Smarter Online Shopping

Point.  Click.  Easy.  That is … until the item arrives and it isn’t the color you thought it would be.  Or the fabric feels sleazy.  Or it’s itchy or it doesn’t fit right.  Then there’s the paperwork and the return trip to the Post Office and you’re back at Square One.  There has to be a better way.  Here’s my answer:

When I’m shopping with a client, I use the websites of my target retailers to pre-shop and develop our list of things to try on when we make a quick, well-planned visit to the mall.  Here’s an example:

My client Carolyn is a consultant in the fitness industry, travels a lot in her business wearing mostly up-leveled casual styles, and looks best in relatively soft, barely warm colors like sage green, soft chocolate brown, sand and mid-value teal blues and corals.  Her personal style is Classic.  And we are due for a Fall shopping excursion.  We found lots in her sandy/camel hair color and her soft blush skin color last spring that we’ll blend in with slightly stronger colors for fall.

But first I want to be sure we aren’t going to waste time in a fruitless slog around the mall.  So I visited the Talbots site – ideal for her Classic style – and checked the New Arrivals tab to see their new color story. (Major retailers release new collections about every 5 weeks, so for your own wardrobe it bears checking sites at about that interval until you hit a collection that works for your coloring.)  This time we were in luck.

  • When I spotted a beautiful teal sweater, I typed its name – “Twilight Teal” – into the search bar and instantly got an array of matching jeans, shells – jackpot!
  • One of the teal items also happened to come in “Deep Olive”.  Another entry in the search bar and an array of green options popped up.
  • Same for an array of tops in Spiced Coral and some great skin-print accessories. Now we know that a stop at Talbots is worth our time to check these pieces for quality and fit.
  • Similar checks revealed that Ann Taylor and at Chico’s  are featuring berry and gray coordinates right now – no sense bothering to stop there!
  • Oh – but wait – I typed “brown” into the Chico’s search bar and up popped a gorgeous suede skirt, narrow pant and basic shell – all great pieces to mix with her camel, blush and other soft accent colors.  Carolyn isn’t much of a skirt gal – she doesn’t like her (perfectly fine) legs – but I’ll bring along a pair of NoNonsense chocolate tights to see if they blend with the skirt color and solve that problem.  Can’t determine that online for sure.

Here’s a peek at our game plan:

We headed to Talbot’s and Chico’s –  bringing along a camel and a blush piece from her closet, plus these scarves and some other accessories to try with the color mixes we’re considering.

We accomplished her Fall update in not much over an hour.  Add the 10 minutes of online research and subtract any uncertainty, returns or exchanges and I’d call that efficient shopping!

What tricks do you use to maximize the use of your time and minimize shopping frustration?

About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Catherine on October 31, 2019 at 8:32 am

    Great pre-planning for new fall/winter wardrobe pieces, Nancy! Love the idea of making shopping relevant to my color wheel AND being efficient too. You’re the best!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 31, 2019 at 10:21 pm

      I am lucky to make my living doing something that is so much fun and makes life easier for other women, right?

  2. Sherry on January 6, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Nancy Nix Rice,
    What a fab idea ! Saving leg work in the store, and online unhappy purchases and returns !
    By the way you just described my personal coloring and style , thanks for the ideas !

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 6, 2020 at 6:01 pm

      Sp glad you found it helpful – and so sorry we’re already out of that inventory cycle. But the concept still applies even if you can’t grab up those specific items.

  3. Suzanne on February 17, 2020 at 7:12 am

    Hi Nancy! I’ve done a similar color term search at Talbots website and was similarly rewarded with matching items. This was a great post. I don’t have a Talbots or Chicos or any US stores where I live in Japan, so Unfortunately, I have to rely on internet shopping. Thanks for keeping things fresh!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on February 17, 2020 at 6:25 pm

      Glad you’re enjoying th blog Suzanne. I certainly enjoy doing it.

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