Why I shop for clothes online (and you should, too!)

Do you find it difficult finding anything in department stores that fits you well? Are you spending hours searching through racks and racks of clothing, only to end up disappointed or lusting after something so expensive that it’ll break your clothing budget for the year? This definitely describes my relationship with in-store clothing shopping – and it’s why I’ve turned to shopping online for clothes.

“But wait!” you might protest. “Online shopping? How will I know if something fits if I can’t try it on? Isn’t online shopping really expensive?”

Online shopping used to be a foreign, scary concept to me, too. But within the past couple of years, I’ve had a definite turnaround. Here’s a few reasons why I now do most of my clothing shopping online!

Choices Available/Time Spent
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent hours upon hours perusing the racks of department stores, looking in vain for something, anything, that would a) fit me, b) cost less than an arm and a leg, and c) that I actually liked. I don’t think I’m super picky, but I have this strange idea that I’d like my clothes to fit well, thank you very much! Shopping at department stores quickly got disheartening. Sizes meant nothing to me – I could be anywhere from a 2 to a 10, from an X-Small to a Large – I just had absolutely no idea until I tried each and every thing on. There were the endless lists of things that wouldn’t work for me, ever – button-down shirts, fitted jackets, empire-waist shirts, “flowy” shirts, shirts with buttons or pockets, vests, strapless shirts or dresses, etc etc….

The great thing about online-based companies that cater specifically to busty women is that I don’t have to wonder about whether or not something will fit over my boobs – I know it will. I don’t have to worry that everything will be too baggy on me. I don’t have to immediately discount all button-down shirts – I know that they’re designed with my body type in mind. Flowy tops, ruffles, and tank tops? Colors, prints, and textures? I can have them all!

Kontrast shirt from Urkye

Another bonus is that online shopping saves time – no longer do I have to spend a whole afternoon in the vain search for something that fits. I can browse the options at any hour of the day or night, and I can quickly pick out my usual size within the specific company.

Related to this, one of the biggest qualms about online shopping that I hear is the inability to get to actually try on the item before buying. Good online stores will have accurate sizing charts so you can get a very good estimate of your size just by taking your measurements and comparing, so honestly, it’s really not too difficult to nail down a size. Still not quite sure which size to pick? You can email the owner/customer service directly, and in my experience, they’ll be more than happy to give you sizing advice. [ETA – even if you’re a bit out of the range of the size charts on a particular site, don’t give up! There’s still a good chance that you’ll be able to find something that works for you. Remember, size charts are approximations.] You can also search online for reviews from others who may have tried out the company or item; this way, you’ll be able to get more advice and see even more examples of how the item looks and fits. If all else fails and you do happen to order the wrong size, it’s not the end of the world – you’ll be able to return/exchange the item with in a certain number of days, or resell the item on ebay if you wait too long to return.

One complaint I’ve heard about buying online is the worry that it’s “too expensive.” While I do agree that there are some online stores that are quite pricey, and you will sometimes have to pay shipping costs, I have to say that I’ve actually found that buying clothing online from the right places to actually be more affordable than buying clothing from brick-and-mortar stores. And I’m not even factoring in the places you can buy used pieces (like ebay or swap/sell groups), which can drive the costs down even more (although up the risk factor a tad).

Trust me – I don’t like to pay a lot for clothes. But I dislike paying for ill-fitting clothes even more. Most of the tops from bust-friendly shops like BiuBiu and Urkye range in price from $20-$35 – hardly extravagant! And, most importantly, tops from these stores are designed for busty women. You won’t have to worry about gaping buttons, getting the tops tailored (which adds expense), or a completely wrong fit like you would when shopping at a department store. I’m willing to pay a little more for several pieces that fit me perfectly than pay any price for several things that don’t fit me well at all. Quality, fit, durability, and versatility need to be taken into account just as much as the price. A good-quality item of clothing that’s made-to-measure or made with your specific needs in mind is worth more than a cheap, off-the-rack item that doesn’t fit and won’t last as long.

Emerald shirt from BiuBiu

Voting with my Dollars
I know that I have a body type that presents a fair number of fitting challenges within the “usual” off-the-rack choices. It’s not just that I’m busty – I also have a sharply-curved back that makes some shirts bunch strangely; I’m shorter and thus have some extra fabric show up in odd places in tops, and pants are always too long for me; I have a wider back and shoulders so some tops and jackets don’t stretch enough to accommodate; I have fallen arches on my feet and narrow heels so I can’t wear many types of shoes – the list could go on.

But these “issues” don’t mean that I (or anyone) should have to give up on well-fitting clothing or settle for less – there are companies out there that cater more specifically to me. I want to give my money to those companies that are actually trying to provide good options for me and other women who can’t easily find well-fitting clothes in brick-and-mortar stores. Basically, I have two choices – I could spend hours upon hours wading through racks of clothing in stores, hoping against hope to find something that fits at least somewhat and doesn’t cost me a fortune – and I’ve done this more times than I care to remember. Or, I could spend far less time and choose something that is more catered to my body type, provided by smaller companies who actually care about the fitting challenges many women face.

So, do you buy clothes (or bras) online? Have you thought about it before? Are there specific fitting challenges you face that you wished more stores catered to?

Also, coming up soon – a post on some of the challenges and successes I’ve had with thrifting.