Online Shopping Roundup, Part 4: Shoe and Accessory Sites
The roundup continues! This week we’ve gotten to one of my favorite shopping indulgences: shoes, handbags, and other accessories. I have to admit, I used to be reluctant to shop for shoes online; something about the unforgiving nature of shoes sizing made me reluctant to buy shoes I hadn’t tried on already. Thankfully, a whole slew of shoe and handbag sites make returns both insanely easy and free, so there’s no reason to hesitate. Some of my favorites sites after the jump.
Zappos. Zappos is the mother of all shoe sites and has an equally massive selection of handbags. If you’re looking to find a bag you saw in a store somewhere last season that’s not in the department stores any more, Zappos is a great place to look. Zappos’ enormous selection does come with the drawback that it’s not really curated to any significant extent, so if you’re looking for guidance on the season’s latest fashions or how to wear a particular trend, this is not the place to go. However, if you have an idea of what you’re looking for, Zappos’ has a whole set of sorting tools to let you weed out shoes by size, heel height, color, you name it. Zappos is as a result my go-to site if I need to find shoes to match a particular outfit and only, say, red patent ballet flats will do. Domestic standard shipping is free and return shipping is similarly free; you can print off a a return UPS or USPS shipping label from the website anytime within 365 days.
Piperlime. Piperlime is the shoe and handbag site associated with the Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy, and has offerings for men, women, and children. Piperlime’s holdings aren’t nearly as extensive as Zappos’, but they’re somewhat more selective, and they have various fashion features including picks by stylish Rachel Zoe. (I’ll leave alone the issue of whether you want to follow Zoe’s picks!) The holdings range from mid-range designer lines like Foley & Corinna and Furla to cute but affordable mass-market lines. Sorting tools are included for color, size, and price to make your shopping experience easier. Like Zappos, standard shipping and return shipping are free; a prepaid UPS label is included with your order for returns. You need to be a little more prompt than with Zappos though; returns must be made within 45 days.
Shoes.com. Like Zappos, Shoes.com is extensive rather than well-curated, and is not the place to look for fashion guidance. As with Zappos, however, Shoes.com can be a great place to look for items that you’re having trouble finding elsewhere, and carries brands including Marc by Marc Jacobs, BCBG Max Azria, Born, and even Dr. Scholl’s. As with the others, standard shipping (via UPS ground) and return shipping are free. In order to make a return, you just hop online within 60 days and follow the directions on their return items link. Somewhat oddly, they note in their return policy that an excessive number of returns within a 12-month period may cause them to reject any future orders.
Endless. Endless has a terrific selection of shoes for women, men, and children, and handbags, wallets, and sunglasses. Endless was built by Amazon.com to provide a more user-friendly shoe and handbag shopping experience, and does a great job with useful shopping tools and a few fashion guides containing the site’s picks for new arrivals. Endless carries a wide variety of brands ranging from Carlos Falchi to Nine West. When shopping by category or color, you can select more than one (say, clutches and wristlets) and then clear them individually to customize your search as much as you like. Free overnight shipping is available to all domestic addresses, with free standard shipping to APO/FPO addresses. Return shipping is also free; returns can be made any time within 365 days by hopping online and printing a USPS or UPS return shipping label.
DSW. Any shoe aficionado is familiar with DSW’s massive warehouse stores full of discounted shoes; what you may not have known is that DSW also has a website providing online access to some of their great deals. Their shoe holdings are generally similar to those in stores, ranging from deeply discounted high-end lines like Giuseppe Zanotti to cost-effective flip flops (ha!). Like the stores, you can’t rely on them to have the latest offerings from any particular line, but they have great deals on what they do have. As in the stores, the handbag offerings are less extensive than the shoes, but they still have some interesting stuff. All goods are sortable by size, color, and material. Unlike the other sites, however, standard shipping is $7.95; a prepaid FedEx label is included with your order for returns, but you’ll be charged $8.50 for using it. Returns must be made within 60 days.
Farfetch. Farfetch offers a slightly different model than any of the other websites discussed here; rather than representing a single online or physical store, Farfetch has online holdings from independent fashion boutiques all over Europe. The site includes clothing as well as shoes, handbags, and accessories for both men and women. Their selection is high end and carefully selected by the participating boutiques; it’s not a place for recession shopping but if you’re looking for high fashion it’s hard to argue with their offerings. Because of the nature of the site and the fact that the stores shipping the items are located in different countries, shipping charges are dependent on the size of the package, your location, and where they’re coming from, although they do ship worldwide using UPS. Returns are accepted but return shipping costs are on you.