The Best Way to Shop Online & Avoid Returns

The most common reason people don’t like shopping online is that it can be a hassle if they need to return.  I agree.  It is always the errand I dread the most: whether it is going to the mall or the post office.  This black Friday, I had very minimal returns and I wanted to share my tricks.  Note: some of these may be harder to achieve during the pandemic.

#1: Know your size to limit returns due to fit issues.

Every brand has their own fit standards and size scale.  Yes, it does not make sense.  There are a few different ways for you to know your size.  

The most precise way to know your size is by knowing your measurements.  On most fashion websites, there is a section where it shows the exact measurements of each size for each style and if you are looking at a really strong website, they will show you how to measure for each part of your body.  It is best to measure yourself with a soft tape measurer, but if you don’t have one handy, a regular tape measurer will work fine.

Lastly, the step most people skip: read the reviews.  Fashion brands usually put an option for reviewers to add if the item runs true to size, runs small, or runs large.  People who take time out of their day to review usually have a strong opinion.  If there are not many reviews or not many reviews related to size, the garment is probably true to size.  People are not happy when they order something that should fit them, but it doesn’t.  

#2: Understand brands that fit you well.

As mentioned in tip #1, brands have their own fit standards.  If you find one that you like, always online shop their product first.  To me, finding a brand that fits me without needing alterations, creates brand loyalty.  The list of brands that fit you well should become your favorite go-to brands.  I like to have a brand that fits me well in a few price points, so I always know where to go depending on what I am looking to buy.  

If you know how you fit into each brand’s standard, as long as your weight doesn’t change, you should stay the same size in new clothes.  Size standards vary across different types of clothing.  For example, If you bought a sweater, your size may be different in a t-shirt, but it should be the same for another sweater.  Go to your closet and double-check your size before ordering anything.  I would suggest double-checking your size by measurement too, just to be safe, especially if you really hate returns as I do.

#3: Read the quality & care section.

No one wants to buy a sweatshirt for $30 to find out it is dry clean or hand wash only.  Make sure you are reading about the care of the garment before you buy it.  This will also hopefully jog your memory once you are ready to wash it and avoid ruining your new clothing.  

The second important part of this section is about quality.  Get to know your closet.  What materials do you like to wear and what do you always hate? When you are able to go out in the stores again, and you feel something that is itchy or awful, take a look at the tag.  This way, when you are online shopping, you will not mistakenly buy a garment with this hand feel that you hated so much.

In order to save time later returning your online purchases, take a little extra time and attention to detail before purchasing.  If after you do these three steps, you aren’t sure if you can commit.  You will have to decide if you love the garment more than you hate returns.  If you are still on the fence, see if you can get to a store.  

This is not a foolproof method.  Sometimes there is no way to avoid a return.  If you have a return, wait until you receive all packages from recent online orders and spend one-afternoon doing returns.  Think of all the time you are going to spend waiting as the time to reflect and all of the walking around is your exercise. 


Online shop from smaller or local businesses instead of big companies.  You will find more unique items and you will be supporting businesses who need our help. 

Elaina Pearl
Elaina Pearl
I started Elaina Pearls as an outlet to share my voice. The topics I write about cover fashion, lifestyle, & travel. On every post, you will find a challenge to spark self-growth. I believe that each day there is a lesson to be learned and something to be grateful for.