Hang-Ups: Online shopping tips

In Arts & Entertainment, Columns
(Illustration by MIKETRUJILLO / Daily Titan)
(Illustration by MIKETRUJILLO / Daily Titan)

I’m not going to tell you to save the trouble and precious time by ditching a visit to the mall and purchasing clothes online instead. Because quite frankly, most of you are willing to commit to making the drive, which probably isn’t that far to begin with, to score on big sales.

However, many of you completely opt out of shopping for new clothing due to this built up stereotype ingrained in the fashion world.

I’m not a “brand whore,” but the name on the tag is definitely a reassuring factor to what makes me click on ‘Confirm Purchase.’ While designer sales may still hold unreasonable prices, retail stores that are more catered to the college demographic, such as Urban Outfitters and H&M, are still priced fairly “high” for the average student.

As a former American Apparel retail employee of three years, I can tell you that paying over nearly $50 for a basic zip-up hoody is a little excessive.

But I understand the appeal. The signature white zip-up lining and drawcord, the fit and the perfect 50/50 cotton and polyester blend is what makes this “basic” item distinguishable from the “counterfeit” competition.

Many students fall short in terms of finance. But I’m telling you now, if you follow these rules you’ll be able to shop the best brands and never pay full price again.


1. Read the customer reviews

Customer reviews can tell you an unbiased opinion on an item, as well as a better description than what the site offers.

They also can warn you if an item runs larger or smaller than standard sizing and if you should order a full or half-size up or down.

I always find customer reviews to be helpful when it comes to the fabric.

Even though the site may give close-up images of the clothing, the camera may capture enhance the item, making it appear more “luxurious” than it actually is. Customer reviews can answer your questions if an item is true to size, portrays the exact color seen online and if it’s in good quality.

2. Sign up for mailing lists

Many choose not to sign up for a store’s email lists since it creates clutter to mailboxes. However, I found it much easier to create an email account specifically for receiving store sale notifications. The account for your savvy shopping needs will act as a filtered destination shopping site when you’re in the mood to peruse through deals.

These email updates will hint the next big sale so you can be one of first to call dibs before the item goes out of stock.

Stores also send out member exclusive deals.

Many send out the promo code weeks or days in advance before releasing it to the general public on their website.

3. Search for promo codes

If you can’t fully commit to joining a mailing list, then searching for promo codes not already displayed on the retailer’s website is your best bet to save.

Several sites are dedicated to help shoppers save money by simply copying and pasting a special letter-word combination at checkout. However, many sites are bogus and give faulty or expired codes.

A reliable online coupon site is RetailMeNot.com It tells you when the code was last used, its expiration date and the code’s success rate.

4. NEVER pay for shipping

I average about one or two online clothing purchases a month and I have never once paid for shipping. I refuse to pay for shipping because: (A.) The grand total almost matches the in-store full price item. If I’m going to purchase a sale item, I’m going to make sure I’m getting the best deal in comparison if I would have physically went to the store and bought it there. And (B.) Online retailers frequently offer free shipping. This also goes hand-in-hand with rule no. 2. Keep your cart loaded and ready for that email notification that reads, for example, “Free Shipping 3 Days Only.”

Retailers also offer free shipping year round, but with a catch. If the site is offering free shipping with the purchase of $50 or more, then its worth it. Don’t fall into the trick purchasing over $200 worth of clothes just to save $15 on shipping fees.

5. Know your seasons

I’m not a mind-reader or a psychic, but a fashion forecaster sounds accurate.

The week before NastyGal had a big three-day shoe sale, I predicted the site would have some type of fall sale.

Maybe research and a shoe addiction played in favor of my prediction. I’ve followed various stores’ sales patterns to a T and I am confident about my fashion forecast.

Rule of thumb, never purchase clothing when the store is going through a seasonal transition. It never hurts to ask a sales employee when their next big sale will be. If you want to dance around the subject ask when they’ll be changing the mannequins and storefront displays to better suit the season.

Season sales are always biggest. Stores are clearing out past season’s inventory to make room for the new arrivals for the current seasons. Choosing from a large amount of clothes and accessories can be overwhelming, but so is having to shop in a cluttered, stressful mess that is Forever 21. Fill up the cart and filter your items down to the ones you like the best and set an amount you want to spend.

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