If It Doesn't Look Good On The Model It Won't Look Good On You & Other Tips For Shopping Online
If it doesn't look good on the model, it won't look good on you
This is one of many good pieces of advice I received form my mother, a former model, who witnessed firsthand how fashion sausage is made. If you've ever been behind the scenes of a photo shoot, you've seen the clothing pins and finesse used to make each outfit fit the model just so. It's insta-tailoring--kind of like when you try on wedding dresses and they have ways of making one size sample dress fit all. If, with all this garment manipulation, a garment still doesn't look good on the model, a woman hired because clothes look exceptionally good draped over her body, then it's not going to work on you (or anyone). Plain and simple.
Use the specific brand's size guide, not a general one
Many online retailers only bother to put up a single, generic size guide; unfortunately, sizes run differently from brand to brand and can even vary from style to style. You may know you're always a size 26 in J.Brand, but now you wan to buy a pair of Theory trousers. Should you get a 0 or a 2? Certain online retailers, like Net-A-Porter, are great about including detailed fit notes specific to each garment. This is helpful for shopping new brands, translating your size into an international brand's (a UK 6 is equivalent to a US 2, etc.) or even determining your size for a specific garment within a familiar brand. If the website you're on is not helpful in any way, you can try Googling the brand's size guide. Sometimes another website or the brand's own website will provide a specific size guide you can reference.
Read the user reviews
The most helpful reviews are the ones from women with similar bodies to you. Rent The Runway makes it exceptionally easy to know how a dress will work on your body type by asking reviews to fill out personal info, including height, weight, dress size, and even coloring. RTR also, along with other sites like ModCloth takes it even farther by asking users to submit photos of themselves wearing the garment. Seeing clothing on real women, especially women who share your physical traits, is a great way to judge how a piece of clothing will work on you. Even if there's only basic, indescript user reviews, you'll almost always be glad you read them before ordering. If all else fails, see if the site provides you with the model's measurements and garment size. This will give you a point of reference to work off of.
Stick to pieces you know work with your body
Online shopping is not the forum for experimenting with garment shapes and fit. We all have a general sense of what works on our body type (note: if you don't know what body type you are, check out The Style Shaker's free and super helpful bodytype guide). Stick to your knowledge and intuition of what pieces are going to work. Experimenting is for in-store, when you can try items and react to the instant feedback.
Know the return policy before buying online
I speak from experience when I say that the only thing worse than the disappointment of pining for an item to arrive in the mail only to discover it doesn't fit is then having to pay to return it. Shipping the item back will leave you net about $20 in the hole with nothing to show for it but a depleted bank account. With margins like this, you could've driven to the mall, paid to park, bought your item, refueled on an Orange Julius and still saved money. Check the store's return policy before placing your order to ensure they offer full item refunds and free return shipping. There are enough online retailers with customer-friendly return policies that you have options of where to buy from.