Buying Women's Clothing Online -- Show Your Work
December 23, 2017 5:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm delighted at the great answers to clothing questions here. Can you teach me how you do it? I want to get beyond "just Google it." Are there useful metasearch sites? What strategies fail? Do you pick a designer and then search for different sellers? I'm looking for wool trousers. But I'm not asking you to tell me where to buy these pants, but discuss how you would go about finding them, or any other women's clothing.

Here's my example: I'm a short matronly woman sz 16ish. I want warm women's trousers, low-rise, no waistband, lined, no back pockets. I'd prefer at least 50% wool, and my budget can reach US$200 for well-made clothing that will last a decade.

When I just search for all my desired features I get "fill in the blank" responses like "Find your low-rise pants on eBay" or "Womens wool pants at Etsy."
posted by Jesse the K to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You have to know the store or brand - the fit, style and durability. Then look at the picture and note the fabric. Really think about the fabric. Then take a best guess based on design cut and size. Return if it doesn't fit.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:04 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might want to check out r/femalefashionadvice. If you post a thread people may be very knowledgeable how to do this.
posted by starlybri at 7:31 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I usually approach this first with a Google Shopping search, in this case, "women's lined wool pants," then filter for size and price in the left-hand column. Then note brands that may work, in this case, Talbots, Tahari, Pendleton, Brooks Brothers come into focus pretty quickly. Look at the sites, and check for other styles that may suit your needs. You could try tacking on "side zip" or "low rise" but add too much and it may make the results worse. i.e. "No pockets" will probably return lots of pants with pockets. It's usually better to cast a wider net at first. Some pants with an acceptably low rise may not be labeled as such, and you don't want to throw them out inadvertently.

The next thing I did was google "high quality women's wool pants," which led to Land's End and links to wool pants at Nordstrom and Macy's -- which I'd cruise through for more ideas as well. If I found a brand there that looked promising, but not quite what I wanted, I'd go search for different styles from that brand at different sites.

(Caveat: I didn't find what you were after. But I did find a lot of decent quality wool trousers relatively quickly. I suspect the no-waistband requirement is going to be the biggest sticking point. Good luck!)
posted by another zebra at 7:56 PM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I answer these kinds of questions sometimes, but this is kind of backwards to how I know answers to other people's clothes questions. When I buy clothes, I have like--maybe four places at any given time who produce the sort of clothes that match the kind of clothes that I think I wear. Right now, for example, it's like 80% Eddie Bauer and Universal Standard and maybe 15% Lane Bryant and the rest filled in from Target. But I also have a backlog of places that I don't currently shop but I still know pretty well, like when I used to get a lot of work stuff from Dress Barn and eShakti. For my own clothes shopping, I find somewhere that fits the sort of style I like, and I try a few things until I figure out my sizing, and I stay loyal until either I want different clothes or their quality/prices change. (I used to buy a lot of Old Navy until they stopped being able to survive three months of routine laundering. I used to buy a lot of Maurice's jeggings until I could afford Universal Standard jeans which fit better and have pockets.) And then, because buying plus sized women's clothes is goddamn hard, I make sure to let other people know what I've found when it seems like they're looking for similar stuff.

Just so you know that, like, one of the things about asking a question like this is not that you're drawing on people who can search better than you, it's that you're drawing on a pool of people who is sufficiently large that you have a fair chance of finding someone else who just happens to know the pants you want because they have or used to have those pants in their own closet.
posted by Sequence at 8:15 PM on December 23, 2017 [8 favorites]

If I'm looking for something nicer, I usually start at Nordstrom just to survey the scene and get an idea on price and see what styles are currently available. (Sometimes I then actually proceed to a Nordstrom to try things on!) Polyvore is pretty amazing if you can describe what you're after. For example, women's lined wool pants -- and if you click there, you'll see the first row has pants ranging from $55 to $1800. You can then start selecting for size, price, color, etc., to narrow down.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:39 PM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

I shop brands I know fit me and can usually find what I want. I know about 6 or 7 brands will fit me reasonably well- more than 60% of the time.
posted by fshgrl at 10:44 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

ShopStyle is similar to Polyvore but also searches used clothing, which I like.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 11:49 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I agree that it's having, or tapping in to, a wider background knowledge.

I lurk on a few forums where people talk generally about clothes that they're buying and take particular note when they describe something as being suitable for me (for example, the UK store Next is better for apple-shape trousers than pear-shape, and I'm apple so that's good to know). Plus I do a fair amount of virtual and actual window shopping to get a sense of what's in, so that I can pick some things within that which will work for me.

I don't think there's a substitute for actual/virtual legwork
posted by plonkee at 1:38 AM on December 24, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks for your reliably useful and rapid advice!

I'm now down a clothing-advice rabbit-hole. Will check back in 2018.
posted by Jesse the K at 8:23 AM on December 24, 2017

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