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I'm going to give you a little insight into my life. I am a shopaholic. It doesn't sound that revolutionary, most fashion bloggers (and indeed, other highly stylish people) tend to be. It's also not special that I'm a couch potato who only leaves the couch to cook and to exercise before returning to the well-worn depression on the down-filled faux suede. 98% of all things I own (right down to the underwear) are bought online. I'm not really into the whole in-store experience, unless it's a thrift store (mostly because big chain stores tend to be crowded, and small unique stores tend to feel crowded). My mother asked, why go online shopping? What if something doesn't fit? What if it's not the color you imagined? What if it doesn't look the same way on you as it does on the model? What if it's flimsy?
All good questions. These are the answers.
A lot of people don't understand how important it is to know your sizes (ALL OF THEM) before online shopping. Learn what size you are in Japan, China, Canada, the UK, Australia, other European countries,  and the US. Know your conversions by heart (or Google a handy-dandy conversion chart and keep it close by). Before you sit down to go online shopping, make sure you take a quick trip to a few different stores you know might have different sizes (Forever 21 works in European sizes as well as Juniors sizes, so make sure you check the tag). You don't have to buy anything, but try on tops, pants, and shoes in different sizes to see which fits best.

Step 2: Know Your Body.
This is pretty standard fashion/beauty magazine material, and you've probably heard it a lot of times, but it's crucial. YOU WILL NOT LOOK LIKE THE MODEL (unless your body does look like a standard model's, in which case, hooray)! The truth is, if you're a size two, the odds of you being 5'9" (no heels) with a long and graceful neck and limbs is pretty slim. You need to work the body you have, not the body you wish you had. Self-confidence is key. ShopYourShape is a good place to start! After you've determined what body type you are, learn which cuts and styles look good on you, and keep a mental note. Don't forget that skin tone is important too!  You probably don't want to deviate too much from this general list when shopping online, but it's actually not confining at all and creates a lot of freedom, because it makes it easier to choose pieces and outfits that you know will flatter you, without being overwhelmed by all the stuff that won't look good on you (trust me, once you look at those bell bottoms for 12 seconds and then realize that it will make your butt and thighs look like someone tried to stuff watermelons in a sack that's too narrow, the appeal will disappear as quickly as it came.
*Note: Shoes are a little more flexible, and there aren't so many rules to finding a pair that makes your legs look great. Avoid shoes that make you look infinitely shorter and/or give your legs the illusion of cankles. Or that don't match your skin tone (unless you're doing the whole tight ensemble).*

Step 3: Know Your Style.
You don't want that to be you. You, looming sadly over a pair of jeans or a jacket you liked the look of, but it just...wasn't your style.
It's a little hard to know your style, but before clicking the "Add To Cart" button, ask yourself: where will I wear this to? and, how often will I wear it? And if you can't think of somewhere you would wear it to, or if you would ONLY wear it to that one dinner with that one hottie, well, you might not want to buy it. Might as well throw $30 on your closet floor and leave it there for years. You don't have to be able to classify the way you like to dress with trends, like, grunge or preppy, but you should be able to know what you'd like to see yourself in and what you wouldn't.
Do some digging around for sites that you like the most, because that inevitably means they cater to your style the most.

Unless they are shoes.
But seriously, don't. It sounds like you're wasting a lot of money buying those boyfriend jeans with that heather grey patchwork tweed blazer and that white collared shirt and those dark grey oxford flats, but it's going to be worth it if you didn't have the other items to begin with. Personally, I like to make sure that anything I buy can be worn with at least 3 other things in my closet. Problem is, a girl can't ALWAYS remember every item of clothing in her closet. So this is the foolproof way to make sure you can actually wear it with something. If you're completely sure that the tweed patchwork blazer would go great with stuff already in your closet, then no need to buy an entire outfit! But think about it: The more outfits you buy, the less times you shop (in some cases). Your closet will grow at a much quicker rate, and you'll pay fewer shipping fees! Hooray!

Speaking of fees...

Step 5: Sales and Coupons. 
If you want those shoes but they are $200 dollars and you can't break the bank, look for knockoffs (there is really no shame in them if you strut your stuff in them, I promise). Don't go broke because you want to look good. There's no harm in a few high-priced items if you can afford them, but for someone on a budget, it really won't be worth it. Yeah, you'll have that awesome pair of Sam Edelmans. You'll also have no cable, a cupboard with a few measly bowls of ramen in it, and a pair of Sam Edelmans to get you through the month. I have a shoe fund. If you get a relatively consistent stream of cash, save some. Every few months, treat yourself. No shame in that, and you can still watch the latest episode of Project Runway!
Coupons are your savior. Look for the store with whatever you want in the cheapest form possible. Then look for coupons for that store. Many a dollar has remained in my wallet due to coupons. Some stores won't always have them, and that's tried. The cheaper you buy, the less guilty and heartbroken you feel if the material ends up not being what you expected, or you rip that chiffon dress the first night you wear it out (but mending is better than ending, so just try to fix anything that goes wrong before giving up on it).


If there's anything you don't want, sell it online, at places like Etsy or Copious. This gets you some of your money back, and you can use it to get yourself some new stuff!

You don't have to know what you're looking for before you start shopping, but it helps to think "pants" or "peplum" before you dive into the thousands of virtual wardrobes you can possibly have.

Accessories are extremely important. Buy them. 

I wish H&M let me shop online already. 'Twould make my life complete.