You don’t have to be scared to shop for clothes online. I know it isn’t always ideal, that sometimes you just want to go to the store and try stuff on to make sure it fits. But right now, that isn’t possible, and we are shifting the way we shop to online.
Clothing is one of those tricky areas that can be especially nerve wracking to shop online. With these tips, you can learn to shop online with confidence and still improve your wardrobe, even when you’re staying at home!
1. Read Reviews When You Shop for Clothes Online
On many retailer sites, there are now lots of reviews on items, which is a great resource when looking for that perfect item. Often, people will write reviews with their sizing information, including height and weight, how the item fits, whether to size up or down, quality, etc. Look for photos of the item on people in the reviews. I like to scan for people with a similar body type to mine, and read those reviews.
Consider items that have many 4-5 star ratings. Sometimes it is helpful to scan the reviews for the 1-3 star ratings and see what the issue was. Was the fit off? Maybe the quality isn’t right? Or did they have a problem with shipping or customer service. All of this can give a good picture of if an item will work well for you or not.
Some websites like Amazon, Target, and American Eagle allow customers to upload photos, and department stores like Nordstrom often have a lot of sizing information available in the reviews, such a scale to show if the item fits small or true to size.
Here are the highlights to look for when reading reviews:
- Scan for real photos
- Scan for sizing information
- Look for items with 4-5 star reviews
- Consider negative reviews, and if that will be an issue for you.
2. Check Shipping and Return Policies for Online Clothing Retailers
There are many retailers who now offer free shipping, and free returns for online purchases. Some offer free shipping if you spend over a certain amount. Considering these things will help you as you make purchases online.
If the returns are free, it can be helpful to order multiple sizes. You can return what doesn’t work. Just like if you were trying on in a dressing room, instead you are doing it in the comfort of your home. Especially if you need to order over a certain amount to qualify for free shipping, ordering multiple sizes is a great way to hit that!
Look for stores that offer in-store returns (but make sure to take into consideration how long the return policy is good for, if the store is still not open during the COVID-19 pandemic).
Read the fine print – it can take a little extra time up front, but will be worth it not to have frustrating shipping mistakes. For example, Nordstrom offers free shipping and free returns, but their discount site, Nordstrom Rack does not offer free returns, when returning items, you will have the shipping fee deducted from your return.
Highlights for shipping and returns:
- Look for free shipping, and free returns
- Check for how long return policy is good for
- Take advantage of shipping options to order multiple sizes for try ons.
3. Know Your Size
Take measurements of your body: bust, waist, hips, and inseam. Knowing these numbers will help you narrow down what sizes you need to order.
Jot down those numbers in a notebook, on your phone, or computer so you have them easily accessible. It will make it so much easier to reference when you shop for clothes online!
Consider what sizes you know you wear at your favorite retailers. Some stores have slightly different sizing, so if you have brands you know your size in, then you can shop at those retailers with confidence.
Look for sizing charts for each store. Often there will be a link to the sizing chart below each item so you can easily find it and reference it with your own measurements. If you are in between sizes, and information is not clear in reviews on if the item runs small, large, or true to size, then you may consider ordering multiple sizes. I usually err on the side of ordering up if I am in the middle, since it is possible to alter items smaller, but usually not larger.
- Take measurements.
- Keep measurements accessible when you shop online.
- Shop at places you already know your size.
- Check sizing chart for each retailer, especially big department stores.
- Again, read reviews!
4. Add items to your shopping cart.
This tip is like bringing all the things you are interested in to your dressing room. As you peruse through a retailer, add things you think you may like, so you don’t have to go back and find them again.
When you are done “shopping” you can go to your cart and review if you added it just on a whim, or if you will actually wear it.
Do you have other things you could pair the item with already?
Or did you make a whole outfit in your shopping cart?
It becomes easier to shop online when you can just review your favorite items, and simplify your cart from there with only the items you actually love and think you will wear.
- Add favorite items to shopping cart
- Consider why you are adding each item
- Review items for only your favorites to be purchased
5. Find a tailor or alterations person.
Knowing when an item just needs to be altered a little can help when shopping online, especially for investment pieces. Items like dress pants, jeans, and dresses, often don’t fit quite right, and if you really love a piece it may be possible for it to be altered to fit.
A good example of this is a pair of dress pants needing to be hemmed shorter. This is relatively easy to do for a tailor, if a petite size is not available. Another possibility for dresses that have too much room, sometimes the shoulders can be taken up slightly, or the waist taken in. You would need to consult with your alterations person, but if you LOVE a piece so much but it isn’t quite right, you may still have options.
Note, it is much harder to size things up than down. Generally alterations are easier if the item is too large in some way, or too long. There are instances where a dress is constructed to be let out, but it is not guaranteed.
- Find a local alterations professional
- Investment pieces can sometimes be tweaked a little to fit you flawlessly.
- Notice when something isn’t quite right, too long, tall, etc.
- Remember, it is easier to size down than size up.
6. Don’t have expectations that every item will fit.
If you know going into the online shopping experience, that everything you order may not fit, then you won’t be as frustrated or disappointed when it happens. You may get super lucky and LOVE everything that you order, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way.
Knowing that when you shop for clothes online, there is a small gamble that things won’t fit, you can decide to have fun with it. Yes, you may have to order a bit more and be willing to return some items, but you may be surprised with how much will actually work!
Order a few sizes (especially if you are taking advantage of free shipping options!). Trying on multiple sizes will give you a similar feel as being in a dressing room, and you can make note of what sizes work for the next time you order from a particular brand.
- Remember going into the experience that everything may not fit!
- Decide to have fun in the process.
- Order a few sizes to give you try-on options!
Have you shopped online before? What are your favorite retailers? Do you have any tips that make the experience easy and fun for you that are not included here?