It can be tricky to know how to shop for clothes online.
This article gives you 7 great tips to know how to shop for clothes online by teaching you:
- how to save money when shopping online
- how to find the best fitting clothes even when you can’t try them on
(There’s also a little bonus at the end – and TWO free printables!)
According to a recent report on Digital Commerce 360, online clothing sales accounted for almost 40% of all apparel sales in the United States in 2019.
And early estimates show that percentage will be even higher in 2020!
With many people staying at home as much as possible during the coronavirus pandemic, online shopping is becoming part of our new normal.
How I Know How to Shop for Clothes Online
I first started to shop for clothes online when we moved overseas fourteen years ago.
It used to take me hours to place on online order for our clothes. I remember double and triple checking our cart and being nervous to enter our credit card number.
But as time went by, I got much quicker and more confident. Now I shop for nearly all of our clothes online.
So I’m really excited to share everything I’ve learned about how to shop for clothes online!
Free Printable Resources
First, I need to tell you about the Jen Bradley|MOMs Free Printables library.
Inside the library, you’ll find the How to Take Your Own Measurements Guide and the Capsule Wardrobe Planner Workbook.
To get the password for the library, click right here or on the image below!
Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that I may make a small commission if you click through or purchase at no cost to you. For more information, click here.
How to (Successfully) Shop for Clothes Online
When it comes to online clothes shopping, there are usually two main concerns:
- how to save money and get the best deals possible
- how to get the best fit and avoid returns
We’ll talk about both of these things below, as well as a few online safe shopping reminders.
How to save money while shopping for clothes online
A huge concern for many of us is how to save money on clothes shopping!
We want to get the nicest and most flattering pieces we can find without breaking the bank, right?
While the average woman in the United States spends anywhere from $1800-$4800 on clothes every year, you may find yourself spending much less (or more!).
According to FinancialBestLife.com, a good rule of thumb is to spend about 5% of your income on clothing.
To make that simpler, take a look at how much money you make in one month and multiply it by 0.05.
Voila! This is approximately how much you should spend on clothes in one month.
If you shop for clothes seasonally (which is what I recommend), you’ll want to figure out how much money you make in one year. Then multiply that by 0.05 to see how much money you should spend on clothes per year. Finally, divide that number by 4. This will tell you how much money you can spend on clothes every season.
So, how can we get the most value for that 5% of our income when it comes to shopping online?
Tip #1: Look for free shipping AND returns
When you shop for clothes online, ALWAYS look for free shipping AND returns.
The vast majority of online retailers offer free shipping nowadays.
Some sites may require a coupon code for free shipping and returns (which is perfectly fine), and other sites may waive it completely.
But if you are shopping on a website that doesn’t offer free shipping, I highly recommend that you look at a competitor’s site to find a similar item. Chances are, you’ll not only find a very similar piece, but you’ll also end up getting free shipping too.
The importance of free returns
Returns are definitely an important part of online shopping too.
While you can cut down on the number of things you need to return by following my tips about getting the best fit below, returns will still need to be made from time to time.
But here’s the deal: you don’t want to have to pay for the return shipping costs!
When you are shopping online, you want to make sure that the website is offering free returns.
Why? Because paying the return shipping can get costly.
For example, I ordered my son a new white button down shirt that was on sale for $16. When we received the shirt, I was super disappointed. The material was so thin, I could see his freckles through the shirt.
I quickly decided to return the shirt, but wasn’t thrilled when I realized I’d only be getting $9 back for a $16 shirt. Why? Because the return shipping cost was $7. Yuck!
Some online clothing retailers have free returns offered year round while others have particular windows of time when they offer free returns.
Be sure to read on the website so you know in advance if returns are free.
(And be aware, just because a return shipping label is included in your package, this does not necessarily mean that sending the item back is free!)
Tip #2: Join the website email list for discounts
Knowing how to shop online successfully means that you know how to find a good deal!
Often online stores and websites will save their best deals or give early access to sales for their email list customers.
While I know it can be annoying to get tons of sales emails everyday, it can be worthwhile to join the email list of one or two of your favorite clothing brands.
(And if you are thinking about making a significant purchase for a fancy handbag or a pair of high-end shoes, you DEFINITELY need to do this! I have gotten better deals straight from the Kate Spade and Tory Burch email lists than I have when searching for their products on Amazon!)
You may even consider creating an email account that you use only for signing up for store email lists.
If you do this, you only need to check that email account when you know you’ll be doing some online shopping.
How to shop for clothes online tip #3: Search for coupon codes
Another great way to save money when you shop online is to check various coupon websites for deals.
These websites serve as a hub for online coupon codes you can use for free.
Some of the best coupon websites are:
- retailmenot.com. This one is my personal favorite and the one I go to every time I don’t already have a coupon code of my own. There are coupons offered for almost any online retailer you can think of – as well as information about the validity of each code and how many times it has been used successfully.
- savings.com. This site offers coupons for many online shops, such as Banana Republic, Macy’s, GAP, Old Navy, Kohl’s, and Armani|Exchange.
- shopathome.com. In addition to coupon codes for stores such as Nordstrom, J. Crew Factory, Old Navy, Target, Macy’s and Kohl’s, you can become a member of this website for free. When you do, you can earn a small percentage cash back for qualifying purchases.
Try a browser add-on
In addition to visiting any of these coupon sites, you may also consider using a browser add-on to help you find the best prices on the web!
The best browser add-on for online shopping is Honey. This is a completely free, automated service the searches the internet for the best deals and available coupon codes for the items you are looking for.
With over 17 million members, Honey is an incredibly fast growing and highly valuable resource for anyone how wants to know how to shop online successfully.
I’ve just learned about it myself and can’t wait to use it as we head into Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping this year.
How to get the best fit when shopping for clothes online
Okay, now that we know how to save money when shopping for clothes online, let’s take a look at how to ensure we get the best fit!
One of the biggest drawbacks about online clothes shopping is that you can’t try anything on in the store.
It can be very frustrating to order clothes online only to have them be a poor fit!
Here’s how to prevent this:
Tip #4: Take your measurements and use the website’s size charts
Nearly every online clothing retailer has a size chart somewhere on their website for your reference.
Often the size chart can be found by looking for a small link near the size and color selection options on the product webpage.
To use the size chart well, you will need accurate measurements for your bust, waist, and hips.
(And it helps to know how tall you are too!)
For a simple guide to make sure you are taking your measurements correctly, download and print the Take Your Own Measurements Guide from the Printables Library right here!
The right size matters
This past spring I had one mom share with me that she always felt her pants and jeans didn’t fit quite right. But when she read the How to Take Your Own Measurements Guide she realized she’d been measuring her hips incorrectly for years!
Now that she’s measuring correctly, she’s able to find the right sizes and feel more comfortable on the daily! #winning
Sizing can vary from store to store
You may think that because you are a certain size at one store, that you will always be that size.
While that would certainly be convenient, it sadly isn’t the truth.
And if you order online from international companies, it is likely the sizing can be even farther from what you’d expect.
So be sure to consult the size chart for EVERY website you visit until you are familiar with how that brand of clothes typically fits your body.
To learn more about flattering clothes for all body shapes, read this article here.
Tip #5: Read reviews!
To find the right fit when you order clothes online, I highly recommend reading customer reviews!
Be on the lookout for comments that describe your body shape and measurements too.
For example, I don’t pay much attention to reviews written by very tall women because I’m only 5’4″.
But when I find a review written by someone with a similar height, weight, or build, I am sure to slow my scroll and read what she has to say!
Look for the middle of the road reviews
Another great tip to help you know how to shop for clothes online is to pay most attention to the reviews that are two, three, and four stars.
Often the people who leave five star and one star reviews have an emotional basis for leaving that particular review. (Which is perfectly fine!)
But the reviews that will give you the most information about wearer experience are almost always the middle of the road reviews!
I recommend skimming over a few five and one star reviews, but zeroing in on the two, three, and four star reviews the most.
How to shop for clothes online tip #6: Learn about fabric types
Why should you learn about fabric types?
Because the type of fabric a garment is made out of can have a huge impact on how it will fit!
Here’s a quick rundown about the most commonly used fabrics and how they fit:
- Cotton. One of the most commonly used fabrics, cotton is soft and comfortable. It can wrinkle easily and has medium stretch.
- Linen. A very durable fabric, linen becomes softer over time. It has very little give to it and wrinkles easily.
- Wool. Wool is very warm and is worn in cold climates and temperatures. It is soft and can be quite stretchy.
- Silk. One of the most expensive fabrics, silk is light and smooth. It is a strong fabric and is not stretchy unless it is mixed with other fabrics.
- Rayon. This fabric is very durable and maintains its appearance well over long periods of time. It is not stretchy, but is generally soft and smooth.
- Acetate. Acetate is often mixed with rayon because it is known for its ability to drape nicely. It is also generally soft, smooth, and is fairly durable.
- Polyester. This fabric is also very strong and durable. It is not absorbent or stretchy. It is often mixed with cotton to increase the strength of the fabric.
- Elastane. Elastane is commonly known as spandex. This fabric is incredible stretchy and adheres to the shape of the body. It is almost always combined with other fabrics. The higher percentage of elastane in the fabric, the stretchier and more form-fitting it will be.
Tip #7: Buy two sizes, send one back
Another sure way to find the best size for you is to order two different sizes of the same item.
Now I know this tip is not for everyone.
You may not have the money in you budget to do this.
But if you do AND you are able to get free shipping and returns, there is no harm at all in ordering two different sizes of the same piece!
Having two sizes will help you to compare what you like or don’t like about that certain item.
When you decide which size is best, simply return the other one for free.
Bonus: How to stay safe when shopping for clothes online
If you don’t have a lot of experience shopping online, you may feel nervous about sharing your financial information.
But according to a recent article, you are more likely to have your credit card information stolen over the phone, through the mail, or in a restaurant than when shopping online!
With that reassurance though, it is important to be vigilant when shopping online.
8 Simple Tips
You can protect yourself while online shopping by:
- Looking for the little lock symbol on the left side of the web address bar. This means the site has a security certificate.
- Using sites that have the https:// prefix instead of http://
- Shopping from established brands and stores that you know and trust.
- If shopping from an unknown brand or website, click the “contact us” button at the bottom of the website and verify whether the contact email is valid.
- Be sure to spell the name of the retailers website correctly to avoid shopping from a copycat scam site.
- Shopping when using a secure WiFi connection. Avoid shopping online when using a shared hotspot or open WiFi network.
- Using PayPal if possible.
- Reviewing your online bank and credit card statements regularly.
Final thoughts on how to shop for clothes online
I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for how to shop for clothes online successfully!
Like most things, online shopping become easier with practice!
Don’t forget to download the free Take Your Own Measurements Guide from the Printables Library right here!