Why is it, that just when we think we are feeling pretty confident about ourselves and our bodies, it all goes out the window when we step into a store’s dressing room? Those florescent lights highlighting every blemish and flaw. That annoying 20 something sales girl asking if you need another size. That woman next to you chatting on her cell phone about her latest gel manicure. And why does everything seem to be two sizes too small all of a sudden? What was supposed to be a relaxing shopping trip ends up being a living hell and you’re a prisoner in a 4×10 cell.
What is it about fitting rooms that scares us so much? Perhaps it has something to do with that fact that we are alone in a room – naked – with only those glaring lights and a mirror to keep us company. It’s the ideal place for all of our insecurities to breed. Or maybe it’s simply that we don’t know how to shop for our body types. We spend time selecting articles of clothing only to find them rejected on the fitting room floor.
With my many years as a Personal Shopper, I have seen my fair share of dressing room meltdowns and successes. I have included a list of my five tried and true ways to banish those self destructive thoughts and go into (and come out of) any dressing room with confidence.
1. Think positive. Ok, ok. I know what you’re thinking. I really hope she’s not going to tell me to chant or say hundreds of affirmations to myself. Believe me, you’ve got the wrong girl. However, there is something to be said about this positive thinking thing, especially when it comes to your body image. Your brain works much like a computer and can actually be trained to hold new information. It has been said that “whatever the mind expects, it finds”. When you catch yourself thinking negative or unfair thoughts about your body or size, correct yourself with a positive truth. This truth can be something simple such as “my body is healthy and strong” to something a little more clever like, “I have a fabulous rear-end”.
2. Make like a Girl Scout and utilize The Buddy System. You don’t have time to feel bad about yourself when you are on a girls shopping trip. You’re too busy swapping dresses and laughing about the latest issue of People magazine to worry about your cellulite. You also get the benefit of a truly honest opinion of how you look. A (true) friend will always tell you the truth, but will never put you down. They also may coax you into trying things that you never may have by yourself.
3. Remember that it’s just a number. You may be convinced that you’re a size 6 and refuse to try on anything else. While this may seem like a good way to keep you in the gym, it’s no way to shop. Different clothing brands have different cuts and fit everyone in a different way. One companies’ size 6 is another companies’ size 2. That’s why you simply cannot get hung up on a number. Try on multiple sizes of the same garment until you find the one that fits you. Sometimes that will mean going up a size, while other times you may go down a size.
4. Cheat the system. This next tip is going to annoy all of my dear friends in the retail world, but I think it must be said. Always look at the return policy of your favorite stores so that you can try the clothing in the comfort of your own home. Most stores offer a 30 day return/exchange policy as long as the pieces have not been worn. This means you skip the hassle of the obnoxious sales girl and harsh lighting altogether. You can also easily see what will work with what you already own. Please use this tip wisely and never wear the clothes before returning them. That’s just tacky.
5. Hire a pro. This is what I do for a living. I shop. I help women just like you navigate the fitting room madness and guide them to the right options. I have been on many a shopping trip with clients who are convinced they are doomed to never finding a pair of jeans that fit or to wearing black for the rest of their lives. I not only serve as a new set of eyes, but also offer new ideas that will bring their wardrobes to life. I can also bring options to your home and save youthe time of even going to the mall. Now that’s what I call shopping.
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