Monday, 19 March 2012

Online Fashion Shopping: A College Girl's Guide

I was always the one who believed that online shopping would never take the place of in-store shopping. But because my college campus is located far away from a shopping mall, and I obviously need my retail therapy at times, I decided to take the plunge and dive into the exciting, but scary, world of online shopping. Since my first purchase, my views on online shopping have completely changed. I can't live without it! The process can be really intimidating at first, so here are some tips to follow.

Know your body shape- The models can give you a great idea of how a garment may look on, but don't completely rely on this. Have a good idea of what styles and cuts compliment your body shape, and which do not.

Know your size- Take the time to measure yourself with a measuring tape, and write down the specific numbers for future reference. Check for sizing charts on the websites. They can give you a good idea of the sizes, but are not always reliable. Do the best you can, but it would be beneficial if you go into the stores you like and try on lots of items to get a feel of where you are in their sizing system. This is particularly necessary for pants items where sizing can change greatly. In addition, remember that your size for tops and bottoms may be different. Consider the cut and style when determining the size. For example, if a baby doll dress is the item in consideration, you should think more about your bust size than your waist size.

Check item specifics- Make sure you take note of the materials and what percentage of each material type is used for the garment. Is it lightweight or heavyweight? Is it tight or loose-fitted? This can help you determine size and whether it is worth the price or not.

Check for reviews- If there are user reviews of an item that you are interested in, definitely read them! They can give you an idea of sizing, and information about the practicality and the caring of the good. If the actual website doesn't have user reviews, do a quick Google search for potential reviews on the net.

Check shipping/return policy- Unless there is something you just have to have, you always want to get free shipping. Free returns are also preferable, especially when online shoe shopping. Shoes which are too small or too big are useless and hard to alter unlike clothing. You can take advantage of free returns by purchasing two sizes of an item if you are uncertain. Just keep the one which fits, and return the other! On that note, take care when you open your package if you think there is any possibility that you will return an item, because the retailers will usually ask you to return goods in the original shipping packaging.

Check for discounts- Always make sure you look online for discounts and coupons before pressing 'Confirm Purchase'. You wouldn't have wanted to miss out on 10% discount just by typing in a code right?

Shop at the right times- Find out when your favourite retail stores update their sale sections to get the best selections. This can be daily, weekly or even monthly. Signing up for the online newsletters is a great way to find out about deals. Take advantage of big online shopping dates such as Cyber Monday. Online sales usually coincide with special dates in the yearly calendar like the in-store sales.

Use the 'Wish List' function- Since you're not able to see items up close, it is hard to resist adding more and more items into your online basket. You can end up regretting a lot of purchases this way, with high shipping fees. Instead, add items to your wish list so you can think about whether you really need them.

Be savvy with your payment methods- Most online retailers are reliable but you can never be too careful. Set up a PayPal account to be extra safe. It is accepted widely.

Remember there is a lot of experimenting when you first start online shopping. As you buy more regularly from the same store, you will have a better idea of their cuts and how it will suit you.

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