I’m always a little surprised to hear women tell me they hate shopping for clothes, especially women who actually dress very fashionably. I would just assume those women love shopping and trying on clothes. But it turns out that even great dressers are not necessarily happy shoppers. And it’s true: trying on clothes can be downright infuriating and even a little humiliating. For me, trying on a lot of clothing often tires me out physically, heats me up miserably and wears me down emotionally. You, too? That’s why I thought I’d investigate more thoroughly what goes on in those 5 X 5 cubicles and figure out how to make the experience more pleasant and more productive. Today I’m sharing with you 10 fitting room tips that I’ve tried, tested and stuck with as much as possible. And I can tell you, these tips make a difference.
Before you go shopping…
Choose your shopping buddy carefully.
Those of us who have watched TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress even once know that taking the wrong people shopping with you is just begging for trouble. Like, what are those brides thinking??? And yet, some of us are probably shopping with the wrong gal pal or family member, too. And trouble comes in all sorts of packages. If your shopping buddy just thinks you’re the bomb in every outfit you put on, her or his advice isn’t going to serve you well. But if your friend or family member doesn’t share your sense of style at all, that’s not going to help either.
Honestly, for the most part I prefer shopping alone. I love having friends and family members around when I’m just browsing or window shopping. But if I want to spend the time it takes to select new clothes, I’ve learned it’s best to be able to focus without distraction. I tend to rush when I’m with others and lean too much on their opinions. But if I do have my daughter, my mother or a friend with me, I try to temper their opinions, and not give them complete control.
Who do you like to shop with?
Get mirror-ready before shopping.
I have definitely darted out to Marshalls or Target without applying much makeup or doing my hair. But I do find that my shopping trips are more successful if I put in the time to fix my face and hair before I go. If I’m going to spend that much time in front of a mirror (and in bad lighting, usually) I need to give myself a leg up by looking my best.
On a side note, I also think about the jewelry I’m wearing for a shopping trip. I’ve lost too many French hook earrings because they slip off easily as I’m slipping shirts over my head. So if I’m doing some serious shopping and plan to be in the fitting room long, I generally take off all necklaces, bracelets and earrings and put them in a safe place in my purse.
Wear or bring along the proper undergarments.
Yes, you can try on a strapless dress with a regular bra, but you’re not going to get the full picture or fit that way. So if you know you’re shopping for a form fitting dress, wear or take those Spanx. And if white pants or a skirt are on your wish list, wear flesh toned panties.
Now that you’re in the fitting room…
Be patient and speak truth to yourself.
Often I have a great time browsing through a store and picking up items I want to try out. It’s when I get in the fitting room and start the process of slipping out of my clothes and into pieces I’m not quite sure about that my fight or flight mechanism kicks in. Some days it seems like every piece of clothing I try on fits me poorly. That’s when I tend to berate myself for being too fat, too tall, too small chested, too whatever!
But then I stop the rant and choose to tell myself the truth.
The truth is nothing fits every woman. And no woman fits perfectly into every item hanging beautifully on the hangers or the mannequins. We all have very different bodies, and every single woman has to try on a lot of clothes before she finds the pieces that fit her well and look good with her skin tone, hair color and facial features.
Hear this again. It’s not just you that has to try on 30 swimsuits before you settle on one. Most all of us have to do that. And most all of us struggle with finding bras, jeans and dresses that fit well, too. So stop berating yourself, sweet sister, and tell yourself the truth. You’re not too anything. That piece of clothing just doesn’t fit you well. It’s not you. It’s the clothing. There is clothing out there that does fit you. You just have to find it. And that may take work and time. But you are normal. Shopping for clothes is hard work for every woman, not just you.
Sit down, walk around, do a little dance!
Girl, you’ve got to move your body! Once you have those jeans on, sit down and see how the crouch does. Make sure you can bend down and play in the sand in that swimsuit. See what happens when you lean over with that low-cut blouse you’re considering wearing for Thanksgiving dinner. Do a little dance in that sequined gown you may wear as the mother of the bride.
And sweetie, if it doesn’t move well with you, no matter how much you love it put it aside. You’ll wish you had if you don’t. Am I right or am I right?
Try on with the appropriate shoes.
If you’re shopping for a special occasion dress or suit or even a pair of slacks, try to bring some shoes with you that are the heel height you intend to wear. But did you know that in most department stores you can ask the sales person to bring you a pair of shoes in your size that would work with the pieces you’re trying on? Or you can take that special occasion dress to the shoe department, select some shoes you might like to wear with the dress and take them to the fitting room with you.
Look, the store you’re shopping wants you to buy all that stuff, so they’re not going to argue with you about taking them to the fitting room. And of course you may or may not buy those shoes. But at least try the dress or suit on with some suitable shoes so you can get the full picture.
Focus on your face, not just the clothes.
Of course most of us immediately check out the clothing we are trying on in the mirror, zooming in on the areas of our body covered by the item. But, especially when trying on tops, dresses or swimsuits – anything up top – after checking out your body, be sure to look at your face.
Key: You’re not just looking for fabulous clothes. You’re looking for clothes that make you look fabulous!
Check out your coloration, your eyes, your hair, your neck. Do the colors make you shine or do they outshine you? Does that neckline draw the focus to your face or away from you face? (In case you’re in doubt, the neckline should draw attention to your face!) If you picked up the top in two or three different shades to try on, which one works best with your eye color and hair color? Which one makes you look vibrant and happy? And ask yourself if the clothing overwhelms you. When you walk into your class reunion, your son’s wedding or even the office, will people notice your outfit or you? The goal? They should notice you look amazing, and, oh, that dress is nice, too.
Use the three-way mirrors.
I get it. Most of the time the three-way mirrors are out there in the public area where other women (and maybe even men) will see you. You don’t want to look vain and prissy and self-absorbed prancing around in front of the shared three-way mirror. So you stay in your 5X5 cubicle and twist your body and crane your neck to get the full picture.
Friend, get out there and use that three-way mirror. You’ll be glad you did in the end. And speaking of ends, be sure to check yours out in that three-way mirror. Especially when trying on jeans, shorts, a swimsuit or anything that hugs the body, get the rear view.
Take a pic and take a break.
Now that most of us have our own cell phones, we also carry with us our own cameras. This turns out to be the niftiest tool of all for a winning shopping trip. Pull that phone out and take pics of anything that you might want to match with items at different stores, for instance, as you’re shopping.
But in the fitting room, one of the best lessons I’ve learned is to take photos of myself in the mirror. For some reason we can see ourselves differently (even better?) in a picture than we can with just the naked eye in the mirror.
Often, if I’m not in a big rush, I take pictures of myself in every outfit or piece of clothing that seems like it works, then I take those selections to the sales person and ask them to hold them. I go to a coffee shop, take a break, pull out my phone and look back through my photos. It’s amazing how different my perspective is outside that fitting room. Plus, when I’m taking a break and out of the mayhem of the fitting room, I can think more clearly about my budget, the wardrobe I have in my closet already, the shoes I have to go with the new pieces, etc. When I go back to the shop to retrieve my clothing selections, I almost always put a few or even most of them back. But I make a more educated and levelheaded purchase, too.
Finally, and most importantly…
Let fit rule.
I’m very prone to fall in love, madly, passionately in love with a piece of clothing in the catalog, on line or on the mannequin. Yep, that’s me. But sometimes, no, often, that piece of clothing I thought I loved turns out not to work so well on me. I have to be willing to let it go.
I’ve learned that fit rules. And that doesn’t just mean the piece of clothing needs to snap onto my body and stay there. It means the shirt, dress, jeans, whatever needs to really fit. It needs to hug, skim, drape, flow, or whatever it’s supposed to do to make me look good. Remember, I’m not just buying a beautiful blouse; I’m buying a blouse that’s going to make me look beautiful…because I am.
And you, dear friend, are shopping and trying on clothes to find the ones that make you look beautiful – vibrant, happy, relaxed and influential – because you are all those things.
Do you have other fitting room tips you’d like to share with us here? We’d love to read them. Gals, fitting rooms are not fun for most of us. But I honestly believe we can make the experience better with these ten tips. And I’d love to hear more from you!
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Blessed for My Day
When I’m in the fitting room I also have to think about who I’m trying to please with my appearance. As I was talking about this with some friends last night, I admitted that more often than not I dress for other women. I want other women to think I look nice. One friend said she really dresses for the men in her workplace. After seeing the shock on our faces, she explained that she dresses to appear authoritative and knowledgeable. She wants to be taken seriously by the men she works with. Who we dress to please isn’t nearly as important as who we live to please. Honestly, sometimes I also live to please the wrong people. But the Bible teaches us that we should live for an audience of one – our Creator, God.
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. ~ Galatians 1:10