Ask A Minnesota Expert: Tips On Finding Deals Shopping Online

August 19, 2014 7:00 AM

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The internet is limitless; the possibilities endless. We all know that you can find anything online, including deals on clothes you may never find in the sterile stores of the nearest shopping mall. But how do you know what to buy? And where to buy from? Which sites offer the best deals? And, sometimes most importantly, how do you know you’re buying the right thing? Though the internet can never be truly tamed, Chloe Ahlf, longtime online shopper and fashionista, offers insight on how to navigate the murky waters of the world wide web.

Chloe Ahlf
(651) 470-1752

Chloe Ahlf is a recent college graduate who understands that you don’t have to spend your very last dime to have amazing clothes. As an avid online shopper, as well as fashion and lifestyle blogger, she has learned the ins and outs, ups and downs and dirty little secrets of the online fashion world. Through her former website, Urban Tease, and her latest, Of North, she explores the always-changing, constantly evolving world of fashion, health, beauty and so much more. Her fashion sense and eye for detail have created a large following in St. Paul and beyond, having been featured in Vita.MN and the online DIY staple Cut Out + Keep. Looking for the best online shopping experience? Chloe is a pro. Here is what she has to say.

Sign Up For Newsletters
“Signing up for email newsletters is a great way to go. I always get tipped off when a sale or pre-sale is happening, and sometimes a store will even send you a notice when something you’ve put in your wish list is on sale. I also follow my favorite stores on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – to make sure that I never miss a good deal or a flash sale.”

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(credit: Jupiter Images)

Keep An Eye On Sizing
“You obviously can’t try clothes on when online shopping, so keep an eye on sizing. If the store doesn’t list specific measurements of a garment, then check to see if they mention that it runs large or small. Some stores will list a model’s measurements and what size she’s wearing – though be cautious, they might be pinned. If no sizing is listed, then head to the reviews and see what people who have bought the product say. Every designer uses slightly different measurements, so you should never trust that a medium in one brand will fit the same as a medium in another. If you’re really uneasy about something, call up their customer service line and talk to them. If none of the above are options, then you probably shouldn’t be buying from the store.”

Know What You’re Looking For
“Online shopping is great when you have a specific style or need. For example, it’s extremely difficult to find a great pair of bell bottoms in Minnesota, but go online and you can find young women in California retailing hand-made bell bottoms at a reasonable rate. You don’t need to wait for something to be trending in order for it to be accessible.”

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(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Consider Quality Before Purchasing
“There are a lot of major online retailers marketing extremely cheap, fast fashion, often directly from factories in China. Sometimes it’s appealing to get a pair of shoes for $15 or leggings for $8, but it’s important to keep ethics in mind. How was this clothing made? Will it last very long? Is it a direct designer rip off? Fast fashion (think H&M, Forever 21) are so appealing these days because trends come and go quickly, but consider how damaging this is to our global economy and natural resources before buying into it.

There are some retailers that market their products very well, but when they’ve come in the mail, I’ve discovered that they’re actually very poorly made with chintzy fabric or an improper fit. Don’t let a good deal leave you blindsided to what really matters in a product.”

Find The Store That’s Right For You
“I tend to veer towards the online shopping sites that can offer more variety than what you’ll find in a shopping mall or a poorly curated boutique. I’ve been shopping at ModCloth ( for years now because I can trust them to curate high-quality, unique items while still keeping prices reasonable. You can find things online that you otherwise would not be able to access in the Midwest. For example, I’ve found really great bargains at Anthom’s ( carefully curated boutique of budding independent fashion designers – designers who aren’t big enough to be vending their designs in Minnesota yet. The great thing about online shopping is that you can be very specific to your needs. For example, go on local retailer Etsy, and you can find X-Files blouses (, handmade beads from Nepal ( or a candle scented like Dumbledore’s Office ( Originality is so much of a possibility shopping online than when you’re shopping at Target or at the Mall of America.”

Related: Best Minnesota Fashion Blogs

Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.

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