Musings & Miscellany

Pluses and Pitfalls of Online Shopping (or Caveat Online Emptor!)

Happy day, dear reader!

On the radio recently, there was a fascinating discussion about shopping malls in America, and the changes they are making to survive in our ever increasing culture of online shopping. One economist predicted that in the next five years, a quarter of the malls in this country will go under. I thought this interesting, and challenging for those of us who take clients personal shopping. I can shop online with my clients, but the education that happens in the dressing room about fit and garment construction and quality requires face to face interaction. Being able to try on fits at multiple stores is key to learning what works and doesn’t for your body!

With more and more of us shopping online, let’s review the pros and cons of online shopping!


(+) You can shop any time. (This can also be a con.) If you are an early bird, you’re not waiting around for the shops to open. If you’re a night owl, you can shop when you are at your best. Caveat: Shopping with a glass of wine may not be the best choice… ‘Nuf said. Mistakes were made.

(+) Online shopping gives you time to browse and decide. (Unless it’s the Nordstrom’s Annual Sale!) When at a store, we may purchase items we aren’t sure about to avoid having to come back to the store again.

(+) You can try on new pieces in the comfort of your own home, with the shoes and accessories you already own. “Are these trousers be long enough for those shoes?” becomes a thing of the past!

Tape Measure Not Necessary… Just Use a Ribbon!

(+) Since you can see if what you have bought coordinates with what you already own, online shopping should prevent wardrobe orphans!

(+) When an item needs altering, you can take it to the tailor to determine whether alterations can be done, and how much they will cost, before deciding whether to keep it.

(+) Internet shopping allows you to shop all over the country and the world, giving you more choices. (Not always a pro for some of us!)


(-) We’ve all heard or had our own nightmare stories about returns. The only way to avoid these is to read return policies VERY carefully! Non-returned online purchases with the tags still on often end up at charity and consignment shops because finding a box, packaging up the goods, and taking them to the post office can be a hassle. That’s money wasted.

(-) Unless you know a brand well, choosing the correct size can be a struggle. Check any reviews to see what others say about the sizing. Reading the size charts is not always helpful. Read the description carefully, looking for fit descriptors such as skinny, tailored, trim fit, oversized, or relaxed. Look or ask by chat for garment measurements, and compare them to the measurements of something you have at home that fits well.

(-) The best way to get a good fit is to order extra sizes, just like you would take more than one size into the dressing room. Unfortunately, that brings us back to the first con, return issues. As you find out what does and doesn’t work for you, you may decide that you will buy shirts online, but never shoes. Or pants work great for you, but not sweaters. You may find that a particular brand has consistent sizing and you can order online from them, but that you’re playing roulette with another.

(-) You can’t touch or feel the things you buy online before you make a commitment. For highly kinaesthetic people (and frequently for children), this can be a deal breaker. The way fabrics, tags, and linings feel, and/or stretch or not can make the difference between an item you wear, and an item your closet wears.

(-) Product photos can be misleading. How often have you ordered something to find that when it arrives that it looks nothing like the picture? The color may look different; this is usually a monitor issue, not an intentional mislead. The dress that looks form fitting on the model and like a sack on you may have been pinned in the back to create a more flattering silhouette to photograph. They do this same thing in stores on the mannequins. Next time you go shopping, peek behind the mannequin at how the merchandisers have changed the clothes to make them fit “her” properly. Some manufacturers are downright deceptive, using high fashion photography or images taken from fashion houses on their pages, only to deliver shoddily made merchandise. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. There are hundreds of pages of internet shopping surprises to be found! Google “online prom dress fail” for just a taste…

(-) Flawed descriptions are everywhere you look. These range from simple spelling errors, like surplus for surplice, to out and out bizarre translations. Fiber content and care instructions are often questionable. I am not suggesting that you should shun buying from foreign sources, but you should read the description extra carefully, and ask questions about any inconsistencies you find. Also know that buying from a foreign source creates an entirely new level of shipping and return issues.

(-) It can be very easy to lose track of your spending when shopping online. Cash is not disappearing from your wallet, and no one is handing you a receipt. You are responsible for printing those out and that extra step makes it easy to say, “I’ll sort it out later.” and later never comes… It’s also easy to buy duplicates when you forget you have ordered already, but it hasn’t arrived yet!

I suppose the moral of the story is Caveat Online Emptor! How about you? Have you ever experienced the dreaded Primenesia? What is your best on-line shopping success? Or fail? Have you changed your shopping habits because of the ease of online shopping? Please celebrate or commiserate in the comments below!

Stylishly yours,

Many thanks to the beautiful Shelbee of Shelbee on the Edge for the Link-Up!

And to the lovely Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the same!



    Liz, I NEVER thought I would be one that shops on-line! As I have become more disabled over the years of being on dialysis and my neurological problems adding to my using a walker. Things have really changed for me. Shopping in the mall is not a phsically enjoyable experience anymore. I will only buy my leather handbags and shoes in store. I shop on-line knowing I will probably be returning some items. This cost is fine for me because the benefits far out weight this con. Being able to try on at home, being able to try with my own undergarment and accessories. Taking my time making decsions, Not having to be with a friend to shop, Independence!! When you are disabled this is something you value highly! For some reason some people talk to you raising their voice and they seem to assume you can’t make decisions for yourself. I’m a college educated women that has a mind of her own and is very capable of doing just that!! When meeting a disabled person please don’t assume we have a hearing problem. We think its funny on good days and very annoying on tough days! This is why I shop on-line mostly these days!

    • Liz K

      On-line shopping is a blessing for many! As long as you inform yourself about return and exchange policies, and stick with reputable companies, the reward is great and the risk minimal. I think most people have figured that out this past year!

  • Nancy Baten

    I love to shop in stores! It’s the fun of touching stuff and having lunch and catching up, if you went with a girlfriend of course. But it is much easier online, and I almost only shop online. But it is not so much fun!

    • closetplayadmin

      Thanks for visiting, Nancy! I’ve been doing more and more of my shopping online, but prefer to try on and touch in the stores. I don’t often shop with others; the social aspect is fun, but when shopping with friends, I often make unwise choices! If I lived the “the big city” I think I would shop more in store…

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