1. Get Inspired-The beauty of online shopping is that you aren't limited to the offerings at your local boutique, the world's best stores are only a few clicks away! The endless options are enticing but can also be overwhelming, flipping through magazines, reading blogs, and browsing Pinterest and Instagram are great ways to collect ideas and narrow your focus.
2. Check it out in person-If the item you're interested in happens to be available locally, take the time to try it on, even if you aren't yet looking to buy. This will give you an idea as to the quality, sizing, and whether or not the style truly suits you.
3. Visit Shopstyle-Shopstyle is an amazing site that aggregates fashions from major retailers all over the internet. If you already know the exact item you're looking for, their search functions enables you to see every store that's carrying it, along with all available sizes and colors, to instantly compare prices across retailers and to set alerts for when items go on sale. If you have a general idea of what you're looking for but haven't found the exact piece, you can always search by key words, like "red dress", and filters such as price, retailers, size and more. The app is great to have when you're shopping offline as well because it can tell you whether you'll get a better price online or you should just make the purchase in store.
4. Register for emails-Most retailers offer promo codes for first time customers, ranging from 10-25% off. The emails are a great way to stay informed on new products as well as upcoming sales. Additionally, if you leave items in your cart for a few days some retailers will send you additional promo codes to incentivize you to make the purchase.
5. Stick to well known stores and brands- Read reviews, and look for well known sites with flexible return policies. Shopbop, Net-A-Porter, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Matches Fashion, Luisa Via Roma, Lulu's, NastyGal, Asos, and Revolve Clothing are trustworthy sites that offer a wide range of brands.
6. Do your research-When online shopping, if something looks too good to be true it usually is. This is particularly true when purchasing luxury or vintage goods. It is insanely easy for unethical retailers to poach photos of real products and use them to advertise their own counterfeit goods. Additionally, fake handbags and jewelry are looking more authentic than ever (some even come with "authenticity cards" and fake receipts) so it is important to only ever purchase from sites which guarantee authenticity.
7. Consider sizing-Be realistic about your size and purchase clothing for the body you have now, not the one you aspire to. Sizing can vary widely across brands (especially those from other countries) so it is important to take your measurements regularly and refer to the size charts provided online. If you're still in doubt as to what size to purchase, you can either buy the same item in multiple sizes and return what doesn't work or order the larger size and have a tailor fit it to you if there are any gaps or unflattering areas.
8. Utilize reshipping companies-If you're shopping from outside of the US its likely you'll be paying significantly more for the same items, in many case the difference is as much as 50%! One way to get around this is by using reputable reshipping companies such as ComGateway and MyAmericanShopper. These companies allow you to purchase goods ranging from fashion to home items at US prices, then pay a small fee for them to be shipped to your international address.