Napier woman Michaela Smith has a habit of turning any negative situation into a positive - especially after selling a $27 dud dress for $190 on New Zealand website Trade Me.

Her uncanny adventure began after purchasing a vintage-style dress off popular website Ali Express. But even though she checked her measurements, the dress when it arrived was several sizes too small.

"It was like I was wearing children's clothes, I just seem to be a sucker for punishment," Smith said after trying it on.

With nothing to do but laugh at the situation, Smith placed the dress on Trade Me and happily modelled her failed purchase - showcasing the ridiculousness and inaccuracy of the size charts she had carefully used on the Ali Express website.

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The auction finished on Saturday night and just like that, Smith's disappointment was turned to amazement as a buyer purchased the dress for $190 - but asked that she hold on to her dress.

In an email, the buyer wrote that Smith's listing was "brilliant" and that he just wanted to "support it".

He even suggested Smith frame the dress (which he was also happy to pay for) along with her photo with television news presenter Hilary Barry, who came down especially to join in the hilarity of the failed internet purchase.

Smith spent an afternoon with Barry searching the shops of Napier and successfully finding another dress.

Enthusiasm and support saw the dress reach up to $180 by Friday afternoon.

Smith was in disbelief.

"It only cost me $27, they could just go on to Ali Express and get themselves one, I'm just amazed."

Despite the rip-off purchase, it hasn't hindered the fashion lover from buying more quirky dresses via the internet.

"I'll still order from Ali Express, but I'll just make sure that I go up four sizes at least before making the purchase, I wouldn't trust the size chart at all."

While many have experienced an online shopping fail, Smith said many women had reached out to her.

"I've had a lot of people saying thanks for sticking up for us bigger girls. I'm a size 18-20 and a lot of people keep saying 'thank you for being brave', I don't think I'm being brave, I think the whole thing's hilarious."