Tips for Successful Online Dress Shopping

By Susan Miller , last updated December 22, 2011

If you're not quite comfortable buying dresses without trying them on, all you need are a few tips for successful online dress shopping. The very first one is to have a seamstress or a good friend take all your measurements (carefully) and write them down. Every online clothing retailer has a chart somewhere on their website that shows customers what the measurements are for the sizes they carry. Always go by the retailer's chart, even if the size it shows you should buy is different from the size you normally wear.

Overstock.com recommends starting your shopping session with a plan. Have in mind what you are looking for, such as what type of dress you will need and what purpose it must serve. Then, stay focused on that plan. Obviously, a dress you will wear to a wedding will be much different than one you will wear to a funeral.

Choose a reputable retailer that is well-established and known for it's high quality merchandise. Happy Living Magazine recommends first visiting the websites of your favorite stores, first because you already know their quality and reputation, and because they most likely have a larger selection online than in their store. Even if you know the retailer, look for online reviews to see how they are rated for service and quality in the online part of their business.

Happy Living Magazine recommends choosing retailers that offer a lot of information online, such as in-depth information on how to determine your size, detailed descriptions of the fabric, construction of the dress and other factual details about the dress that helps you know what you are buying. Also choose retailers that offer high-quality photographs that you can enlarge enough to see details of the dress.

Happy Living also points out that some retailers have virtual models in different sizes so you can type in your measurements and the virtual model appears in your size, showing you how the dress will look on you. If the retailer has this option, take advantage of it and use it. If the retailer you want to buy from doesn't have this option, there are websites where you can create a model with your body shape and try different styles of clothing. One example of a site like this is Channel4.com.

Read all the fine print, such as information on shipping costs and the retailer's policies regarding credit cards. Reputable retailers have secure websites that will protect your personal and credit card information. Know the retailer's return and exchange policies, just in case all your preparation doesn't work out. If the retailer has brick and mortar stores, find out if you can return the dress to the store.

Overstock.com also advocates that you don't settle for the first dress you find online because the selection online is so vast, make sure you look long enough to find several possibilities, then narrow them down. This will ensure you choose the right dress for you.

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