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August 18, 2009

40 Best Online Shopping Sites

These sites are paving new paths to chic closets. Here’s why they’re bookmark-worthy for all savvy browsers.

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Photo Credit: Izabela Habur

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VIRTUAL ATTRACTIONS

THE FOUNDERS

1. Avelle.com
This site makes more than 3000 high-end designer bags, jewelry pieces, sunglasses, and watches affordable for everyone. Shoppers take items by Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and other brands out for a spin, then either buy them or swap them in for something else.

2. Beauty.com
No more awkward interactions with pushy salespeople—this beauty giant lets you chat live with a beauty adviser who will recommend products from the hundreds of brands carried on beauty.com and its sister site, drugstore.com. We asked our adviser for a frizz-fighting hairspray, then upped the challenge by requesting something under $5. She quickly sent us a link to TRESemmé ExtraHold Climate Control hairspray ($4.35). Nice!

3. Covergirl.com
Drugstore makeup was notoriously hard to test until this site launched its Makeup Mirror application: Just upload a photo of yourself, then click to (digitally) try on hundreds of CoverGirl shades before you hit the drugstore aisles. The site also features step-by-step videos with pro makeup artists so you can duplicate fall’s top beauty trends.

4. Net-a-porter.com
This high-end e-retailer displays its offerings of clothes, lingerie, shoes, and accessories like an interactive magazine. You can check out hot-off-the-runway styles from designers such as Alexander McQueen and Rick Owens, then buy them. Look for exclusive pieces from Burberry and Christian Louboutin this fall, and sign up for Fashion News, a weekly e-mail with the scoop on recent arrivals.

5. Shopbop.com
Shop by brand, trend, exclusives, or even discount (30, 50, or 70 percent off). This nine-year-old site features hip finds from the likes of Anna Sui and L.A.M.B. Keep an eye out this fall for ofthe- moment faux-fur vests and jackets not available anywhere else from LaRok and Torn. Subscribe to the mailing list, and be the first to know about sales.

6. Tiffany.com
Whether you’re after Elsa Peretti’s designs or an engagement ring, this site displays the 172-year-old company’s fine jewels for you to peruse and purchase. We love how shoppers can search for items that are $100 and less and $250 and less, in specific categories like New Collections and Housewarming Gifts.

7. Vivre.com
Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti launched Vivre 13 years ago as a mail-order catalog with just three brands. Now Vivre’s on Facebook and Twitter. We love the host and hostess gift section that helps narrow down presents for friends who already have everything, and the complimentary personal-shopping service, which tailors suggestions to fit exactly what you’re looking for based on a brief online survey.

LUXE FOR LESS

8. Editorscloset.com Users can pay as little as 20 percent of the original price for items by everyone from Badgley Mischka to Judith Jack on this site stocked with designer markdowns. You must be a member (it’s free) to partake in the sales, but sign up quickly—there’s usually a waiting list.

9. FragranceNet.com
You’ve heard of financing a car—but a new fragrance? This site stocks scents from Calvin Klein and Ed Hardy and lets you postpone payments 90 days with the “Bill Me Later” option. Plus, most items—including makeup and skincare from brands like Prescriptives and Paula Dorf— are discounted.

10. Ruelala.com
Skip the waiting list on this site and go to the exclusive ruelala. com/marieclaire page to gain access to private sales that begin 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and last for 48 hours. You’ll find brands like BCBG and Vera Wang Lavender for 50 to 80 percent off. Bonus: Invite friends to join, and bank $10 when each one makes her first purchase.

11. SallyBeauty.com
At this beauty supply site, you can get your hands on the same products the pros use—just think how much you’d save if you were to get your own wax warmer ($24) instead of getting de-fuzzed at a spa every month. Join the Beauty Club and you’ll get more discounts on the huge array of hair tools, makeup brushes, and bath and body items.

12. Theoutnet.com
With help from its big sister site, net-a-porter.com, this designer retailer snags top brands like Alice + Olivia for up to 80 percent off original prices. Watch for the monthly pop-up sales, giveaways (free Christian Lacroix, anyone?), and items that drop in price literally before your very eyes.

13. Yoox.com
Find end-of-season clothes and accessories by designers like Catherine Malandrino on this site. There’s also a noteworthy collection of no-name and designer vintage finds handpicked by style experts.

EDITORS’ PICKS

14. Brownsfashion.com
Joan Burstein, one half of the husband-and-wife team that opened the original Browns shop in London 39 years ago, is credited with being a fairy godmother to talents like John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and Comme des Garçons. Shop the selection of It designs on this site, and use the virtual changing-room feature to mix and match pieces.

15. Couturelab.com
Expect to find special items from high-end designers and artists from all over the world on this site started by Venezuelan-born Carmen Busquets. In addition to clothes, there are gifts, jewelry, home items, and a private lab that’s invitation-only. Tailor the newsletter to your tastes; you’ll receive updates only on the designers, artists, and types of items that interest you. Also, work with CoutureLab’s bespoke service to create your own one-of-akind jewelry and linens.

16. Forwardforward.com
Emerging and forward-thinking designers from all over the globe, like Vena Cava, can be found on this site, which is a spin-off of revolveclothing.com. The rare finds and exceptional quality don’t come cheap, but the gratis overnight and two-day shipping and complimentary return shipping on U.S. orders, is a nice extra.

17. Hsn.com
This is the only place online to shop for in-demand beauty brands like Givenchy, Ready to Wear, and Iman Global Chic makeup. The real draw, however, is the live streaming video from HSN TV, including mesmerizing gabfests with beauty gurus such as Lauren Hutton and Napoleon Perdis.

18. Lagarconne.com
The utilitarian look of this site reflects its exceptionally well-cut offerings by the likes of Alexander Wang and Helmut Lang. There’s baby gear sprinkled in with the womenswear, and a daily newsletter that’ll keep you up to speed on the latest goings-on.

19. Luisaviaroma.com
This Italian-based site of the Florence, Rome, and Prato retailer (which opened its first boutique in 1930) offers the best clothes, shoes, and accessories from designer heavyweights—think D&G and Valentino. The pieces are pricey, but there’s no charge for shipping, and savvy users snag items here that they’d be wait-listed for elsewhere. Sign up for the newsletter, and follow them on Twitter to preview upcoming collections.

20. Miostile.com
Like what you’ve seen on Jessica Alba lately? How about Gisele? Find the exact items your favorite A-listers are wearing on this virtual outpost of the Charleston, SC, shop. Want more celeb style secrets? Submit your e-mail, and the scoop on what Hollywood’s wearing will be sent straight to your inbox.

21. Oaknyc.com
Downtown, cool-girl chic reaches the masses on this website of the popular Manhattan boutique chain. Get on the mailing list for details about their stylish parties, and be sure to scope out the killer selection of shoes by Candela and Dolce Vita.

22. Otteny.com
Emerging and independent designers’ offerings are found on this site, which is connected to three New York shops of the same name. We love the peek-a-boo style guide’s look at what’s on deck next season and the can’t-miss steals inthe Sale and Outlet tabs. Need some help sorting through 3.1 Phillip Lim and Clu? For $35, personal shopper Natasha Devereux will help you put together a smashing look for a special occasion, like a friend’s wedding. For the same amount monthly, she’ll keep you in fashionforward looks all year long.

23. Spiritbeautylounge.com
Shop for natural beauty brands like Jurlique and Patyka at this eco-conscious beauty site. (Its facilities are powered by wind and hydro energy.) Every month, it donates a portion of profits from a select group of products to a different charity (in September, 10 percent goes to Global Green USA).

24. Thisisauto.com
Husband-and-wife owners Renata Bokalo and Roman Luba created this virtual offshoot of their popular Manhattan mini department store. You can find home goods, bedding, jewelry, clothes, and books, and items for little ones, too.

NEXT PAGE: 16 More Stores: News & Views and Eco-Friendly Shopping


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