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Online Shopping : Get the perfect order, every time!

Online shopping can be fun...or it can be completely intimidating. For some, it often leads to a lot of unworn, unloved pieces in your closet. On the flip side, some people feel overwhelmed by the risk associated with online shopping never take the "Add To Cart" plunge. Whichever side you fall on, there are some simple things you can do to help guarantee that your online shopping is a success!

Does this sound familiar...

It's Sunday night and you're watching your favorite tv show while mindlessly scrolling through your favorite online stores. You see something you like- Add To Cart. "Oh, a black t-shirt? I need another!" - Add To Cart. "These jeans are on sale and they're slightly different than my other 12 pairs." - Add To Cart. "This dress is cute!" - Add To Cart.

A week later you hear that friendly & familiar knock on the door and your heart skips a beat while you happy-dance to the door. You open up the pretty store-branded box, tear into the tissue and lay it all out on the bed. You try on piece after piece, and each time you find that things just aren't fitting the way you envisioned. Defeated and sad, you put all of your new purchases in heap on the floor to be returned...someday, when you have time.

Sound familiar?

Or perhaps this is more familiar : It's (still) Sunday night and you're scrolling on your phone while watching tv. You see a top that looks perfect for you, you tap on the item, read through the description, select your size, and click "Add To Cart". Then you find another top, a dress and some pants- Add To Cart, Add To Cart, Add To Cart. Then you look at what you have selected, and start thinking "Oh...I don't know...what if this doesn't fit. I don't know if I'll like this. Do I actually need this? Maybe I'll see if I can find this at the mall..." Feeling defeated, you close the website, grab a bowl of ice cream and continue on with your show.

Over the last 5+ years, our society has been turning more and more to online purchasing, and I am here for it! Online shopping is quick and easy, you don't need to get dressed, get in your car, find a parking spot, or stand in any lines. The down side is that you can't try anything on, see how things hang on your body, feel the fabrics, or see what it looks like in real life. There are some definite risks associated with online shopping, but with these easy tips and tricks, we can mitigate all of it!

The good news is that there are ways to reduce those risks and ensure that your online shopping "trip" results in nothing but happy mail days ahead!

Be prepared

Know what you're looking for! Whether it's as specific as "I want a white button up collared shirt that fits snug to the body and doesn't wrinkle, and has a pocket on the left side" or as vague as "I need something to wear to the wedding"- knowing what you want is key to not buying things you don't want or need.

Before you even load that website, think about what it is that you're actually looking for and don't stray!

Tip : the more specific your list is, the higher your chances are of finding something you love.

Make the time

It is SO easy to mindlessly scroll the hours away while online shopping, but here's the hook- if you want to end up with things that you actually love and that actually fit, you need to focus!

Rather than watching tv while you shop, instead sit on the couch or at a table with your favorite drink and a cozy blanket, turn on some music and get comfortable! Online shopping takes away all of the inconveniences of shopping in person (such as the need for proper clothes and not being able to have a glass of wine while you shop), so really capitalize on that and enjoy it!

By taking a focused hour to relax and focus on your online shopping, you'll ensure that you're paying attention to all of those fit & style details (see the next section for notes on this), which will result in a successful trip!

Tip : If you don't find that perfect piece your first time, don't just settle for something "good enough". You don't want a closet full of good-enoughs, you want a closet full of clothing that you feel amazing and confident every time you put them on!

So stay true to the course and set aside more time tomorrow and check out some different online stores.

The virtual "try on"

The toughest part about online shopping is not being able to try things on. With that in mind, this step is the most important when it comes to helping ensure that you're happy with the items you choose.

Start by going to your closet and take a look at some of your favorite things to wear- put them on and really look at how they fit your body.

Look at the following things :

For tops:

Where do the shoulder seams sit? (Do you like dropped shoulder seams or shoulder seams that sit properly on the edge of your shoulder?)

Are there any details like pockets, embellishments, ruching, etc that you love?

What style of neckline do you like best?

Do you feel best in snug, straight or loose fitting tops?

What colours or patterns do you love?

What materials do you feel great in?

For pants:

What rise of pant do you like best? (You can even measure the length of the rise- many websites now list that measurement)

Do you like a full or cropped length?

What are the side and back pockets like?

What kind of fit do you feel best in- skinny, boyfriend, straight, wide leg?

Now that you know what styles, fits and details you love, this will help you look at potential purchases with a trained eye. Really look at the photos of the product and the product on the model- make sure that those seams hit where you want them to, that the fit is what you feel amazing in, and the colours are what you love to wear.

Tip : Online shopping isn't the best place to step out of your comfort zone. When trying styles that you're not familiar with, it's best to see it in person and have the ability to try different styles, colours or options.

Safety in numbers

Unless you are buying a style that you already own and love, sizing is the number one struggle when purchasing online- this is especially true when it comes to shoes and pants.

First, carefully read the item description and look at the photos to get a good feel for how an item fits. Some online shops make it a little easier by listing how an item fits (ie. fits true to size, fits small, etc), or they have product reviews from previous buyers. Pay attention to these details to help guide you in your sizing choices.

When it comes to online shopping, I often suggest that my clients order multiple sizes. Yes, this means that you will have to return the size that doesn't work, but you've already looked at the stores return policy (more on this below)! By ordering multiple sizes you are giving yourself a safety blanket to ensure that you only have to order once and increase your chances of finding something that works.

Shop around

You find something you love online but perhaps your size isn't available, or you aren't comfortable with a store's return policy, don't give up- you have options! One of my favorite perks of online shopping is the ability to shop around and compare prices, shipping costs and return policies.

As an online boutique owner, I know that shoppers have the ability to easily check out other boutiques to compare prices, colours and inventory. But that's something that I'm prepared for and I know that I'm not inflating my prices, so I feel confident in my business model. That said, as a shopper, I have found some shops do inflate their prices, some don't offer free shipping, and some have a no return policy. All of these things are important to me as a shopper and by doing a quick search, I am able to choose an online shop that I feel safe and confident with.

How to do a quick search : Find out the brand/designer and the style name of the item you want (most shops have this in their product description, and if they don't list it there, you can almost always find it when you add the item to the cart).

Once I have these specific details, I go to Google and type in those details along with my location.

For example, say I'm looking for shoes for my son, I'd search : "Nike Fly High kids sneakers Canada"

Once you find your favorite online shops, you'll become familiar with all of their policies and won't need to shop around. But there might be times when you'll need to do a little search (for example, your size is sold out). I love to support local small businesses as much as possible and I always look to them first (I'll also include a list of my favorite online shops below).

Here's my top tip : Commit to the return

Whether you are shopping online or in-person, committing to the return is the number one thing you can do to ensuring that you love the clothes you have and don't waste your money!

Before you click the "Checkout" button, make sure you know the store's online return policy. Knowing exactly what the return policy is will help you determine if the purchase is actually worth it to you. Make sure that you are comfortable with the policy and commit to returning anything that you don't absolutely love.

Look for these things, and determine what's important to you:

- Do the item(s) I want to purchase qualify for a full refund?

- Are items only available for store credit or exchange?

- Can you return online purchases in store?

- Who covers the cost of shipping a returned item?

- How long do you have to return an item?

Personally, I will never purchase something online that can't be returned, unless it's a style that I already own and know that I love the fit. It is risky to try something new if I don't have the guarantee of a return, so knowing what the return policy is for an online shop will help you gauge the risk and ultimately save you time, money and frustration.

Online shopping is fun and easy...but almost too easy, and we often go a little overboard and purchase items that we don't need, don't suit our style, or we already own something similar. I don't believe in the more-is-more mindset, I believe in the only having items that work for both your style and lifestyle mindset. Keep this in the back of your head while online shopping to stay in check so that you don't go overboard and end up spending more money and are stuck with things you don't wear.

The goal isn't to have a full closet. The goal is to have a closet "full" of clothing that you love to wear.

If you are intimidated by the potential risk of online shopping, or you find that you do it a lot but are often left with items you don't love, following these simple tips will help lead you down the road of online shopping success!


Online Shopping Recommendations

I often provide clients with an online shopping service, and because of this (and my own personal online shopping too, of course) I have an arsenal of some favorite shops that I always look to first. We are all familiar with the big-box chain stores, but you'll always get better quality and better service from a locally-owned boutique (plus there's all the other benefits of supporting small businesses too).

Here's some of my favorite online Canadian boutiques that I turn to first for everyday clothing. Please note that there are many other amazing boutiques out there that I do shop at, but I these shops below provide shoppers with a great shipping and return policy.

Adorn Boutique - This Calgary-based boutique is THE place for pretty, feminine pieces from tees to cocktail dresses.

Elle's Closet Boutique - A small-town Alberta (Athabasca) shop that offers shoppers comfortable clothing in classic, fashionable styles.

Hunni's - Hunni's is a sister-owned, Langley-based shop that is perfect for everyday pieces!

Indigo Bay - A Canmore-based boutique that has a wonderful selection of casual, work and date-night worthy pieces.

Jackson Rowe - Based in Vancouver, Jackson Rowe is one of my go-to's for everyday basics that can be mixed in to work with all that you do in a typical week. (Because I love the brand so much, I'm also an Ambassador and you can get a little something-something off your order with the code AlayneJoy)

Jenny Joans - This Saskatchewan-based boutique has all of the great styles from everyday basics to the cool, trendy looks you want.

The Latest Scoop - A Vancouver-born boutique, this is where I look for fashion-forward clothing that you can wear on a daily basis.

Mad About Style - Based in Winnipeg, Mad provides clients with feminine styles and wardrobe basics.

Pink Liberty - This Calgary-based online boutique always has great basics at affordable prices that you will want to wear every single day.

Here are some big-box online shops that I look at :

Happy shopping!



It's not all about my love for fashion and passion for helping men & women feel their best. From my family, to love for creating a home that everyone feels comfortable in, and the pull to always be near the water (which is tough when you live in the prairies)...



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