Love designer clothes more than you love designer price tags? The solution may be right in your handbag. Whip out your phone and check out Instagram's shopping community. Here's how to shop for clothes on Instagram.
When you shop on Instagram, the entire process is very streamlined. Most sellers include shipping and handling in the price. You don't have to worry about additional fees. Instagram is a great place to find hand-picked vintage finds and designer clothing at deep discounts. Remember, you're shopping from someone else's closet. Some items may be new with tags, but most are gently used. You don't have to have a public profile to shop for clothes, but you do need a public profile if you decide to sell items from your own closet.
Learn how to search
Instagram uses hashtags to organize content. When sellers post clothing, they tag it with many hashtags. Popular shopping hashtags include #IGshopping, #IGshop and #ShopMyCloset. If you find sellers you like, follow them to stay on top of new sales. Many shops follow each other. Start clicking creatively until you build up a collection of shops that mesh with your style. Don't forget to search for brands, such as Free People, or specific items such as boots or wedges.
Know what you're looking for
Don't get all starry eyed as you search or you'll fall into an impulse-buy black hole. Have a specific mission in mind so your budget stays under control. If you're looking for a sweater dress, for example, don't click on photos of necklaces. Make a shopping list and stick to it.
Purchase in the comments
Sellers have shop rules listed in their profiles. When you see an item you like, leave your email address in the photo's comments. With most sellers, it's as simple as that. You'll receive a PayPal invoice shortly. Make sure you leave an email address tied to your PayPal account. If you're concerned about sharing your email address, create an address to use only for shopping and connect it to your PayPal account. Most sellers delete items that are already sold, but you should check to see if someone has snagged the item before you.
When you shop on Instagram, you never physically hand someone your credit card. Everything is handled over PayPal. This can be a bit of a psychological pitfall. A few $25 purchases add up quickly. Keep track of every purchase, preferably in writing, and cut yourself off when you reach your budget limit. If a seller says to make an offer, don't be afraid to haggle politely.
Be aware of sizes and fits
Don't be afraid to ask a seller to describe fit or post more photos. Be aware that a size 12 from one store may be different from the same size in another. Instagram shops rarely offer returns and exchanges, so it pays to know the size is correct.
Meet an Instagram seller
Jennifer has been selling clothes from her closet since January at ShopStalemateVintage. “Almost everything I make selling on Instagram (IG) goes right back into the hands of other IG sellers! I just can't help myself; it's like a never-ending closet,” she says. “I do a bit of keyword-searching and tend to visit the personal pages of sellers I really like, so you get to know the person behind the shop. I am a big fan of Anthropologie-based brands and have found a select few who sell nothing but that, so it's a total win-win for me.”