Raise your hand if you’ve returned clothing purchased one too many times from online shopping! Whether the items weren’t true to size or they just didn’t fit right, we’ve all had to print out return shipping labels at least once in our online lifetimes. In fact, half of all online clothing purchases get returned, with poor fit being the main reason.

Although shopping with the click of a mouse or phone app is a convenient time-saver, it can be frustrating and difficult to find the right fit for your body; especially when shopping online for a brand of clothes you’ve never worn before. With a few tips from celebrity fashion stylist Erin Noel, you’ll be adding your favorite clothes into the shopping cart with confidence and returns will be a thing of the past.

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Shop with a plan

Shopping aimlessly online while lounging on the couch with a warm cup of coffee can be fun, but the first step in a successful online shopping experience is to shop with an idea of what you’re looking for.

“With all the different cuts and styles of clothing available these days — including athletic wear — it can make online shopping more fun or confusing depending on who you talk to.” Says Noel.

Know what you are looking for ahead of time

“Spend a few minutes on Pinterest and Instagram, and look for images that resonate with you, put them in a folder on your phone or computer, and make a list of what you are looking for,” advises Noel. This will narrow down your hunt and make the search a lot easier.”

She adds: “Then when you are online shopping, you can use keywords such as ‘cropped black pant’ or ‘mid-calf length leggings’ in the search bar to help curate selections based on what you are looking for instead of scrolling through several pages of black pants/leggings.”

Google shopping and ShopStyle are great resources as they provide a variety of options from different brands, making it easy to find what you are looking for.

Female losing weight with health tips by focusing on her waist line with a measuring tape
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Measurements are everything when online shopping

It’s easy to know your height and weight, but having more detailed measurements on hand like inseam, rise, and sleeve length can help you figure out what size is best for you. “Knowing your measurements is key to online shopping,” says Noel, as it’s the easiest way to find your correct fit. This means the chances of having to return your items are drastically lowered.

“The size chart for each brand is the best way to determine what will be the right size for you,” Noel says, and, if by chance the brand you are shopping at doesn’t have a sizing chart (they most likely will) don’t fret, Google has a host of sizing guides to pull from.

How and where to measure:

Here are the sizings you need to know:

Rise: Measures from your crotch to the waistband

Inseam: Measures from your crotch to the floor (without shoes)

Waist, hip, sleeve length: Apply standard measurements

Take the guesswork out of buying leggings and jeans

“For workout leggings, measure your inseam to know what the best length is for you, but also don’t be afraid to tailor leggings that you love to get the right inseam,” Noel recommends.

When buying jeans, Noel suggests purchasing a few sizes in a variety of brands, especially if you are trying a new style.

“In general, your waist measurement, and inseam is key to know when buying your denim,” she says.

For men, Noel feels slim/ straight styles are universally flattering and on-trend, and if your legs lean on the thicker side, she recommends you go with a straight-leg style. “You can always tailor the bottom of the jeans to make them more slim/skinny if needed.” Noel says.

Read the reviews — they actually can help

Customer reviews are your most trusted friend when it comes to online shopping, as they give you an up-close and personal look at true sizing and material quality; and many times, images are provided with the review as well. This is one of the most valuable resources any online shopper has. If the brand isn’t true to its size, you’ll be able to order accordingly without heading to the post office for yet, another return. Don’t be afraid to leave a review as well and help others have an easier online shopping experience.

High fashion female holding clothing bags from shopping online
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There’s more online shopping tips from Noel

1. You may not be one size across the board, so always check the size chart before ordering. A size 8 for one brand may not be the same size 8 in another. If a brand mentions that their clothing runs small, trust them, and order up.

2. Don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t work out, just like when you try things on at a store, it may not always work online either. Ordering multiple options can make this process easier, and less disappointing if something doesn’t work out. There are plenty of sites that offer free returns, so this makes the return process easier.

3. Some online retailers offer free digital styling, take advantage of having an expert help you shop online. Having a second set of eyes on a look can make all the difference, and chances are you will try something outside of your box and love it!

4. For women, in general, if you are petite (5’4’’ and under), it is best to shop pants from a petite vendor, otherwise, you may be stuck with a bell-bottom that no longer has a bell once you hem the pant, or sleeves are entirely too long and the proportions are off.

5. Keep in mind that clothing is produced for the masses, and finding the perfect fit can sometimes work off the rack, but it’s OK if you need to make a trip to the dry cleaner to get the right inseam.

Online shopping doesn’t need to be stressful. With a good set of measurements and a plan, you’ll be a click away from successful shopping!

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