How to find retail therapy on the Internet

The "Flutter to the Fete" dress, which sells for $94.99, is an example of a kind of dress found at ModCloth. (credit: Screenshot courtesy of _modcloth.com_) The "Flutter to the Fete" dress, which sells for $94.99, is an example of a kind of dress found at ModCloth. (credit: Screenshot courtesy of _modcloth.com_) The "Beaded Silk Short Burnout," which sells for $220, is an example of a kind of kimono found at Planet Blue, a favorite of celebrity trendsetters. (credit: Screenshot courtesy of _shopplanetblue.com_) The "Beaded Silk Short Burnout," which sells for $220, is an example of a kind of kimono found at Planet Blue, a favorite of celebrity trendsetters. (credit: Screenshot courtesy of _shopplanetblue.com_)

Are there times when you feel the need to go shopping, but are discouraged by the terrifying idea of relying on the Port Authority to get there? The endless wait for the bus and the ensuing hour-long ride makes the process of physically going shopping extremely difficult for most students. They often wait until breaks or visits from parents to fulfill their shopping needs. While most people will find this waiting perfectly fine, shopping addicts, such as myself, would wholeheartedly disagree.

What if you need something on short notice? Online shopping is a common practice used to assuage this issue. While online shopping is a widely-used solution, it requires background knowledge in order to be done smartly and efficiently.

There is the option of ordering clothing items from the websites of physically existing stores, but there are some problems associated with this choice. Stores that solely function as websites generally offer free returns on purchased items and do not have a minimum price necessary to attain free shipping. In contrast, those that operate as brick-and-mortar stores have a minimum amount for free shipping. An added benefit of shopping online is the opportunity to find clothing that is unique. After all, you don’t want to wear the same Urban Outfitters sweater that you’ve already seen 10 other people wearing on campus. Fortunately, outlined below is a guide to shopping online that covers a range of stores to suit any style.

Let’s say you’re a fan of the beachy, bohemian style of clothing found at stores, such as Free People and Brandy Melville. Long, flowing maxi skirts, billowy blouses, and floral kimonos are the way to go. In that case, check out www.threadsence.com, www.shopplanetblue.com, and www.saboskirt.com.

Out of the three websites listed, the one that comes closest to Free People is ThreadSence. While the concepts behind the designs found on ThreadSence are similar to Free People, the clothes are not the cheap replicas that other stores offer. The clothes on the ThreadSence website are not as overpriced as Free People, and are of decent quality. There is also a wide variety of clothing, as opposed to a few sweaters or skirts.

Planet Blue shares this characteristic, as well as the bohemian vibe, with ThreadSence. However, the style portrayed on the website is more reminiscent of the beach, with comfortable wide-legged pants and slouchy sweaters. Blouses with intricate cutouts and designs make it possible to also find fancier items at Planet Blue. This website is known as a favorite among celebrities, including the actress and boho-trendsetter Vanessa Hudgens, as well as her High School Musical co-star Ashley Tisdale. A physical store for Planet Blue exists, but only in Southern California, which is a little far from Carnegie Mellon’s campus. The store’s popularity among celebrities also means that it’s quite pricey. One shirt generally costs over $100, but their sale section is nice to go through occasionally.

Sabo Skirt is another worthwhile bohemian store. Based out of Australia, Sabo Skirt offers clothing that is beach-inspired, featuring bralettes, crop tops, and thin sweaters and knits. There’s less variety in the style of the clothing, but the website is reputable. Keep this store in mind, but wait for warmer weather before you place an order.

Though it has gained significant popularity, the bohemian style is still — as one might expect — not everyone’s favorite. Maybe you prefer your clothing items to possess a quirky or vintage feel, like those found at Anthropologie. In that case, the online shopping sites www.shopruche.com and www.modcloth.com are for you. Founded right here in Pittsburgh, ModCloth is the more well-known of the two. While the headquarters for ModCloth are located in this city, it is still an online-only. Polka-dot dresses, blouses with cute Peter Pan collars, and leggings with quirky patterns are among the clothing available at ModCloth. Another benefit of the website is its overwhelming variety.

Ruche is a smaller, and more elegant version of ModCloth. Many of the clothing items on both websites are the same, and there is a heavy amount of overlap between the two, but the clothing on ModCloth seems more childish. The same company that owns Ruche also owns ThreadSence, but the clothing is quite different. Ruche’s winning quality is definitely its array of printed shirts and blouses found on the website, which are similar to those found at Anthropologie without being blatant copies, but are much cheaper.

Making the transition from vintage to preppy comes with stores such as J. Crew and Francesca’s Collections. While you could make the trip to Walnut Street and deal with the possibility of returning empty-handed, you could also avoid moving at all and do the same thing from your laptop. Websites to check out for something different include www.jackwills.com, www.reddressboutique.com, and www.shophopes.com. Most similar to J. Crew is British-based clothing store Jack Wills, with puffy vests, shirts, and fitted cable-knit sweaters. It can be quite expensive, with the cheapest sweater at $90, but the clothing is also very good quality. Red Dress Boutique and Hope’s are both very similar, and together bear a strong resemblance to Francesca’s Collections. They stray from the elegance of J. Crew, but remain bright and preppy.

If some of these stores sound appealing to you, check them out. You can get your shopping done without even leaving the couch.