Online Shopping Tools I Use

colette shopping bag, originally uploaded to Flickr by KarlHab.

2016 Update: Check out our newest favorite online shopping apps!

How do you get the best deals online, especially for women’s clothes, shoes, and bags? We’ve talked about all of my favorite ways to find deals individually (as well as my best internet shopping tips in a larger scale), but I thought it might be helpful to have one post rounding up the different ways I use these services.  Especially since new tools are coming on the market every day (including Lyst, which lets you follow different influencers to see what they’re buying and recommending) and Wantworthy, which lets you easily keep a “shopping list” of items you’d like, whether to create a registry or just a list for yourself), it helps to go over some of the oldies but goodies. (Pictured: colette shopping bag, originally uploaded to Flickr by Karl Hab.)

– Shopping Notes.  I use this one to stalk particular items.  Seen a great dress at Bloomingdale’s for $300, but would only be interested if the price falls to $150?  Click the “Shopping Notes” bookmarklet button, and you can add it to your Shopping Notes list, and it will email you if and when the item drops to that price.  There’s no guaranteeing your size will be left, though (or that it will hit that price).  You can just say, “tell me if it goes on sale,” but I find that I better enforce my budget if I give it a specific price.

Shop It To Me.  I think of this one as a great way to find “lucky sizes,” as well as general sales — I eagerly look over the email I get every day and peruse the selection of clothes, bags, and shoes on sale.  I’ve told it my sizes, and I’ve set it to only show me prices 60% off and more, so if I don’t get to the email in a day or two then most of the good stuff is gone.  They also have a web-based tool where you can peruse EVERYTHING in your size — I might use it if I were looking for something specific (a cocktail dress 50% off and under $200, say).  The email lists pieces by store, so if there are a ton of items then I know that store suddenly added a lot of markdowns and I should get over and check it out.

ShopStyle In addition to often using this tool to find TPS or Coffee Break suggestions, I use this personally when I want to stalk a brand.  Let’s say you generally like Kate Spade bags, and you don’t care if you buy them at Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, or Kate Spade — you just want to  know when they go on sale.  You can set up a “sale alert” for all “shoulder bags from Kate Spade,” or all “boots from Frye. ”  It isn’t store specific, so it tells you whenever ANYONE has a sale — but it also doesn’t guarantee that you’ll like the piece, what the price is, or what size will be left.  I’ve gotten some great deals through here, such as the time we saw my husband’s favorite Ray Ban sunglasses marked from $160 to $25 at Dillard’s.  (Weird color, but for $25, I’m still calling it a win.)  On my iPad it even sends me “push notifications” so I can click over and instantly see what’s on sale.

RetailMeNot.  I still head over here to see if I can find better sale codes before I purchase something online. :)

I haven’t gotten into the other services, to be honest — I’m at a point where I either buy something immediately because I need it and like the price, or throw it on my “Shopping Notes” list to consider if the price changes.  Very very rarely do I suffer from that haunting “I should have bought that when I had the chance!” feeling, but it happens — the great Kate Spade clutch I didn’t buy when it hit $125, the purple Stuart Weitzman pumps I did manage to snap up yesterday at RueLaLa after not purchasing them a week or so ago.

Readers, which online shopping services do you use?  Have you found any new ones lately?


  1. I’ve never had any luck with Shopping Notes. My alert always expires without any notice of a sale. Has anyone else had luck? I’m wondering if I should give it another try.

    • You can renew the alert, it emails you when time is almost up and gives you the option.
      I only used it for 2 things and it did work out with one of them. The other is still new so fingers crossed.

  2. I’ve tried signing up for shopping services, but ultimately unsubscribed to each. No matter how good a deal I might get, I decided that more often than not, they only introduced me to items I would never have seen (and therefore never know to want/miss), or prevented me from forgetting about an item I was sort of interested in (but not loving enough to actually bookmark it for future checking) at full price. My wallet, stress levels (it was like a constant flash sale – “you might miss out!” – in my email) and closet capacity are all happier for my intentional ignorance.

    That said, Kat, I can totally understand why you use these sites, given your need to come up with all these suggestions for us each week!

    • Agreed. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the “ignorance is bliss” theory of shopping. If I haven’t seen it, then I can’t pine over it :)

      • eastbaybanker :

        Ditto! I lack self-restraint, so limiting my knowledge of sales is a budgeting strategy.

  3. SF Bay Associate :

    Kat, you forgot ebates! I go through ebates every single time I can (a few stores aren’t on there) and have gotten back several hundred dollars in quarterly checks so far. I also use ShopItToMe and RetailMeNot, and occasionally use ShopStyle.

    • This – eBates is legitimate & so easy to use. I love getting my check from them every few months.

    • I doubt she “forgot.” She has a vested interest in getting people to buy directly after clicking here so that the referral money goes to her. Doesn’t really bother me (though I always get the I am entitled to).

    • What is ebates?

  4. In the Pink :

    Hoping to catch readers on the TJ.

    Is there anyone out there in the hive can tell me about the Moroccan Oil buzz?

    I have alwyas had straight hair, but with ageing and greying, those are wiry and unmanageable. Shampoo and conditioner daily (life long routine) are not effective. Tried the Freida frizz ease for a big event and felt sort of helmet headed.

    Thoughts? Advice? Suggestions?

    Last I posted about hair control, I got lots of advice to color it. For health reasons and damage to my system from docs not listening and giving me rx that essentially made me (now, 10+years on) over sensitive to estrogen, has changed my body, skin, and hair in so many other permanent ways. So I won’t color. I try to overlook those issues in the mirror each morning, but the hair is getting to me the most. Or maybe I think it’s the easiest to fix?

    For melasma, thanks and a standing ovation to Conceal Fx.

    Perhaps I should sign as In the Spotted or In the Grey ????

    @Godzilla, a RAWR of frustration, please. You do it best!

    • I don’t have your specific concerns, but I keep my hair long for religious purposes. So I’ve had to keep it very healthy since I won’t cut or trim it at all. I’m guessing that part of what you need is moisture? If so I have a few things that work for me.

      I bought a small bottle of Moroccan Oil (can’t remember the brand, but it’s in a small light blue bottle next to shampoo/conditioner at Target.) and used it on the bottom foot or so of my hair (it’s longer than three feet). It made my hair beyond soft and shiny. I loved it, and it did good things for my split ends/frizziness

      Other things I’ve used that I’m pleased with are:
      Straight Olive oil, heated a bit and applied to all of my hair, put my hair in a shower cap and leave it on while I’m showering (I try to leave it for about 20 minutes), and then I wash it out.
      Aussie’s 3 minute hair repair (or something) works wonders for my hair

      I’ve also heard great things about Ojon’s Restorative Treatment, but I haven’t ponied up the money for it yet. :)

    • lawsuited :

      I don’t have any grey so I can’t speak to that specifically, but every day I either blow out or straighten (with a ceramic straigtening iron) or curl (with a ceramic curling iron) my hair. My once happy, healthy, shiny hair is parched, unmanageable with outrageous split-ends. I’ve started using Moroccan Oil (in the yellow and turqouise bottle) and it’s making a big difference.

    • Merabella :

      I have straight fine, but a lot of hair. I use Moroccan Oil (from Organix, but I assume it is all the same) on the ends of my hair. I probably pour out what would be pea sized, work it into the ends and then use what remains on my hands on the rest of it.

      I thought it would be overkill because my hair is already straight/not really frizzy, but I found that it has made my shampoos last longer because I am not constantly trying to fix my hair. I love love love it, and I highly suggest it.

    • a hearty ROAR to you from a fellow grey head! I keep it grey too and people are always oohing and aahing over it and how young I look. BRAVA, classy lady! :)
      Waiting to hear about the oil- the frizzies bother me too (so I keep mine short, but would love to grow it out). I have tried a clear glaze at the hairdressers, not too happy with that. I do think that only we SEE the grey- when you look at Kathleen Sebelius, do you think UGH frizzies?

    • hellskitchen :

      I haven’t tried moroccan oil but have great success fighting frizz and adding shine with almond oil and hemp oil, which I picked up in a Ricky’s in NYC. You might find those at an ethnic beauty store. My graying seems to have decelerated but I don’t know if it’s the hair oils or my new vitamins and diet.

    • RAWRRRRRR DOOSHY HEALTH PROBLEMS, FOOEY ON YOU. I know ALL ABOUT giving up stuff due to side effects. But also, oil even helps this monster keep things in check. Do they sell Moroccan oil at sephora? Maybe get a sample to try out before you commit to a bottle of stuff that’ll last you a life time.

    • I have had the very best luck with Paul Mitchell’s awaphui ginger oil. One squirt rubbed evenly throu my hands and then sparingly applied root to tip keeps both my wiry greys and my flyaways under control without looking greasy – even on the second or third day. Total winner for me!

    • I use Moroccan oil on my hair and it works beautifully. If you are sensitive to chemicals (because I just checked the Moroccan Oil label and it has preservatives and other things in it), what I do for glossy hair is apply warm olive or coconut oil, wrap my head in plastic wrap, apply some heat using the hair dryer, then put on a shower cap on to keep in the warmth and leave it on for 20-40 minutes before washing.

      My hair isn’t going grey, they are “ultra-blonde” ;)

    • In the Pink :

      OP here. Postive, joyful ROAR to you all. I’ll be going to ulta and target for options! I wash my hair daily (it’s hot and sweaty here in Texas and the gym 4/wk adds to it) … love the ideas. Wearing my “experience” proudly this morning thanks to you all!

    • I tried the Moroccan oil but it seemed to be a lot of money for nothing. Almond oil or especially coconut oil do best for my hair. And henna (+buxus+cassia) glosses for color (plus that makes my hair shinier), no chems.
      Silicones (like Frizz Ease) are murder for my hair – it takes weeks to recover.

      Desert Essence Coconut shampoo (once or twice a week) and Conditioner (heavily every day and even use as a leave in) are the best, by far, I have found.

  5. Blonde Lawyer :

    If diamond earrings are being sold as “.25 ct tw” and quantity is listed as 2, does that mean each stud is a quarter carat? I want to make sure they are not combined a quarter carat. Thanks.

    • Turtle Wexler :

      The “ct tw” means carat total weight, so these are 12.5 points apiece. If you want each earring to be a quarter carat, you would need a .5 cttw set.

  6. I like Slice for keeping track of online receipts.

    And, um, because I can’t tell anyone in real life: I peed on a stick during my lunch break and lo and behold, I’m pregnant. I am in complete utter shock. We’ve been trying for awhile — long enough that I’ve been googling terrible things about secondary infertility and freaking out. Thanks to sickness and other life things getting in the way of ladygarden parties, I figured this month was a total wash. Guess not! I don’t think I’ll truly feel excited until I can confirm (and reconfirm) with more tests, but this is a promising sign.

  7. Aha! Wantworthy sounds like the thing I’ve been dreaming of. I thought I was just going to have to write things down in the plain old Notes app on my phone.

    They reallly need an app. (If they have one, I can’t find it in the App Store.)

  8. TJ – thoughts on wearing non-engagement/wedding rings on your left ring finger if you’re not married or engaged?

    I recently inherited a ring that’s been in the family forever and discovered that it only fits on my left ring finger. It doesn’t look like at all like a traditional wedding or engagement ring; it’s small, delicate and has an intricate design with colored stones.

    I love the ring and would like to wear it occasionally, but both my boyfriend and another friend told me it’d be weird to wear it on that finger, as I’m neither engaged or married.

    I know I could get look into getting it resized and wearing it on another finger, but it’s so delicate and old that I’d hate if something happened to it. I know I could also wear it on a necklace, but I strung it on an old chain this weekend and didn’t love the look.


    • if you’d continue wearing the ring after getting engaged, you would need to think about re-sizing anyway?

      that said, I wouldn’t think it was that weird. I might idly wonder for a minute if I was bored and noticed your hand in a meeting, but nothing more.

    • Cornellian :

      I would totally wear it. If I owned rings, I would wear them on whatever finger I pleased. My religion traditionally does not exchange any rings for engagement or wedding, either, and I think it’s silly to judge someone’s marital status based on their hand (adn not on, you know, asking them.)

    • lawsuited :

      I’m not exactly sure why you can’t wear it on your right ring finger if it fits on your ring finger? If your boyfriend is concerned that people will think the two of you are engaged when you’re not (and it seems like he is) I’d suggest wearing it on your right ring finger.

      If the ring only fits on your left ring finger and you love it, just wear it and say “Whateva! Whateva! I do what I want!”

      • my right hand fingers are all about half to a whole size bigger than my left hand fingers (left ring = in between right pinky and right ring) – so I can totally understand a single finger-specific fit.

      • Cornellian :

        just be a honey badger.

      • I think your right hand and left hand can have different muscles built up since one hand is your dominant hand. I just tried my wedding rings on my right ring finger–they are definitely a bit more snug on the right hand.

        I agree with the last sentence, though. Do whatever you want! However, if you want to get used to wearing this ring all the time and would plan to keep wearing it if you got other rings (like an engagment ring or wedding band), you might want to look into getting it resized anyway.

      • Honey Pillows :

        My right ring finger is actually bigger than my left, and a number of my grandmother’s antique rings only fit my left ring finger. I assume this is the same with the OP.

        It’s actually really annoying, but wearing rings on my left ring finger all the time have helped me figure out what I’d actually want my engagement ring to look like!

    • Europeans wear their wedding rings on the right hand. Can you develop an accent?

  9. What’s the best way to search for a deal on a specific item? I don’t want to “shop”–I want to get a nice messenger bag/briefcase/satchel affordably. These sites all look they’d require me to do lots of stopping in and wading through, nice for browsing, but I need to buy.

  10. What a GREAT article! I learned about some sites I haven’t heard of before. Thank you!

  11. I use I’ve purchased some great designer clothes at a nice discount. Daily deals are fab. My husband isn’t so happy about it, though – he ribs me constantly about the number of boxes delivered. I’m keeping UPS in business.

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