Doís and Doníts of Buying Your Dress Online
Shoppers today buy makeup online, shoes online and they’ve even crossed the threshold of fitting room horrors of buying denim jeans and swim suits online. So, it’s not surprising that it’s finally come to this: Shopping the internet for bridal gowns.
Now that heavyweight retailers have launched online bridal shops, brides-to-be can simply tap their phone a few times instead of scheduling an appointment at a boutique with arcane store hours. In the last three months, H&M launched a bridal collection, as did ModCloth and ASOS. They join the likes of Shopbop, Neiman Marcus and J. Crew, which began selling gowns online 12 years ago.
Along with the convenience that internet buying affords, what’s also appealing about the online experience is the range of dresses offered. Classical styles abound, as do unconventional looks like a beaded vintage-styled mermaid gown or bridal jumpsuit, both found on J.Crew.com. Designer gowns, such as Monique Lhuillier, hang next to gowns priced in the mere triple digits, like pieces from the Badgley Mischka Collection at NeimanMarcus.com.
“This is a space that’s suited for today’s bride, the millennial,” says Kirstie Kelly, a Los Angeles-based designer of bridal gowns sold online. “This consumer understands the online world and how to research online. Wedding gowns fall into that scope.”
But, shopping online for a dress of your dreams for the day of your dreams is different than stocking up on BB creams. Here are 6 key do’s and don’ts that shoppers can follow to avoid online shopper’s remorse.
DO Think of the Online Retailer as Your Partner
Find one that offers up a bevy of customer services such as free shipping, free returns, swatch samples and appointments. Neiman Marcus touts free shipping and free returns. Kelly offers appointments via FaceTime, Skype or through email. ASOS showcases video catwalks of the gowns.
“We try to give brides as many resources as possible,” Kelly says. “The customer service she wants doesn’t change when she shops online.”
DO Make Those Pesky Cookies Work for You
If you are a cookie deleter, undo that delete button, at least for your dress hunt. There’s upside if you let your favorite bridal gown website follow you on your dress hunt as you scroll and click and even add a dress to your cart.
“Keep the styles you like in your cart,” says Lizz Eckert Adams, co-owner of Fashion Scout LA, a trend-forecasting service. “That way if the price goes down or the item is selling fast, the e-tailer will notify you.”
DO Order Your Gown as Early as Possible
Brides should allow 12 to 14 weeks for the arrival of a gown for two important reasons. First, that timeline creates a cushion in case things go amiss or shipping issues arise. That window also factors in tailoring needs.
If a bride-to-be purchases a gown from a boutique, she may have ready access to prompt alterations. But usually online purveyors don’t provide that service so she’ll need to allocate more time and extra dollars in case the gown needs hemming or adjusting.
DO Employ a Little Caveat Emptor
Don’t shop an unknown company to save a few dollars. A number of so-called bridal lines have cropped up on the Web, many purporting to make designer gowns for less. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Just like you check out Yelp before trying a restaurant, scan for consumer reviews of the company. ModCloth’s bridal site showcases buyers’ reviews, letting buyers rate the fit, length and quality of the gown.
DON’T Get Stuck With an Overseas Nightmare
If you’re buying a dress online, try to make sure it’s manufactured in the United States to minimize headaches and stress and even extra fees.
DON’T Forget About the Rest of Your Outfit or Bridesmaids
The broad scope of offerings for brides means online destinations can be a one-stop shop for your accessory needs and bridal party. Most websites can suggest complementary jewelry and shoes for your dress. Online shopping can also take the sting and pain out of bridesmaid shopping by showcasing a number of options in terms of silhouettes and colors, not just dusty lilac.