Originally Posted: Perfectly Shaped Life – September 2007
(Much of this advice can be applied to online shopping in general, but I’m going to focus on our goal of finding and listing the best plus size shopping locations.)
In a perfect life, shopping online would be as simple as opening a browser window that goes directly to the item you want, clicking on the [[I WANT THIS]] button, entering some payment data, and pushing Go.
Unfortunately, a perfect life doesn’t exist (yet), so we have to do a great deal more work that those four steps. Where do we start?
Time, Time and More Time
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about online shopping is that it takes too much time. Many of us start with a search engine like Google, search for what we want, scan down a few entries, click on what looks interesting, surf the site and not find what we want, go back and find another site, surf that site and not find what we want, find a third site, go back to Google, refine our search, and repeat until we either find what we’re looking for or give up and drive to a store, or give up and settle for something close, or give up entirely and decide we don’t really need the item THAT bad.
It often boils down to a matter of time. Do you have the time to search, surf, plow through dozens of websites that may or may not have what you want? If you’re like most of us, the answer to that is a resounding ‘NO.’
Build a Solid List of Shopping Sites
You may have a set of favorite plus size shopping sites, and that’s great! We’d love to hear from you and know which ones you prefer, so we can add them to our directory of shops. Do you have time to visit them once a day or once a week to watch for sales, special offers, free shipping deals, seasonal clearances? If not, don’t worry – we do, and will.
We’re building a list of recommended stores, based on our own experience and feedback from our readers, and will keep that list updated on this site. You can help! Let us know where you have shopped with success, so we can add to this list!
Spread the Word
Many of the places we shop are well known, like Old Navy and their new Women’s Plus Online Exclusives, and Junonia.
But have you heard about Bigger Bras, which offers fuller bras and lingerie with styles by Playtex, Vanity Fair, Tatiana and more? Did you know that Kiyonna.com offers a full line of Spanx Body Shapers in the plus sizes we need?
Know the Right Size is the Right Size
Almost every shop is different, just like brick-and-mortar stores (our term for those places down the road where you walk in and shop off of racks). Before you shop online, arm yourself with a good tape measure and pad of paper, and take reliable measurements – bust, waist, hips, inseam – we’ll give you some charts to use. Never assume that a 2X jacket available on one site is going to fit just like a size 2X jacket from another site. Check each shop’s size charts, just to make sure.
Know the Return Policy in Advance
Some online stores have very forgiving return policies, but a few of them are tougher than Fort Knox. Some stores will let you return items after they’ve been removed from packaging, tried on and worn, and some restrict the type of item that can be returned at all. Usually, for health code reasons, swimsuits and lingerie carry the strictest policies. Be sure to read the policies before placing an order the first time with a new store.
Know the Security and Privacy in Advance
You have rights as a consumer. Any store site that wants to take your credit card information or sell things to you online needs to have a clearly written Privacy Statement. This statement should provide you with their policies about email, credit card security, data security, personal information privacy and contact information.
These Privacy Statements may be labeled with different names, like Security, Our Commitment to Your Privacy, Security and Privacy, Service and Security, etc. Terms and Conditions of Use may also contain privacy statements, but many firms separate the two to keep them easier to find and read. But no matter what they’re called, they are that firm’s commitment to protecting your privacy and rights. Read them carefully. If you disagree with their approach, don’t shop with them.
Protect Your Good Credit
Look for Verisign icons, Better Business Bureau, Security Metrics. You may see TrustE and HackerSafe icons as well, services used to give assurance of a site’s reliability and integrity.
Shopping cart pages may or may not be provided through secure webpages, depending on the approach the store has taken. However, any place that asks for financial information like a credit card number must be secure pages. Make sure the website page’s address starts with https:// (normal pages are http://) before you enter any credit card information.
Let Us Know – Good or Bad
If you find a wonderful place to shop, let us know. Leave a comment, so we can add the store to our list of recommended stores.
If you find a place that doesn’t treat you right, let us know that as well. I want to make sure that our list of recommended stores is going to be the best possible shopping experience for all of us!
Shopping for plus size clothing online doesn’t have to be a painful experience. My goal is to help take out the painful parts, find and provide the best places to shop, gather up handy information and serve it up here in an easy-to-retrieve manner, and cheer you on as you shop and find the fantastic right-sized apparel that helps your own special personality shine through.