With so many sites like Rosewholesale, Wish, and Dresslily (that are often all owned by the same parent company), offering up stylish and super cheap clothing, it can be tempting to start loading up your online cart!
But... should you?
Alright, I'm going to get a little bit opinionated here (big surprise): You PROBABLY shouldn't, especially if you're not Asian.
I might offend some of you in this post. If you are sensitive, you might want to just stop reading right now, and just NOT order from cheap Chinese clothing sites, and call it a day. If you click "read more" below, you don't get to be all uppity about anything I say afterwards. No, seriously, you don't. In fact, I have closed the ability to comment on this post, so you'll just have to be offended elsewhere.
Without further ado, I'll explain why these sites are awful, but first, why the people who buy from and then COMPLAIN about these sites are even MORE awful.
"bUt WHy aRe tHEy sELliNg tO aMrrricAnS tHEn??? HErp dUrp."
Oh, I don't know, because Asians and smaller people of other ethnic groups, live in the US? Yeah, that might be it. There are sizable Asian communities, especially on the west coast. (If you've never hit up Koreatown in Los Angeles, you are missing out!)
Another brutally honest truth here: Asians are NOT CHILD-SIZED and it is actually really offensive and infantilizing of (usually white) Americans to mock our bodies in that way. There are MORE ASIANS GLOBALLY than any other ethnic group. WE are the standard. WE are the average. I am not small; Americans are just large. And I said large, not fat, so don't act like I'm body-shaming. The average height and weight of a non-Asian-American is significantly larger than an Asian or an Asian-American. These are just numbers, not shaming. My measurements are almost exactly the average for South Korea. In the US, I am considered "child-sized". It is insulting for people to act like my natural, NORMAL, average body size is somehow less valid than theirs, EVEN IN MY OWN COUNTRY OR CONTINENT OF ORIGIN. Especially when people who are like me, far outnumber the tall, broader-built people of European descent. Asians outnumber everyone. I am way more representative of the average than a white American woman. Don't you "other" me. (I am aware that not all Asians are built like me, but exceptions are not the average or median. I'd rather not define basic math terms today).
Sorry, white American women... the world does NOT revolve around you. You have a billion options here in the US for cheap clothing that is made with YOUR body in mind. China doesn't owe you that too. You don't even live there. You are not a large enough chunk of their profits for them to cater to you. It is weird the way white women are PERSONALLY OFFENDED by Asian clothing sizes. Not-being-a-typical-Asian is a weird thing to take personally when you're... not Asian at all.
Clothing sites based in Asia have sizing based on average Asian body sizes. This shouldn't be offensive to anyone who isn't a spoiled, self-centered brat who thinks the whole world needs to bend over backwards for their special little snowflake self. THEY LIST THE DAMN MEASUREMENTS, PEOPLE. There is no excuse to not KNOW, 100%, that the size "Large" is not even kind of close to a US size Large. READ THE FREAKING SIZE CHART. They literally AAAAALLLLLL have one. Some of them even put in notes to warn American buyers that the sizing is smaller than US sizing. Yet somehow, people are still surprised. Come on people, don't validate the whole "stupid American" stereotype. Read!!!
And not even all Asians fit in those sizes. Asian clothing companies are woefully bad when it comes to offering plus size options, and they don't even apologize for saying that plus size women just shouldn't wear stylish things (seriously, it's not so bad here in the US when it comes to plus sizes, compared to what it's like to be plus-sized in places like China, South Korea, or Japan). I could rant about that one for years (and will probably dedicate a future post to Asians and the way they body shame, especially women).
Now, if you really do want to try out some of these deceptively cute clothing items being peddled at bottom-of-the-barrel prices, here's how to do it:
- Be no larger than a US women's size 6. And short. I am not joking. For reference, I am 5'3.5, 105 lbs, and I wear a Medium. If you are taller than 5'4 or 5'5, some of the "dresses" might be more like "tunics" or "long shirts". Just be aware so you can keep your expectations in line. The average Chinese woman in certain parts of the country is 5'1. They are not making skirts, shirts, or jackets with 5'8" women in mind. BUT, depending on what article of clothing you're buying, you can probably have it be long enough if you buy the men's version (like if it's a something like a coat that is less obviously gendered).
- When it doubt, size up. I have never regretted sizing up when I was between sizes.
- Be no larger than a C-cup. The clothing options are generally terrible about accommodating for large busts. It is more likely that the garments will fit you if you are flatter chested.
- You're going to have to convert from cms to inches. And stop whining about it. The entire rest of the world uses metric. Deal with it. I can't believe this is a common complaint amongst my friends. We all learned this in elementary school, and google will convert it for you.
- Be okay with the photo of the clothing possibly being more of an "inspiration" photo than an accurate representation of what you'll be receiving. Half of those photos are stolen from other sites or even from Instagrammers and bloggers, and you're buying a knock-off of that. Now, this isn't always the case. I've received items that were only vaguely like the photos, and items that were exactly like the photos and super awesome. But it's a dice roll.
- Pay with PayPal. Always. Forever. If they don't offer it, DO NOT BUY FROM THEM. I have never had issues with receiving my order, but since it's an international package, arriving via the cheapest, crappiest mail service available, sometimes things get lost, or maybe they sent the wrong items or left something out... either way, make sure you have financial recourse just in case, and PayPal has incredible buyer protection.
- It helps if you know some basic sewing. Why? Because sometimes the items come with minor imperfections. Some loose thread here, a lost button over there... And it has made a world of different for me to make minor modifications to some of the cheaper-looking items. Like adding a lining to a skirt (which helped it to lay better on my body, and not cling).
- Keep your expectations in line with the price, and the fact that the clothes are coming from a second-world country, and is probably being constructed by people making three cents per day and working 16 hour days. I'm not going to get into the moral implications of all of that (I don't have enough time or space to rant enough about sweat shops, labor violations, or the way the non-white poor are dehumanized on a global scale). Just keep in mind that is 100000% unreasonable to purchase a brand new dress for $6 and expect it to be top quality. Especially when it's made by a 10 year old, or an overworked woman who hasn't had a full night's rest in decades.
- If you do order and it's all way too small for you, pass it along to a niece, daughter, friend as an option, before going the more annoying route of returning the items or trying to get your money back. In fact, if you have tween or young teen daughters, this is actually a great way to buy them some trendy clothing without breaking the bank, if you know the sizes are just not right for your body type or size. And you don't have to worry about it lasting, since your tween/teen will outgrow it long before it falls apart. My 10-year-old daughter likes to buy Asian clothes because she gets way more out of her allowance that way. She wears an XS in Asian sizes (she is white American and has her white father's larger, broader body build, and will be taller than me soon!)
- You know this stuff ships from China, right? Yeah, so, you're going to have to wait a while. If you are super impatient about shipping, hit up Amazon and find options with Prime shipping instead for your cheap threads. I live on the West Coast of the US, so I tend to receive items from China, Japan, or South Korea in about 2 weeks, sometimes as long as 3 weeks. But for some people, it can be 4 weeks, 5 weeks, even 6 weeks, depending on where you're located. Like I mentioned above, they are using the crappiest, shittiest, slowest, most garbage mail delivery service they can. Once it hits the US, it is often handed over to DHL, which we all know is about as fast as delivering via carrier pigeon. But, it's just part of the deal you get.
I am certain that some of you are offended by this post in spite of my warning in the beginning, and in spite of knowing that I am an Asian immigrant and do not experience the world the same way as my white American friends.
But ladies... I am TIRED. It is EXHAUSTING having to constantly explain to my American friends over and over and over again to STOP TRYING TO MAKE DRESSLILY ITEMS WORK FOR THEM. I tell them constantly that the sizes are for Asians, to read the measurements and size charts, and that the quality is exactly what you can expect from inhumane exploitative labor... and I swear they just want to be indignant about something, so they decide to be indignant about CLOTHING SIZES FOR NONWHITE PEOPLE, for not being exactly like clothing sizes for White people. Like, why? Is it THAT horrible to you that something might not automatically include you? That something could be made for a different audience in mind that isn't YOU? Because guess what? That's what it's like to be nonwhite in America.
All the clothing, fashion, makeup, hair products... they are made for a white audience primarily, and then a few tokenized nods to women of color (and we've come a long way in the past 10 years, thankfully!). And I have to accept that, accommodate for it, expect items to be too large and too long on me, to not fit me correctly without tailoring, because I am not the majority in this country. Granted, there are more minorities in the US than there are white people in China (Asian countries are extremely homogenized), and our numbers are only increasing, so it makes less sense that the US would ignore black, brown, and tan consumers, but I digress.
In sum, if you're thinking about buying from a cheap Chinese online store... you probably shouldn't unless you're petite and thin, or buying for your daughter. Bonus points if you know how to lower your expectations, enjoy sartorial *surprises*, love delayed mail, and can sew a little.
If you're an average or typical non-Asian-American woman, just don't. Please don't. I've given you a thousand reasons to run away from Chinese clothing sites.
And for the love of blue-eyed caucasian Jesus, do not complain to anyone about your cheap, ill-fitting clothing you if you do go ahead and buy cheap Chinese clothing anyway. At this point, it's your own fault if you waste your money on clothing you KNOW won't fit you. That's just you being an idiot.
Buy your shit from Wal Mart instead, which definitely caters to white consumers looking for a deal on cheap clothes, and the sizes definitely aren't "Asian". That one is all yours, America. And you don't even have to wait 6 weeks for shipping.