5 Ways to Master Online Shopping

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Photo Credit: Flickr – Daniel Foster

Here’s the situation: Your current duty station is in BFE. It’s just you, the base and that weird convenience store outside the back gate. You have an interview for your civilian dream job in just five days.


Here are your options:

A – Wear your dress uniform (it’s the nicest thing you currently own)
B – Ask to borrow something nice from Frank, the convenience store clerk
C – Shop online and have a professional wardrobe delivered right to your door


We’re just going to go ahead and assume you didn’t even consider A or B…
Online shopping offers a lot of advantages, but how can you make it a part of your life? How do you know if something will fit? Making returns is such a hassle…right? I’m a guy, the sizes vary so much, there is no way I could ever shop online. Well, rest easy. We have five ways to get you started; soon you’ll be well on your way to having a complete new look delivered straight to your doorstep.

1. Take a second to get some measurements – it’s not complicated! Plus, you can do it yourself and avoid any awkward moments with a stranger. Just grab a tape measure, write down your measurements, and you’ll be ready to roll for any online shopping you want to do. Guys, you have five goals here:

  • Chest – c’mon, breathe deep and don’t flex your chest, we’re shooting for accuracy here. Measure around the fullest part of your chest, but not too tightly, or you’ll be pulling a Superman and busting out of your dress shirt.
  • Neck – this is one place you should be sure to get right – avoid strangulation at all costs. Measure around your neck, just over your Adam’s apple. You should be able to fit the width of two of your fingers under the measuring tape.
  • Sleeve – measure the length from the top of your shoulder joint to the bottom of the wrist.
  • Waist – belts are for professionalism, not for actually keeping your pants from falling to your knees. To get an accurate waist size, you should measure just below your belly button, right where you want your dress pants to settle. (Note: if you are measuring for jeans, or just want to be a low-rider, measure lower on your waist, above your hip bones.)
  • Inseam – This is important; we don’t want you to be showing your bare shins in the office, or be tripping over your sloppy-long dress pants. And we are SURE that you don’t want your inseam too tight, or you may find yourself standing up all day to avoid some uncomfortable tightness (you may want a friend’s help here…a trusted friend). Start on the inside of your leg and measure from just below the crotch area to the top of your foot.

Badda-bing. You are all set for good. Unless you take this ordering-from-your-couch life to mean order-pizza-to-your-couch…then you might have to measure again. So eat some vegetables, and move on to step two. Now that the tough part is over (it wasn’t so tough, really), from here on out it’s smooth sailing – just click, click, click.

2. Safety First – a good thing to note is that as easy as online shopping is, it also comes with the obvious use of your personal information online. However, there are a few things you can do to avoid being susceptible to hacking.

  • Use a credit card, not a debit card! When you use a credit card online, you’re better protected under federal law. Disputes with debit cards can be more difficult to resolve, and if your card is compromised the hacker now has access to your entire bank account. Plus, if your card is used in a suspicious way online, a credit card company will put a hold on your card and notify you immediately. While some banks also offer this service, we recommend using a credit card for your e-commerce.
  • If you are on a site that seems unusual, trust your instincts. There are hundreds of online retailers out there; if one site seems sketchy or seems like it could have been made by a guy in his basement waiting for you to send him your personal information, back off. Instead, try a nice friendly site like Macy’s, which has great discounts on men’s dress clothes.
  • Compare price. If you second-guess the price of an item, make sure it isn’t too good to be true. Compare against the price on another site before you commit to purchasing an item. It may be that a hacker is trying to lure you into a trap. Or, you may have just stumbled upon a really great deal – that’s the better possibility.

3. Subscribe and you can actually save – becoming a member on most retail sites takes just a minute, and you will receive great benefits, sent directly to your email! For example, Banana Republic often sends exclusive deals to members; click here for free shipping when you spend $50!

Another way to save is to build up your shopping cart and make one bulk purchase. You will save on shipping and avoid individual shipping costs. This also means that all of your items are more likely to be delivered to your door at one time.

Make sure that you take a second to read the shipping policy of your retailer – just in case you didn’t nail the measurements the first time around (although we have complete faith in you), you want to be able to easily send back your purchases and have a new size delivered to you quickly – this can often be done for free!

4. Look for deals to come your way – while big retailers often have good deals (like this Kohl’s 40% off men’s dress shirts coupon) and are truly great places to start your shopping, try surfing around and finding some lesser-known retailers that are just waiting to send you awesome deals! Men’s USA is a retailer you may not have heard of, but offers great deals on men’s dress clothes, and even claims that they have the perfect dress shirt for men! Check it out.

5. Have someone else do the shopping for you – if steps 1-4 just seem too complicated, there is an option for you. Trunk Club is for men who aren’t sure how to pick out an outfit, and they have a personal stylist do all the work for you. Sign up and your stylist will put together a perfect look for you and have a trunk of high-end dress clothes shipped straight to your door for free. You can try on everything in the box, keep what you like, and only pay for what you keep. Try it out today!

Sound too good to be true? This is one of those times you should trust your instincts and let the experts guide you through the process. That’s us! Helping you to help yourself. One outfit at a time.

 READ NEXT: How To Develop a Professional Civilian Wardrobe


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