Step 1: Measure yourself
I know it sounds obvious, but having accurate measurements of key areas will make online shopping so much easier. When measuring, ensure you hold the tape firmly around your body, but not too tight. Be sure to write the measurements down and keep them somewhere handy. Better yet, save them in your phone or email them to yourself so you always have access to them.
There are four key areas you should measure. Perhaps get a friend or family member to help you and be sure to use a soft tape measure, which you can pick up from your local fabric store or some supermarkets.
-Bust: Measure the fullest part of your chest.
-Waist: Measure around the smallest part of your waist, around your belly button.
-Hips: Measure the widest part, around your bottom.
-Inseam: Measure the inside length of your leg.
Most of the time, online shopping sites will also have a size chart with the measurements of the sizes they have in stock. Compare these with your measurements and see which size is the closest.
Step 2: Know what you want
I'm not just talking about dresses versus pants here. Try and narrow down the colour, shape and material you are looking for. Pick out items in your own wardrobe that drape nicely, have a look at the tag and see what material they are made out of. Then look out for fabric information when shopping for items online.
Step 3: Save before you splurge
Nearly all websites offer some way of saving items, either to a wishlist, or even to a shopping bag that doesn't empty for 30 days or so. So as you see things you like, add them there and go back to review them a day, a week, or even a month later. Often you'll find there are things you have changed your mind about, stopping an impulse purchase that you may regret later on.
Step 4: Buy and you shall receive
Get orders delivered to a business address if possible, otherwise couriers tend to leave parcels without a signature at residential addresses. That's fine most of the time but it pays to be safe. Plus it means you don't need to make a trip to the courier depot - who has time for that!
Step 5: If you don't like it, return it
I used to be a bit scared of returning items. I have no idea why. Perhaps I was hoping that, despite not being able to get the dress over my shoulders, it would miraculously fit me in a week or two, or that I would find an occasion to wear it. The truth is, if you don't like it or if it doesn't fit, return it. You will usually get a refund or store credit, depending on the store's returns policy. (Be sure to check the returns policy before purchasing anything online. Some websites may not offer returns, or it may end up being costly to do so.) Make sure you leave the tags on if you are wanting to return or exchange a garment, and also the original packaging.
If you follow the above steps, you should be on your merry way to a successful online shopping experience.
For free DIY personal styling and makeover advice contact Lisa Lyford, founder of Gorgeous Me. www.gorgeousme.co
Send your questions for Lisa to email@example.com