From folding tees in paper-perfect stacks to merchandising the giant windows of the downtown San Francisco Urban Outfitters, I cut my career teeth in fashion retail. Chances are you’ve cleared a dressing room or two in your day as well. While I loved all the fun stuff I got to do, like unpacking brand new product or engaging with people all day, sometimes staying out of the store provides a much more enjoyable shopping experience. Enter the internet!
Here is my carefully curated list of some of the best online shopping the internet has to offer, and I promise there’s something for you. So pull out your pocket book and let’s get started!
St. John has been offering women luxury knits since the American company’s founding in 1962. Their site provides excellent online shopping for several reasons. Clothing is organized in color stories so that, if you’re like me, you can go straight to the hues which suit you best. Of course you can also view items categorized by wardrobe piece, what’s new, and what’s newly marked down. The thing that I love most about shopping online at St. John is their lookbook. You don’t need window dressing or fully merchandised mannequins to tell a narrative about the season’s latest looks, it’s all under ‘Lookbook.’ So take a look yourself! St. John will dress you beautifully.
Reiss is the UK-based clothing company that you’ve never heard of, but wish you’d been wearing for the last decade. And if you have heard of it, I tip my hat to you and your deep fashion knowledge! Reiss makes beautifully simple staples with flair, and lines that flatter, which explains the brand’s award-winning status. In fact, our very own Co-Founder/CEO—and serious fashionista, counts Reiss as her top online shop. One thing to note as you scroll through their luxe products: UK sizes tend to run a bit smaller than our own US standards. Some of the features of Reiss’s online site that set it apart are extensive product pics to show all angles & movement, a ‘Wear It With’ menu bar stacked with all the usual ‘Design & Fit’ or ‘Care & Fabric’ info, and a beautifully built minimalist website. A poorly built site is a real turn-off when online shopping, so let’s celebrate Reiss for all the right design moves at every level!
Ann Taylor makes the Best Online Shopping list for its flirty take on fashion trends and staples, and because they ALWAYS have some pretty major promotions running. They showcase their multiple piece merchandising in a section called ‘Ways to Wear It’ right below the main product’s image and details. This feature puts together two different looks using the main product and, when you toggle over the picture, each item is displayed in a pop-up box with its price and a link to the item. Now you don’t need to finagle jewelry price tags from out of a mannequin’s collar or sleeve, or hunt down the jewelry’s location in the store. Ann Taylor puts it all within your keyboard & trackpad’s reach!
I adore J. Crew. But their store locations near me are on the small side which means that they’re frequently sold out of my size OR they never had the merchandise to begin with. These two things alone lead me to shop online at J. Crew, but those aren’t the only reasons. J.Crew has the most gorgeous photo narratives for their fashion! Typically the narratives are shot in visually interesting locations, and layer & combine the clothing in untraditional ways. And that’s how personal fashion inspiration is born.
I can’t move past J. Crew without pointing out their excellent promotions. I’ve managed stores with their own credit cards that sales associates are expected to ‘sell’ as much as they are the clothing. It’s high-pressure stuff! Because of that, I’m always leery of store cards. J. Crew is the only store card I have. Because my husband and son also shop there as much as me, it made sense to open the card. If there’s a store whose brand fills your closets & drawers, that’s the store you’ll want a card for. Major benefit: frequently you can stack card promotions with the other store promotions.
Vineyard Vines is another store that can clothe your whole family. They’re a fun, sunny, resort style clothier with a quality product. I think you’ll like shopping their online site because the joie de vivre is present in every picture, every smiling model, and it’s pretty contagious! Vineyard Vines has you covered from the golf course to the beach looking both spiffy and casually on point. The clothing staples and color palettes don’t change all that frequently from season to season, so you won’t need to do major updates of your wardrobe which is a huge plus for your pocketbook!
Vivienne Westwood has to be on the list of Best Online Shopping because of her quirky aesthetic and inventive silhouettes. Because the only U.S. stores are in New York, Los Angeles, and Hawaii, it’s a good thing that her online site offers free shipping worldwide! Many of her pieces are priced beyond my means, but I consider them aspirational and it definitely doesn’t stop me from crawling the site for what I can afford! Many online retailers make the fashion narrative of their season lineup implicit, Vivienne Westwood makes it explicit. She titles her collections, and every product is introduced with a thoughtful description that sets it apart and makes the price totally acceptable.
Finally, Vivienne Westwood makes this list for her activism. The company sources their textiles sustainably. They contribute broadly to environmental and human rights issues, and they invite you to do the same. Shopping here raises your sartorial quotient AND your philanthropic quotient, so treat yourself!