Your friends will think you shop at Soho boutiques!
Written: Sep 5, 2002 (Updated Dec 20, 2004)
I have been shopping at Bluefly for about 2 years. The web-only store offers fashion designers that you know and probably many that you don't. Even if you are not into fashion, you can still shop here and find extremely high quality merchandise. Details of my experience are below.
The merchandise is broken out into three main categories: women's apparel, men's apparel and home. There is a "gifts" category, but it really only calls up the same merchandise from the other three categories. Bluefly carries a full line of apparel for women: suits and career wear, dresses and party wear, accessories, costume and "real" jewelry, purses and bags, shoes, outerwear and intimate wear. The range is similar for men. The "home" category has a lot of throw pillows and throws, some sheets, some "accessories" including tableware, glassware and decorative items such as trays and vases. They carry some dishes, but rarely full sets.
A lot of designers are here. Some you know from Bloomingdales and Nordstrom: Prada, Fendi, Donna Karen, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren. Some are only shown in boutiques. The website offers bios on many of the designers just in case your friends ask who you are wearing this season. There is some middle-tier merchandise but Bluefly tends to highlight the really popular designers. Even if you don't know or crave designer names, the fabrics, cuts and styles here are sold in top tier stores and boutiques for a reason. Buyers willing to shell out $500 for a sweater (or even $150 for the same sweater on Bluefly) demand the highest quality.
One reason I like Bluefly's merchandise is that, even if you don't live in a fashion mecca such as NYC or L.A., you don't have to be limited to mall fashions. You can buy a piece from a designer that is only shown in a trendy soho boutique, for a discount price. You don't have to build a whole wardrobe here, but there are plenty of unique items to supplement your other pieces and, if you have a special event, you can get a "wow" piece.
Selection varies in the different categories. Sometimes there are tons of shoes, sometimes it is belts. You have to check back frequently if you are looking for a particular thing. Quantities also vary. Some items sell out the popular sizes quickly, some are on the web site forever. If you see it and love it, don't wait. I have missed a few great finds because I decided to wait a day and think it over.
Bluefly tends to carry a lot of party dresses, both formal and informal. At times, their selection of party dresses is better than many well-stocked designer stores. So, if you get an invitation to a black tie, formal or evening party, consider checking out the selection here before trekking off to the stores.
Bluefly advertises they are a discount site and they do have some serious discounts from full retail price for almost every item. Of course, very stylish items rarely remain at full retail for long and many department stores and boutiques also eventually offer steep discounts from retail. So, if you shop around, you may find that some brick and mortar stores beat Bluefly's prices sometimes. However, you can find a better selection of discounted merchandise at Bluefly then you would GENERALLY find at a department store.
Bluefly has a clearance section on the site that carries different merchandise than they show on the other portion of the site. Therefore, if you are looking for a long sleeve shirt, you have to check both the regular section and the "clearance" section to see all of the long sleeve shirts. It would be better if they just integrated both portions of the site.
Additionally, it is unclear how things qualify for the "clearance" section because the percentage discount is not necessarily better in "clearance" and things from the regular portion of the site don't necessarily migrate to "clearance" after some time period the way they do in the department stores. I have found great deals on both portions of the site so don't assume the best bargains are in the "clearance" section.
MY GRIPE ABOUT WEB SITE ORGANIZATION
The web site separates merchandise into categories such as: shirts, shoes, belts, dresses, etc. However, they carry a lot of collections. So, if you are looking for a shirt with matching pants, you have to look through all of the shirts and all of the pants before determining if a set even exists. Because some categories have over 20 pages of pictures, if the web site is slow, this can be a very long process. One partial shortcut is to click on a designer name which will bring up a bio about the designer and provide an abbreviated menu of the designer's offerings. You can then click through this mini-menu to search for matches. However, it would be MUCH better if, when you click on an item, it provides suggestions for matching items, similar to the Land's End web site.
This is where Bluefly shines. After you place an order, you get e-mails updating you on the status of your order (order received, order shipped). The order arrives wrapped in blue paper in a very sturdy Bluefly bag inside the shipping box. The merchandise usually comes sealed in plastic, usually with a hanger. I have placed several orders with Bluefly. On two pairs of pants, when I tried them on, the button fell off. One pair was Donna Karan and one pair was Calvin Klein. I think the defects came from the manufacturer and do not blame Bluefly. I packaged them back up and included a note asking for a full refund of all shipping because the merchandise was defective. Bluefly refunded every penny promptly.
STEALS AND DEALS
Bluefly offers on line coupons. To find a coupon code go to any search engine and enter the name of the site plus the word "coupon" or "deal." That will usually direct you to a site the collects coupon codes. You can use these codes to get deals on Bluefly.
You can also get a rebate on your purchase through Upromise.
ONE MORE THOUGHT
Bluefly does not offer hemming, unlike many other retailers. So, if you anything other than 5'8", you will have to bring your pants over to the tailors before you can wear them.
DO YOU LIKE TO SHOP ON THE INTERNET? HERE ARE SOME MORE REVIEWS OF WEB STORES:
Clothing and Accessories: Talbots; The Gap; CWD Kids; Hanna Andersson; J. Jill; Tote Le Monde ; Blu Pyxie ; Miniboden; One Hanes Place; Nordstrom; Gymboree; Simple Shoes; Sierra Blue; Ebags.
Clothing and Home Goods: Lands End; Soft Surroundings; Garnet Hill; Sundance; L.L. Bean.
Home and Garden: Smith & Noble; Restoration Hardware; Gardeners Supply Company; Unicahome; Homeclick; FaucetDirect; Gardens Alive; West Elm; Crate & Barrel; MyKnobs; CB2.
Books and Magazines: Amazon.com; ValueMags; Magazine Values; Dover Publications.
Office Supplies, Furniture and Services: Staples; Officemax; Topdeq; Efax.
Electronics: HP Shopping; Buy.com; ABT Electronics.
Travel: Amtrak; Hotwire; Orbitz; Hotels.com.
Discount: Overstock.com; Target.
Photo Developing: Shutterfly; Snapfish.
Baby Stuff: Babystyle; Babys Here Birth Announcements; Baby Universe; SoZo; Baby Center; Baby Age.
Miscellaneous: 1-800 contacts; Movie Tickets.com; Drugstore.com.
Rebate Sites: Upromise; Ebates.
Before you start shopping, check out my tips on how to save money by shopping on the internet . I have also included some coupon codes and plan to add more as I find them.
What product did you purchase or try to purchase? clothing