By: Kelli Nikole
When I began to look for the perfect dress for my upcoming class reunion, my first stop wasn’t Bloomingdale’s or Saks…it was Bluefly.com. Why, you ask? I have a busy life. I work during the day, volunteer, write and take care of a three-year-old poodle. Little conveniences, like shopping online, help us get many things done in a short amount of time.
Are you looking for ways to use this minor convenience as a major advantage? Here are my Top 7 Tips for online fashion shopping!
1. Ease in with stores, shops or brands you are familiar with. Wary e-consumers should begin with stores, shops or brands that they have frequented in the past. For example, if you’re an avid Banana Republic or H&M shopper, you’re aware of what size fits best, how dresses or slacks are cut and price points.
Start by picking up something you have purchased before or tried on in the past. Test the waters. Were you happy with the item? Did you get it in a timely fashion? Worst case scenario, if you bought it from an online store that has a location in your area, it is just as easy to return it to the shop in person and pick something else!
2. Be sure to read the store’s return policy. This especially rings true for those online sample sales I love to hit up so much. Some only accept returns for credit, and some may give you a full return with or without shipping costs. What works for you will depend on whether or not you liked the online store you chose. If it is a store you would be willing to buy something from again, store credit may not be too bad.
However, if the return has something to do with customer service, or the quality of the garment or accessory, you may want to order from somewhere with a full return policy. Either way, for your safety it is always best to know a store’s return policy, because you don’t want to be stuck with an item you are unhappy with.
3. Read the sizing charts and measure yourself. For women or men who are hard to fit or are between sizes, it is necessary to read the sizing charts. If the shop is familiar, you’ve purchased items in the past, or know how a particular item fits you, skip this step. If the store is unfamiliar and you see an item you like, check the sizing charts and measure yourself before purchasing the item. No one wants to be stuck with an item that is too small or does not fit well. But as always, there is a loophole…and my next tip…
4. If in doubt, size up! Since I consider myself one of those women who are “hard to fit,” I frequently buy things a size or two larger than what I normally would. In general, I believe it is always good to have a tailor you use regularly – it is better to get larger clothes altered to fit the way you like than to be stuck with something that doesn’t fit at all. Even with clothing I buy in stores, it’s always great to get clothing tailored to fit the way you like for your body type.
5. Be aware of shipping rates. Shipping seems to be the biggest turn off for most people reluctant to delve into the online shopping world. It’s true that you could go to a store, purchase something and not have to worry about anything besides tax. However, if you think about the time and convenience factor, I think it’s a win-win situation. You can shop at whatever hour of the day you want – I like to shop at 3:00 AM– and you have the luxury of doing it quicker than you could get to a mall/store, look for something you like, try it on, etc. The biggest perk of online shopping is the convenience. And who doesn’t like to come home to a package waiting for you?
6. Read any ratings or reviews available. If you frequent shops like Bluefly.com, ModCloth.com or Overstock.com, you can find ratings and reviews on items purchased by other online shoppers. Many times they can give you clues as to whether the clothing is true to size, of good quality or looks different from the pictures available.
I rely heavily on this when ordering shoes. I once was interested in a pair of caramel colored ankle boots. I’m normally a size 7-1/2 or 8, so I wanted to check the reviews on what size to order. Close to five reviewers stated that the shoe was extremely tight at the top and hard to get your foot into, so I went for the 8 to give some extra room. The sizing was perfect! Just goes to show that reading the ratings and reviews will really assist in your shopping choices.
7. Look for online coupon codes! Any time I’m ready to make a purchase at any of my favorite online boutiques, I always do a Google search for “(Name of store) coupon codes.” You would be amazed at some of the things you can find: free shipping, percentages off, buy one get one free deals, or even free sample products (you see a lot of these with beauty stores). We are all aware of the gems you can find on the internet, be sure to use these things to your advantage!
Just for fun, here are a few of my personal favorite shopping sites:
Shop Bop – One-stop shopping destination for fashion-forward women featuring brands like Vera Wang, Mara Hoffman and Thakoon. A bit pricy, but sure to have pieces you won’t find in stores. Also, their sales are amazing. I once bought a pair of Michael Kors loafers for $7!
Jack Threads – Women, don’t freak out! While this is a store for men, I’ve purchase a few graphic tees and track jackets for myself from this site. Their G-Shock and Flud Watch sales are on point, too. Men will love the apparel, sneakers, and accessories from respected skate and streetwear brands at sample sale prices.
LuLu’s – Great pricepoint, fast shipping, and an awesome collection of dresses, skirts and accessories. If you don’t want to be dressed like everyone else around you, this is the best site for new and never-before-seen merchandise. They also order in limited quantities, so you are sure to be an original.
The Out Net – This is a great site devoted to selling discounted designer womenswear and accessories. There is always something new to see on this site. The prices are reasonable and the selection amazing.
Revolve Clothing – They offer the best in women’s and men’s designer clothing and accessories, both from brands you love and those that may be unfamiliar. I credit Revolve Clothing for introducing me to Geren Ford, LaRok and Kelsi Dagger.
Zappos – The Walmart of online shoe stores. If you need Nike running shoes, The North Face snow boots, Hunter wellies and a L.A.M.B. pump, I guarantee you can find it all here. They’ve recently expanded into clothing, beauty and housewares…so maybe they really are Walmart?
ModCloth – I think the best part of this site, besides the fun and quirky vintage/retro fashions, are the prices and customer service. Whenever there is a bad rating or review on an item, there’s always a customer service agent there to comment, apologize and find a remedy to the problem.
Gilt Groupe – Invitation-only sample sale of men’s, women’s and children’s fashion and luxury brands for up to 70% off retail. Once you become a member of Gilt Groupe, you are also a member of Jetsetter (travel), GiltFuse (trendy & retro brands for women), and GiltMan (fashion specifically for men). Three for the price of one!
DJ Premium – This extension of streetwear powerhouse DrJays.com carries a bevy of designer names, from Vivienne Westwood and Charlotte Ronson for women, to Just Cavalli and William Rast for men! They’ve always got sales, and they are adding to their list of designers by the day!