We’ve simply seen too many Depop screenshots, read too many horror stories about clothes fit only for dolls arriving from eBay, and had too many sizing disasters of our own, to go in gung-ho on outfit buying online. Yep, it’s the World Wild West out there on the web, with deception and distraction occurring at an ever increasing rate. And damned be the fool who thinks something so innocuous as buying a T-shirt is exempt from all of this.

Better, then, to be scrupulous and savvy when shopping for clothes online, to make sure you end up with exactly what you were hoping for. With that in mind, here are 5 tips for buying from clothing brands online.

RESEARCH THE BRAND’S REPUTATION 

First things first, do your due diligence. You have to do the necessary homework to understand the brand’s reputation, reviews, and negative feedback from folk who have worn (or not worn) their stuff. Check for reviews on trusted, verified sites and forums, as well as doing a background search to learn more about the brand’s reputation; Trust Pilot is the best place to do this in the UK. Consumer Affairs is another useful resource.

Brands who provide quality tend to survive in the fashion industry, while others intent on providing low-grade clothing perish quickly. Established brands have built their reputation over the years and have consumer confidence cemented. In general, if it’s your first time with a clothing company, prioritise those with an illustrious history. 

CHECK THE RETURNS POLICY

A clothing brand’s return policy can vary wildly, from the non-existent to the hugely flexible, from the tolerant and accommodating to the downright rude. What we’re saying with that long winded bit is that you should carefully check the returns policy of the clothing brand you’re considering before making a purchase. Should something arrive which doesn’t meet its description or your expectations, you’ll want to know that you can be refunded with no fuss.

If the returns and refund page of the clothing company’s website is laid out in simple-to-understand terms and in a step by step format, then you can have a fair amount of trust that they want to make things easy for you. As such, you can assume a certain level of repute in the company. This popular brand, who have different clothing types to match every event and season, provide return and exchange steps visually and descriptively; reassuring to the consumer, for sure.

KNOW YOUR MEASUREMENTS

Sizes vary depending on the brand, and it would be folly to assume that your usual size will be the same across the board, particularly when you’re using the services of a new clothing brand you’ve yet to try on. Ideally, you should get out the measuring tape and note down your bust, hips, waist and inseam. Then, on the brand’s website, check out their size chart to help you figure out what size is right for your actual figures. 

On platforms that carry multiple brands like ASOS, you’re going to have to delve deeper, cross-referencing with the brand’s official website and size chart, before revisiting the marketplace. 

MATERIAL DETAIL 

We’ve all been target-advertised to, with a sweatshirt or dress which just seems to suit our sense of style and self perfectly. Then, when the item arrives, the disappointment begins; the material used is paper-like, the clothing creased and cheap to the touch, and after one wash, it’s reduced several sizes.

Though we’d love to be able to check the stitching, topstitching, type of fabric, buttons, pattern, seams, and the finishing from a distance, this is rarely possible from behind your screen. Do look for any specifications provided by the clothing brand, for example, the cotton percentage and processes used in manufacture. This may help reassure you.

IF IT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS 

You find the perfect outfit for you. You check the price; it’s a bargain! Too often this leads to an impulsive outburst of entering card details and clicking ‘buy’ before you’ve even blinked. Didn’t your mother warn you about such behaviour (actually maybe you should warn her, as you’re the computer literate one)? Instead, when shopping for clothes online, the old mantra of ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is’ applies. Exercise this rule and added caution with every shopping choice you make. 

Or, hey, you could avoid a little of this hassle, keep things inhouse and simply not ruin the clothes you already have. Check out our 7 simple tips to make your clothes last longer for more on that thrifty, environmentally friendly idea!