I am shopping online more and more often and have accumulated 10 tips, below, to make sure I get the right size. Don’t get me wrong, there are many things I still refuse to purchase online – like jeans – because I’m not going to leave it to chance that the cut will make my butt look bigger (a good thing). Here’s how I dramatically increase the odds that what I buy online will fit.
1. I don’t take risks with clothes. I shop for colors I have in my closet and cuts that I know flatter me. Yes, that V-neck cross over looks cute on the model, but I never wear the one that I already own. I stay away from material I know I don’t like (silk always feels dirty to me) and make sure the item fits into outfits I already wear. If I can’t picture what I’ll wear with it, it’s a goner.
2. I take a mental check. Was this item already on my to buy list, or am I acting impulsively? How much do I need this item and how much do I want it?
3. Clear return policies are a must. I browse the stated return policy (which you can often find on the Customer Service page) and make sure I can live with it. I like to have 30 days to return an item once I receive it.
4. I make peace with return shipping, or run. Knowing I’ll be paying to return an item is, in most cases, enough to deter me from impulse buys.
5. If an item is nonreturnable, I only buy it if it is a duplicate of something I already own (as with a J.Crew clearance sweater than was an extra 30% off + free shipping).
6. I study the item description and specs. Skip the sale pitch and look at concrete information like material, dimensions, lining, and washing instructions. This will help you further determine if the item is risky.
7. Keep a tape measurer handy. My 60-inch Container Store fabric measuring tape has come in handy more than I can remember. I like to measure the dimensions of an item to get a feel for its size. Sometimes I cut out a simple replica of the item from scratch paper. A tape measurer is also handy when you want to check inseam length or a purse strap length.
8. I read reviews on the seller’s site and Google the product name and item number to see what others thought. Make sure to take any online reviews with a grain of salt. It can be hard to fish out the fake reviews from the genuine ones. I toss out overly positive and negative reviews and focus on what seems real.
9. Compare prices of similar items and on other sites. Which item offers the most value – not necessarily the lowest price – to me? For instance, I paid a bit more for a purse made of higher quality material because I know it will last at least twice as long as a cheaper, polyester option.
10. I maximize my savings by using a coupon and a cash back rebate site, like Ebates or Shortcuts.com.