AliExpress FAQ

Shopping on AliExpress is one of my guilty pleasures as you’ll all probably know, but lately I’ve been getting an annoying amount of emails regarding this website and while I’d be happy to answer genuine questions that don’t require me to bust out LMGTFY, I get the feeling that people think it’s easier to get a detailed explanation from me rather than visiting the site for two seconds and figuring things out for themselves. So here’s a little FAQ to buying off AliExpress that I really hope will help future frugalistas:

1. Is the site trustworthy? How fast is the shipping?
Pretend as though you were asking that question about eBay. Because AliExpress is China’s eBay, there is no possible way that I can provide a relevant answer that will encompass all sellers and all circumstances on AliExpress. It is like eBay. You look out for sellers that have good feedback, you can ask them how quickly they ship things out, and judge from that whether you want to buy from them or not. Shipping varies from anywhere between 10 days to 2 months (if you’re super unlucky) and you’re covered by AliExpress’ Buyer Protection should anything go wrong or the seller disappears without a trace–leaving you without your item.

2. What quality can I expect?
As I said. Chinese eBay. Different sellers, different products, different standards, differing quality. I simply cannot answer this question! The best I can do for you is tell you to save your million questions.. for the seller. I personally downloaded an app called TradeManager onto my desktop which allows me to IM the sellers when they’re online, and I ask them specific questions like measurements of clothing, whether they have a special price for special customers (yes, I haggle on AliExpress), and if they have any actual product photos I can review.

3. Do the items always look like the photos in the listing?
Don’t always trust model photos unless you’re willing to gamble. As a pretty weak example, compare this picture and note that the model photos do differ quite a lot from the mannequin/coathanger photos in shape, exact color, and size of the picture on the front of the dress. See while I prefer the coathanger pictures, others may be disappointed to receive the item to the right instead of the one to the left. There are many worse examples than the one I provided here, which is why I don’t take the risk anymore and always ask for actual product photos if only the model photos are available.

4. What if I don’t like what I received?
Did you gamble on the model photos and lose? On the rare chance it’s not your fault and the seller has grossly misrepresented the item that they’re selling, go back to TradeManager and complain to them. Many of them will be happy to give you a refund, but on the chance they’re really stubborn about it, you can firstly threaten them with negative feedback and if that still doesn’t work, you can open a dispute on the order. Your money will be frozen until the both of you are happy, so they won’t get your money unless you let them. Don’t offer to return the item because shipping back to China will often cost more than the item you’re returning.

5. Have you seen x item from y on AliExpress? Have you seen any of z on AliExpress?
What am I, your personal shopper-slash-search engine? :( Have you even looked for yourself? If you have, in fact, looked for yourself, do you think I have some kind of magical powers that enable me to strap on a shopping helmet, lower myself into a shopping cannon and fire myself off into shopping land where I will be able to magically find what you’re looking for growing abundantly on trees when you cannot? Chances are that searching will take me the same amount of time as it will take you, except you’ll be able to reap the rewards of your trawl and I will just waste my personal time looking for something that you might not even like/want in the end.

6. Just a handy tip–
Don’t be afraid to haggle! Ask them what their best price is (link to the product in question of course), pit them against each other and show that a seller with no feedback has a cheaper price than them on the same item and ask if they can beat it, don’t be afraid to talk to them. Most of the sellers are really lovely people and love to talk or joke around, and if you don’t ask, you won’t get a discount, so ask!

That’s about all I can think of in regards to repetitive emails from people I’m getting, but if you have any more questions, just drop me a comment down below instead of emailing. I’m scared of my email inbox and chances are I won’t look in it right away, but comments, I actually love replying to.

Remember–Don’t be lazy, take the initiative! AliExpress is a virtual treasure trove of goodies and it’s well worth exploring yourself.

Mix Apparel: Sporty in Stripes

I haven’t visited Mix for many moons now–after that initial purchase of that uh-mazing bow-necked polka dotted top that you’ve seen featured in a few posts here, I’ve checked their website every now and again and not really found anything to my liking. That all changed when I recently found out via their Facebook page about a month too late that they were selling breton-style tops for the new season. Hopped onto their online store and lo and behold, everything is pretty much sold out.

So I pestered my mother into checking out their physical stores and far from the barren wasteland of their online website, I found a treasure trove of high-quality, low-cost items. Both my mine and my mother’s eyes popped out of our eye sockets. You know it’s impressive at that point when you’re shopping with a frugal quality snob like my mother and she’s left speechless by the clothing she’s uncovering on those grocery-store shelves. We walked out of both Coles (we went on a Mix Apparel spree yesterday, seriously) $150 down and ecstatic with our purchases. Here are some of our buys and a few little reviews..


First up is the lovely little crew-necked sweater I bought in cream. This sweater is pretty awesome in that it comes in two different styles, crew neck and v-neck. Comes in four different colours which are almost on-target for the upcoming Winter palette but just miss the mark. Still,  a cream and black breton sweater is such a nice staple for this Winter that I bought two. With their promotion (2 for $29), that brought the cost of the sweater down to a cool $14.50. For 100% cotton, it’s not bad at all.

As far as sizing and fit goes, we all know that Mix Apparel is known for two things–boxy silhouettes and extreme vanity sizing. The XS that I’m wearing in this photo could very nicely fit a size 12, but as for a size 8/10 (which is what I am generally), the fit will feel a bit loose around the torso.

 

Next up, for $10 a piece, who could resist these 3/4 sleeve breton tops? I’ve always loved the idea of these, but with no sane retailer offering these things for under $50 a piece, I’ve always gone without them. These are absolutely sold out on the website but there was so much stock in the Springwood store left that it’s definitely worth driving around (especially in “bogan suburbs” where this kind of stuff is less popular–don’t laugh, I’m serious!) to find them. They’re made from a light cotton material with four button detailing near the shoulder. I plan to unstitch them and add a little class to the top by replacing them with gold buttons later on.

I bought these in a size XS and the fit feels fine on me, if again, slightly big with a boxy fit. I will be remedying this by mostly wearing the top tucked into pants until I can be bothered to alter the sides into a more flattering shape.

 

Now for a few things I haven’t taken photos of–a striped sweater and a few singlet tops with a little shelf bra built in. The sweater is awesome (in an XS, again with a slightly loose boxy fit) in 100% cotton and the material feels thick and very warm. My mother commented on how she bought a very similar sweater for $100 in Myer and furthermore asked me if I was sure I didn’t want to buy a hundred of these before we left, but I stuck to the one. Quality is superb and it has a lovely wide boat neck that shows off the collarbones (if you’re into that sort of thing).

As for the singlets, they’re not showing this deal online but I bought the cobalt blue ones for $3 a piece on sale! And because I also bought a $6 full priced white one (more of a cream actually) alongside the blue, the register deducted $3 from my purchase so the singlet ended up $3 anyways, which I found a bit funny but didn’t even notice until I’d gotten back home. These are made from cotton and elastane and they’re a pleasantly snug fit. I bought XS, which felt slightly tight around the bust area, but then formed rather nicely to the rest of my torso, making me one happy camper.

So there you have it, frugalistas.

My final say on Mix Apparel is that it’s pretty awesome. While the majority of its clothing is targeted towards, and let’s not mince words here, middle-aged women who have started to go apple-shaped, it’s nothing so drastic that the average Spring chicken can’t workaround; Consider one of two things if you find the fit a little boxy–will you usually be wearing this stuff tucked into skirts/shorts/pants, or if not, is the item totally impossible to alter? Sewing is not hard, my God, and for items that surpass the quality of some pieces you’ll find in Myer, it’s definitely worth a crack.

You’ll find a lot of neat Winter staples if you pop down to Mix Apparel soon, including cardigans in a myriad of colours, cable-knit sweaters made from angora wool (I’m not even kidding, I couldn’t find it on the website but I sure found it in store!), and lots of different basics and accessories. Find your nearest store here and get going!

Sale on at Dotti

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Hey there frugalistas! I had to give mention to one of my favorite places to shop (when they’re cheap, they’re cheap!) before it was too late to pass on the good news about their sale. Thirty percent off already reduced items is nothing to sneeze at! This includes both sale and outlet items, so feel free to go nuts (you know you want to).

These are my scores today:

 
 

1. Off Duty Button Through Dress – $14

2. Bling Collar Top – $14

3. You Stud Belt Pack – $7

4. Floral Box Pleat Dress – $21

I’m pretty proud of my purchases–As some of you know, I’ve been eyeing off that first dress for a little while (it even made an appearance on my March wishlist!), and I just happened to nab the very last one in stock today in my size! (Well, a size 10, which I can make-do with just fine)

To take advantage of the free shipping offer, I also chucked in a couple of other things and when I stopped in today in-store, there were even more things to choose from! I managed to walk out with nothing more than a $3.50 gold skinny waist belt, though (pretty proud of myself). The good thing about buying from Dotti online is that you can load up your cart to take advantage of the “free shipping over $50” promotion and still freely return anything (including sale items) you don’t like (or.. erm.. anything you’ve put in your cart to push it over the $50 amount. Not that you’d do that, right?) to your nearest Dotti store no questions asked.

I love me that sort of shopping–nothing to lose, everything to gain.

Bonkers About Badges





 

So that was probably the lamest title I’ve come up with in a while.

I thought I’d post a mini-update about my life and announce that my fabulously awesomely fabulous shipment of badges from AliExpress just arrived earlier this morning. Super duper excited, because for 80c each, I was expecting some really inferior badges. Asides from a very small amount with some pixelation issues due to low resolutions used to print onto the badge, the majority of them are fabulous! For those wondering, the weird jaggedness on the edges of some of the badges are the protective film–you peel that off and they’re perfect underneath. I like how they are all individually packed and also protected with the film–you can tell the seller really cares!

I’m sure you’re curious as to why I ordered this many badges, but the truth is that these aren’t all for me–considering that the seller on AliExpress has a pesky $20 minimum order rule (and I only wanted all of maybe 6 badges), I sent out a call on Facebook to see if any friends wanted to buy badges of their own to help fill the order, and oh boy did they help. I ended up having to order about $40 worth of badges for everyone, and after a few hours of organizing my spreadsheets so that I didn’t get any requests wrong or leave anything out, I was finally done.

That was the day I learned that all my friends are hipsters with borderline unhealthy cat obsessions. No, I’m just kidding, I love my hipster friends.

About a month after ordering, here they are, all shiny and proud! What’s more is the seller gave me a small handful of freebie badges in the order too! That’s where the Hitler in lingerie badge came from. Apparently it’s the cute/”moe” thing in Asia right now, and so there it was, in my order, and I absolutely cracked up when I saw it and promptly claimed it as my own (although I’m not sure if there’ll come a time when I’m brave enough to wear this out in public).

My badges are gorgeous of course, and I absolutely love them–I ordered the giraffe in the tuxedo, the unicorn kitten cupcake, the tiger with floral eyes, a giant pink diamond, the American lightening bolt, and the Bazinga! badge to pay homage to my love of the Big Bang Theory (I know it’s stupid and immature and presents an unrealistic view of nerds and geeks of today, but shut up, it’s funny!). I was so impressed with my order, in fact, that for the briefest of moments I thought about doing what the “cool” thing seems to be in blogging right now and buying a whole shipment of these from China and selling them for extortionate prices, but then I faced my reality–ain’t nobody got time for that.

So yeah–I’ve provided the link to the seller up top, but here it is again. At 80c a pop, they are definitely worth the money, look amazing in real life, and there are hundreds of designs to choose from in their store (many more designs than the ones I’ve shown). There’s something there for everyone, guaranteed! Me personally, I can’t wait for Winter, where I’ll be adorning the lapels of my coats and jackets with these rainbow-coloured goodies.. Maybe even the Hitler badge.

March Mania

This is March’s wishlist post and you’ve guessed it, I’m not ready to let go of pastels yet.

In fact, having found that various shades of peach, pink and cream actually suits my Irish complexion (while not actually possessing an Irish background, but I have pink undertones and red hair, so that was the only name I could find that describes it in one word, negated by the fact I just had to explain it to you in a different run-on sentence) quite well, I’ve dug my heels stubbornly in front of the trendwagon because I just don’t want all these pretty colours to go away!

I know there’s a lot to be said for the deep, bold hues coming out in preparation for Winter or the military palette hovering around for the onset of Autumn, but dammit, does every single baby colour have to vacate the stores just yet?!

So my plan for a smooth transition into Autumn is to buy these little numbers and accessorize with pieces that will be able to seamlessly carry over to the new season, with hints of brown leather and gold mixed in.

1. Off Duty Button Through DressDotti, $20

2. 14k Solid Gold Name NecklaceeBay, $122 (This is not a frugal purchase, but in comparison to Goldmark, who wants $300 for the same thing, you betcha it’s good value)

3. Gold Sequin Character ShoesAliExpress, $37 (These are technically dance shoes, but I am currently addicted to the pursuit of that shape of shoe–comes in silver too, btw)

4. Rabbit WatchASOS, $32 (Straight onto my Stalklist for when the price gets reduced! $30 for a non-leather watch, tell ’em they’re dreamin’..)

5. Petite Playsuit w/ Beaded BowsASOS, $26

6. Twin Dogs Leather BeltAliExpress, $8.40

7. 1&20 Blackbirds Contrast SatchelThe Iconic, $32 (sale price–20% off right now)

8. Scissors Double RingeBay, $1

For today’s frugalista lesson, it pays to see potential in items and think outside the box.

With the ASOS playsuit, you’ll see that the shorts are attached separately at the back with a zip, so my plan was to alter (well, divide) the playsuit into a cute pair of shorts and a versatile top. It’s not difficult–just sew in a loose piece of elastic along the bottom of the newly created top and you’ll still have the pleated effect! That scissor double finger ring looks like a bit of a pain to wear and slightly hazardous for the particularly clumsy person, but I plan to break off the rings and attach a brooch back to turn them into an adorable oversized kitschy kinda brooch to wear on my coats or attach to my bags.

Tell me frugalistas, do you ever specifically buy clothing with a mind to re-purpose them into something new, or am I the only one??