Fashion Fashion Editor Muse

Sofia Redgrave

Shopping is a tricky business. If you go when you feel fat everything looks wrong. Go when your hungry and you can't concentrate. Go when you're in a rush, and you buy the wrong thing.

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Shopping is a tricky business. If you go when you feel fat everything looks wrong. Go when your hungry and you can't concentrate. Go when you're in a rush, and you buy the wrong thing. You also have to compete with the assault of cheap, understaffed and overstocked shops. Neon lighting gives you cellulite in places you didn't even know existed and the ghastly songs blaring out of the speakers give you a migraine. Now try shopping in the sales. It's hell. What we really need are shops that make us feel like a valued customer.
The personal touches are what makes shopping a pleasurable experience, even if it is just the small joy of not having to queue to pay. I never understand why they have six tills and only ever open two. It it also such a delight when the sales assistants fetch you a different size, without you even having to leave the cubicle. There is an answer, but it's an expensive one.

If we want this level of service we have to go to Bond Street or Selfridges. So, as you can see, I'm having a bit of an anti-shop moment, and yet again I have turned to the internet for help. You don't actually have to leave home to pick up beautiful clothes at bargain prices. Shopping from home will also mean you can do it under your rules, accompanied by your music and at your preferred time of day. There are quite a few british websites popping up which sell off surplus designer stock at good discounts.

High-end designers have previously refused to offer large discounts, so these new websites will be the new home of the frugal fashionista. Brand Alley, the free private members club, has attracted 600,000 members in the last twelve months, selling the likes of Chloe and Galliano for up to 80% off. In turn, designers like selling off their product to Brand Alley because they get rid of stock quickly and discretely.

Natalie Massenet, brainchild of Net-a-Porter, is about to launch Outnet.com, an online discount village giving customers the thrill of a year round bargain. The site goes live in April and already thousands of women have signed up for both membership and email alerts. Outnet will buy all up of the clothes which have been ordered and subsequently cancelled as the recession continues.

Another website to bookmark is Myus.com. Have you ever found the perfect item online only to realise the website only ships within the U.S? Myus.com is the answer, after getting an account - not free but it's worth it - they provide you with an american address and forward your purchase to the UK. This still works out cheaper than paying double for american brands over here.

Lastly, if you like to compare prices and quality from one shop to the other but hate trawling the highstreet, shopstyle.com is the place for you. Type in 'black pencil skirt' and the site will bring up all skirts matching your description from the online stores. This means that you can buy the perfect dress/shoe/coat at the perfect price.

Shopping need not induce severe and indelible nausea, and online entrepreneurs have duly taken notice.

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