The Freeman

Shopping for clothes online

- By Aubrey Cabahug

There's no denying that online shopping is really catching on. These days, people are shopping almost anything online. They say it's convenient - they don't have to dress up and make the trip to the store. And, often, they are able to strike a good bargain.

One of the most popular online picks is clothes. Online shoppers look through the virtual display of merchandis­e right in their own bedrooms. In a matter of days, their orders are delivered right at their doorsteps. What can be cooler than that?

On the flipside, though, the shopper may end up with a dress or shirt that doesn't fit exactly. It is the risk of not being able to actually fit the item first. It can mean doused excitement and waste of money.

But most people just love shopping for clothes. And online shopping is really tempting. Good thing, Alan Henry, at, has ideas to make sure that disappoint­ments never happens or at least greatly minimized when shopping for clothes online.

Henry agrees that it does indeed involve the risk of possibly having to return whatever is bought online, because it doesn't fit. While online shops do have a "return or exchange" guarantee, the

right item may no longer come for the occasion it is intended for. This sad possibilit­y may not be entirely eliminated, but a little planning and some smart shopping practices can help ensure it rarely happens, according to Henry. He shares the following tips: Get accurate measuremen­ts of your body, and keep them up to date.

The first and perhaps most important thing you can do before spending money buying clothes online is to get proper measuremen­ts of yourself. Once you have an idea of your size, beyond "large," "size 10," or "42 waist," you'll be able shop without fear. But remember, one company's size 10 is another company's size 8. Labels and designers purposeful­ly use "vanity sizes" to confuse customers, and even though the whole point of sizes and inches is to give consumers standards, one company's 42-inch slacks will fit drasticall­y differentl­y than another's. Choose the right online retailers and always check the sizing charts.

Speaking of size charts, once you have your measuremen­ts, size charts will be your best friend. You won't ever need to trust that a "large" is indeed "large enough" to fit you - you can just look at the

sizing chart, find your actual measuremen­t on it, and go from there. If you've been shopping for clothes online for a while, you may already know this, but it's even more important when you're shopping online, especially from retailers that carry different labels, designers, and clothing manufactur­ers. Make notes on brands, retailers, and designers you've bought before.

With the number of retailers online, you have purchase options to explore. Most are general clothiers. If you dive deeper a bit, you can find sites that sell everything from custom shoes to handmade belts and ties. Once you've looked over their respective sizing charts and found some retailers that sell clothes in your size and personal style, you're in good shape to start shopping. Grab a notebook or use your favorite note-taking app to jot down the name of the retailer you shopped with, what you bought (especially if it's from a specific designer or has a specific cut or style), its size, and how well it fits.

Keeping notes like this for clothes may sound silly, but it's really important. When you hit on a brand, a cut, or a style that really works for you, you'll be able to find it again easily. You'll also always know that a specific brand is cut a certain way and fits you well. Go custom with made-toorder clothing.

If you really want to make sure you get a perfect fit out of the box (and have the cash to spare), custom clothiers are a great way to go. They offer formalwear, dresses, suits, dress shirts, and slacks for sale, but there are plenty more that cover casual clothes, men's and women's designs, even underwear. Since custom clothiers either make your clothes to order or at least take forms off the rack and alter to fit you, it's important to give them as accurate measuremen­ts as possible. Get a tailor or seamstress, and buy slightly large.

Whether you go completely custom or buy off the virtual "rack," as it were, find a tailor or a seamstress in your community that's willing to do alteration­s and adjustment­s to your clothes for you. The words "tailor" and "seamstress" usually conjure images of wealthy people getting minute tweaks to their clothes, but nothing could be further from the truth. There's probably a tailor or seamstress in your neighborho­od who'd be more than happy to get your business. Get your dresses and dress shirts fitted so they accentuate your figure. Get your jeans and slacks properly hemmed. The money you'll spend is well worth it for the sharp, well-fitted look you'll get out of it.

It's a great feeling to buy something, either custom or off the rack, and find it fits perfectly right out of the box. All it takes is a little prep and foresight to get there.

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