Online Shopping for Dummies

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I consider myself somewhat of an online shopping expert. People often ask me how I know what size to order, how often I have to return things and why I don't just walk into a store and buy it there. Trust me, there's nothing better than brunch on a Saturday followed by walking up and down Newbury Street trying on every amazing dress I see and every gorgeous shoe that catches my eye. But for me, it boils down to two things. One, I feel like I can control my impulse to buy when I'm shopping online. And two, the deals are much, much better.

I'd say I have a 99% success rate. Yes, this is after some practice. But I can honestly say that I've only returned one item in the last year. And it was only because they sent me the wrong one. So here they are -- my tried and true online shopping tips that will help you build that incredible wardrobe you've always wanted... from the comfort of your own home.

1) Know your size
Not just numerical size, know your measurements. More and more sites are posting model measurements and what size they are wearing. Yes, sometimes comparing those skinny brats' measurements with your own can be a bit depressing. But it helps, trust me. 
2) Utilize size charts 
BE HONEST with yourself. "Well sometimes I'm a small..." Yeah, we'd all like to be a size 2 and for our hips to be 34 inches... but you'll be really sad you ordered that size small cocktail dress when it arrives and won't fit over your lady lumps and then you're outfitless for that fab party you were supposed to go to.
3) Read the product details
Is the inseam long enough? Will it be a cropped top on me or a tunic? Pay attention so you know exactly what you're ordering.
4) Read customer reviews
For me, this is the most helpful information. Most sites out there now encourage shoppers to write reviews on products they own so you know when to steer clear or when you're about to purchase The. Best. Pump. Ever. Some reviewers (myself included) are even nice enough to post their measurements for reference so you know when things fit "TTS" (true to size), boxy, too short, and so on.
5) Shop with a plan...and a budget
This goes for all websites but mostly for those that feed on impulse like Gilt Groupe, Rue La La, etc. Their sales open at a set time every day with a limited quantity and you have to battle other bargainistas to get the product in your shopping bag first. Then you usually only have a couple minutes to complete the purchase before the item vanishes from within your grasp and someone else grabs it. There is nothing more heartbreaking than almost owning those to-die-for boots that were 50% off. I suggest using these sites when you know what you're looking for. If you're in need of a new winter jacket and you know Gilt is having a sale on them tomorrow, go in with a budget in mind and snatch it up.

So there you have it. Follow these five simple rules and you too will be a online shopping expert. 

Happy buying!

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