- Holidays and Celebrations
Fancy Dress - A Guide To Buying Online
Quality Fancy Dress Costumes
Fancy Dress in the UK had quite a bad reputation for a number of years. Well, luckily times are changing!
Good quality shops are now offering a good range of costumes but the market for buying fancy dress online is growing substantially. In a series of articles I will take you through all aspects involving fancy dress from buying online to choosing a costume in a shop. For those of you needing a theme, you'll have plenty to chose from.
Fancy dress or costume parties are just so much fun. Your guests will laugh from begining to the end and your party will be talked about for weeks!
The key is not to have too many costume parties, 1 or 2 a year is normally what you should aim for.
Some Of Our Male CostumesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Buying A Costume Online
The most common complaints regarding buying fancy dress online are:
The costume is of low quality.
The costume is badly sized
The costume did not arrive in time
The costume doesn't look as it did in the web picture .
Customer service was not knowledgable or not even available.
The main questions are...
How do you know that you are dealing with a reputable business? Let's be honest, you could have a web-based business running from a garden shed for all you know!. Well, firstly, you should find out if the website runs alongside a retail costume shop. This is important because the people who you will be dealing with will know the costumes and accessories that are being sold. They would have seen the items being tried on in the shop and if you contact them, they are in a position to answer your questions honestly. An established costume shop will also be aware that their reputation is at stake. Bad news travels just as fast as good news! If the website is not based alongside a retail shop they may not be in a position to take a costume out to measure it for you - do not believe that 'One Size Fits All' - it rarely does..
Do they offer a money back guarantee? This shows that the business has confidence in its products. However, do check out the small print, there will be certain Terms & Conditions. Is everything covered? Some items such as make-up or hair products may not be, due to hygiene reasons.
How much is delivery? The cost of the item may be lower than other sites, but is the postage higher? What type of postal service is being used? Royal Mail will not admit a recorded delivery package is lost for 15 working days, so be aware of what the postage policy is. Most Next Day Services will be for a Monday - Friday service only. Do not order your item on a Saturday and expect it to be delivered on the following Monday. Are the goods tracked. Some sites offer a very low postage price, but your item is not traceable and some sites will not assume responsibility if your goods are lost in transit.
Delivery charges will also depend on whether the consignment is traceable throughout the delivery process. Is a signature required? Most courier companies will not leave a consignment unless a signature has been obtained. Can you get the item delivered to your place of work?
Can you contact this company by telephone, or do they charge more for this service? We believe that you should be able to contact us 7 days a week, usually by telephone or by email, whichever you prefer and we do not charge more for a telephone service.
There are a few things you can do to help yourself:
Do order your item in plenty of time. No matter what postal service is being used, once the item has been sent, it is basically out of the sender's control. So reduce the risk of being disappointed by giving yourself enough time. At peak times, such as Christmas, deliveries will almost certainly be slower, so please give the company a chance to make sure you have your items in plenty of time for your function.
Beware of the pitfalls of buying from overseas. Although we'd like to think we can cater to all your needs, if you are tempted to buy on the Internet from America, be aware that it may not be as easy as it looks: Many US and overseas firms are happy to deal with UK customers and will do all they can to help. Obviously you'd expect goods to take longer to come from overseas, and you will also have taken exchange rate variations into account (many overseas sellers quote in British Sterling anyway), but a problem may arise with UK Customs who can charge an import duty or VAT equivalent tax which you haven't allowed for. Furthermore, delivery firms may pay this duty on your behalf, but then charge an extra fee for having done so! Exactly how much the 'import' fee is can be a little arbitrary - don't assume it is just 20% for VAT - and even if your overseas supplier is good enough to refund you the tax you've had to pay, you may still find you are out of pocket on the postal/courier 'handling fee'. There are benefits with buying in Britain.
Be realistic on quality. If you are purchasing a low cost costume, the costume will not be to the same standard as a more expensive one. Cheap, budget costumes can admittedly look fantastic with the correct lighting and a bit of ironing, but then again, sometimes the fabric may be so thin that you might need to stay away from strong lighting!
The other factor to take into account on a low cost costume is 'What do you get for your money?' Whilst you are purchasing on the strength of a website picture, not all you see in the picture may be 'in the bag'. Things like wigs and shoes you would expect to be additions to the basic outfit (although some do come with 'boot-covers'), but, for instance, on male outfits, you might be expected to provide your own trousers! A good costume company will usually itemise what is in the package in the costume listing, and then go on to suggest additional accessories you might need. Don't assume what you see in a picture is what you get in the package.
Costume sizing has been, and is, still an issue. Luckily, manufacturers are waking up to the fact that not everybody is a size 10 and larger sizes are now being catered for. Also, do not assume that when it says 'One Size Fits All', it will do so. Unless the costume description actually states what size it is, we advise you to double check with the company. A good company will happily measure (or have this information at the ready). It also helps to be honest about your size!
Any good company will give their contact details very clearly, and WILL allow you to ring them up and talk to a 'real' person. Sometimes this is exactly what you need to do, even if it is just to put your mind at rest.
Check when the company is available to take your call, or email as you will want an answer quite quickly to your question.
From a business owner's point of view, I want to get it right first time. A costume that has been sent out, and subsequently returned, costs me money. My company would rather spend a bit of time with you on the 'phone, or via email, to make sure that you get exactly what you want.
Check out the Props n Frocks Retail Premises
You too can escape to another world!
Let you imagination run wild - you can be whoever you want to be.
Fancy dress parties get going straight away, there is no need to wait for the alcohol to start flowing. Fancy dress is also very good at getting people to mix, so is a great idea for engagement parties and other functions where guests will not know each other very well.
Choose your theme carefully. Think about the age range of your guests, and also the different sizes. You can't ever choose a theme that will suit all of your friends and family, but try and be realistic. If they need a very strict theme, give them one, but if you know that they will happily 'think outside the box' you could try a more obscure theme such as a Letter party, or London Underground Tube Stations.
Some Links that May Be Of Use...
You May Find What You Want On eBay...
A Selection Of Ladies CostumesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Fancy Dress Online
We'd love to know if you have purchased a costume online?
Have you ever purchased a costume online?
Fancy Dress Online
You only need to answer the 2nd question, if you have purchased a costume online in the past.
Were you happy with it?
Why Were You Unhappy With Your Costume / Accessory That You Purchased?
Only answer this 3rd question if you answered that you were not happy with the item you have purchased in question2.
Why Were You Not Happy With The Item?
Interesting a third of you (so far) have purchased a fancy dress costume online in the past. However, nearly 80% of you were not happy with the costume.
I am going to add another question to try and find out why you were not happy.
The quality of costumes online is increasing all the time. With great lighting even the poorest costume can look fantastic. Please be realistic, if the costume is very cheap, it probably is being made to a budget price and you cannot expect too much. the description of the product should also explain this.
If the problem is poor customer service, I can understand your frustration. Problems do occur, but comminication is the most important thing. Keep your customer informed and you can then address the problem, or offer an alternative. Always try and use a website that really emphasises customer service. At Props n Frocks, we keep our customers informed throughout the entire process and do not presume the sale is complete until the goods have been received and our customer is happy with their item. You cannot please all the people, all the time, and the Returns Policy should be easy to follow and understand. I would always recommend a company that allows you to contact a 'real' person 7 days a week, by email, or if you prefer, by telephone to discuss your requirements.
Take a look at some of our kids costumesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Hold Your Own Costume Party
Why not be a bit different and have your own costume party. As I have already said, these type of parties are just fantastic.
We have plenty of theme ideas on our other hub lenses (check out some of the links on this page) to help you choose your theme and we are always looking for new themes to work with. If you have a brilliant idea for a party, just pop it into the comment box at the end of the hub. We've recently been asked for advice about television adverts as a theme. So watch this space, I am sure a new hub will be appearing soon!
Don't forget to look at my other articles that are full of tips, advice and party themes!