This is the second in my series of shopping tips to help you shop smarter and avoid common mistakes and pitfalls. I invite you to check out my first tip, “Try On Again at Home,” in case you didn’t see it when it was posted.
This tip focuses on the actual process of trying on clothes at the store. You are trying on all of your clothes before you buy them, right? If not, then that’s the first part of the tip. Make sure you try everything on before you buy it! As we all know, sizing is inconsistent, even within garments from a given manufacturer, so we can’t rely on past experiences to dictate how something will fit.
Take the Time to Try Things On
I understand that you may be in a hurry when shopping or have small children in tow, but the few moments you take to try things on can potentially save you the larger chunk of time required to make returns later. In addition, some people won’t even take the time to return ill-fitting garments. They’ll either end up wasting their money or wearing “it will do” clothing bought during a hurried shopping trip.
Once you enter the dressing room, I have a few pointers on how to make the most of that experience. Following these quick and easy suggestions can help you make better choices and avoid having comfort or fit issues later.
Check Out the Rear View
If you’re shopping in higher-end stores, the fitting room will likely be equipped with a three-way mirror, or there will be one available nearby. If so, make sure to check out the fit of your potential buys from all angles. Something may look fabulous from the front, but not so great from the side or the back. It’s good to know how you will appear to others in what you’re wearing.
Since many discount retailers and resale shops have smaller fitting rooms with just one flat mirror, it’s a good idea to take a small hand mirror with you when shopping. This can be a make-up compact or a fold-up mirror that easily fits into a purse. Such a mirror will come in handy for seeing your rear view in fitting rooms that don’t include three-way mirrors. Simply turn around and hold the mirror in front of you until you can see your back side. This view will provide additional data points to guide you in making your purchasing decisions.
When trying on pants, jeans, skirts, and dresses, it’s important to know how the garment will feel when you’re sitting down. Fortunately, most dressing rooms include some sort of bench or chair in which you can do a “sit test.” If no seating surface is available in the fitting room itself, it’s likely you’ll find some sort of chair in the nearby vicinity. If not, then do your best to mimic a seating position by partially squatting in the fitting room, if you can…
To do this quick test, simply sit down and position yourself as you would be seated in your normal life situations. If you generally cross your legs when you sit down, do so and check out how the garment moves with you. When you stand up, notice if a lot of repositioning of the clothing is necessary. Clothing pieces that require a lot of fidgeting and fussing throughout the day are often the ones that sit in a person’s closet unworn. Since most of us sit down and stand up many times each day, we want to make sure our clothing moves well with us and doesn’t require a lot of adjustment as we go about our daily activities.
When most of us try on clothing, we just stand straight and look at ourselves in the mirror to determine whether or not there is a good fit. But how many of us stand still during our day to day life? Not many!
To better ascertain the suitability of a garment for your life, move around in the fitting room as you normally would during the course of a typical day. Raise your arms over your head, twist around, and bend your waist and your knees. Notice what happens to the clothing as you do these things. Minimal readjustment after movement may be okay, but if you have to smooth and pull at a piece a lot after you move, you might be better off saying no to buying that item.
I learned this lesson the hard way, particularly with tops. I’ve had a number of tops that would ride right up each time I raised my arms, necessitating a lot of adjustment with every movement. Needless to say, these tops weren’t worn much due to sheer annoyance and frustration! I now make sure to move around in the dressing room before deciding to buy something.
Consider Companion Pieces
This last tip has to do with how we might wear a garment we’re considering buying. If you usually tuck your shirts in and you’re buying pants, consider whether or not there is enough room to do so. If possible, do a “tuck test” in the fitting room to be sure.
If you are buying pants or jeans and like to wear heels, notice if there is enough extra length for you to do so (or if there is a hem allowance for the appropriate alteration). You might want to either wear your heels while shopping or tote them along with you to do a quick try-on in the fitting room.
Here’s to Saving Time and Money!
The bit of time it takes to use the tips above will hopefully save you time in making returns down the line. Implementing my suggestions can also save you money in little worn (or unworn!) purchases due to fit and fuss issues. If you have any other fitting room tips that I didn’t mention, please feel free to add them in the comment form below.
My first suggestion is to wear clothes and shoes that are easy to slip on and off when on shopping trips for clothes. Avoid wearing dresses. I say this because if you want to try on a top, unless you bring in pants to try on as well, you won’t be able to walk around and check it out in the 3-way mirror. (The same can be said for pants — you’ll have to try on a top to check those out as well.) If it’s easy to slip in and out of your clothes to try things on, you’re more likely to do so.
Excellent suggestion, Theresa! You are SO right! I recently did wear a dress when shopping because I stopped by the mall after going to an event. I did have to bring extra items with me into the dressing room so that I could try on complete outfits. I have a friend who shops in dresses all the time, but I think my recent experience will be the first and last time I shop in a dress!
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