Before I get into it, don't forget my Romwe Giveaway in the post below, it closes on the 20th July and you could be the lucky winner of $200 worth of prizes!!!!!! :D
Shopping online can be a little daunting for every one, I know my very first online clothes shopping experience wasn't too great and actually put me off shopping online for a while.
The first thing you should have when shopping online is a way to pay for your purchases, that could be either paypal or some sort of credit card. Not everyone has credit cards these days (I don't) so you can purchase the pre-paid kind to use over the net. I buy mine from Australia Post, they have a variety of cards from pre-paid visa gift cards to reloadable visa cards. Be sure to follow the instructions on the card and don't try to use them before they are 'activated' which can be within 1-2 days depending on the type of card.
Just for the record, I've never had a problem with either Paypal or pre-paid Visa, I find them reliable and secure and you're using your own money so you're not getting into debt!! :)
Ok, back to shopping online, most of the things I've bought online have been clothes, If you want to purchase shoes I would definitely read the size guide thoroughly and be sure you know what your size is, international sizes are very different and can be a bit confusing so don't order any shoes unless you are confident with the sizing. I ordered from The Iconic because it is an Australian site and I am confident that the sizings listed are the same as in Stores in Australia and also that if they didn't fit, they have a great returns policy (that I also read thoroughly) :) I'm also a bit fussy when it comes to shoes, I like to know that they are going to be comfortable so I prefer to buy them where I can try them on.
There are so many online clothes sites and you can spend hours looking through their catalogues and 'pretend shopping' haha :D, the beauty about online shopping is that you can put things into a wish list basket and think about it for a while as you continue to browse, the bad thing is that there is such a huge variety that you can quite easily over spend :D Lots of things seem cheaper online (especially compared to Aussie prices) and you can get carried away. Remember if you're ordering from overseas that you may have to pay shipping fees on top of your purchase so be aware that something really heavy may cost quite alot to ship.
Anyway, what most people are concerned with is whether the garment will fit them??? No one wants to wait for a parcel just to find out the fit is wrong :( that can be very disappointing.
Most (I would hope all) online stores have sizing charts, you will probably find these near where you choose the colour and size of the garment when ordering, have a good look around and find the 'size guide' button. Sometimes the Size Guide can be found on the tabs at the top of the site or down the very bottom of the store page. Just because you are a small, medium or large in your own country doesn't mean the size will be the same overseas. The size guide will have definite measurements that you can go by. Take the time to measure yourself (or get someone to measure you correctly) and compare the measurement to the guide in the store and also read the garment description for any other sizing notes. The store sizing guides will change from store to store and from garment to garment (because of different branding) so it's very important to read them on each item before ordering anything!!! :)
One Size garments can be a little deceiving too, my idea of one size fits all is that it should fit everyone from small to large, but my idea of 'small to large' may not be everyone's idea so once again you need to refer to the sizing guide and garment description to see what measurements it will actually fit. Remember to check out the length too, that dress on the model may look the right length in the photo but if you are shorter it may come down to your knees :/ check the length too :)
Have a good look at the photo .... does the garment look well made? Is the garment 'fitted'? If it is fitted then you will have to be very accurate with your measurements and compare them very carefully to be sure the garment will fit, always allow 1-2cm extra (just so you can breath, hehe). Things with elastic waists or corset style backs will always have a little bit of forgiveness in the sizing which can be a great thing. If you are considering buying a formal gown online I would strongly suggest the corset laceup style back :)
Take a good look at the style of the clothes you like, is it a style that will suit your body shape? Just because the model in the photo may look hot doesn't mean you will! Don't get carried away with new trends if you know they won't look any good on you, if possible get a second opinion from a friend or someone you trust :)
Does the colour look ok? Well that's a difficult one, most computers are calibrated (colours set) differently so the colours may not always be exact in real life. Rule of thumb, don't buy something in a colour you don't like even if it looks great on the model.
The only bad experiences I've had with online shopping is where the garments were supposed to be 'Custom Made' to my measurements and did not fit!!! I would definitely prefer to buy from a size chart now.
Another thing I highly recommend is googling reviews on the stores themselves, don't just rely on youtube and people you 'like to watch' but read and watch a variety of reviews from trusted sources.
I can't really give a huge list of places to shop from, I've only bought from a few online clothing stores myself and have been very happy with their products so far.
I think I will definitely add to this post over time and add any new information and stores that I'm happy with as I find them.
Let's hope this post is helpful to some of you :)