How to shop smart online

With our usual stores closed, now could be the time to try online shopping.


by Michelle Nightingale |

Follow these handy hints from Fashion Editor Michelle Nightingale to guarantee no unwelcome surprises when your order arrives…

Check your size

The obvious drawback of ordering online is that you can't try things on. In an ideal world all clothing brands would fit the same, but women’s sizing varies dramatically (just look at the examples below from Next and M&S). All online brands carry detailed size guides. Check your measurements against these charts and you'll ensure the clothes you order will fit.

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Size Chart

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Watch the video

Some brands feature catwalk-style videos of models walking and wearing the items. The beauty of video is that, not only do you get a 360° view but you can also get a more true idea of how well the garment hangs and how the material moves.

Read the reviews

Often just as useful as the product description, customer reviews will give you an insight into the garment that you won’t get from the description alone, from customer service to what an item is really like in real life. Look out for comments on whether the item is true to size, whether it hangs nicely or creases easily, or even whether the colour is as described.

Pay attention to detail

Sometimes it’s hard to pick out details from pictures alone, so it’s important to read the product description thoroughly. Check for information about the material, sleeve length and for fastening details. When looking at dresses, skirts and trousers check if the description tells you how long the garment is to the hem. Some brands will tell you what dress size the model is wearing and how tall she is.

Suss out the returns policy

Most companies offer a standard 28-day returns policy, although some have extended this to be more accommodating in the current situation. Make sure you check the small print though, as some brands offer a shorter return period for sale items and it’s easy to get caught out. Likewise, don’t forget that if you’re returning by post you’ll need to factor in postage time.

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