As college students, we are constantly complaining about our lack of time to do things. No time to cook, no time to clean, no time to shop. And as a college girl, I know I wish I had more time for that last one. But I swear there is a way to get it done, ladies (and guys!). If you know the ins and outs of online shopping, you can get exactly what you want without having to leave your dorm room. (Because no matter what, we ALWAYS have time to sit on our computers.) Just follow these basic rules and you’ll have your haul in no time.
Rule 1: Always check the sizing chart. One of the biggest woes of online shopping is not being able to check how something fits before purchasing it. This is why sizing charts were invented. Every decent online shop will have one. Take your own measurements and compare to find how you size up with a specific retailer. It won’t be able to assure you a perfect fit but it’ll let you know if one shop’s size 12 is really a size 8 – some places are sneaky like that. And when in doubt, choose a style that is generally universally flattering like an elastic empire waist or a loose top that can be belted to fit.
Rule 2: Choose forgiving fabrics. I know fabric content isn’t something we usually notice when shopping in an actual store (we spend more time gazing at our hot selves in the mirror rather than garment tags), but online it’s pretty important. You will have the most luck with fabrics that have a little give, are looser, or have a 5% or more spandex content. Because you can always make something larger fit with a cute belt or a sewing machine, but there’s no way to squeeze into something 2 sizes too small without looking like you went shopping at Baby Gap. My personal favorite is jersey – I call it the magic fabric because it is so forgiving. Try to avoid purchasing strict-fitting items like non-stretch jeans or shoes online.
Rule 3: Read the reviews. If the website has them, reviews can be immensely helpful. The retailer doesn’t often let the buyer know whether a particular item runs large or small, is totally cheap, or hits at a weird place on the hips. But you can bet that if previous buyers are satisfied enough or pissed off enough they are going to post their opinions, and their comments can warn you before you buy.
Rule 4: Check the return policy. One easy fall back is “oh, if it doesn’t fit I can just send it back”, but online retailers often charge a lot for returns, or disallow them completely. Which can really enrage you when that expensive dress fits like a jumbo Hefty bag but costs more to return than the original price. Make sure you check up on your specific retailer’s policy before buying something that might not fit to see if your purchase is worth it. This holds especially true for purchases you make through private retailers like people on Etsy or Ebay. If they don’t have a return policy posted, send them a message asking about it.
Rule 5: Search for coupons. Aren’t you a poor college student? Well, good news. There are a lot of great websites online that are dedicated to gathering online coupon codes for select retailers (retailmenot.com, couponcabin.com). I usually just google the words “(insert retailer name here) online coupon”. The coupon users rate the codes thumbs up or thumbs down in terms of their effectiveness. And the best part is that 99% of the time you can save a good chunk of change. Any given retailer usually has at least one promotional code floating around the internet, which is great for you!
Now that you know the rules, you have no excuse NOT to look cute. So get online and start shopping!