STYLE Online or face-to-face shopping?


TOUCHY FEELY Being able to handle and try on clothes will always give bricks-and-mortar stores and boutiques an advantage. 

Why you can’t beat bricks and mortar

Maggie Gibbons

I was chatting with some friends recently about online shopping for clothes, and it seems that most of us over 50 still prefer to go into the store or boutique for that touchy, feely, try-it-on experience. Unanimously, we felt we would miss out on something very personal by just clicking a mouse.
I buy regularly online, things like beauty products, books, gifts, even household items and to date, it’s all gone according to plan. I draw the line at that though, as I’ve had disastrous experiences in the past with online clothes shopping. The colour was never quite as sharp as on the screen, sizing was usually a problem and I’ve been bitterly disappointed with the quality more than once. Try to send it back and that’s a whole new set of problems.
Mind you for the younger generation, online shopping appears to be the modus operandi. I spoke with a number of 20/30 year olds who felt the online experience offered a breadth of information and research on products. I don’t know what the secret is, but for now I think I’ll continue visiting the shops.
Personally, a visit to the local boutiques beats the cyber experience hands down for customer service. I love browsing the rails, and invariably find a little gem of a bargain. Clothes are in context, they tell a story which I find visually appealing. The owners take time to understand their customers, which is one of the biggest benefits, and there’s never an issue if something has to be returned.
Most of us only know what something is really like by trying it on, sometimes a garment that has no hanger appeal can look great on, while something that looks wonderful might be desperate on you. You will usually get chatting to other ladies and have a bit of a laugh, plus you will get honest advice on what looks good on you (usually)! You won’t have any worries about disclosure of personal information, which unfortunately can’t be said about buying online.
Online shopping, on the other hand, is impervious to weather, queues and car parking. It’s convenient. You can visit a myriad of shops while sitting comfortably sipping coffee (or wine) and you can save money, time and effort all with the click of a mouse. You will also be offered a wider variety of products than in a brick-and-mortar store, and it’s a wonderful way to purchase without having to visit a changing room.
The biggest advantage is that your clothes are delivered to you and there’s a huge adrenaline rush when the postman comes. However, you will not have a relationship with this faceless/nameless seller, and trying to correct a wrong order may cause major hassle. If something looks too good to be true, it usually is. It’s too easy to ‘go to checkout’ and find yourself down hundreds of euros with just the click of a button. Caveat Emptor!
So there you have it ladies, for me the personal experience of going to the store wins every time.  I love the buzz I get from coming home with a bag or two!

Maggie Gibbons is an Image/Style Consultant based in Louisburgh. She can be contacted at