I never would have thought that in my lifetime, we would be faced with a global pandemic-yet here we are! It seems like overnight “sheltering in place” and “social distancing” have become a necessity and the new normal. Hopefully not for much longer.
But now that it’s here, how has this affected the many local businesses that depend on our patronage to survive, and even more important, how are we going to go shopping!
Thanks to current technology, online shopping, which has been part of our world for some time now, has become front and center, and a way for us to itch our “retail therapy” scratch, and support our local favorite businesses.
Online shopping definitely has its benefits. And while it does come with a list of pros, it can have some drawbacks too. What about that piece that looked SO GOOD online, but feels “icky” in reality? Or the jeans you ordered, even though they are your size…making you regret everything you’ve eaten while in quarantine.
To save yourself time, aggravation, and a sudden onset of depression, and to help keep our favorite local shops alive during this new way of living, I’ve compiled 9 tips for online shopping.
1. Know Your Measurements
Sizes vary depending on the brand. In a store, it is easy to try a few sizes, but we don’t have that luxury online. Unless you already know your main measurements, (for women: bust, waist, hips, and inseam and for men: neck, sleeve, chest, waist, and inseam), and being that we can’t get to a tailor or store to have them measure us, you’re going to need a measuring tape and take them yourself. There are several guides online to help. Here is a comprehensive online guide-for more than just the basic measurements: https://www.wikihow.com/Take-Clothing-Measurements
2. Check the Size Charts
Always check the sizing chart of the pieces you are considering before ordering! As mentioned before, every manufacturer and designer are different. This might not be available on a local store’s website, so it’s recommended you visit the designer’s website, as they tend to have charts. Also, they usually give information as to what size the model is wearing and her/his height.
3. Read Reviews
Getting real customers’ perspectives on the quality and fit is invaluable! They typically will share if the piece was true to size, or if they needed to size up or down. Often times they will also comment about the customer service they received or didn’t. Taking this all into consideration can save time and prevent disappointment.
4. Research Fabrics
The ‘hand” of a fabric, which is, well, the way if feels in your hand, can make or break a garment! Have you ever had a piece that made you itch, or was so stiff you felt like you couldn’t move? Since you can’t touch the garment, and often can’t always understand what it really is by looking at it, read the fabric content. But how can you know exactly what that fabric “feels” like? Look at the fabric content of pieces you already own. What are some of your favorite fabrics and fabric mixes? Keep this in mind when shopping, so you can have a better understanding of exactly what you’re getting.
5. Look at Videos
Photos can sometimes be deceiving, so if you have an opportunity to see how a piece fits and moves on a body, you might want to consider that. Local stores might have IG accounts of their associates modeling the pieces and department stores sometimes have a short video next to pieces that show them in action. If they don’t and that matters to you, try a google search like this one for “Video of woman wearing a wrap dress”:
6. Understand Color Variation
Be aware that the calibration of your computer screen and the lighting where the photo was taken can affect the color you’re seeing online. Even the actual color of the fabric can change slightly from batch to batch. Even though you can prepare yourself that the color of your piece might vary slightly, obviously if your pastel pink dress arrives and is pepto-bismol pink, a return may be in order!
7. KNOW THE RETURN POLICY
This one is in ALL capitals because it is that important! Always review return policies! If you cannot return something, you need to know that. Even though we do our homework, there might be the occasional piece that flat out WON’T WORK for us! Things to consider when reviewing return policies: how long you have to send it back, is there a return free, do you get only a credit or exchange, or can you receive full return on you card? Is there a restocking fee? All things to know before you finalize the sale.
8. Keep a List
Create a list of online retailers and brands you shopped with and note the sizes you ordered. This will make future purchases a whole lot easier. Not only will you have a record of stores and brands you love, but you won’t have to guess when online. And, you can always share that information with your loved one who just can’t WAIT to shop online for your birthday!
9. Edit Your Purchase
Because your arms are not loaded up with physical pieces, it can be really easy to make impulse purchases online. Ask yourself do I really need this-ok, maybe NEED isn’t the right word. Do we really NEED all of the clothes we buy? How about, can or WILL I wear this with other items in my closet? Can I get enough wear out of it to justify the spending? A great benefit of online shopping is that we can put it in our cart and sleep on it for a few days. If we are still obsessing over it, we can always go back and get it.
Some of my favorite LOCAL Austin sources:
LuxRox Boutique: https://luxroxboutique.com
Maya Star: http://www.mayastar.com
Impeccable Pig: https://www.theimpeccablepig.com
Hutson Clothing: https://www.hutsonclothingtx.com
Men’s & Women’s
By George: https://bygeorgeaustin.com
Billy Reid: https://www.billyreid.com
House of St. Clair: https://houseofstclair.com
Feathers Boutique: https://feathersboutiquevintage.com
Garment Modern & Vintage: https://www.shopgarment.com
Big Bertha’s Paradise: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ZwiggyAustinVintage
Bloomers & Frocks: https://bloomersandfrocks.com