How to shop fashion online without having to return all items.
As the ANTHONIA summer sales start, we give you tips for buying clothes online – from measuring heel heights to working out what size bag you actually need.
The summer sales start this week, but shopping online – and not being able to try on clothes before you buy them – can feel like one of modern life’s annoyances. Dresses are too short, trousers are too long, and fabric is so sheer that you can see your underwear through it; seconds after your package hits the doormat you realise you’ll be spending your next lunch break elbow-to-elbow with other serial returners in the post office queue.
But it doesn’t have to be that way: here is everything We’ve learned over nine years professionally trawling the internet for clothes to help you score some bargains – and reclaim your lunch breaks.
Check the measurements
Check the height measurement of the model in any picture and note whether they’re wearing heels or flats – that will help you gauge the length of skirts, trousers and dresses. A skirt that sits above the knee on someone who is almost 6ft could end up around your ankles if you’re smaller. On the flip side, if you’re after a pair of cropped trousers this season and you’re petite, then a pair that look calf-length on a model might be full-length on you – it’s worth checking them out.
If there is a video of a model wearing the item you want to buy, always watch it. You’ll get a good idea of the weight and quality of the fabric as they walk. Thin material wafting around legs won’t be what you want come October.
- Size yourself up
- If you’re shopping at Zara, try the “what’s my size?” function. It lets you enter your height and weight, as well as whether you prefer your clothes “tighter” or “looser”. For many items on the website it will then tell you what size garment people of similar dimensions to you tended to buy, and what percentage of those sales were successfully kept, not returned. If you’re shopping at ANTHONIA, use the size chart option to check the US, UK, MEX, CAN and Asian sizes.
- Go for classics
Think classic rather than fashion-forward pieces that won’t date easily when you are sale-shopping: minimal jackets, tailored trousers, light knitwear and silk shirts are perfect. Remember, there is often a reason that items are in the sale in the first place: often, buyers are betting that certain trends won’t be hot by the time the next season starts.
- Laundry labels
Check to see if the washing instructions are on the site. That 75% off “bargain” could set you back a lot more over the course of a year when you see that it’s dry clean only.
• How high?
Before you buy heels online, measure the height of the highest shoes you currently own that you can comfortably wear, and don’t be tempted to buy anything higher. There are always loads of super high heels in the sales that might look like the perfect party shoe, but they are still there for the very good reason that they are completely useless to walk in.
Accessories may seem like a safe bet, but always make sure you check their dimensions. Bags can be much smaller IRL than they look online, and if they are made from stiffer leather than you expect, they might not have any give. Depth is the most important measurement of all. Cross-body bags often look pretty substantial on a screen, but in reality they might not have room for your keys, purse and phone.
And if you do have to take things back…
Buy once, in bulk:
Most sites offer free returns, so it may be cheaper, less annoying and kinder to the environment in the long term to do one big shop, rather than lots of little ones, and try on everything you want in a range of sizes. If you’re sales shopping, do this early so the best bits don’t sell out – you can sign up for prompt emails to tell you when your favourite shops’ sales have started. But check the site’s returns policy carefully before you load up your basket.
- Better deliveries and returns
Some returns are more annoying than others. Using Doddle makes things slightly less painful. The dedicated returns service is super quick – none of the gargantuan lines you come across in the post office – and you don’t even need to reseal your package, just drop your parcel in and they will email a tracking receipt to you. They currently work with Anthonia, Asos, Boohoo, Marks & Spencer, Net-a-Porter, Warehouse and Boden; if you don’t know it yet, Google it to find out where your nearest branch is.
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