Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ditch the Dressing Room Stress

I am 100% guilty of going into full on meltdown mode in a dressing room. Nothing is more stressful than harsh lighting, a mirror that highlights every flaw and a tiny room hardly big enough for breathing, let alone trying on clothes. It's even more of a nightmare if you're shopping with purpose, ie you need to find an outfit for that dinner tomorrow night

Recently, these awful experiences have become fewer and further between for me, because after years of making the same mistakes over and over, I finally started to get serious about having consistent dressing room success.  
"Care to share your tips?" you may ask. -- Obviously! Who doesn't love sharing secrets?

Your Guide to a No Stress Dressing Room

Pre-Dressing Room

The most important thing I've learned is that preparation. is. everything. You must prepare for a serious shopping excursion the same way you would prepare for anything important. That means wear and pack the right things, and get into the right mindset. Here's the personal guide I use before heading to my fave stores:

What to wear:

- A comfortable, classic, outfit that you love
Getting dressed and undressed again and again is easier when you love what you're wearing. Keep it simple and neutral. Something easy to take on and off and something that won't be distracting (ie if you need to keep on your top while you try on jeans!)

- Slip on shoes
Wearing shoes that you have to constantly tie or unzip when you're trying on clothes makes for a less than fun experience. Minimal effort makes your life easier and everything more enjoyable.

- Nude colored undergarments
Maybe leave your bright pink bra at home. Basically you never want to be stuck trying to "imagine this but with a neutral bra." The less envisioning you have to do, the easier it will be to make smart decisions and find pieces you love. 

What not to wear:

- A dress
This will get so annoying when you want to try on only pants or a top. You'll constantly have to remember to bring in a piece "just to try on with," and nobody wants that. 

- Lots of jewelry
You don't want earrings catching on sweaters or a statement necklace looking weird with a neckline. Minimal jewelry is your dressing room BFF.  

What to pack:

- A strapless bra
You never know what you're going to try on. Remember: the less imagining you have to do the 

- Socks
If you're not wearing socks with those slip on shoes I mentioned earlier, throw a pair in your bag. You'll need them for trying on sneakers or boots, and the last thing you want to do is have to buy a pack. 

 - Spanx/ tights/ any shape wear
If you know you're shopping for an occasion where you'll be wearing shape wear, pack it! You don't want to be in a situation where you're thinking "but this will look better once I have [blank] on." Having whatever it may be in your bag will help you get the full effect before you purchase.  

- A small makeup bag
Dressing room lighting is the work of the devil, and if you find yourself always staring at your face an inch from the dressing room mirror, take a step back and a deep breath. This is what you packed your mini makeup bag for! Some essentials you should always have? tweezers, concealer, lipstick, and mini hairspray. 

- Water and a snack
Dressing rooms can be hot and trying on clothes is exhausting. Bring a water bottle and a snack for when you're hangry, dehydrated and just need a minute to relax. 

What to Avoid (if you can):

- Last minute shopping:
I know it's easy to procrastinate shopping for a specific event, but of course, the earlier you start looking, the less stressful it will be. 

- Shopping near closing time:
No one likes a time crunch. Trust me, the vibe in a store close to closing time is not conducive to success. You want to be able to take your time. Plus, salespeople aren't going to be at the top of their game while they're thinking about heading home in a half hour to binge watch Orange is the New Black.  

Extra tips:

- Wear your hair and makeup just how you like it
You want to feel good about yourself while you're shopping! For me, that's hard to do if my hair is a mess and I don't like my makeup. I've said it already and I'll say it again: you don't want to have to use your imagination in a dressing room. You want to look as close to how you want to look when you wear your new clothes in real life, and in my vision, my hair is not a hot mess. Be sure to leave yourself enough time for hair and makeup before heading out. 

- Dress for the indoors, not the outdoors
This is harder to do now that I'm shopping in the city, but it's useful if your go-to is a mall. Basically, this means leave your coat in the car. It's something extra you don't need to be carrying around, and if you're like me, having to wear it will get hot and annoying pretty fast. 

Mid-Dressing Room

What to bring in: 

- Multiple sizes
There is nothing wrong with bringing in a piece in your size, the size above, two sizes above, and the size below. "small," "medium," and "large" mean a thousand things in a thousand different stores. Translation: they're meaningless. Until you're familiar with sizing at your fave store, try them all and remember: don't focus on the tag, focus on the fit. 

- What you know works
Back when "peplum" was a big thing, I loved it. The issue was, it was not at all the right style for my body type. Every peplum top I tried on was unflattering, and yet I continued to bring them into the dressing room, until I finally had an epiphany: I can't wear peplum. When I finally stopped dragging them into the dressing room, my trying on experiences were more positive overall. It's possible to both appreciate a style while also knowing it's not for you! The more you know about how to dress for your body, the more successful shopping trips you'll have. 

- A friend (sometimes)
There is nothing like the brutally honest opinion of a friend. Often we're our own harshest critics, which is why we sometimes need a good friend to tell us what looks amazing and what we should just "eww take off right now." It's helpful to have a sounding board, even if it's just you sending your mom mirror pics (that's my go to for sure). 

On the flip side, know yourself. If having a friend there stresses you out, fly solo and trust your own opinion. Don't be afraid to ask a salesperson either, I can tell you from working retail that often they'll give you a truthful unbiased opinion.  

What to think:

- Taking your time is A-Ok
Even if you had to wait in line to get in a dressing room, it's ok to relax and take your time. Try on what you want, ask for help, and really think about each piece. There's no prize for checking out first. 

- "The perfect fit" in a dressing room is not a thing. 
Do you know why celebrities always look so good? tailoring. They tailor their clothes to fit their bodies, and it makes a HUGE difference. The best part? Tailoring isn't just for Taylor Swift and Chrissy Teigen. There's nothing stopping you from taking your new clothes to the tailor for a custom fit. It can be totally affordable and sooo worth it. My mom is all big proponent of tailoring important pieces. Her closet classics always look so great because they fit perfectly (and pssst here's a secret: they weren't quite that way in the dressing room) 

- Love it or leave it
At the end of the day, here is my best piece of advice: If you don't absolutely love it in the dressing room, you will never love it when you get home. Don't buy anything thinking, "maybe it'll stretch" or "maybe it'll shrink in the wash." That is a recipe for disaster and if you don't believe me, think about your favorite clothes and how you felt about them in the dressing room. I can tell you that all of my favorites are pieces I loved right away. They're classics, not trends, and no one had to talk me into making the purchase. 

- It's ok if today isn't your day
Shopping is supposed to be fun, so it's ok to call it a day if you're just not feeling it. If you're sensing yourself getting aggravated or upset, put down the hangers and go grab a latte. Tomorrow's a new day. 

Side Note: If you absolutely need something that day, take a quick break to regroup and then come back with your head in the game. Don't be afraid to ask for help, and when in doubt, opt for a classic piece. You can't go wrong. 

And there you have it. My 22 years of accumulated dressing room wisdom. 
I'm impressed if you've made it this far, and I can only hope this guide (developed from many stressful shopping trips) can help you have your most successful shopping trip yet! 

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