Retail stores are reopening to business from the 15th of June and many are welcoming a return to the physical experience of shopping. It’s not called retail therapy for nothing!

However, online shopping has been a growing area of the fashion market for many years and is here to stay. An entire new logistics industry has sprung up around it to manage the flood of returns that come with the move to virtual shopping. An incredible 40% of goods bought online are returned – sometimes even unopened. It doesn’t take a climate scientist to work out that this has an enormous impact on our carbon footprint and should be minimised where possible.

Dara Ford, a bespoke women’s tailor with a ready-to-wear collection in the making, shares her five top tips to get the most out of online shopping, making better choices and reducing the shipping journey of clothes.

Shop your wardrobe

Take stock of what you really need. Before you get carried away by another discount offer dropping into your inbox, take a good look at your wardrobe and identify the pieces that need to be replaced. Which items could you style in a different way? Which new items will complement these and help you get more out of your existing clothes? If you need help with this a personal stylist could assist you. Many now offer their services online with great success. The initial expense is well worth the investment and will save you money in the future by avoiding those ‘buy in haste, repent at leisure’ purchases.

Check the fabric composition

Before adding an item into your shopping cart take a look at the fabric composition. Natural fibres such as cotton, wool, linen, hemp and silk are naturally breathable. They are often a little more expensive, but more comfortable to wear. Man-made fabrics based on plant based fibres such as viscose and acetate can also be a good choice. Synthetic fibres made from oil (essentially a woven plastic) are not as breathable and can also smell more quickly. Not something you want to be wearing in summer! So before you buy – make sure you consider the fabric composition and weigh up the pros and cons of each purchase.

Study the size chart in detail

Each clothing brand has its own standards for garment sizing. It’s a frustration that many women experience whilst shopping. You can be a size 12 in one store and a size 16 two doors down. The numbers on the label really don’t mean a thing and what matters is the best fit for your shape. So grab a tape measure and write down your main measurements: bust, waist, hips and for trousers the inseam of your best fitting pair. Compare these to the size charts provided online and choose according to the closest values. Also consider previous purchases from the brand you are looking at and assess the fit. Remember to consider whether a garment has stretch to see if you can get away with choosing a slightly smaller size if only one of your measurements is outside of the range given.

Study the gallery meticulously 

Look at all the images and watch the video of the garment worn by a model if provided. Seeing a garment move will give you clues to the quality of the fabric, the proportions of the cut and whether it is see-through, clingy, etc. Thinner fabrics tend to cling to every lump or bump on your frame. Heavier, draped materials are more forgiving. This is especially important for jersey fabrics. 


Considering all of the above please take into account one final step when you receive your purchases: try them on and decide whether a simple tweak or alteration could take them from mediocre to perfect. The added expense of a good alteration can take your clothes from looking ‘off-the-peg’ to made-to-measure giving your appearance a more polished look.

I hope the above tips are useful and will help make the experience of shopping for clothes online more enjoyable & efficient. For more tips on looking after your clothes, finding a tailor you can trust, etc. please visit my blog or get in touch and ask me about your clothing dilemmas. I’m always happy to help.

About Dara

Dara Ford is a bespoke tailor and dressmaker for women based in Isleworth, West London. With more than 20 years experience in the fashion industry, she is passionate about creating clothes that make her clients feel confident and the best version of themselves. Her mission is to empower women one perfectly fitting garment at a time.

In her own words: ‘There is no perfect size, only the perfect fit.’

Dara Ford
Bespoke Tailoring for Women