10 Online Clothes Shopping Tips

rack of clothes and a hat

Shopping for your clothes online is a great way to save time, save money, and keep your wardrobe up to date.

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There are a lot of benefits to shopping for clothes online. If you do your clothes shopping online you don’t have to:

  • navigate traffic
  • find a parking spot
  • search through racks of clothes
  • maneuver the aisles with other people’s carts
  • second guess your clothing picks in the fluorescent lighting of the fitting rooms
  • wait in line to pay
  • deal with traffic getting home


That’s a lot of work for something you can now do from the comfort of your couch while you watch TV.


The one major downside to shopping for clothes online is that you can’t see the items in person or try them on before you buy them.


But there are tips and tricks you can use to ensure you don’t have to return the clothes you buy online too often.


Tip #1: Know Your Size

measuring tape


At the store you can grab a few different sizes and try them all on to figure out which size fits you the best. But when you shop online you don’t have that luxury.


To shop for clothes online successfully you need to know your exact size. Learn your exact size by taking your measurements.


Clothing companies usually have sizing charts where you can use your exact measurements to pick out your optimal size with that clothing line. By having your measurements all written out, you’ll know what sizes are going to fit you no matter which website you purchase clothes from.


Get a measuring tape that can easily wrap around different parts of your body and a piece of paper and pencil to jot down your measurements. Then stand with your feet together, relax your muscles, and measure the following parts of your body:


How to Measure Chest Size


Wrap the measuring tape around the widest part of your chest. The measuring tape should be around your shoulder blades, under your armpits, and around the front of your chest.


How to Measure Chest Size Men


For men, measuring chest size is very simple. Just wrap the measuring tape around the upper chest, around the pecks, just under the armpits.


How to Measure Chest Size Women


When measuring for women’s tops there is a slight difference between measuring the chest and measuring the bust or band size.


For chest size measure higher up on the chest, just under the armpits.


For bust size measure around the widestest part of the bust.


For band size wrap the tape measure around the area just under the bust.


How to Measure Waist Size


Find your natural waistline by wrapping the measuring tape around the narrowest part of your waist, near your belly button.


How to Measure Hip Circumference


Measure around your hips. Your hip measurement should be taken around the widest point of your hips. Use a mirror to make sure the measuring tape is level all around your body as you measure.


How to Measure Inseam


Your inseam is a measurement taken on the inside of one leg from the top of your inner thigh to the bottom of your ankle. This can be a difficult measurement to get by yourself. If you have a pair of long pants you’re already happy with, you can just measure the inseam of those pants instead.


How to Measure Thigh Circumference


Measure around the widest part of your thigh.


How to Measure Upper Arm Circumference


Measure around the widest part of your upper arm.


How to Measure Sleeve Length


Measuring your sleeve length is really hard to do on your own. If you can, ask someone to help measure your sleeve length for you.


First, place your hand on your waist or the narrowest part of your torso. Your elbow should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Measuring sleeve length like this will insure the sleeves are comfortable no matter how you move your arms.


Start the measuring tape at the nape of your neck and measure to the end of your shoulder, to your elbow, and end the measurement at your wrist.


Tip #2: Read the Return Policy

stack of folded clothes with a return receipt


There’s nothing more annoying than buying something online, realizing it doesn’t fit right, and then realizing that you can’t return it or that returning it will cost you.


Make sure you understand the return policy before you purchase clothes online. You want to make sure you can return the clothes if you get them home and find they don’t fit or don’t interest you in person.


American online commerce is at 96% or 310 million people.


It’s estimated that 15% to 30% of those online purchases will be returned. That’s a lot of returns.


Retail stores are also greatly rewarded for having good return policies because flexible return policies generally attract more customers.


One poll found that 91% of surveyors considered a retailer’s return policies when deciding where to buy from.


Sometimes you’ll get a full refund where you can return the item you don’t want and get all the money you spent on it back.


Other times the store might only give you store credit, so you can return that item but you now can only spend those funds at that store. This isn’t so bad though if you regularly shop there anyway.


Sometimes you might have to pay the shipping to return items. Other times you can return online items at the store location for free.


Another thing you want to watch out for are websites that don’t show their return policies. You want the return policies on a website to be readily accessible and easy to find. If you can’t easily find the return policies, that could be a red flag for using that online retailer at all.


Before you buy anything online make sure you read the fine print on the return policy so you know exactly what return policies are and aren’t available to you with that purchase.


Tip #3: Don’t Forget Shipping and Tax

packing up a box to mail


Be sure to include the cost of shipping and tax in the final price when budgeting for your online clothes shopping. These fees are not added until the end and the price of the product by itself can make it seem much cheaper than your purchase truly is.


The shipping and tax fees you pay for online clothes depend on the retailer and the state you live in. Some states tax clothing while others don’t and some states tax shipping while others don’t. Because you’re shopping online, this could also depend on where you are shipping from and the tax laws of that state.


The important thing is to remember that any online purchase is potentially going to add on a sales tax and delivery fee at the end. So as you’re adding up your purchase, keep an eye on your cart to see just how much extra you are paying in taxes and delivery fees.


Many retailers also provide incentives that help shoppers save on delivery fees. For example, some places will take away the delivery fee if you buy a certain dollar amount. Others will offer free shipping or discounts on shipping to members or if you have their store card.


Tip #4: Subscribe to Email Lists

email app on a phone


Subscribe to the emailing lists of your favorite stores. When you are on the email and mailing lists of your favorite clothing companies then you’ll get informed of all their sales and special deals. Sometimes, members of the mailing list will be the first or only ones to know of certain discounts going on.


Many people have a connotation around email subscriptions that they are annoying and clutter up your inbox. But if you manage your subscriptions wisely you can reap a lot of hidden benefits and sales that email subscribers see first. You can also get updated first on when products you want are back in stock.


Going through your emails each morning can also be a great way to start your day with something simple yet productive.


You can also often control your subscription preferences more than you realize. Go to your subscription preferences on the website and control how many emails you want and how frequently you want to receive emails.


Tip #5: Read the Fine Print

terms and conditions contract paper


Read through the FAQ pages and fine print before you make your purchase. Before clicking “agree” to any terms or conditions, make sure you read through all the terms and know what they are first.


There are many important reasons to read the fine print, the fine print will give you all the details on all the information you could ever need to know about doing business online with a store.


When shopping online you have to put in your personal information. Things like your name, mailing address, billing information, or your card information. The fine print will let you know what they will and won’t do with your personal information.


If there are any additional requirements or fees that they’re trying to hide you’ll find it in the fine print.


Tip #6: Read the Reviews

small man looking at many giant online reviews


Don’t forget to check out the reviews section for the website you’re using, or for the particular item you’re thinking of purchasing. Some reviews will even have pictures of previous customers wearing the clothes. Seeing real people in the shirt you’re thinking of buying can be helpful to see what it might really look like.


Reviews can also let you know about common problems with the clothes, like if the sizes run bigger or smaller than expected, or if the material or color is different from the picture.


Reviews will also let you know if there were problems with delivery or arrival, like if the clothes showed up ripped or frayed.


Just remember to read the reviews objectively since even the greatest buys can have a few bad customer reviews.


Tip #7: Familiarize Yourself with Different Materials

pile of folded fabrics


Doing a little research about materials and fabrics can really make online clothes shopping a breeze. If you know what mix of materials you do and don’t like, and if you have a basic understanding of what they all feel like, then you’ll have a much clearer understanding of what you’re buying.


Clothing is made of many kinds of materials and is often made of a blend of materials.


Canvas is very durable and sturdy. It can also be waterproof and is great for outdoor clothing.


Cashmere is a type of wool that is very soft and insulating to keep you warm and comfortable.


Chenille is a soft yarn and fabric that can have a fuzzy texture.


Chiffon is a light and shiny fabric that can have a rough texture.


Cotton is easily one of the most basic clothing fabrics. It’s soft and fluffy but still a durable and breathable fabric that’s great for basic clothes.


Crêpe is a silky but rough material that wrinkles easily.


Gingham is a type of cotton fabric that has been woven into a checkered pattern.


Jersey is a type of knit wool that is stretchy, soft, and warm.


Leather is fabric that has been made from animal hides and leathering techniques. It is a durable and wrinkle-free material that comes in a wide variety of textures. Suede is a type of leather that’s made from the underside of animal skin. This gives it a softer and thinner texture.


Linen is a fabric made from the flax plant. It is both strong and lightweight. It is also both breathable and insulating so it’s a perfect material for jacket linings or home and bathroom cloths.


Modal is a synthetic form of rayon fabric. It has a soft feel and high cost and is often blended with other fabrics.


Muslin is a type of cotton that has been woven loosely and has a lightweight, gauzy, and drapey quality.


Polyester is a synthetic fabric made from coal and petroleum. It is durable, but not breathable or absorbent. That’s why polyester is often added with other fabrics so the material can have polyester’s strength but other material’s breathability.


Satin is a type of weave that is elastic, shiny, soft, and drapey.


Silk is a material made from the silkworm. It is a soft, shiny, drapey material but is still durable and strong.


Spandex can also be referred to as Lycra or Elastane. It’s a synthetic material made to be very elastic and retain its shape well.


Toile is a type of linen that is woven to be extremely drapey.


Tweed is a woven wool that has a rough texture and is very insulating and warm.


Velvet is a fabric that has been woven densely to create a very smooth and soft material with a unique type of shine.


Viscose is a type of rayon material made from wood pulp. It has a similar look and feel to silk fabrics but is cheaper than actual silk.


Tip #8: Check for Payment Security

google pay app on someone's phone


When you are purchasing clothes online you will need a debit or credit card to make a purchase. Be sure that your payment will be safe and secure whenever you are buying things online.


If you do not have the credit to get a credit card, you may want to look into a Check City Prepaid Debit Card. A prepaid debit card is a great way to ensure that you can make secure purchases online.


There are cybercriminals out there you have to watch out for. Cybercriminals find ways to take advantage of online e-commerce and their primary objective is to get your information and take advantage of it.


But how can you tell when your online payments are secure or not?


Basically, you want to check if the site is secure and if they use encryption technology and other fraud prevention tools to keep online shoppers safe.


Here are a few clues you can look for to make sure the site is offering secure payments:


SSL Protocol


Secure sites need to follow SSL protocols. If they follow this protocol they use encryptions that keep your personal information private and secure. You can tell if they’re using this if the URL bar has a padlock icon and if their website starts with the letters “https.”


To customers, all of this means this website is secure, protected, and safe for you to use.


PCI Compliance


This form of compliance means that the organization adheres to regulations created by the major card brands (like VISA or MASTERCARD) to help keep you safe and keep your online purchases secure.


Tip #9: Keep an Online Shopping Journal

woman writing in a notebook


By keeping a notebook for your online cloth shopping, you can keep all your notes in one place. In this notebook you can keep your measurements, and record the sizes that work best for you from each store.


You can also keep notes of how you like different materials and fabric blends, so you can remember what compositions like 20% Cotton, 60% Polyester, and 20% Spandex mean for you.


For instance, maybe at Old Navy, you are a size small but at Target the size medium fits you better. Or maybe you find you hate jersey blends and love cotton blends.


Write all of this information down as you learn so you can remember details like this.


Tip #10: Use a Tailor

woman sewing at a sewing machine


Everyone’s body shape is different, and sizes don’t always fit exactly right. But that doesn’t have to keep you from taking advantage of great prices on great clothes. By making use of a local tailor you can always get a custom fit.


Using a tailor to custom-fit your clothes is also a great way to support small businesses and entrepreneurs.


Many clothes are made with generalized sizing guidelines that aren’t necessarily all-inclusive. What happens when you are somewhere between sizes and have to pick between a half-size too small or a half-size too big?


Or you might be a size medium shirt but the shirt length at this particular retailer is just too long.


General sizes also don’t account for different body types. You might be an apple shape, hourglass shape, pear shape, or rectangle shape and basic clothing patterns from stores don’t always account for this.


With a tailor, you can fix all of those problems and make your clothes fit perfectly.


Clothes even last longer if you get them tailored because now you don’t have to adjust and pull and tug at your clothes or wear through them faster because they’re too snug.


Frugal Fashion


When you shop online you aren’t tied down to only the stores near you. Location doesn’t matter so much when you can ship items to your doorstep.


With more places to shop at your fingertips, you can make better financial choices when spending money on clothes.


You can even buy secondhand clothing online now at places like Thread Up. You can also browse what clothes your neighbors are selling on the Facebook Marketplace.


Where to Shop for Clothes Online


As our shopping migrates more and more onto the internet, clothing brands and websites that are solely online have become increasingly more popular and common.


Many online clothing stores even offer subscription services.


Clothing Subscriptions for Women


Clothing Subscriptions for Plus Size


Clothing Subscriptions for Men


Clothing Subscriptions for Kids


Clothing Shopping Websites


Amazon Fashion


Amazon has their own clothing website now too in their Amazon Fashion section. They even have a subscription box now with Prime Wardrobe.


They have clothing sections for women, men, girls, boys, and babies.


Clothes Shopping Apps


Virtually every clothes store has an app now.


Store apps can also have rewards programs or some kind of benefit for shopping with the app or with your store card.


Learn about some of the best store cards and start saving on online purchases today.


In Conclusion,


The next time that you get tired of the crowds or the lines at the mall, pull out your prepaid debit card and start safely shopping online.


Filling out a new spring wardrobe can take a toll on the budget. If you find you need a little extra financial breathing room, Check City can help with a variety of short-term financial service options like the Check City Personal Loan.


dummies.com. “How to Get Your Body Measurements,” by Jill Martin and Pierre A. Lehu.

All Business. “The Importance of a Good Return Policy.”

Technology Therapy Group. “How Important Are Return Policies to Your Customers?” by Jennifer Shaheen.

Master Class. “28 Types of Fabrics and Their Uses.”