With the rise of online shopping, we are now living in the future. Everything from electronics to furniture to food to clothing can now be purchased without ever leaving your home and often the online products end up being cheaper. Online shopping is so popular that we’ve even written an online shopping guide for you. But when it comes to buying clothes online, there’s a hitch.
Most products only need to be scrutinized for quality, but clothing needs to fit. Reviews can be helpful — as long as you ignore the fake user reviews — when determining quality, but clothing fit is something more personal and unique. That trendy jacket or stylish pair of boots might look good on its own, but if it doesn’t complement your body shape, it’ll be a regrettable purchase.
Don’t laugh, guys. This isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to women. If your clothes don’t fit properly, you won’t look good in them regardless of sex. Fortunately, there are some ways to ensure that your clothes fit well even if you can’t try them on prior to purchase.
Measure Your Measurements
Before you can find clothes that fit you, you need to know what it means for clothes to fit. That means you need to find yourself a measuring tape — preferably the soft kind meant for body measurements and not the aluminum kind meant for straight edges.
Which measurements do you need? At the very least, you need to know the size of your chest, shoulders, waist, hips, sleeve length, leg inseam, and shoe size. In addition, it would be beneficial for men to know their neck size (for dress shirts) and for women to know their bust size (for bras).
Consult the Size Chart
Most online clothing retailers provide a size chart for their items. You know how most shirts, jackets, gloves, etc. are measured in small, medium, large, and so on? Well, the meanings of those sizing tiers are not standardized in any way between retailers, so a small at Gap might be a medium elsewhere. This is where the size chart comes in handy.
The size chart gives you a conversion of sizing tiers into actual measurements. Each retailer has its own size chart, so it’s imperative that you check the size charts for every new retailer that you browse. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you “wear medium” when in reality you might be a small at one place and a large at another place.
Find the Retailers That Fit You
It’s no secret that different clothing retailers cater to different demographics. The clothes you find at H&M are designed for a different body shape than the clothes you find at Lane Bryant, which means you’re going to have to do some research to find the difference between retailers: petite, plus size, classics, forward fashion, etc.
Are you stuck shopping at only a handful of stores? Of course not. But in the interest of making sure that the clothes you buy online fit you when they’re delivered, you’re better off finding a few stores that you’ve verified to carry clothes in your size and sticking to them when you don’t have the option to try it before you buy it. Feel free to deviate when shopping in a physical store.
Visit the Store First
In a perfect world, we’d be able to test the fit of a piece of clothing just from measurements and user reviews. Unfortunately, it’s not always so simple. If the information is unavailable or unreliable, there’s little more you can do other than play the online shopping lottery — order it and hope it meets your expectations once delivered.
So as a last resort, if you can’t determine the fit of a piece just from online information, your best bet is to visit a physical store that holds the item and try it on. Is it less convenient? Yes. Does it defeat the purpose of shopping online? Not entirely since online shopping is great for finding something you like, plus the prices might still be better.
Will trying it on in the store prevent a lot of buyer’s remorse? Definitely. Shopping online is great but don’t use that as an excuse to never try things on in the store.
Know the Return Policy
The unfortunate truth is that no matter how much effort you put into finding clothes that fit, some just aren’t going to match your body. In fact, I once tried something on in the store, which fit perfectly, then ordered it online (because it was cheaper) and… it didn’t fit right. What do you do when this happens?
You could keep it and deal with it as is, but most people will end up returning it. This is why it’s crucial that you always read and understand an online retailer’s return policy before you make a purchase. Some stores are plain awesome and will both provide a box and pay for return shipping. Others will put the brunt of the expenses on you.
There’s a lot of preparation and research that goes into clothing shopping online, but it’s worth it in the end. Personally, I’ve experimented across many online retailers over the past year or so, but now I have a set list of places that won’t disappoint me. This has saved me a lot of time and frustration and now I can comfortably buy clothes that fit me straight from the Internet.
Do you regularly shop for clothes online? What tips do you have when making a purchase? How do you avoid buying clothes that are too small or too big? Share your experiences with us in the comments!
Image Credit: Oversized jeans Via Shutterstock, Measurements Via Shutterstock, Oversized Hat Via Shutterstock, Women Picking Clothes Via Shutterstock, Woman Fitting Room Via Shutterstock, No Return Via Shutterstock