I don’t think I really understood the value of online shopping until Frankie came along, and leisure time where I could wander a store became scarce.
In the past I used to make a lot of my clothes, which is something I still love doing but it’s not as easy these days (excited to get back to it soon!). The other thing you find when you become a mother (or, I imagine, have any other major life change) is that your style evolves, which means you have a bit more of an urge to buy a few things here and there. Particularly when you find yourself looking in your closet thinking ‘none of this is me!’. Whatever the reason, I’ve recently been shopping online much more than I did in the past.
But let’s be real, we all know there are lots of problems with overconsumption, particularly of fast fashion brands. I mean, in an ideal world we would all buy from brands that lead the way in sustainability, but it’s not easy or affordable for many. The first place to start? Shopping better, smarter and more consciously, and buying clothes that will last and be worn again and again, no matter where you’re buying them from. Here are a few ways I’ve learnt to do just that!
Pick The Right Fabric
My number one tip for shopping online is to be very (very) selective with fabrics. A massive decider of quality and how long something will last is the fabric that’s used. I’m wary about buying anything that’s made out of a synthetic fabric like polyester or nylon. In my experience the hand feel and breathability is usually lacking. I bought a top from Mango recently that looked great on but after ten minutes I wanted to scratch my skin off. Instead, I opt for natural fabrics like cotton, linen and silk, all of which lend a more expensive feel to even the cheapest of designs. I also like rayon and lyocell (both man made but naturally derived). I opt for garments with cotton or silk lining too, as polyester lining is generally quite uncomfortable. Blended fabrics (like, 50% linen 50% poly) can be a better option in terms of feel, but are often hit and miss.
How to: When you’re shopping online, check carefully what type of fabric you’re buying, and make sure you understand the different elements of the garment and what they’re made of.
This guide might be helpful in deciding what fabrics to buy. You can read the full post here.
Consider At least 20 Wears
One of the issues with fast fashion is that we’re encouraged to wear something once and then throw it away. Which is so crazy! If that happens chances are you didn’t like that item very much, or you don’t like being seen in the same thing twice. But you know what? YOU CAN WEAR YOUR CLOTHES TWICE! In fact you can (and should) wear them twenty times or more. These days when I’m shopping, whether it’s with a big fashion retailer or a smaller boutique brand, I consider whether I will wear the item 20 times. If I can, then I press add too cart. I also use the four ways method (download my Wardrobe Rehab ebook here to read more) to help me decide if I will use an item.
How to: About to add to cart? Think realistically about how many wears you think you’ll be able to get out of this item. Consider outfits, occasions and anything else that will help you to decide if it’s a yay or a nay.
Seek Out Re-sale and Outlet
Something I have really embraced recently is buying from other people, or buying designer outlet items. Shopping on Depop and Ebay have become my new favourite thing, I recently snapped up a gorgeous Yoli & Otis dress I have wanted for a long time for half the price. It had been worn a few times but came clean and pressed, and at the end of the day it made no difference to me. I also absolutely love stores like Retykle for kids clothes where you can get gorgeous designer items at a fraction of the price.
How to: Got some time? Do a little research for your next purchase, you may be able to get a better quality version on a secondhand or outlet site!
Buy A Size Up (And Alter)
One of my biggest secrets for shopping online better is to buy one size up, particularly when shopping on more generic or fast fashion sites. I always find it hard to choose sizing when I’m buying online, and there’s nothing worse than buying something and it being too small. Another thing I have noticed is that lots of bigger fashion brands tend to go smaller in their sizing than bigger, or you get shrinkage that renders an item unwearable after a few washes. What I often do is select the size up from what I might usually get, and then take the item in if it needs it. Sometimes that means a little nip or tuck in at the waist, but to be honest I find that most items look better when updated in this way. I know this might seem like a lot of work, and doesn’t make sense if you can’t do the odd update yourself, but I find it makes cheaper cuts and outfits look much more expensive, and give items a much longer shelf life.
How to: If you have the skills, consider buying items in a size up and altering them to fit if necessary.
Send it Back
If you don’t wear an item you’ve just bought within a week, send it back pronto. Unless you’re saving it for a particular occasion, you’re not going to wear it of you haven’t felt the urge to in a week. And try to send it back in as good condition as you can (in the original packaging etc), which makes it more likely that a brand will put the stock back into circulation. Because sometimes they don’t even if they refund you!
How to: Don’t let your returns shame you into inaction, if you haven’t worn it within 7 days send it back!