy things in person ( buying shoes online is out of question),to feel the fabric,to try things on,to think about….to have coffee or drinks after or while making the decision….
    It is ideal if I could check out online stores before visiting the real ones
    But,at the same time,I buy a great deal online-out of necessity:
    We don’t have a lot of brands I like here,only a few, and a couple of concept stores, so,I have to buy online (and a lot of brands don’t even ship here). Usually I buy brands where I’m familiar with sizes and quality (Eric Bompard cashmere,the Max Mara pieces I could not find here,Equipment shirts etc),brands I’ve tried during my travels to London,Milan,Vienna….and sometimes I take a risk,too
    And it gets worse,I could only dream nowdays about Repetto,Tod’s or Longchamp (and I’ve bought some of them here a couple of years ago)
    When I was a young girl,my parents and me,we used to go to Italy or Austria to buy shoes and boots every year,I’m sorry,but maybe I’ll have to do the same again
    Lucky you!

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      Max Mara has very consistent sizing- I agree you it’s an easy brand to buy on line. As you know we have the flagship max Mara in Bond Street, which is lucky indeed. Even so, there have been occasions where my size was not available and I ordered via Great service and I think I ‘got a discount too.
      Why do you think you have to go to Italy and Austria again for shoes? Is the shopping in Croatia getting worse?

      1. dottoressa

        Yes,as I can see. Some brands came and went away (even M&S f.e.,or Hugo Boss,Escada,Longchamp-to name some of them),some did never come at all. And it is pretty exhausting looking for something you don’t know if they have (still…,at all?….)
        If one doesn’t need sky high heel stilettos or sandals and is looking for first quality flats (like Tod’s or Repetto’s-and I’ve never ever seen Ferragamo in a store here-I guess it might appear somewhere but we are not well informed) or middle heel shoes or boots-yes!
        I’ve bought one pair of Mephisto Mary Jane’s this spring for walking and they are great,but I need more variety of items to choose from

  5. adguru101

    Good morning from the US!
    These days, I do most of my shopping online for one main reason: I can try things on at leisure without a hovering salesperson half my age who will tell me everything looks fabulous 🙂 My husband is my best critic: completely honest about what is flattering and what isn’t and I especially want him to vet anything expensive. (The poor man spent a lot of our recent vacation in London and Paris sitting on a banquette while I tried things on!)

    That said, I’ll only buy from a few sites where shipping/returns are free (current favorites are Net A Porter, YOOX,, Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdales) because, as you point out, many items won’t work. Luckily, there’s a shipping business near our house where I can drop off all of my Fed Ex/UPS/post office returns so it’s not too inconvenient. I do spend a lot on packing tape, though!

    I love shopping in person — finding it inspirational and recreational — but I’m too easily tempted and it’s very time-consuming. I avoid most store sales for that reason.

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      good morning! thank you for the info, I am absolutely fascinated by shopping habits around the world. I think in the US on-line shopping is the norm? There are shopping malls, but no high street shopping is that correct?

      1. adguru101

        Honestly, the US is so large that it depends on where one lives. I imagine there is more online shopping here simply because nearly everything is accessible, including items from around the world. But I’ll give you two examples:

        Austin, where I live most of the year, ranges from freestanding boutiques to high-end shopping malls (several are outdoors because we have sunshine most of the time) that mimic a high street experience with large department stores, outposts of H&M, Topshop etc., bars and restaurants.

        But in coastal Oregon, where we currently spend the summer, there is nothing remotely fashionable. You’d either have to drive to a bigger city (there’s a university town about 1.5 hrs away or Portland OR, about 2.5 hrs) or shop online, as I do.

        In more populated areas there’s usually a “downtown” with a main street, shopping centre or high street.

        I agree, the differences are fascinating!

  6. Sandra Robbins

    I am retired from the fashion industry and now volunteer 4 hours a week at a very good charity shop. All my shopping is now second hand designer pieces. Have never had so much fun. My best find so far – an Italian leather handbag for $12 in perfect condition. In the 80’s the same bag was selling for $400.

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      thank you for the info dear Sandra. Second hand shopping is full of treasures just as you say. Its essential to have the time to devote to it though. Do you have any tips for success you can offer to our readers?

  7. Anon

    TBH – my closet is pretty full with impractical, bargain purchases and uncomfortable items, bought online. This is a very clever post since fashion tends to sell a fantasy and the lifestyle we wished we had. I have a lot of good tailoring -I never wear any of it , my office dress code being ‘anything goes’. Id simply look weird if i turned up in a suit. LOL and yet I buy more!

    1. adguru101

      So true! I remember wearing a suit once at my advertising agency job (I was a creative director) and getting flak about it that I looked like one of the account executives. But that day I just felt like looking more pulled together.

      You might try mixing in a tailored jacket with something more casual (over a tee and jeans if acceptable) or pairing a nicer skirt with a sweater/sweatshirt. Could look cool/artsy and chic and then your favorite pieces wouldn’t sit in the closet 🙂

  8. baumanolly

    I would say, that online you could find better deals, but it is a great pleasure to buy some expensive stuff, like coat or bag in person in a nice and chic boutique. These are my thoughts 🙂

  9. adguru101

    Very true — part of the fun of acquiring is the pleasure of making the selection and having the tactile experience of seeing the fabric and design. Especially with bags — you have to see them in person to evaluate the quality of the leather, stitching, weight, how it hangs etc.

  10. Archana Paladugu

    Perhaps I am an easy body type to dress, but I have great hit rate with my online purchases. In fact, I have’nt stepped into a store for myself in 2 years !

    I do my shopping once per season. I place a large order and return what I dont like. The tactile element that goes into my decision making process happens at home. But I guess I put design/silhouette first that I can see online.

    But I see the disadvantages too. I dont own a pair of trousers because I cant figure out the fit if I buy them online. And I am too lazy to go to a store for now.

  11. Susan

    I prefer boutiques for clothing. I like to try on the item prior to purchase. I look for quality details in cut, seams and fabrics that are not visible online. That said, one of my favorite makers (St. John) does sell online when certain pieces do not sell. The online price is usually less expensive. Online clothing items are ogten the less sought after and returned pieces. I do purchase household items (appliances, vanities, faucets, tubs, toilets, mirrors, lighting) online and am very happy with this outcome. I go to home shows and know what I like. I have found that online prices are lower than the in-store prices. That said, if you have a print-out of the online ad/price, most stores selling the same item will price match.

  12. Pret a Porter P

    I do a lot of shopping online. My bags and shoes almost all purchased online. Clothing can be a mix. The pants and inexpensive stuff I have are mostly bought in store. Beauty products I prefer to make instore (instant gratification). I like to be able to try on clothing in person, butttt it’s true there’s usually different selections, better prices, and more credit card perks to buying online.

    We don’t use the word “high street” in the US, I guess our equivalent would be chain stores. Examples like Gap, J.Crew, Old Navy, Express, Forever 21 etc… H&M is sort of new-ish in certain cities in the US. Maybe in the last several years they expanded beyond NYC.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s