Online Shopping: Friend or Foe?

 If you’re familiar with this blog at all, you know that I’m tiny. You also know that because of this, most clothing items don’t fit me very well. Very few brands make sizes that are proportioned well enough, or cut small enough to fit me. I need to try on lots of items to find the one needle in the haystack that fits me well enough to purchase.

99.9% of the time, my size is the smallest one offered by retailers. Many times, that size extra-extra-small petite, or double zero petite, is offered online only. Therefore, I end up doing a lot of online shopping.

This is a major bummer for a few reasons:

  • I love to shop…in stores that is. I love touching fabrics and inspecting details. Nothing kills my shopping high quicker than the thought, “better head home so I can order the smallest size of this thing, wait a week, and then hope it fits”
  • I love instantaneous gratification. Nothing makes me more antsy in the pantsy than tracking a package on fedex.com that is moving across the country at a snails pace. I want it now!
  • I hate paying shipping charges. To me, it’s like paying money to use a fitting room. And what if the item doesn’t fit? I’m now the price-of-shipping poorer with nothing to show for it, all because I wanted to try something on.
  • Because of the last reason, I wait patiently for free shipping codes before I order anything. This sometimes means the items I’m patiently waiting for have already sold out in their super tiny sizes. Bummer.
  • Not all those tiny sizes fit. It’s so disappointing to joyously rip through a package that I’ve been waiting for since last week, only to have nothing fit and have to return them all. So sad.

So, I’ve found online shopping necessary, but not my favorite.

Now, my question for you…how comfortable are you shopping online?

Do you hate it, love it, fear it, prefer it, avoid it, just accept it?

37 Comments

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    E Hayes

    Is it possible to request the item (in the Petite) size in store for them to order and ship to your house free of charge? I know a lot of stores do this, but maybe not all.

    Also, when I order online and it doesn't fit I always return it in store to avoid the shipping back charges…

    I'm with you though, paying for shipping to try something on SUCKS!

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Jenn

    I rarely shop online for clothes for all of the reasons you listed above. I am not a normal proportion, and size charts online are usually incorrect anyway, so if I do order something, I order everything at once. And if I'm "lucky", one item of the bunch sort of fits. It's a pain, and I'm not quite as tiny as you.

    Right now, I'm currently losing weight as a result of a diet change for health reasons, so most of my clothes no longer fit. I don't know what I'm going to do!

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Kerry

    I have rarely shopped online, but I do enjoy the ease of it because I hate going into stores and trying things on. Shopping isn't that fun for me (I guess years and years of not being able to find things that fit has beaten it out of me, as I recall loving shopping when I was younger).
    I have had my fair share of experiences that involve ordering the size XS and discovering that it is too big..unfortunately I am too lazy to return it so I either stash it away with the intentions of altering it or I give it to a larger friend.

    I don't think I could do what you do and buy everything online – I get depressed when I wait for something and discover it doesn't fit. I think by avoiding shopping in general it just helps me maintain my sanity.

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Anonymous

    From Nila

    One of the main reasons i dislike having to shop online is because I'm a procrastinator. I typically don't buy things until I know I need them, which makes shopping for last minute outfits virtually impossible. And even when I do plan in advance and give myself time for whatever item to ship to me, 1/2 the time it won't fit anyway and I'm right back where i started-usually without enough time to try and order something else :)

    Oh-and I dislike that my boyfriend and apt staff think i'm the 'crazy ordering girl' because they really don't understand that i can't just go to the mall like they do-after a few mall trips my boyfriend is coming around though.

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Jackie

    I like it when I'm buying basics or bras only because a lot of the time I can't find things that fit in-store. It has it's down sides…I agree with you, I absolutely HATE getting a skirt or some other item that had the correct measurements, or so they said, that I've been waiting for for weeks just to have it NOT FIT. I'm like, "wait…I thought this was a 00!! Argghh." Then I have to send it back just to not get a full refund.

    I do like shopping in-store better.

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Hilda

    I generally shop at major department stores or shops that allow me to return merchandise to the store if they don't fit. I've had a lot of luck with BP at Nordstrom. The 3/4 length cardigans are great in XS. I have one in almost every color!

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Hilda

    Have you tried going to http://www.retailmenot.com? I usually go there when I'm looking for something online to see if they have a coupon code for free shipping. More than likely they do. If not, they'll usually have some sort of promotional code that you can use such as an additional 20% on your next purchase.

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    petiterepublic

    lol! you are funny :) i actually love online shopping! (only if shipping is free) I order, i forget, than a week later i get a surprise present in the mail! woohoo!

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    PetiteAsianGirl

    I love shopping online, especially at retailers that offer better deals and coupon codes online than in stores. Of course I wish that our size is offered in stores so that we can touch and feel and try stuff on without pre-paying for the items. I also wish we had the luxury of finding our size on "final clearance" in stores for dirt cheap, like I oh so frequently find size XXL's in stores for $10 or less.

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Kerry

    To Nila "crazy ordering girl" -that is so funny.

    PAG: Back in the day (before vanity sizing got completely out of control and I could wear a size 1 or a 2 at Gap and Old Navy) I used to clean up at the clearance racks. I distinctly remember being in college and the first few years after (94-00) being able to walk straight to the clearance rack and the only sizes left would be the XXL/16 or the XXS/1-2. I used to buy pants and dresses and tops all the time because back then, the only people who could fit those sizes were truly tiny people like us, and there are not that many of us around. The average sizes (6-8-10-12) were always gone, but 1s and 2s were abundant. I have a dress I bought on clearance at Old Navy in 2000, size 1, for $1.99. It is not a perfect fit but at that price it was worth it even if it did need alterations (I still have that dress and I do plan on making those alterations soon). I have many many pairs of nice trousers and pants and cords (ok, I no longer wear corduroys) that are size 1 and 2 and with the exception of a hem job, did not need any alterations to fit. And back when I was in college, I shopped the clearance rack exclusively.

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    deelirium

    Hate it! I refuse to pay for shipping charges to me, then have to pay shipping back when it doesn't fit. That's why I love Zappos so much because it's free both ways. I just wish they offered a better selection of size 4 shoes.

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Anonymous

    HATE IT!!! This past weekend I was so excited about the Ann Taylor Mothers Day Sale. I wanted to buy a Jacket but when I got to the store they told me the discount on the jacket was only offered online (Now bear in mind my closest AT is 2 hours drive!!!) so I went home yesterday and ordered it online and got something extra which i did not need just to hit up the price for free shipping only to find out today the price of the jacket dropped, so I called AT and asked to cancel the order placed yesterday only to be told that it was in processing and could not be cancelled but I could order stuff today and pay for the return charges on the order that will reach me too late for my meeting where I intended to wear it and I would have to pay another 30$ to get the new order in time! So confusing as it sounds, it was way more confusing in person and I was not offered any compensation for wasted time and money! I wonder these days if AT is even worth the effort. I am terrible at sewing and even I have managed to replicate 3 of their floral/beaded tops using 5$ H&M t-shirts as base. UGH!!! Plus being a student I used to ask for the stackable student discount (Yup, it used to be stackable, believe it or not!). When most places did not offer it or said we have not even heard of it, I contacted AT via email and now they have stopped providing student discounts in conjunction with any other offer!!! Sorry for venting =(…

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Tamara

    I actually love to shop online – for everything EXCEPT clothes. I've purchased everything from sippy cups to sconces for my home. But when it comes to clothes, online is mostly for window shopping and inspiration. And shoes. (Only because I'm a "normal" size 6 and Zappos offers free shipping/returns).

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Lindsay

    I hate it!!! But that's only because I am really impatient and I must have things right away. Plus I have a hard time committing to a clothing item unless I can see it in person and touch it. I feel like clothing often looks a lot better online then it does once it arrives at your door step and that's always disappointing. Also, I love being able to inspect the fabric, stitching and all the little details you don't get from an online picture. I mean, you can zoom in and out of that picture but it's just not the same. Now when it comes to shoes I can definitely live with shopping online but that's only because I tend to stick to specific brands that carry tiny shoes in size 4.

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    me in millions

    Hate it. I'm lucky that I'm large enough that some things in stores fit me. I rather be able to have instant gratification than wait for it to ship. As it stands, I return about half of what I buy in stores anyway… I can only imagine what it would be like if I shopped online more!

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one, and that the general consensus is that online shopping isn't the best.

    Anonymous (2:13PM) – Did AT not give you a price adjustment because of the Mother's Day sale discount? What a shame they're being so difficult!

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Anonymous

    If I had the time, I'd be totally up for lobbying stores to offer free shipping for petites. I really think this is something worth trying. 1) If the number of petite blogs are any indication, petites ladies with trouble finding clothes in-store exist in non-trivial numbers 2) It's manifestly unfair for petites to have to pay the same shipping costs as regular sized women in cases where their sizes aren't offered in-store. It's impossible for some of us to physically buy something so we're basically given a choice b/w not buying a piece of clothing and buying it but having to pay extra for it. I'm not saying in all instances petites should get free shipping, but in cases where the sizes (EG petite 00) aren't offered in stores in the first place, it's completely unfair to have to pay a shipping cost that regular-sized women aren't required to pay.
    Clearly I feel strongly about this :) And wish I had extra time to spare and bother stores about it.

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Kellie

    I love shopping online because it's convenient and stuff may be cheaper than actually going to the store and buying it. The only thing that kills me is the shipping!! it's so costly! I also don't like buying things that I cannot return in stores because you never know how it'll fit!! The inventory online is just wider I think…

    but speaking of online shopping! I just found the calvin klein perfectly petite strapless bra at the calvin klein website for only $22!! plus if you use the friends and family code (FFMAY) you get an additional 30% off!!

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    stylepint

    I have a love/hate relationship with online shopping. I love it because they actually have my size online and it's convenient because you don't have to go out and there are some stores that are good for petites, but aren't near where I live.

    I hate it because the size charts can be wrong, the color might be different from the picture and not flattering, the material might not be what I expected, the style might not be flattering, the shipping costs can be ridiculous, and returns are a pain if you can't take it to a physical store.

    For BR and AT, although I may love a particular style, I know that the quality and material isn't always up to par with what I think it looks like in the catalog or on the computer screen.

    Online shopping is pretty much a fact of life as a petite. I've found that careful examination of the material composition, detail photos, and sending emails to the retailer help in finding a quality product with a better fit.

  • Reply May 10, 2010

    Really Petite

    It's super risky shopping online but I have had really good luck. Especially for shoes- I buy all my shoes online. For some reason, I can only find small sizes online and it's sometimes a major hassle digging thru the racks. So online for me is the preferred method :)

  • Reply May 11, 2010

    Lisa

    I'm with you AN, I really dislike it. It is such a time zapper to search and search online, order, wait to get it and most of the time….back it goes because it's too big.

    I'd love to go shopping w/my girlfriends, be able to try stuff on and actually buy it in the same trip!!

  • Reply May 11, 2010

    Erin

    I enjoy online shopping mostly because you can Google for coupon codes (or just check AN!) and use cash back sites to get extra $$ in your wallet. I do hate making returns, but I am also more prone to wearing something that doesn't fit perfectly. It's a flaw of mine – something I am trying to correct! I am always so discouraged with shopping in stores because almost nothing fits off the rack. If I'm gonna be disappointing, I'd rather be sad at home without the glare of fitting room mirrors and cellulite-enhancing lights.

  • Reply May 11, 2010

    hugstiem

    For those of you complaining about shipping costs, remember you still need to drive to the store if you go in person, so you're paying for gas money. I pay for public transportation to go shopping in person, as well as the time it takes to get there (which for some of you is much more valuable!).

    I also feel the online shopping experience is sometimes superior. For example, many online stores let you search by size. It is absolutely infuriating to be in a brick and mortar store scrounging for the few small-sized items that may or may not exist.

  • Reply May 11, 2010

    CynthiaC

    I *WISH* I could shop online more – there are more available via the web – but I live in Canada and some places won't even accept non-US based credit cards (looking at YOU, Ann Taylor. I know that Banana will have a Canadian site come fall)

  • Reply May 11, 2010

    Anonymous

    Anonymous (2:13PM) – nope no discount whatsoever, it is a shame, I used to love shopping there! Hopefully they do not treat all their customers like that.

  • Reply May 11, 2010

    Margaret

    This is the best recommendation I have for trying to evaluate the fit of online clothing. For the item you are interested in, ask for the garment measurements you need (waist, hip, chest, sleeve length, whatever). in the 00 or XXS size. You could do this over the phone but it's probably easier to do it by e-mail. Most companies seem pretty responsive to e-mail these days – you might get a response the same day or perhaps one day later. Explain that you are ordering the smallest size, won't be able to exchange it for another size, and want to save everyone time if it clearly won't fit you at all.

    If they can't give you that information, and you still really want to try it, ask if they will refund you the shipping charge if it doesn't fit, and provide a pre-paid return shipping label. If you can re-use the mailer, it would not cost you any money at all, and if you have to buy a new mailing envelope you would probably only be out a couple of bucks. Emphasize that you would evaluate it in a store if you could, but that option is not available to you, and you are being unfairly charged as a result. After all, if you bought something like, say, a set of shelves, and couldn't get the dimensions to figure out if it would fit through your door, you would say that was crazy, right? This is no different.

    I suggest that last option because I did get into a kerfuffle recently with a children's clothing company, and that was the agreement we reached. I bought the same shirt for each of my sons (to make a set), but due to their archaic website, one of them was out of stock even though it still appeared to be in stock. That meant I had to return the shirt I did get, and the shipping costs were actually greater than what I paid for the one shirt…I complained and they agreed to refund the shipping charge and send the pre-paid label. (They generated that offer themselves, I did not have to request it.)

  • Reply May 11, 2010

    Nukem

    I love instant gratification, but I accept the fact that most stores will not have my size in stock. Plus I can find a lot of discount codes online that *sort of* make up the cost of online shipping, which I absolutely hate, but if I really want the item, then I just suck it up.
    If you haven't signed up for Ebates, do it! I don't order online without going through Ebates first.

  • Reply May 12, 2010

    Ms. Shopportunity

    I enjoy shopping online, but it's very time-consuming. I hate the shipping surtax as well. Between that and the regular alternations (aka "short tax") we petite women overpay for a lot of our clothes.

    One thing I've found though is that a lot of free shipping depends on ordering a certain amount (e.g. $150 or $200 or more). If I reallllllly want something, I'll order a few more items that might work just to make that minimum order. If the other items work, great they are keepers! But if they don't, I have absolutely no qualms about returning them. Either way, I get the item I really want with free shipping!

  • Reply May 12, 2010

    Petite Style

    Oh no! I hate shopping online for all the reasons you mentioned. In this economy when one is trying to stretch ones dollar it just irks me to have to pay for shipping to Canada.

  • Reply May 13, 2010

    diaryofashopper

    I absolutely hate shopping online, but I do it anyways because it is just too difficult to find my size locally. I am getting to where I will only shop online at stores that have a brick and mortar store nearby where I can return the item if it doesn't fit. I hate waiting weeks for a refund, when I have to mail back ill-fitting merchandise!

  • Reply May 13, 2010

    PetiteAsianGirl

    Oh wow…so many people hate online shopping! Hugstiem – I'm with you on this one. Going to stores also takes time and money, whether it be gas or train money. I love shopping from the comfort of my home, but I do wish we had the option of doing both : )

  • Reply May 15, 2010

    PetiteXXS

    I do most of my shopping online. That said, I almost never buy things online unless there's free shipping AND also either free return shipping or the option to return in store. Combined with my difficulty with sizing and reluctance to pay retail sometimes I wonder how I ever manage to find any clothes!

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Anonymous

    Given that we all agree that it sucks to pay shipping for stuff we can't get in stores- what can the petite blogging community do about it? Write posts, letters, etc.? For 5 years since J Crew stopped carrying petites on site I have mentioned it to store clerks who don't care. I always say: you just need one of each item for sizing- you don't have to sell them. Just any color, one of each. J crew has a wedding store with this concept now in New York so might be open to it. BR does not carry 00 in the store. They explained to me that there isn't much of a market for it because most 00's like petites. Well the petite blouses won't tuck in on me (not long enough) so I'd probably buy the 00 en masse for work, but don't feel like paying shipping. Aerosoles will ship for free to you if you call the store and they don't have the small size. Anyway- let's put our heads together about what to do about this. Free shipping or advocating for carrying sizer pieces- that's my preference as I hate always taking back stuff that doesn't fit. It's depressing and wastes my precious time.

  • Reply June 3, 2010

    Meredith

    Just found your blog. So frustrated with clothes shopping and was looking for blogs that point out petite stuff that is truly petite! (So sick of trying on XS-P labeled items that are clearly for someone 30 lbs heavier and 4 inches taller.)

    I have come to accept online shopping. In some ways I like it because I can sit in the comfort of my house and browse tons of shops with just a click. Yes I have to pay shipping, but it saves me time and aggravation of trudging to and through the mall and gas money, so I prefer to see it as a convenience charge.

    That said, I do like Zappos a lot. Free shipping and free returns.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    PetiteXXS

    I do most of my shopping online. That said, I almost never buy things online unless there's free shipping AND also either free return shipping or the option to return in store. Combined with my difficulty with sizing and reluctance to pay retail sometimes I wonder how I ever manage to find any clothes!

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Petite Style

    Oh no! I hate shopping online for all the reasons you mentioned. In this economy when one is trying to stretch ones dollar it just irks me to have to pay for shipping to Canada.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Ms. Shopportunity

    I enjoy shopping online, but it's very time-consuming. I hate the shipping surtax as well. Between that and the regular alternations (aka "short tax") we petite women overpay for a lot of our clothes.

    One thing I've found though is that a lot of free shipping depends on ordering a certain amount (e.g. $150 or $200 or more). If I reallllllly want something, I'll order a few more items that might work just to make that minimum order. If the other items work, great they are keepers! But if they don't, I have absolutely no qualms about returning them. Either way, I get the item I really want with free shipping!

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