Shopping etiquette: Stores crack down on ‘wardrobing’
By Brittany Anas
It’s a fashion faux-pas: Buying a pricey designer dress, rocking it at a swanky event, snapping lots of photos in it — only to return it the next day.
Call it “wardrobing.” Or “buturning,” (as in buying-and-returning). But the National Retail Federation prefers to call it fraud and they estimate it costs stores nearly $9 million a year. In fact, about 65 percent of retailers surveyed suspect wardrobing is happening at their stores. More and more stores — in response — are starting to put tags on the outside of garments so they can’t be worn and returned the next day.
While it’s perfectly acceptable to return items that don’t fit right or you don’t care for — it’s frowned up on to wear shoes or apparel out and about and then return it because its newness has worn off.
Here are 5 tips to make sure that you find the right fit for when you’re shopping online — and save the hassles of returns in the first place.
- Read the online reviews. These are goldmines of information. Does the crew neck T-shirt fit too snug through the tummy? Are the pants too long for petite frames? Is the vibrant red on a sweater more like a rust orange in real life? Online reviewers are brutally honest — they’re like the friends you always want to have with you in the dressing rooms. Some will even post pictures of them wearing the items so you know what they look like on non-model bodies, too.
- Give your shoes a practice walk at home. You take those leopard pumps out of the box, slip them on your feet, give them a few practice struts and are sold on the shoes. But, the real test is whether you can survive an 8-hour work day in those shoes and walk in them without breaking an ankle. It’s bad form to try to return shoes that have dirtied-up soles with globs of gum stuck to the bottom. So give them a test run around your home and on carpet and gauge whether they’re a good fit.
- Take your measurements. If you love shopping for clothes online, a measuring tape will take out all of the guesswork. (We love this cheeky frog-themed measuring tape from Wayfair — where you can get 3 percent Cash Back from ShopAtHome.com). Nearly all stores have sizing charts so you can compare your measurements.
- Abide by the ‘Rule of 3.’ As soon as you get a new shirt, skirt, dress, purse, etc. in the mail, shop your closet to find a few different ways to wear it. It’s a real bummer if something sits with tags in your closet and by the time you realize you’ve got nothing to wear it with, it’s too late to return it.
- Know the stores return policies. Before you buy, look at the fine print. Stores have varying return policies — from strict ones that only do exchanges and bar returns on accessories to some stores who will give you a refund even if you’ve chopped off the tags.
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