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True Confessions: I’ve Ditched The Dressing Room

True confession: I’ve ditched the dressing room. I never try clothes on in the store. It makes me hot. I get sweaty. And to be totally honest — I don’t trust the *skinny* mirrors angled just so slightly for their lengthening effect. Am I supposed to believe that my legs are that long? Really?

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My dressing room aversion started young. My mom was a Loehmann’s lady. Consequently, my budding set of eyes witnessed way too much indiscretion. In other words, whatever happened in the communal dressing room should have stayed in there! Women coveted each others designer steals while a barrage of bare bums glared back in the mirror’s reflection. The pressure to hurry up and get out rumbled underneath the breath of each dressing room attendant, not to mention the impatient onlookers waiting in line. Everything was hanging out in the open. Not an ounce of privacy to be found! Trust me — it wasn’t anything a prepubescent should have experienced.

Nonetheless, I was able to develop a personal style that has served me well in my own world of shopping. I discovered my favorite spots. I looped in on secret sales. And I always had fun browsing for my next best ensemble. Until I hit the dressing room. Why is it that wherever there’s a reasonably priced wrap dress, there’s a dressing room line comparable to the Serengeti?

So I stopped trying stuff on.

It’s actually quite productive. By ditching the dressing room, I’ve got extra time to peruse the racks for potential purchases (and bottom-of-the-bin bargains!) At home, my try-on session is complete with an honest mirror, no pressure from others and a thermostat comfortably set to 68 degrees. It’s extremely satisfying as I determine which pieces are keepers in the convenience of my own home. Once I’ve made my selects I know that each item, well vetted, has rightfully earned its place in my closet.

Here’s what to know before ditching the dressing room!

1. The store return policy. This is a biggie. Always know what will happen when you come back to return. Most chains are flexible, and have at least 30 days for a refund. The smaller boutiques may offer store credit, if that. I only shop at returnable places. I refuse to get stuck with a potato sack mesh tee that seemingly spoke sweet nothings in the store, but shouted ugly somethings at home!

2. Your body type and its complementary silhouettes. I’m petite. As much as I love a deeply pleated maxi skirt on the hanger, I know it’ll never look good on me. Not in the dressing room. Not at home. Nowhere. I’ve got to leave it on the rack so a long-limbed lass can grab it. Same goes for a high-cut crew neck top. Leave it be. Learn what flatters.

3. Your colors. Back in junior high I became mildly obsessed with Color Me Beautiful, Carole Jackson’s definitive guide on which hues suit specific types. Broken down into seasons, each person is categorized based on complexion, hair color and eyes. I am an autumn. My moment with amber contact lenses? Still an autumn. Each season is usually a life-long trait. So despite my adoration for a dewy pale pink — it looks absolutely awful on me! Any piece of clothing I buy must fit into my color wheel.

4. Your personal style. I admit it. I get caught up with trends that look awesome on the runway, but are somewhat inappropriate for my way of life. Don’t worry, I’m not referring to the drop crotch pant! But I have succumbed to a neon yellow high-low hem dress. It stopped me on my path (for just a minute) to encourage a mini drool session. Reality check – I do neon for a POP of color. Not as THE color! (It’s not on my color wheel.) And my high-low hem days are long gone. I’m not even sure they ever began. When I stick with my style, all ends well.

5. You’ll get a second chance. Let’s face it, not every purchase will be a winner. When I bring home four items, I may keep two. Oft-times it’s just one. Sometimes, nothing. But I know I’ll be back to the store for a return. This means there’s an opportunity for a re-shop. A second chance to stumble upon my latest must-have. And who knows? It may have gone on sale!

Would you do it? Would you ditch the dressing room?

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Meira E. Schneider-Atik

Thursday 27th of September 2012

Elysha, I applaud you for doing that. If it works for you, it works. But it wouldn't work for me. I don't shop very often (I'm on too tight a budget), so I have to try things on and avoid having to return things. But I think that knowing what flatters you and suits your style are both good things that can serve you well in and out of the dressing room.

Haute Chick

Tuesday 25th of September 2012

WOW...........that's sounds like A LOT of work!!  NO - I would NOT give up the dressing room.  Who has time to constantly return items to stores......when you have the option to TRY on clothing?!!  And, considering the fact that some stores are "tracking" customer’s returns.  I’m curious about how do you deal with the sizing issue when women are different sizes in different stores/designers.  Yes, I agree that the communal "dressing room" at Loehmann's leaves something to be desired, but it shouldn't mean swearing off ALL dressing rooms.  (I hope this has nothing to do with "body issues.")  I can’t imagine NOT going back to the dressing room with my girlfriends, trying the clothes on and showing them off to each other. It helps to have another set of eyes to offer advice and suggestions.  In fact, I've tried on outfits that I never thought would look good on me based on the suggestion of a girlfriend.  I would not want to miss out on that for the world!!

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