You may recall how obsessed I am with styling outfits, so it should come as no surprise that I have more than my fair share of clothes in my wardrobe. I have noticed, however, that the area I live in doesn’t have a lot of retailers that either carry my size or carry clothes that fit the style that I like.
As such, I’ve turned more and more to online shopping when I’m looking for specific pieces, or for affordable deals on trendier styles. Online shopping can be a bit daunting in general, but it can be especially difficult if you are looking for clothes in the plus-size arena, so here are some things that I’ve found make the experience easier and more successful.
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1. Bust out that measuring tape
One thing I’ve learned more than anything from shopping in general (and especially online) is that there is no such thing as universal sizing. Where I will be a 26 (3x) in one brand, I will be a 24 (2x) in another, and so on. It’s easy to get caught up in the size on the tag, but how something fits me is far more important.
One of the best things I ever did was take my butt down to the dollar store to buy a tape measure. Taking measurements has made picking out clothes online a lot more successful because then I can choose sizes based on my actual body and the respective retailer’s size guide.
2. Figure out fabrics
You don’t have to be a textiles genius to shop online, but it is really helpful to know how certain fabrics behave before buying something so you can adjust your purchases accordingly. Certain fabrics have more give to them, some stretch out a little more and require sizing down, some have zero stretch. Knowing what’s what will help you find clothes that fit you well.
This isn’t just about fit either; knowing a bit more about fabrics also factors into how you care for your clothing. If you’re lazy like me, for example, you’re probably not going to want to buy something in a fabric that requires a lot of extra care (unless it’s something special).
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3. Read reviews
I like to read customer reviews of a product because people will often comment about fit, sizing, quality, etc. Another option is to follow fashion bloggers with a similar style and body type to yours and see what they have to say about how an item fits or if it’s well made.
It’s finally cool enough for some proper layering! 😃😄😆 #ootd #bbwnation #bbw #effyourbeautystandards #plussizefashion #plussize #styleatanysize #style
4. Research return policies
Before buying online, it’s also important to check into the retailer’s return policy. Do they offer exchanges? Do they pay for return shipping? Can you return in-store if the retailer has a location near you? The list goes on.
I learned this the hard way when I bought a dress from a retailer that was slightly too snug in the bodice, and upon attempting to exchange it I was told that the policy was to return only and that I’d have to then repurchase. This would not technically be a problem except that I wouldn’t be able to get the same coupon I had used on the dress before ($30 off) and would have to pay full price. If I had paid attention to the return policy before purchase, I might have weighed buying the dress more carefully.
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5. Check into loyalty programs/coupons/online codes/shipping discounts
I rarely ever buy clothing without some sort of discount. Anytime I shop somewhere, I check to see if they have a loyalty program so I can get kickbacks for shopping I’m already doing, and I check to see if there are any immediate discounts associated with it as well. I also check for online promo codes that can save me some money on my purchase and or/shipping. A lot of online retailers also offer shipping discounts on purchases over a certain amount.
I still get some misses when I shop online, but these steps definitely have made those instances few and far between.
This article first appeared on xoJane. For more stories like this, visit xojane.com now.