Blog Post Written By: Amanda Anne Ali
Within the last few years tablet and smartphone purchases have skyrocketed. The result has been that it is now easier than ever to have constant access to the Internet. Like all things, this has its advantages and drawbacks. I am finding that as my Internet connectivity and usage increases, so does the hours I spend shopping online. Although it is undoubtedly bad for my budget, I now prefer shopping online than going out to browse the malls. There is no more hitting up five different malls in the same weekend to find one particular item in my size, or time wasted standing in long line ups when Forever 21 is having a sale. It is so much easier to be relaxing at home while you shop, or scrolling through cute dresses online with your smartphone when you have a few minutes to spare. Here are some of my tips for shopping online for clothes, followed by a few of my favourite websites for clothing/accessories.
1. Know When to Buy
I find that most websites have deals and sales around holidays and long weekends.
2. Beware of Shipping Charges
Sadly, we Canadians are at a disadvantage when shopping on U.S. and international websites. Shipping charges to Canada can be outrageous, especially since we have to pay duties and taxes. The first thing I do when shopping is locate/calculate how much I will be charged in shipping. I suggest the following:
*Purchase the minimum required to get free shipping whenever possible
*Shop around holidays/long weekends when they tend to have free shipping
* Look for websites that offer flat rates regardless of the weight and size of the package
* Choose websites that offer an inclusive shipping and duties charge and that will act as your agent to clear merchandise at the Canadian border.
3. Look For Coupons and Deals
Websites like www.retailmenot.com have coupon codes that I have used successfully in the past to get discounts. Sign up for the website's mailing list to get discounts, free shipping offers and special offers on your birthday.
4. Order the Correct Size
I often get many questions about how to order the right item size. The best way to go about this is to look at the sizing charts on the website. Be careful though, not all types of items are sized the same. Sometimes there will be a specific sizing chart for that one item that you are ordering, which differs from the general sizing charts. Most likely, you will not be the same size at different stores, and your size can vary even within the same store! The best and easiest way to order the correct size each and every time is to buy a measuring tape and measure your bust, waist and hips (check the website for instructions on how to do this accurately, or Google it). The sizing chart will provide the exact measurement range of each letter and number size.
When you shop online, you will see that many websites have adult, juniors and misses sizes. I buy junior clothing a lot as the clothing is designed to be more stylish and trendy. Some websites like my favorite Lulu's (listed below) offers Junior sizes exclusively. Junior sizes are smaller, tighter and shorter than adult sizes. The clothing is also cut straighter and has odd instead of even numbering. Generally you have to buy one size larger than you normally wear in adult clothing (remember: always go by your actual measurements rather than number or letter sizes). Due to the demand for the stylish Junior clothing, many stores and websites now offer Junior Plus sizes as well. Misses sizing falls in between Junior and Adult sizing and offers even numbered sizes.
*Note: Information supplied is for North American sizing only. Keep in mind that sizing is different for UK and other international clothing purchases.
For most websites, this usually means the customer service section. Find out what the exchange and refund options are before you purchase anything!
6. Protect Yourself
The Internet is full of scams and people waiting to steal your information. Always have a good anti-virus program installed, use Paypal whenever possible, make sure the website uses encryption for their payment page (look for a lock icon or "SSL") and choose familiar websites. If you do choose to shop at an unknown website or are making a purchase for the first time, check out the online reviews (www.resellerratings.com).
7. Pay Attention to Quality
Never purchase fake or counterfeit items online. I tend to favor websites that are based in North America. Although websites based in China, South Korea and other Asian countries tend to offer cheap products, the quality is often terrible and you get what you pay for! There are some great international websites, but keep in mind that returning/exchanging an item will most likely be costly and the process will take much longer.
1. Lulu's (my absolute favourite) - http://www.lulus.com
2. Forever 21 - canada.forever21.com
3. Victoria's Secret - http://www.victoriassecret.com
4. Modcloth - http://www.modcloth.com
5. Nordstrom - http://shop.nordstrom.com
6. Alloy - http://www.alloyapparel.com
7. Charlotte Russe - http://www.charlotterusse.com
8. Thread Sence - http://www.threadsence.com
9. Neiman Marcus - http://www.neimanmarcus.com
10. Urban Outfitters - http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/
11. Go Jane - http://www.gojane.com
12. Macy's - http://www.macys.com
13. Nasty Gal - http://www.nastygal.com