I used to go shopping as a hobby, popping from store to store and trying on new arrivals on a near biweekly basis. Of course, I wasn't always buying things (in fact, I rarely was), rather, I was just testing them out for future reference, taking note of the way they fit and felt compared to their price points and competitors. Then lockdown happened, and the hobby I once sought comfort in became obsolete. Without the ability to try things on, I stopped shopping entirely. It was too likely that if I ordered something online, it would arrive looking or feeling completely different than I thought it would.
Since I can't possibly be the only one with trust issues pertaining to online shopping—specifically when it comes to brands that don't have brick-and-mortar stores at all—I figured I'd bite the bullet so that you never again have to place an order and hope that it looks the same as its picture. How? By testing out pieces from today's buzziest internet brands—from celeb-favorite labels like Mirror Palais and With Jéan to affordable trend havens like Rumours and Edikted—and giving you my honest opinions on them. You're welcome.
Keep scrolling to see how the six brands I tested out held up.
I've actually been a fan of the Aussie label With Jéan, founded by best friends Sami Lorking-Tanner and Evangeline Titila, for a while now. Then again, so has everyone else on Instagram and TikTok, where the brand has blown up over the last few years, thanks to pieces like the terrycloth Alexa dress, and before that, the ubiquitous Femme top. It wasn't until recently, though, that I'd actually tried it, likely because of my fear of online shopping. Now that I have, I can safely give my true seal of approval.
My honest opinion: For starters, With Jéan, like many of today's most talked-about brands, isn't for the faint of heart. Short hemlines, strapless silhouettes, and corsets are ever-present on the label's website, but that's no reason to write it off. It wasn't until I actually tested out a few pieces from the brand that I realized just how wearable they can be, both for everyday and special occasions. My one qualm would be the sizing, which differs pretty significantly depending on the item. For example, the Chloe Corset Dress fits true to size, whereas the Cindy Corset runs big. The brand is pretty good about noting these nuances in the Size + Fit tab on its website, though, so be sure to check there before making a purchase.
Nine times out of 10, when I tag-check a Gen Zer's Instagram post, something they're wearing is from Rumours—a New York–based fast-fashion brand that in 2020, got Bella Hadid's stamp of approval. Founded by Dacey Trotta in 2019, the label houses just about every internet trend there is, selling each for prices that primarily stay below $100.
My honest opinion: The pieces I tried are cute, minimal, and of higher quality than I typically expect within this price range, making Rumours a good source for of-the-moment trends that you want to wear a few times before another comes along.
If you're in a pinch and need something fun, colorful, and probably a bit revealing (yes, I said it) for a party or event, Beginning Boutique is a good option, especially if you're on a budget. It's no wonder then that creating an online source for weekend going-out clothes was Australian founder Sarah Timmerman's entire mission.
My honest opinion: Beginning Boutique gives what it set out to give. Everything on the site is perfect for a night out with friends, especially if you're looking to find something super trendy that won't break the bank. Be prepared for the dresses and skirts to be very short, though, and probably in need of a slip.
I'm sure that everyone here has heard of I.Am.Gia, the trend-forward brand beloved by Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, Kendall Jenner, and Ariana Grande, among others. Whether or not you've tried it, though, is another story entirely. Since the brand isn't sold at third-party retailers and doesn't have a brick-and-mortar store, it can be tricky to know what to actually buy. I get it—I couldn't decide either. But, boy, was I surprised when I actually did test out the brand IRL.
My honest opinion: I was pretty shocked at how much I enjoyed the pieces I tested from I.Am.Gia. Given that the price point is on the lower end, I figured that the quality just wouldn't be there. That wasn't the case. Most surprising was the fit, which was spot on—something that even ultra-expensive luxury brands can't always do. It's no wonder the brand's pieces sell out so fast.
Edikted is all about serving the Gen-Z audience, which is obvious when you look at the selection. Think micro-miniskirt sets and '90s-inspired maxi skirts and bra tops. But the styles offered aren't the only things making this store such a success among younger shoppers—especially those on TikTok. Everything on the brand's site is produced in controlled batches that depend on what's in demand at any given time. That way, nothing goes to waste.
My honest opinion: I'm going to preface this one by stating that Edikted is one of those brands that automatically discount items when they're made available, often by 50%. That being said, the selection offered there feels very of the moment, so if you're looking for on-trend pieces for very competitive prices, Edikted could become your go-to. Know that the pieces are very thin and unlined, so you'll likely need some sort of base layer. (I suggest Skims.)
Photo:@elizagracehuber; PICTURED: Mirror Palais Great Expectations Shirt; Mirror Palais Low Rise Mini Skirt; Mirror Palais Fairy Dress
Ironically enough, fashion favorite e-commerce brand Mirror Palais doesn't currently have a single item for sale on its website, despite the fact that e-commerce is its main distribution channel. Don't worry, though—that won't be the case for long. (All of the brand's ready-to-wear pieces will be restocked on the website on November 12 at 3 p.m.) See, the brand—founded by designer Marcelo Gaia and spotted on Bella Hadid, Ariana Grande, and even Jennifer Lopez—is currently running a pop-up in New York City, where all of its usually sold-out pieces are being sold exclusively until November 7. In other words, if you're in NYC, run over there right now. It's located at 27 Orchard Street in the Lower East Side.
My honest opinion: It says everything to me that when I went to the pop-up to try on pieces for this story, with no intention of buying a single thing, I left with a miniskirt that was significantly out of my budget. After trying on basically the entire store, I can say with 100% confidence that Mirror Palais is worth the hype. I'd even argue that it's worth the price tag if only for the acclaim you'll receive on your Instagram feed.
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