Do you realize that you probably spend 100 hours or more shopping for clothes and accessories each year? Yes, this might come as a shock… but also is it? The hours spent leisurely browsing and frantically trying to find the balanced outfit for that work/family event in less than 30 minutes definitely add up, according to a study conducted a few years ago. Being able to shop for just about everything online means that we can save time shopping for clothes, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
Between clients, photo shoots, and shopping for myself, I spend a LOT of time online shopping and going through deliveries. It’s always funny how shopping “a bit” turns into Package Mountain once everything arrives, and even if you’re excited to try things on, it takes a lot of energy!! So in order for you to make the most of this experience, here are my top tips for shopping online like a pro.
- Invest in a flexible tape measure and take your measurements! For women and feminine clothing, the main measurements are:
- Bust: Wrap the tape measure around the fullest section of your bust/chest.
- Waist: Wrap the tape measure around the slimmest section of your waist (which is usually above your belly button and around your ribcage).
- Hips: Wrap the tap measure around the widest part of your hips, under your waist (most of the time, this refers to the fullest part of your butt)
- You may come across sites that list “flat” measurements– this is especially popular for vintage garment measurements. To convert flat measurements to your actual measurements, multiply the flat measurement by double or 2.25, depending on whether the material is likely to have some stretch. (You want to leave a little extra room for non-stretch fabric.)
- Note: It might be tempting to wrap the tape measure as tightly as possible around yourself to be “precise”. In reality, unless you want everything to feel like a bodycon, the tape measure should be snug, but also slightly relaxed against your skin.
- Check the return policy and ORDER MULTIPLE SIZES!! Unless you’re totally sure of your measurements and the style guide, you’ll end up saving yourself so much time by ordering multiple sizes in one go and returning what doesn’t fit. All the third party financing options like AfterPay and Klarna make this so easy to do without spending a ton of cash upfront.
- Figure out what fabrics you like and (sometimes more importantly) YOU DON’T LIKE! Texture, sweat-wicking, prone to wrinkling, or general appearance.. check the tags on your current clothes to figure out the materials that you enjoy wearing. And make note of the percentage blends, since the different balances will change how a piece feels and drapes.
- Look at user reviews or search “[Brand] influencer/ambassador” to find what the clothes look like in real life, and you have a good chance of finding photos posted by someone with a similar body type or proportions so you can gauge whether it’s smart to even order to try on.
- Everyone is prone to getting distracted by the shiny objects, i.e. what’s new and trendy on a brand’s site. Browse around if it’s worth looking at, but keep in mind what you’re specifically looking for, or use the filter systems to only look at pieces that you’ll realistically end up keeping.
Before you even open a bag, make sure that you save yourself some headaches for whatever you need to return.
- Open packaging along the pre-defined rips – this will make it so much easier to tape up and reuse!
- Keep track of each garment’s slip bag and label, ESPECIALLY if it has a barcode. Putting something back in the wrong slip bag can potentially mess up your return.
- On a similar note, keep track of your packing slip or any other paper that came in your package. Plus, return labels are sometimes already included, so make sure you know which label goes with which package!
And now for actually trying on…
- Check delivery windows and set aside a reasonable portion of time to try on clothes from one big order, or a few orders that are coming in at once. This makes it so much less frustrating than pushing yourself to drop everything and try on the clothes right when they come in. And relates to my next point…
- Try on outfits or pieces with the right undergarments!! You can’t gauge whether something really fits well or looks the way you want it to unless you’re wearing the right type of bra and underwear, or with shapewear if that’s something you’re planning on. Yes, things look way different when you try them on in a sports bra versus the bra you actually plan to wear the outfit with.
- If you’re trying on an outfit that is going to be for a more formal event, don’t try it on with socks. Grab a pair of shoes that at least match the vibe, even if they’re not what you’re going to wear for the actual event.
- If you haven’t showered or washed your hair in a minute, this may impact how you feel you look when you’re going through your try on session. In my experience, some of my clients struggle seeing an outfit’s full potential or bigger picture, if they’re not feeling great.
- The beauty of trying clothes on at home is being able to test-drive full outfits before you take off the price tags, so make sure you do this! Pull pieces from your existing closet if you already have a vision for the outfit, or take time to go through and try on pieces together so you know whether an outfit is working out as hoped.
Now it’s time to get everything organized so you can make your returns.
- For shipping, make sure you always have clear heavy duty packing tape around so you can make sure your return packages stay intact.
- In case the original packaging got damaged while in transit or you ripped it while opening your parcel, keep a couple of spare boxes or generic shipping envelopes around so you can repackage the returns if needed. Just make sure the original label can be covered and they aren’t something like the USPS priority mail boxes/envelopes, since those are charged differently.
- There are wonderful stores like Parcel Plus that work with multiple shipping carriers, so you can drop off multiple returns in one place. See if something like that is in your area, but either way, get to know where your USPS, FedEx, and UPS dropoff stores are so you can strategically plan your trips there.
“Maintenance” and Stocking Up!
Once you find your go-to brand for garments that need to be replaced regularly, like activewear and underwear, get to know the brand/retailer’s sale schedule so you can replace and stock up on essentials at regular cadences! And make sure you add those to your calendar and budget appropriately. You can also subscribe to their email list to get notified of their sales and discounts.
For example, Girlfriend Collective makes activewear I LOVE and they always have a Black Friday sale that’s truly worth shopping (we’re talking 25-30% off the entire site), so if I feel like I’m running low on activewear that’s in good condition but don’t want to panic-purchase, I can keep that timeframe in mind.
So you may have read this post and went, “Well that’s a lot of work.” Trust me, once you get into the habit of doing all these things, you’ll save SO much time, hassle, and money with your online shopping in the long run. Plus, if you want to really reboot your personal style, I can teach you how to do all of these things and more. Check out my packages and reach out for a consultation to figure out what’s right for you.