Shop­ping for clothes on­line

The Freeman - - FRONT PAGE - 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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