Katy writes honest reviews of the latest services with an eye for budget and practicality.
Is SHEIN Legit?
Yes, SHEIN is a legit online clothes store. They have a huge selection of women's fast-fashion clothing.
This means you can find clothing at a great price, but what about the quality? The quality ranges from Target to Old Navy or Gap.
Read my honest review of SHEIN, learn how to make the most of your purchase, and decide if it could be a budget-friendly part of your wardrobe.
My Honest SHEIN Review
I ordered my first haul from SHEIN in 2017. After that, I made bigger orders in 2018 and 2020. I still wear a top from the 2017 order to work almost weekly—it's amazing. There were only two items I've gotten from them that I wasn't totally pleased with.
Orders from SHEIN fill an important part of my wardrobe: affordable, fun fast-fashion pieces. Aside from a few important considerations I think these online retailers can be helpful for most Western shoppers.
That’s the mindset that this review uses: an honest review of where SHEIN could work for your wardrobe. I'm not paid by them in any way.
I’ve been pretty satisfied with the value of their clothes given the low prices. But there are some warnings you should consider before buying:
- Sizing is inconsistent, read more on sizing below.
- Some details like embroidery, hems, and zippers are poor quality.
It can be risky to order clothes online from Asian sellers. You’re usually waiting a long time and you might spend a lot on shipping only to receive really awful clothes you can’t even wear.
Free Returns (In the Us and Select Countries)
You can send your items back for a full refund and not pay anything for the return shipping. This makes it way easier to take the plunge and place an order. I can’t speak for other countries, but the return process was very easy for the United States. Just make sure you don’t take the tags off and you can ship it back to them.
You need to be careful with swimsuits and lingerie because these items can’t be returned for a refund.
Explore SHEIN's online store, you just have to spend $50 to get free shipping. Between free shipping and returns, it makes it a little easier to try for the first time.
Why Is SHEIN So Cheap?
Chinese retailers can keep their prices low by: not paying for customer service staff, using lower-quality materials, and having a faster manufacturing process. SHEIN does all those three to a certain extent. Thankfully they don't use tactics that other Chinese online stores use: hiding their costs in inflated shipping fees and misrepresenting products.
The clothing prices on SHEIN have actually increased in the last three years since I started shopping there. This could be because they now offer free returns, which has a cost to any business. You'll find that the prices aren't crazy cheap like Wish. They're more aligned with Target or Walmart's clothes that have been discounted.
Given that the quality is usually a little better than Walmart and competitive to most mall brands, I think the prices are still worth it for the right items.
SHEIN Online Shopping Tips
Between thrift stores and SHEIN, I spend very little of my clothing budget on basics and extra items. Some core elements like bras and trousers I go into department stores to find because the fit is so important.
But for items like sweaters, tees, tops, and skirts I’m able to get online for super cheap. Then I don’t feel guilty about getting different colors or styles because it doesn’t dent the budget.
Here are shopping tips for you to get the most out of your SHEIN order:
- Always order enough for free shipping, otherwise, the cost isn’t worth it.
- Read reviews and look at customer pictures.
- Pay attention to measurements instead of Small, Medium, and Large.
Best Things to Buy
- Graphic or text tees
- Wrap dresses
- Skirts with elastic waistbands
I've had good luck with dresses that use a wrap style and skirts that have an elastic waistband. These are a safer bet because the sizing is really forgiving. If it's a bit too small or too large, it can still look great without paying to get it tailored.
Avoid Clothing With
- Exposed stitching
- Bodycon dresses
Some of the items with exposed stitching or embroidery that I've ordered from SHEIN have started to look ratty in just a few washes. Usually, the stitching around zippers is weak, and the zippers end up separating or not working well so I don't recommend zippered items.
Sizing (Not Asian Sizing!)
Don’t expect SHEIN sizing to run very small like a typical Asian retailer. Their sizes run much closer to American sizing. But for items across the website sizing can vary widely.
If you’re a Medium in one blouse, you could still be a Small or Large in another style. Rely on the measurements they have posted. Also, look at reviews from other customers that bought your target size. Usually, their measurements are posted also and if they included a picture you can see if you like the fit.
One thing I like about Shein’s descriptions is they give you the body measurements of the model and tell you what size she is wearing. That can give you a good idea of how it will fit on you.
The best way to get a current coupon code is to go their main site. SHEIN is almost always running a site-wide "sale" of some sort. Expect at least $5 for every $50 you spend while those are going on.
In addition, you can get 10% off your first order when you register your email.
A commonly overlooked discount is the 15% SHEIN gives any student, middle school and above. This is a great deal when stacked with other offers. Go directly to their student membership registration and put in your school email to get the discount.
Compare to Wish and Romwe
If you don’t like the selection at Shein, there are alternatives like Wish and Romwe. These are both online retailers for Chinese merchandise.
Wish sells clothing, electronics, and other items from China. They take longer to ship and are usually lower quality. Read more about whether Wish is legit and some tips on shopping with them.
Romwe is more similar to Shein. Read my review on buying Romwe clothes. They carry similar items, sometimes even the exact same pieces. They have a lower cutoff to get free shipping so I'd recommend them for smaller orders.
What Is Your Experience With SHEIN?
Share your shopping experience in the comments below to give others an idea of what to expect.
© 2019 Katy Medium
TASHANCUBE2020 on June 25, 2020:
l ordered from Shein for the first time early March 2020 and to date l have still not received my order.Mind you the customer service platform is automated so l can get no help from there.l regret making that purchase. Could someone help me with their email address please.
Treathyl FOX from Austin, Texas on May 31, 2020:
I just recently came across this site. This is the very first review that I have read and it's a good one!
Kate on April 10, 2020:
Shein rips off independent artists, stealing their work without permission and selling it at ridiculous prices. Do not support this company if you are buying art prints. Support independent artists who work damn hard and do t need rip off companies selling their work!
hi on February 23, 2020:
shein is amazing
Bonga ongeziwe on February 18, 2020:
I recently order clothes from Shein, its been 11 days now and i haven't got my order... been trying to track it with no luck
Katia C on January 31, 2020:
Ive been ordering clothes from Shein & romwe for the past 2 yrs. Then i found out romwe was cheaper & had the exact same clothes. Im just disappointed sheins prices have been going up. Both their clothes are very very cute BUT i feel people arnt so honest when it comes to their quality. I'd say about 70% of their clothes are cheap quality especially their jeans, It shows one color in their website & when u receive then it is a ugly almost worn out/faded shade of whatever jeans u got. Other than that their clothes are really cute just read the reviews before u purchase.
elaine on January 24, 2020:
clothes were nice, one was way too big and returning???!!! ugh what a hassle, still trying and gotten nowhere!
Soless on January 05, 2020:
Please how can i buy from Shein any time i want to order from them. Thanks
Barustarken on December 10, 2019:
I've ordered lingerie and some blouses/sweaters from Shein and so far I've been pleased. They're not high quality pieces but for the price, they're really quite nice (the only items I splurge on are shoes, boots and coats because for me it's important to get the best quality in those items and I want them to last for years) I'd rather spend less on clothing and save my money for retirement and more important things so for me Shein is great!
Zarah on November 28, 2019:
Hi! I made an order to shein but I really scared about how it is going to turn out. I got a sweatshirt. I few shirts and t-shirts. I didn't get any pants.
Hop Shopper on November 20, 2019:
I've purchased a wide variety of merchandise on Shein, and never had any major problems, though certainly, not every item is 5-star. And not everything fits, though I find the measurements under each size to generally be pretty accurate. Shoes seem to be the most unpredictable. Unlike clothing, they don't post inner length or width measurements for shoes, and sizing is highly variable from one style to another. I've had to return more shoes than anything else. Usually because they're too short.
The quality varies depending on the item. Generally, the price and quality track. So something super cheap is much more likely to -look- cheap as well. I am not keen on buying basics like cropped tees or tanks from Shein because fabric quality is so important, and you can't judge that from a picture. I go more for the statement pieces or items in unusual colors. Have had pretty good luck with their dress pants, because you can check measurements.
Overall, I'd say about 80% of things I've ordered have worked. I've never had any trouble with refunds, and never had a package lost. Their email system is good about notifying you once the order is shipped, and provides a tracking number. Shoppers should realize that once the package is in your home country, Shein has no control over it. I've noticed that my big orders that qualify for express shipping will be handled by DHL, who is much more efficient than the US Postal Service.
I don't think Shein has a customer service phone number. Everything I've ever done is through their email system, where you can create a customer service ticket. I expect this is because they don't have a lot of people who speak languages other than Chinese, yet they sell to many countries, so an 800 number would not be practical for them.
Its Hurricane on November 05, 2019:
I swear by Shein! I have some really cute pieces I’ve had forever that I purchased from them. Although I don’t recommend them for tailored clothes (Suit jackets or tailored pants) formal dresses or bodycon/bandage tops & dresses, they’re a great resource for all their casual, easy to wear pieces. I’ve purchased cotton tops; including button ups, pull overs, tee-shirts etc. rompers, shorts, jumpers, casual dresses and more! And as I said, for the most part I’ve had no problems. I actually have a couple of pieces that my friends were amazed I purchased them from Shein! But I also have a hack I’d like to get an additional 6% off when shopping from Shein. I honestly have no affiliation with any of these sites (I wish I did
Tee on October 29, 2019:
She in is great. Read fine print and sizing.
Silvia on October 24, 2019:
I was actually surprised by the quality and how fast my order came in. The items look just like the picture. My order came in within a week. Amazing! Will definitely order again.
Erin on October 24, 2019:
I ordered a shirt, waited a week to receive it. Received it just to see a word misspelled. The word was WILL. Sent it back, received another one after waiting another week just for the same word to be misspelled!!!
Candice on October 19, 2019:
I've ordered from Shein and love the pieces I've gotten. I only have 1 piece that was a little weird material wise but overall great stuff.
Catlady 58 on October 19, 2019:
I have loved everything I have purchased from Shein.I read reviews first and though normally a british size 12-I tend to go for 2xxl when buying from Shein.Bought a gorgeous long leopard print coat from the site recently and absolutely love it!!!
Katy Medium (author) from Denver, CO on October 17, 2019:
Oh no! That sounds so disappointing. Were you able to make a return?
meme on October 16, 2019:
My shein purchase was absolutely terrible. The whole delivery didn't arrive at the same time and then once i got my order everything looked completely different from what the description showed. I was supposed to get a long flowy sweater and instead i got a thick sweater that is shaped like a square. Not flattering at all and i'm never ordering from there again.