Let me know if this situation sounds familiar. You’re shopping and you are becoming really upset, self conscious, frustrated, and defeated trying to find things that fit you. Tears may or may not happen. You end up leaving the store having purchased absolutely nothing, or maybe a pair of sweats because they’re “all that fit you right now.” So, does it sound familiar? I used to think that situations like these only happened on What Not to Wear, and were completely staged. Well, that was until I had my fair share of moments like that myself, and after 6 years of retail management, I saw many others having the same issues. It’s never fun nor easy to admit things aren’t fitting you the way you want, or you can’t seem to find what you were looking for. So I am here to offer the best advice I can, and hopefully help ease the process of shopping (trust me, I have my fair share of meltdowns when shopping).
First, try to not be too specific when shopping. It’s okay to go in saying that you need a new pair of jeans. It gets trickier when you want a light wash denim, but not too light, with distressing, but not too much distressing, and must hit 3 inches above the ankle. That might be a bit of an extreme example (though I’ve had some pretty similar examples to this from over the years), but you get the point. You have to be open to trying on different washes, fits, etc. The only time that this rule of thumb won’t really work is for situations like bridesmaid dresses, certain work situations, etc. You have to go in to any store with an open mind. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help from employees. Any decent retail employee will have insight to how each garment will fit, or offer other alternatives that you might not have considered.
Second, please don’t get too hung up on size. As someone who has struggled with this many times myself, I can’t stress this one enough. I can tell you the typical pep talk routine, that size is just a number (which is 1000% true but still can be annoying hearing it all of the time), but I’m going to go a bit further. As much as I would love for size to be a universal standard, it just isn’t. From brand to brand size can change. Heck, within a single brand size can be different. Materials can change which size of something you need to buy (anything that has 2% spandex or more will stretch for example), different cuts, and other factors will determine which size a person should be buying. Just be open, and don’t be afraid to go up or down a size. Sometimes going up a size can actually be more flattering, not just sizing down. Also, keep in mind each store’s target market. When I managed Hollister (dark time in my life that I don’t like to talk about much), I would see adults complaining about the fit. Yes things in that store run small, that’s because the target market of that brand is middle school to early high school. I would sure hope full grown adults don’t fit into the smallest sizes simply because it’s meant for a 12 year old.
Third, go shopping with someone you trust. You want someone who will give you an honest opinion but can also be gentle with their opinion. If you don’t have someone, ask an employee you trust. I hate to say it but I would never trust an H&M employee to help me in this department, but other stores absolutely!!! J. Crew, Banana Republic, Anthropologie, Ann Taylor, Nordstrom, etc will have great employees to help you. Afraid that they are on commission so they are just saying whatever you want to hear to make the sale? Think again. If you end up returning the item, they lose the sale. And many stores don’t work on commission. So be a bit more trusting with a honest opinion.
Fourth, reach out for help. One of my favorite things about using Trunk Club is knowing that I have a personal shopper/stylist on the other end. Bridget (my stylist) and I have talked multiple times about what styles I like, what I am looking for, and any special requirements that I might have. So now that I am married and wear the LDS Garment, I need bottoms that are at least to my knee and tops that have a minimum of a cap sleeve. It is nice being able to tell her these things and she keeps them in mind as she shops for me. I also can send her pictures of outfit ideas that I like and she can keep her eyes out for them. She has the ability to shop for me and alleviate any stress that could be caused.
At the end of the day, shopping shouldn’t be causing you stress. If you are getting overwhelmed take a break if you can. Go get lunch, go home, do what you need to in order to get your mind off of it for a bit. Don’t let something as silly as clothes ruin your day or your self image.