Dear Budget Fashionista,
I’ve come across a lot of online shops that use pictures that look like they came straight off of style.com. Should I be careful with these sites?
Answer: As a rule of thumb you should be very leery of a site that uses runway photos (which can be easily “borrowed from a site like style.com) rather than actually photos of the coat on an in-studio model or mannequin. A well-funded, legitimate site should be able to acquire product photos from the manufacturer or have professional photos taken of the items. Some smaller sites do purchase runway photos from a stock agency like Corbis, but it has been our experience that few do. Many have “customer testimonial” sections which are mostly made up (not hard to do).
In order to protect yourself, make sure you use a credit card that has online buyer protection and/or a service like Paypal.