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No, it can’t be. Seriously?
Your colleagues have only just stopped calling you “The Worm” (something about an alcohol-induced dance move at the End of Financial Year Party which you’ve clearly blanked out), and wasn’t it just yesterday that Pippa stole the show at her sister’s Royal Wedding? Yet all of a sudden, and seemingly out of nowhere, we’re a week away from Christmas!
If in the midst of all the chaos that surrounds this time of year you’ve omitted to buy a gift for the boss or, God forbid, your family, then let me introduce you to my old friend – and sometimes foe depending on my bank balance – online shopping.
With just a credit card and a click of a mouse, you can buy just about anything online these days. It’s safe, cheaper than stores (usually), goods can be delivered to anywhere in the world, and the best part: no waiting in queues behind a ratty child whinging about how she desperately wants Justin Bieber’s Christmas album, Mistletoe. That, and not having to listen to Jingle Bells on loop. One-horse open sleighs are overrated.
To get you started, here are my top picks from some of my favourite sites. Tried-and-tested so you can be confident in handing over your details without being taken for a joy ride, they are a convenient way to shop, or as my mother puts it, “a convenient way to blow your income”. Let’s get started.
FOR THE GENTLEMAN: MR PORTER
The brother of the female luxury online retailer that started it all, NET-A-PORTER, MR PORTER is for the distinguished gentleman who appreciates the finer things in life and isn’t afraid to pay for it. Not just a dispenser of luxury goods, the website also features a tightly-edited and educational weekly report entitled “The Journal” which dishes about latest trends, interviews international fashion movers and shakers, and of course, links back to its offerings. Based in London, and spearheaded by the former editor of Esquire UK, Mr Jeremy Langmead, you can be assured that a purchase made on MR PORTER is a purchase made in good taste.
Tip: Check out the “What to Wear” section which suggests full ensemble options for various outings from “black tie” to “beach vacation” to “boardroom meeting”.
Shipping costs: £20 (international shipping)
Stated delivery time: 2 to 3 business days
Actual delivery time: It’s here already? That is, crazy fast.
Let’s go shopping: www.MRPORTER.com
FOR THE TRENDSETTER: ASOS
First, don’t be overwhelmed by the outrageously voluminous options available. Second, know exactly what you’re looking for. Tailored for both the male and female fashion junkie with an ever evolving palate for the latest trends, this site stocks street style friendly labels like American Apparel, Cheap Monday, Fred Perry, Polo Ralph Lauren and its own savvy home brand “ASOS” which is very well priced.
Tip: Refine your search (and save time) by choosing the brands, size and colours you prefer on the left side bar.
Shipping costs: Standard international, free; express international, £20
Delivery time: Standard, 14 business days; express, 8 business days
Actual delivery time: Free standard shipping takes about a week and half and express usually within a week.
Let’s go shopping: www.asos.com
FOR THE BRANDED HIPSTER: Oki-ni
Housing brands the likes of Alexander McQueen, Maison Martin Margiela, Bernhard Willhelm, and SILENT by Damir Doma, this is the go-to site for cult brands and offbeat collaborations with progressive designers. The styles are edgy and left of centre, so if you have a brooding emo friend or someone who loves name-dropping brands that the 98% hasn’t heard of, then you’ve come to the right place.
Tips: Check out the “Features” section for an insight into the creative minds behind the labels, and before you know it, you’ll be gas-bagging like a fashion editor.
Shipping costs: Full priced items, free worldwide shipping; express shipping, £19.95 for DHL delivery in 3-5 days or £16.95 for DHL delivery in 5-10 days.
Delivery time: Free worldwide shipping, 5 business days
Actual delivery time: As promised.
Let’s go shopping: www.oki-ni.com
FOR THE HOME: Areaware
Based in New York City with an emphasis on showcasing young and local American artists, Areaware has a quirky collection of household items and personal accessories that double as modern art. The aesthetic is simple and functional and tends to feature sustainably harvested beech wood or metallic coated resin. In short, it’s the perfect site to snag thought-provoking conversation-starters for the design enthusiast.
Tips: Combine your order with friends to save on the steep shipping costs.
Shipping costs: FedEx International Economy, 6 days, USD$47.85, FedEx International Priority, 3 days, USD$51.72.
Delivery time: As stated above.
Actual delivery time: Those people from FedEx kinda live and breathe this stuff. Punctual as promised.
Let’s go shopping: www.areaware.com
FOR SHADES: EyeGoodies
Because everyone needs at least one pair of sunnies. Whether you’re looking for something classic (think Ray-Bans and Persols) or something that packs a punch (try Cutler & Gross, Ksubi or RetroSuperFuture), the people behind EyeGoodies have sourced a venerable collection to suit everyone’s tastes. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up buying a few different shades.
Tips: Clueless about what’s making waves at the moment? Make your first stop the “Look Book” page which showcases the latest eyewear trends.
Shipping costs: USD$28
Delivery time: 3 to 6 business days
Actual delivery time: Just shy of a week
Let’s go shopping: www.eyegoodies.com
FOR BOOKS: Book Depository
For the person who already has everything, expand their mental horizons with a good book. Book Depository stocks pretty much everything except for your obscure local cookbook or budding local writer; it’s better for the big names and titles. Cheap books and FREE shipping worldwide make this website a winner. I’m currently reading A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich and totally recommend it for its poetic and fairy-tale explanation of our world’s historical events. A pleasure to read without being too heavy on the details. Two thumbs up.
Tips: Books, like ties, are highly personal. Do your homework before making a purchase. If in doubt, buy a literary classic or an award-winner; as least you’ll look intelligent even if they hate it. Gold.
Shipping costs: Free shipping worldwide
Delivery time: 7 to 10 business days
Actual delivery time: It usually arrives within 2 weeks. People, it’s free!
Let’s go shopping: www.bookdepository.com