The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Adventures in Online Shopping:

[Read our update here.]

Have you ever wondered what it's like to shop at, the UK's so-called "Online Fashion Store"? I know I have! So I finally decided to place my first order and review the goods. Here's how it went:

Navigating the site: A truly daunting task indeed, has thousands of products, from clothes and shoes to jewelry, handbags and other accessories. They carry their own inhouse brands as well as high street brands like French Connection, and designer brands like Miss Sixty and Betsy Johnson. A very impressive roster indeed but hardly budget-friendly...more on that in a moment.

My plan of attack: Hit up the mid-season sale, where items were up to 40% off. I narrowed the field down further by searching only for ASOS Collection items--basically I wanted to see how their own brand stacked up to other fast-fashion chains, so I avoided the designer duds.

Next, I had fun searching for styles by "x" celebrity--ya know, where you can find stuff inspired by stars like Sienna Miller, Kate Moss or the Olsen twins. It's entertaining, and actually useful if you have a few celebrities muses whose style you like to emulate. If nothing else, searching by celebrity will help you narrow down your options.

Another helpful feature at ASOS is that you can see almost any product in motion using the "click to view catwalk" button. This brief video clip shows you how a garment fits and moves (albeit on a perfect, skinny model, strutting to the sounds of some impulse-buy inducing dance music.)

After many wasted hours spent here and there surfing the site, I finally decided to get a plaid bomber jacket ($27.05), black denim leggings ($45.08), and a black dolman sleeve off-shoulder top ($36.06). I wasn't thrilled with these prices, in fact, I found everything to be rather overpriced, but I placed my order for the sake of research purposes. Really!

Shipping: Exorbitant shipping prices are probably enough to prevent me from every placing another order from ASOS. I understand it's coming from Europe, but I nearly choked when I saw that my order would cost $40 to ship via standard shipping. Unreal. Also, be prepared to wait a long time to get your goodies: I placed my order on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 15, and received my package more than a week later on Friday, October 24.

Sizing: Converting currency is easy as has a nifty little dropdown that lets you switch between Euros, pounds, dollars, etc. But figuring out your U.S. size is really tricky. I referred to their sizing chart, but just didn't trust the end, I decided to order one size up from my usual U.S. size for the jacket and shirt (ie., from a 4 US to a UK 6) and two sizes up for the leggings (ie., from a 6 US to a UK 8L). Miraculously, everything fit perfectly but I think it was blind luck more than anything. Had I listened to their sizing chart, I would have ordered completely the wrong thing.

Quality: Now for the moment of truth--what was the quality like? Well it wasn't bad, per se, but it wasn't worth the $40 shipping. I'd say the quality of ASOS brand clothing is similar to Forever 21. The fit is also similar to that of Forever 21, although in some ways, Forever 21's stuff fits me better. The sleeves on the bomber jacket could have been an inch longer; the leggings fit like a charm but they're really tight around the ankles and are difficult to get on and off. The top I bought is really cute, I love the sleeves and the long length, but the fabric is super thin. Drapes nicely, but I doubt it will hold up well in the wash.

Style: I love the look of my plaid jacket, it's super cute and perfect for fall. But it's also pretty flimsy material, more of a fashion layering piece than warm outerwear. I also love the denim leggings, they have the look of a legging but a little more substance to them than your basic cotton/spandex. I can't wait to tuck them into warm, furry boots and layer them under big, comfy sweaters for winter. My new top has an 80s vibe with the off-the-shoulder thing, but it has an updated silhouette and with the right accessories, I think it will be a favorite of mine for fall.

I wanted to try some ASOS brand shoes, but unfortunately I am on a self-imposed shoe ban right now. I'm also not sure how ASOS accessories or formalwear stacks up--they have a lot of cute-looking stuff but I can't imagine the quality is all that great in person, judging by the few items I purchased.

Overall: ASOS lures you in with their incredible selection of the latest styles, many inspired by what we're coveting from the runways or what we're seeing on celebs. But at the end of the day, the prices are WAY too high for what you're getting (and the dollar just doesn't go far these days). I would never consider ordering any item that wasn't on sale. Shipping costs are ridiculous, and I think this is enough to prevent me from ordering from them again. I got lucky with the fit of the items I ordered this time, but can you imagine what it would cost to return stuff you didn't love? Scary. My advice is this: Sign up for emails for updates on the latest styles and tips for how to wear them, then find similar looks at your local mall.

Have you ever shopped at What did you think?

I get emails from them and saw a cropped leather jacket I wanted was only $90, but with the shipping, I was spending $130, which was ridiculous, so I ended up not buying it. The shipping is what stops me from buying anything from there every time.
#1 taylor on 2008-10-27 07:43 (Reply)
yeah, I figured I better stick with local retailers because the shipping from UK site are not good for us here in the states since the dollar does not equal the pound. Plus I would hate sending items back and then get charged again for return shipping. I figured I better just stick with ordering from retailers that have local stores, so if I don't like it I can bring it back to the store.
#2 budgetchic (Homepage) on 2008-10-27 08:51 (Reply)
Hey ladies Asos now has free shipping if you spend over $75 US or uk...On the website it says that its $75 uk but it applies to us also
#2.1 Gabrielle on 2009-10-30 12:16 (Reply)
You are awesome for doing this experiment. I've been tempted several times but never ordered ... now I'm thinking I chose wisely. Even though you look FANTASTIC in that cute little cropped plaid number.
#3 Sal (Homepage) on 2008-10-27 08:58 (Reply)
Loved hearing about this- I LOVE that first look on you by the way- I have considered buying jean leggings.But now I would NOT buy from them!
#4 Real Style Real people (Homepage) on 2008-10-27 10:35 (Reply)
Thanks for this article! I have been long wondering if the clothes, shoes, etc. are as appealing as they look online. I have to say that their marketing is excellent. I have yet to receive an email from them with less than two or three things I reeeeeallly want to buy. The "weak dollar" has always prevented me from actually making a purchase, and I hadn't even thought about higher shipping rates! Thanks for the very helpful information!
#5 Jen on 2008-10-27 11:32 (Reply)
thanks for the great advice, i couldn't agree more! and i must say, that plaid jacket is a fabulous find!
#6 Cupcakes and Cashmere (Homepage) on 2008-10-27 12:14 (Reply)
Thanks for the review. I was tempted, but the cost of shipping alone kind of makes me reconsider.
#7 Tara (Homepage) on 2008-10-27 12:48 (Reply)
Well, I ordered a one-strapped greek inspired shirt from ASOS for my birthday and was thrilled when it came in the mail...until they shipped me the wrong thing. I was so upset =(

Anywoo, I went to the post office to ship it back and they told me that it would be $40 (not including insurance) to ship it back. So, I paid $60 for a shirt, but instead I got pair of leopard PJ's in a size small.

I would agree that its not worth the shipping cost and risks; look around for similar styles online (US sites) and in malls. I will admit they have some cute stuff on their site.
#8 KaLovely on 2008-10-27 13:05 (Reply)
$40 for shipping!!! omg!!! I would never pay that! Good to know for sure!
#9 Peaches on 2008-10-27 14:11 (Reply)
Are the brown boots your wearing with the dolman top from aerosoles? I have a pair that looks just like that and I live them so much.
#10 Victoria Miller on 2008-10-27 14:20 (Reply)
Yup, good eye! Those are the Aerosoles "Tint Cess" and they're on sale now for $79.99:
#10.1 The Budget Babe on 2009-01-26 16:43 (Reply)
Oh wow, this was a great review. I've never shopped there, but I've definitely looked around the site a lot. I do like how they have things from $15 to $300. And one thing I hate about buying from online stores are the crazy shipping prices. I even re-consider buying something if the shipping is $10 let alone $40! And thanks for the quality review, I'll probably just stick to going to Forever 21 IN PERSON. Money is tight these days!
#11 Celeste (Homepage) on 2008-10-27 15:13 (Reply)
I just bought from ASOS too! Their shoe chart was horrible. Both my shoes (a pair of heels and boots) are too big! The shirt I bought ended up being to small and the dress I ordered could have been a little bigger. Other than the fit, I like teh clothes, quality and all. I too have browsed the site a lot and decided to buy when I saw all the sales ... I would only buy shoes from them again!
#12 Senu on 2008-10-27 17:59 (Reply)
i absolutely love asos!! :-)
#13 la couturier (Homepage) on 2008-10-27 21:43 (Reply)
unfortunately that doesn't surprise me, since everything is SO expensive in the UK! even so, 40$ for shipping is a rip-off!!
#14 margarida (Homepage) on 2008-10-28 14:00 (Reply)
it's worth noting that shipping is based on weight. so, for instance, when i ordered a leather jacket, a top and a necklace, shipping came out to $40 and it took roughly about a week and a half for it to get to me. on the other hand, when i ordered a dress and a belt, shipping was $14 and it arrived within about 4 days.

i love asos. i've ordered from them time and time again and have always been pleased with the fit, cost and quality of my purchases. i suppose it depends on what you buy, but i would never liken what i got to something you could pick up at forever 21. neeeverrr! i usually get amazing stuff when they have sales as well.

also, given the current state of the global economy, us shoppers will be pleased to find that uk currency is, while still ahead of the dollar, not double the dollar.
#15 mary on 2008-10-28 17:01 (Reply)
You know, I've also wasted countless hours shopping ASOS online, and yet I never committed to buy anything. I am glad I didn't after reading your review. Very helpful, thank you! I do love that bomber jacket you got... :-)
#16 Anna (Homepage) on 2008-10-29 11:43 (Reply)
Budget babe , thanks for the research. I appreciate it. I like their offering, just can't afford the shipping right now.
#17 budgetchic (Homepage) on 2008-10-29 14:56 (Reply)
I've bought 3 pairs of footwear- 2 pairs of sandals and 1 pair of woven flats- and some jewellery (necklaces and bracelets) from ASOS! They are all so pretty and I love them all! The shoes are of really durable quality, and the fit and cutting are perfect, for my feet, at least. =) I haven't bought any apparels from the site though, so it's a pity that those that you bought aren't quite up to your expectations. But well, go for the shoes and jewellery!! The workmanship is awesome!
#18 Shuqi on 2008-11-01 02:52 (Reply)
Does anyone know what customs would cost on an order that totals about 30 US dollars from
#19 Maryn on 2008-11-02 20:10 (Reply)
Guess what? When I purchase stuff on Asos, I proceed just about the same way as you do: first the sales, then the celebrities' styles, and then the catwalk motion. I only got to buy items there a couple of times and indeed, the quality is weak and doesn't hold the washes. Sorry to hear you got to pay 40$ for shipping, it's damn expensive but I must say that for us, little Frenchies, we pay about the same when we order stuff on Forever21 or Victoria's Secrets. I guess it's also due to customs :-(
#20 Julie BBG (Homepage) on 2008-12-02 17:02 (Reply)
Personally, I prefer uk's topshop. I just order a dress to try for a Christmas party this winter. I've got an idea for a look and I think it'll look good. Plus topshop now has a "us" store. Shipping is $15 (5-7 days). Whether or not it actually ships from the us I don't know...I think it does (I believe they actually opened a store in New York not too long ago).
#21 Jennifer Cameron on 2008-12-05 22:53 (Reply)
The dress I ordered from Top Shop was perfect for my office Christmas party. The fabric was a nice jersey (not the cheap thin stuff), and I topped it off with a gold caplet I had bought from JC Penny last year. Paired with black tights and heels...and I was ready to go! Minus the tights and jacket and I can wear this again any other season. Overall a good buy.
#21.1 Jennifer Cameron on 2009-01-17 20:35 (Reply)
Ive ordered from, my shipping was free...BUT trying to return items is WWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY expensive!! It was going to cost me $70!!! WTF?! The dress already cost $90!! I decided to sell the dress on ebay. I agree shipping takes ALL day! Idk if I'll be ordering from them again.
#22 Adrianne on 2010-03-15 23:57 (Reply)
I lovvvee ASOS.COM!! I have shopped there on more that one occasion. They now have a STANDARD FLAT SHIPING RATE OF $6 to the U.S. Their quality isn't the best but I am plus size so I'll often compromise quality for style. Nevertheless, I get many compliments on everything that I wear from them.
#23 Sonya McC on 2010-07-08 11:47 (Reply)
im planning on buying a lot of stuff from asos for school. and it says the shipping is $8 for US. i dont really get how this works. is it gonna be $8 for the entire order of like 15 items or $8 for every item? and what is standard flat shipping rate?:-)
#23.1 gerry d on 2010-07-27 00:21 (Reply)
I have thos boots from aerosoles but mine are solid brown I love how yours look kind aged and black in the seams how do I get mine like that??
#24 Crystal on 2010-07-23 12:43 (Reply) should try ordering stuff from the US into Europe! Its normally twice as expensive as that! I love ASOS though and get free shipping =]
#25 Molly on 2011-10-30 05:46 (Reply)
ASOS is offering Free shipping worldwide on any order $ amount. Also they have a sale for upto 70% off now... i ordered over 10 orders now to take advantage of the free shipping and to reduce duties. The orders included Gstar jeans and shorts for about $35-$80 which are great prices. so maybe its a good time to purchase now to try it out... first time users can also get extra 10% off by using LATE10 and the free shipping is on for all of 2012
#26 GC on 2012-01-02 10:00 (Reply)
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