Let's face it. Online Shopping has become an integral part of our culture. I do it, even tho I love browsing real shops and won't buy certain products online. However, some of my favorite shops have no brick & mortar store near where I live, so that's that.
Today I wanted to share with you some things I've learned about minimising the risk of fashion mis-purchases when you cannot actually touch the item or try it on before paying. Most of this has come to me by first hand experience, a.k.a trial & error, hence the introductory sentence.
5 Tips for being more savvy when Shopping Online
1. Check their size guide
Look for the size guide of the shop, as not all sizes are created equal. A size M with shop A could be a different thing from M in shop B, even if theoretically this should be a standard unit. Not everyone considers medium the same thing. A lot depends on the country in which the shop is based, even if they use standard numbers/naming for their sizes, they might create from a vastly different base measurement template.
Look also for any reviews left, sometimes people will mention whether the fit is true to size or if it's better to go up or down a number.
2. Check the shipping costs and return policy
Especially the return policy. Sometimes, items marked down a lot will be final sale, meaning the shop won't accept a return/refund. Finders Keepers. In case you can return the item, how much time do you have? Is return shipping free or do you have to cover it? How much does it cost in your country to send a package of the approx. size and weight, in case? If you are ordering from a shop not based in the same country as you, do they have a return warehouse in your country? Or do you have to send the goods abroad, which usually means it'll be quite a bit more costy.
Take heed online shop owners, these are probably the things that hold me back from ordering online the most.
3. Know your body shape
So right, it is good idea to have an approximate idea what piece of clothing will look good on you, and what has a high chance of sucking badly. There's a reason I don't order pencil skirts or body con dresses. This is especially usefull in case you are thinking about ordering a no return item, or returning the item would be a major hassle and/or money drain.
In the same vain, I very rarely order shoes online, at most it will be sneakers from brands I already know, or shoes where having the problem of a large span will not be an issue. Think flip flops.
4. Read the item description
Not all shops have this, unfortunately I've seen some with a blanket "this is cool style to be fashionable" text, but many times there will be a more or less detailed description of the item, its composition and care instructions.
This helps me because I know by experience which materials aren't for me, like for example a high wool percentage. Or which I wouldn't want to buy for other reasons. Thus I can avoid ordering them in the first place.
5. Look closely at all pictures
Zoom it. And if there are different colors, look at those pictures too. Sometimes, some colors will translate and display details better than others and sometimes different angles have been shot for the other colors available. Basically try to get as good a grip on the fit, detailing and possibly the material (in case there are no or just generic descriptions) as you can.
6. Don't be afraid to send stuff back
Or bring it to the next brick & mortar store of the chain in question if they give this option. If you can recover any money at all by doing so, which will depend on return policy and shipping costs, send it back and do so as quickly as possible, like the very next day if you can. Every item you keep without 100% wanting it will just add to closet clutter, will just become, as I call them, a closet corpse.
For some of my readers:
7. Check whether you have to pay import duties and value added tax
In some countries, like Italy and most of Europe, a VAT (or value added tax) has to be paid and is normally already included in the price of a product. So often you don't really think about it being there. Now when you order from overseas, like the U.S. for example, it can happen that this tax will have to be paid upon receiving your parcel, depending on the shipping and/other options the store offers. Check this one carefully so you won't have an unpleasant surprise in the moment that should be a pleasant one. In Italy (E.U.) the VAT has to be paid on anything imported above 22€ of value and an additional 12% customs duty (for clothing, it changes for other goods) will have to be paid for goods above 150€ in value.
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