Chances are you’ve started buying more of your clothes online lately. And why not? The process is convenient, the selection is broader than in brick-and-mortar stores and brands are sweetening the pot with perks like free shipping. This helps explain why online sales for apparel and accessories are growing faster than ecommerce as a whole. In fact, nearly one-third of all 2018 apparel sales in the U.S. took place online.
There are many compelling reasons to buy women’s clothing online nowadays — namely that you can get the exact pieces you love delivered to your doorstep within a couple of days. But it’s important to know what you’re looking for and how to evaluate products and brands before confirming your purchases. Exercising these skills when buying women’s clothing online will help ensure you love all your selections and minimize returns at the same time.
When you’re shopping in store, you can check the tags to learn more about the materials used and the care instructions. Online, you’ll have to head to the features and specifications section to learn more about any garments you’re considering.
Will the garment shrink in the wash? Is it a synthetic fabric, a natural one or a blend? Is it wrinkle resistant? Will the piece breathe? Can you comfortably wear it out on a warm day? Will you need to dry clean the piece, wash it on cold or tumble dry on low?
The best way to unlock the answers to these questions is to pay special attention to the materials used and do your research about the pros and cons of each. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there’s no replacement for learning exactly what makes up your clothing before buying.
Materials also speak to the quality of the piece. As Quartz notes, “Fabrics that start from lower-grade materials are cheaper, or a manufacturer may use less fiber to keep price down.” It’s worth avoiding fast fashion whenever possible, instead opting for well-crafted fabrics made from sturdy materials meant to last.
Along with materials, you’ll want to choose well-crafted pieces that will remain in your wardrobe for years to come. We’ve all ordered something on super sale that seemed like a steal online only to open up the box and find loose threads, crooked stitching or weak seams — it’s a waste of money and a huge letdown. So, seek out information about how a piece is made before sealing the deal.
It’s hard to understand a piece from looking at a picture of it against a plain background, right? See it on a model first — ideally from a couple of different angles or in video format. This will clue you into how the piece hangs and where it hits on the body.
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It seems like sizing would be pretty straightforward. It’s all numbers, right? But vanity sizing, meant to flatter the wearer, can actually end up fueling returns when expectations fail to match up to reality. According to Time, brands have shifted their sizing metrics to the point that a size 12 in 1958 terms is now a size 6. Sizing also runs differently depending on the brand and type of clothing.
The solution? Head to the reviews and ratings from other shoppers; there may even be a “runs small” or “runs large” metric.
Research has shown that over 90 percent of online shoppers read online reviews and 84 percent trust these reviews from strangers “as much as a personal recommendation.”
Learn from others’ triumphs and mistakes before you buy. You can glean lots of valuable information from ratings and reviews.
Last but not least, check out the full terms of the return policy before buying anything — whether you’re picking up a single shirt or a whole cartload of garments.
Prioritizing these six factors will help you choose garments that fit well and hold up well.
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