Photo by Salt Water New England

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Reader Questions: Buying Clothes Online


Here are some amalgamated questions from,  and for,  the community:
 1) How do people who want to avoid the box stores and Amazon find out about new interesting online companies? What are the best ways to find out if an online store is trustworthy?
2) What do people do to make sure they get a good fit when ordering clothes online?   Do they ever contact the company to ask questions?  Are there right or wrong ways of doing that?
3)  Is it better to buy the same product from the company itself or from a distributor like Amazon?

17 comments:

  1. 1. I never shop from a random company that I found through googling. What I do is use online communities such as this one to provide "letters of introductions."

    2. I measure everything, including limbs of my family but also the dimensions of clothes that fit well. Then I use the measurement guides. I never use the generic sizes of S or M.

    3. I will pay a bit more to go through the original company.

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  2. Most of my clothes are now bought from ebay. I contact the sellers direct to get the exact measurements to see if the items will fit.

    I never just go with the tag size. It varies too much between vintages and brands. For example, I'm a 41" chest, roughly a Medium/Large, but I own items of clothing which are tagged Small, Medium, Large, 38", 40" and 42".

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    1. I look forward to reading through all the answers to this question. My small success story is in finding different colored duplicates of pieces that I already own through Ebay. With patience, I hunt for either never worn or almost new pieces, and there's that little thrill attached when I succeed. The small tag in the lower side seam contains the important country of origin and item number, so there can be no question about fit. For new merchandise, I would like to try Anonymous 7:30's trick of thoroughly measuring what I already know fits well.

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    2. I also buy from eBay often. I second the notion of contacting sellers for exact measurements. Usually I take pictures of the labels/tags of clothes for which I'm seeking to replace. I try to match everything down to size, color, country of origin, fabric, season, etc. One time I asked a seller to measure the collar point length of a BB shirt as I noticed there was a difference between different production years. She probably thought I was crazy.

      The potential downside of this meticulousness is that it can be a long, arduous, oftentimes unsuccessful process to find just what you're looking for. It's even harder for items that are a few seasons out of date. If there's a physical store location nearby, sometimes I'll go and try on similar styles and then check with eBay.

      Perhaps an upside is that I'm not spending on a whim because I'm so picky about finding the right item. I feel like I hit the jackpot when I do find it in the end. I sound like a curator of my wardrobe.

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  3. I would always buy from the original company if at all possible.

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  4. I have had a lot of luck with Landsend, Orvis, as well as LL Bean for on-line purchases but many times it takes a purchase or two to get the sizing just right. One manufacturer's L is another's XL. When Landsend had sites within a Sears store, any returns were free from that store. I've shipped back to all the others with no problem other than waiting a little bit for a refund credit. One real advantage to on-line purchasing is you can get the size you need without having to go to a store and finding out "we are out of stock in that size but can order for you..." My wife still makes phone calls and is always pleased when she can ask question; I tend to order on-line and work out the details on fit later.

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  5. 1) I rarely order online from companies I am unfamiliar with. If I find a new company to order from online, I check out their social media pages and Google reviews.

    2) I've never had issues with sizing when ordering online. I know what size I am when ordering from the usual brands online. If unsure of sizing, it is appropriate to contact the company to find out exact sizing.

    3) I prefer ordering directly from the company.

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  6. Very interesting subject. Look forward to the comments. For me, I think buying shoes and clothes today is a crap shoot no matter where you buy. I'm old school, I guess and I don't buy used clothing but I find that "fit and size" vary widely and even wildly from the same source - store, company and manufacturer. I buy good quality but the inconsistencies seem to be a fact of life. I read the online descriptions carefully looking for code words like "today's" fit, color, fabric, etc.. Reviews can be good but you have to remember that you know nothing about the reviewer. I try to be flexible in that I find most purchases are not perfect and I try to live with them. My wife says that I need to be more flexible with my standards for more things other than clothing and so the story goes on and....

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  7. Robert ReichardtJune 12, 2019 at 2:57 PM

    Of course, nowadays the miraculous Internet obviates the existence of most box stores (I think Amazon will eventually be broken up for anti-trust issues.) Anyway, I can’t recall the last time I’ve gone into one to pick up any clothing, but I do remember fondly my father always bringing me into the boy’s department of Brooks Brothers. There was no other option in those days beside the catalogue (which really just alerted you to what was available inside the box store).

    What is on eBay is truly mind-boggling – not only for clothing, but for everything. Need a replacement LEFT rear wheel for your 800 ton 1959 Soviet-Built Steam Locomotive? No problem -- it’ll be on eBay. I’ve found many great bargain articles of clothing offered on there … for instance, I paid $250 for a like-new classic $1700 Burberry Trench Coat, and shelled out $100 for a $700 Brooks Brothers Country Club Blazer in similar fine condition. I realize one may object to wearing to what in many cases is “dead man’s clothing” (i.e. someone passes away, and leaves his unneeded wardrobe behind in this world – especially true if the item is coming from Florida). I’ve never found this to be an obstacle, and erase the past by simply dry clean everything as soon as it arrives.

    Caveat: I like loose clothing, and so when I order anything on-line I try to err on the side of it being too roomy. Too small and it’s unwearable. And always ask for dimensions first – we’ve all been burned by mislabeled sizes.

    I used to purchase on-line from Ben Silver, and Brooks Brothers, but don’t anymore. Today, I usually only order items directly from Orvis, Cordings, Patagonia, and on occasion, LL Bean. Now and then a smaller company (for example F.L. Woods) will have a unique item so I’ll make an exception there.

    As to question 3.), if Amazon sells the exact same clothing item as the company at a lower price then I’d be fool to pay more.

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  8. For me the three key steps are:

    • Calibrate each vendor's sizings (however you do it).
    • Order in multiples once you find something you like (i.e., assume that you'll never find it again, so stock up now).
    • Develop a daily uniform (shirt, slacks, shoes, etc.) that varies hardly at all from one day to the next.

    OK, this may be utterly dull and boring. But really now, how much mental effort do you want to put into getting dressed every day?

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  9. Anon 6:11--What excellent advice! Yes, buy in multiples when you find something that works. And as for your third point: Who can resist looking great everyday! Since returning to a uniform as an adult, I've found freedom, confidence and peace of mind. Not boring!

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  10. I totally agree with the two prior anonymous comments about dressing in a uniform daily. You always look great, and it is easy. It brings me back to my uniforms of catholic schools days.

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    1. When I do this my knuckles ache...

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    2. Correct. The nuns had a field with my knuckles also...

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  11. Only somewhat related but it looks like J Press in New Haven will be moving back to its original York Street location and possibly adding a café. per the New Haven Register today they obtained the required zoning variances to not have on-site parking and obtain a liquor license for the proposed café. I say, "Full Speed Ahead"!

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    1. Don’t look for much coverage of J. Press here...by the way has anyone noticed how awful the sport coats fit the model in their catalogue?

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    2. By email (keep as reference) using listed item number from their site on the found garments page, I ask Customer Service of “true garment size” one size up & one size down of my regular size.

      You can always go “down” in size- services of a good tailor, but never up with the same garment. I add in this cost at times, free shipping, discounts help balancing out costs/budget.

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