SydneyStandard
Tuesday 26th of September 2017
How to Master Online Fashion Shopping
by Sharon Billingham
View other contributions
04/04/2014 07:53:04 AM Friday


There's nothing sweeter than seeing a package propped up on your doorstep. Especially if it's a much anticipated purchase that you're counting on wearing to a special event.

You rip open the packaging, remove the plastic wrap toss aside the return label. You hold your breath.

60% of online fashion orders are returned because of poor fit, wrong colour and unsuitable quality - techcrunch.com

So if it's more than likely we'll get disappointed with our online choices, why do we continue to buy fashion off the Internet? Why do we run the risk of buying something we'll never wear (or worse waste time returning)? Is it worth the time and money?

I think it is if you change your expectations about online shopping.

Think about the last time you went to a bricks-and-mortar shop. If you were serious about buying, would you ever just take one article into the changing room?

I bet you'd take a handful of sizes and colours to try on. Then you'd make a decision. If you think of online shopping as an extended session in the dressing room, then the 60% return rate doesn't sound that bad.

Here are a few things you can do to increase your odds of making a purchase that fits and that you'll actually enjoy wearing.


Check out all the angles.
  • Yes a picture is worth a thousand words so examine all the website photos.
  • If the site has videos, click on them to see how the clothes sit and move on a body. View the item from all angles.
  • Check out the hem lengths and the proportions. Would they suit you? Check out how the item is styled. Would you wear it in the same way?

Read the fine print.

Boring, but it'll save you money.

Understand how the item is constructed and what fabric it's made from (normally listed under 'information and care').

Polyester and man-made fibres have come a long way. Some of them feel luxurious. You don't have to become an overnight expert in fabrics.

Start by looking at the labels on your favourite garments at home and that'll give you something to compare to when you're buying online.

Use the zoom. You can gauge how heavy or textured the fabric is. I tend to avoid anything man-made that looks too shiny, glossy or flammable. Major static problems.

Advertisment - To register for Sharon Billingham's Personal Brand and Styling Workshop on May 4 2014 , please go to www.authenticyou.eventbrite.com.au or www.coachmebeautiful.com.au

Compare your measurements to the size guide.
Since poor fit is the number one reason for returns, it's critical you decipher the sizing guide and figure out where you fit best.

I also suggest knowing your own measurements (metric and old-school). If you enjoy wearing fit-n-flare dresses, take extra note of the vertical length from your shoulder to your 'natural' waist.

There's nothing worse than an in-built waistband on a dress that is just a few centimetres too long or short.


Read the product reviews.
Many websites encourage their customers to write reviews and people are candid, often giving their own measurements and reviewing fit and fabric quality.


It's only sold when you take off the tag.
When your purchase arrives, unpack it carefully, saving the wrapping and return label. Don't cut off the labels until you've tried the item on at home, mixed it with other clothes or accessorised it.

Assuming you accepted the return conditions when you bought the product, generally you have up to 28 days to make a return.

Some overseas sites like www.nextdirect.com allow you to return locally within Australia, which means cheaper postage.

I hope these five tips help you make better choices when it comes to buying your next item online.

Sharon Billingham is a personal style coach who teaches professional women how to achieve career and personal success by projecting their authentic image.

Styling Workshop
To register for her Personal Brand and Styling Workshop on May 4 2014 , please go to www.authenticyou.eventbrite.com.au or www.coachmebeautiful.com.au

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