Internet experiment #2: Ordering clothes – success!

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There are some things that most people would never think of buying from the Internet because they require such a personal fit: eyeglasses, clothes, and shoes. Having successfully ordered two pairs of eyeglasses from Zenni Optical with substantial savings, I decided to explore the second frontier: buying clothes off the Internet.

After four months of working in the corporate world, I found myself gravitating to a few favorite outfits: a gray pinstripe suit that I bought off the rack (about $40 because it was on sale) and invested about $70 in having it tailored to me, and a few combinations of a long-sleeved blouse, a V-neck sweater, pants matching the sweater, and a scarf matching the blouse. (See, Kathy, I’m getting the hang of this coordination thing…) I’m still not as sharply dressed as consultants in other practices, though, and there are some gaps in my wardrobe that I’m gradually filling in–such as a coordinated black suit.

I find it difficult to shop for clothes in brick-and-mortar stores. There just aren’t that many clothes for short, slim people with small torsos and somewhat wider hips. It’s frustrating to go through the entire Eaton Centre and find only a few outfits that merit a trip to the dressing room. I rarely find anything that fits off the rack, and the noisy crowd can feel overwhelming after a few hours.

It doesn’t help that I shop with a very specific idea of what I want: a pair of oval red frames, a black pant suit in size 4 petite, a pair of beige pumps with a slightly rounded toe and a 1″ to 1.5″ square heel. I wish I could press a button to have the store reorganized by color and style instead of just by brand. In short, I want an Internet-like shopping interface. Bring on some faceted navigation.

So when I was shopping for gifts on, I took the opportunity to also search for petite size 4 pantsuits, and I was happy to find some that I wouldn’t mind trying out. eBay is not known for good return policies, so I submitted bids that were low enough for me to charge to experience if things didn’t work. As in my experiment with ordering eyeglasses of the Internet, I reasoned that if it didn’t work, I wasted a little of money, but if it did, I could save a lot more time and money in the future. It was worth a try.

The first of my suits arrived the other day. I had to trek up to the post office to pay customs, but even with shipping and tax, the suit cost just about as much as the gray suit I picked up during one of the sales. I had ordered a double-breasted black suit, and it arrived in the condition described: new and all ready to go. In terms of fit, it was no worse than suits in stores. In terms of cost, it was decent. In terms of convenience, it was much better.

So there: shopping for clothes on the Internet is worth a try. =)

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