buying online
Brand X Pictures/Jupiter Images/Getty Images
Avoid the malls at Christmas and buy your gifts -- and some clothes for yourself -- online.

If you love clothes but hate the hassle of visiting the mall, doing the dressing room dance and waiting in line at the register, you'll love shopping for clothes online. Apparel shopping has overtaken electronics as the consumer darling of cyberspace, and for good reason. With great photos and easy-to-navigate pages, finding that little black dress and actually having it fit once you get it home has never been easier.

Before you start checking to see how much available space you have in your closet for an expanded wardrobe, learn a few online clothes-buying tips that will help to make sure that the designer handbag of your dreams doesn't turn out to be a fashion disaster only a hobo could love.

Keep it Real

Go ahead and tell your boyfriend that you're a size two, but make sure to tell your online clothing retailer the truth. This may mean a painful few minutes with a measuring tape, but the results will be worth it. Use the charts and instructions on the clothing sites you visit to calculate your stats, and select the right sizes for your current measurements. It's the best way to ensure that you'll get a perfect fit every time. Some sites will even give you hints, like letting you know that a particular coat style runs large or small.

Up Next

Make Security a Top Priority

Most online retailers are honest, but it only takes one unscrupulous or phishing site to put your credit card information at risk. These tips will help you stay safer:

  • Buy from names you know and trust.
  • If you're exploring companies unknown to you, check them out with sites like BizRate or Epinions to see what other consumers are saying about them.
  • For increased protection, use encrypted sites. Web addresses that start with "https://" or have a closed, gold padlock in the lower right hand corner of your browser screen use encryption, an increased level of security.
  • Keep your security software updated, and consider using additional security measures to protect yourself, like browser filters and Extended Validation Secure Sockets Layer Certificates (EV-SSL).
  • Don't give out your Social Security number or bank information. Reputable retail sites won't ask you for this kind of data.
  • If you receive an e-mail circular from an e-retailer, instead of clicking on the provided link to the site, type the Web address into your browser. You'll be protecting yourself from phishing e-mails that hijack you to dummy sites designed to steal your credit card information.
See the next page to learn about what transactional details to look for when buying clothes online.