Outfit Post: My name is Elissa, and I am a changing room rageaholic

There are so many things that are great about shopping. Inhaling the sweet scent of leather in in the Fossil store? Great. Finding the perfect pair of wedges that make your feet simultaneously comfortable and stylish? Happy happy joy joy. Lounging at the MAC counter chatting with all the adorbz make-up artists in an attempt to figure out how on God's green earth one is supposed to wear Lady Gaga's lipstick which, I'm sorry, looks like foundation, and why would one make the CHOICE to slather foundation on their LIPS? That too is so, so great (if slightly mystifying. Apparently we are supposed to line our lips in magenta or fuchsia lip liner as an "interesting contrast." I have no desire to look like Krusty the Clown, so no thanx.)

There is one little itty bitty thing that I do not like about shopping. And that's trying things on. Just the thought of taking my clothes off makes me shake my tiny ineffectual fists into the air and shout WHY GOD, WHY????? I am not the most thoughtful person when planning a shopping excursion. I do not engage in sensible tactics like wearing dresses and other articles that are easily slip-off-able. No. I am the girl in a tank layered under a button-down which is layered under a cardigan that's layered over oppressively skinny jeans that are off course paired with tall boots and knee-high socks. I am that girl. Which, as a style blogger and fashion writer, is redonk.

I wear this suit of armor as a psychological tactic. See, I hate being nekkid, and I REALLY hate being nekkid in a dressing room. It's too small, and the lighting is horrid, and I am convinced trick funhouse mirrors are involved, and the door never seems to lock securely if there's a door at all, because sometimes there's just a filmy curtain separating me from the general public and I'm naked and what if some intrusive dressing room lady tries to come in and "help" and OM GOD BLOODTHIRSTY BARGAIN SHOPPING ZOMBIES COULD ATTACK ME AND HAVE I MENTIONED THAT I'M NAKED??? So I wear lots and lots of clothes as a way of psyching myself out of trying things on. See? I is a smart. Or not. Because inevitably when I get home and do try everything on I find that only 14% of what I purchased actually fits. Which means I have to go back to the store, and return stuff. /fail

So I was all together unsurprised when I learned from a survey that many women experience something called "changing room rage," wherein store fitting rooms leave them frustrated and cranky. You don't say.

Sky News reports that a survey found 48% of respondents felt frustration in fitting rooms, while 58% suffered disappointment. Half said they tried on clothes at home to avoid the problem, while 75% said they avoided trying them on at all. All of these are apparently symptoms of "changing room rage" or CRR, which can allegedly "lead to shoppers snapping at retail assistants, storming out of stores and even losing self-confidence."

It should be noted that this survey was conducted on behalf of isme.com, an online clothing company, so it seems obvious that they have a vested interest in attracting customers who do not like shopping in stores. And, call me crazy, but I don't see how it's possible that half the women tried clothes on at home, while three-quarters avoided trying on clothes AT ALL. That is the definition of a WTF, if you ask me. 

But still. Is it really that much of a shock that women hate dressing rooms? You wait in line for a long time to enter a tiny enclosed space with bad lighting, where you try on clothes that probably don't fit (either due to sizing inconsistency, or the narrow range of sizes many stores carry.) It's as if you have stepped into a dark netherworld dungeon where torture in the form of ill-fitting pants awaits you.

Personally, I found this survey kind of comforting, and a wave of solidarity washed over me after realizing I AM NOT ALONE. We rage-aholics really need to unite. Much like the suffragettes before us, we should be marching in picket lines, only this time demanding flattering lighting and comfy leather chairs for our friends to recline while we change and doors, doors that shut tightly and extend to the floor so no one can see our feet, and as long as we're asking for stuff a glass of chardonnay would be lovely too thanks for offering.

How do you feel about dressing rooms, and trying on before buying? Do you typically purchase things without trying them on first? Do you shop online as a way of avoiding stores and dressing rooms?

Forever 21 peasant blouse; Gap Outlet cargos; Mis Mooz wedges; thrifted vintage Coach satchel; Plato's Closet braided leather cuff; Dolly Python stamped leather cuff; World Market catholic saints bracelet; geode bracelet


  1. I consider it generally bad form and irresponsible to not try thing on. Just think of your carbon foot print: how much extra gas you consume if you have to drive back to the store to exchange items that don't fit :-(
    I do buy stuff on line, not to avoid fitting rooms but because I find cheaper and better things on line than I do in the stores.
    I hate small improperly lit dressing rooms with curtains that don't close properly. I only shop in stores where the dressing rooms are big (I men big!) with a chair, plenty of hooks and a door that locks. Happy, happy shopping experience :-)

  2. Love your blog, and you are not alone! Dressing room lighting is especially cruel, I think, and can be demoralizing to Women of a Certain Age! But the nicer the store, the more soothing the experience. When I shop at Ross, TJ Maxx, etc., I just grit my teeth, glance and go.

    Like Coffeeaddict, I do enjoy shopping online, for the variety, bargains, and solitude : >

    I just read an article in the NYT about men's stores in New York that serve COCKTAILS to the male shoppers. Harrumphh, I don't even get coffee at Anthropologie!

  3. Dressing Rooms save me a TON of money. What I mean by that is, I walk around a store and pick up all the things I love. Then I look at them and think, "Ok, I am NOT going to try on all this crap." And I proceed to put 98% back where I found it (neatly, so I don't make a mess for employees). And then I find the dressing room, and filled with dread, I make my way in and refuse to look anyone in the eye. I very quickly try on the items I'm carrying, and never once leave my little room - one teeny tiny mirror will do, I just need to know if it fits and basically looks ok. I pray to God that no one notices my unshaven pasty white legs in the Winter. I tend to leave my jeans on to try on tops and dresses, and then I put my shirt back on to try on jeans and pants. I must allow myself some comfort in the midst of misery, yes? Then I decide on the things I'm taking, and quickly excuse myself and duck out for some fresh air. Finally, the world is upright again.

    Yes, I, like you, am a Fitting Room Fail Shopper. It's much more fun to skip that whole thing, go home, and hope that I can figure out a way to make the clothes fit and mix/remix. This also might be why almost my whole wardrobe is from the same store, since I know what sizes fit me and my personal shape.....

  4. I pretty much never try clothes on. But for a completely different reason than those you mentioned. I hate the way my clothes feel when I put them back on. They get stretched out or my make-up gets on them and then I am pretty much t-oed. But I also rarely ever return things. So I guess it works out.

  5. I almost never try things on in stores. I'd much rather try them on at home and take them back if they don't work. Or, in the case of a no-returns thrift store, just pass them on to someone else or re-donate.

  6. Chardonnay? In the dressing room? BRILLIANT!! Tipsy makes me want to spend more! I always get so nervous when I think that there is a thin piece of wood (or fabric) between the world and my nakedness! ooooooo it makes me cringe! Loved this post! ~Serene

  7. Pzants/skirts/bottoms in general are a must-try-on for me and big booty. Tops I can sometimes pass on trying them on first. I hate dressing rooms because I get too hot trying stuff on -- like can I get some A/C in there?!

  8. I hate dressing rooms, but they are a necessary evil. Otherwise I have a house full of stuff that doens't fit and I am too lazy to return. I should know, b/c I already have 1/2 house full of stuff that doesn't fit and I am too lazy to return because I didn't feel like trying them on. sigh.

  9. Rose- you are too cute. I did that the other day. Wore pants and hadn't shaved but found myself trying on clothes in the dressing room hoping noone noticed. ;)

    Elissa my sweet, thanks for another funny and well written post.

  10. I am one of those who HATE dressing rooms. Not too long ago I would avoid shopping for clothes simply because I didn't want to have to deal with trying stuff on. This meant that my wardrobe was severely outdated and lacking. So I sucked it up and went shopping. I left so many stores in such a rage simply because I hated trying stuff on. I hate being naked as well (I avoid it at all costs) so I would layer on the clothes as much as I could. Yeah, as you said, this is terrible for trying clothes on. Somewhere along the line I learned the tip of dressing in comfortable and easy to remove clothes. It has made shopping a bit more enjoyable, a bit less rage filled, and less exhausting. But man, I still hate dressing rooms and trying on clothes. I want to be able to instantly look at something and know if it will fit or not.

  11. I have to make myself try things on...and then I know that I REALLY want it if it still looks as good on as it did on the hangar / in my mind.

  12. Of course it was legacy.... you do know your shopping places. :)


  13. I [almost] always try everything on before I buy. I just have to. I don't dress for easy undressing, either, and it's not always fun (why don't they ever provide enough hooks for the clothes you're going to try on AND the clothes you're wearing?), but I see it as a necessity before a purchase. No rage here.

  14. I like to try stuff on before buying but I try to make the most of my fitting room time. I try on things that I am contemplating buying now or in the future (once they go on sale). It saves me time in the long run.

    I also get frustrated in the dressing room though. If something looks bad or doesn't fit I try hard not to internalize it and blame the clothes, rather than the body.

    I love your coach bag, btw! Coach is re-releasing some similar classic styles for sale (at a hefty price) on Net-a-Porter. Personally I am going to keep hunting for them on Ebay since the originals were made in the US.

  15. I've thought about this as well, and if there's one thing that really bugs me about dressing rooms it's the mirrors. If I was a retailer, I would buy skinny mirrors for every room. Warped, rippled, distorted mirrors make me feel fat, thus discouraging my desire to buy a miniskirt or crop top. This goes double for bathing suit retailers. I also propose better lighting and more temperate AC settings. If I'm sweating I'm not having fun.

    Great post. I love your writing voice.

  16. I never try things on in a store, even when I'm dressed simply and it all goes back to the lighting. Ugh.

  17. I do both, but I've made peace that the dressing room is where I look ugliest. It's a harsh thing to call myself but it's true. The lighting is bad, the space is cramped, and God help me if there's really loud THUMP-THUMP-THUMP with the incessant sing-song of "how's it going on in there?" when I want to yell "why won't it fit around my butt? I'm shaped like a girl, A GIRL!" while I'm hungry.

    So, I have a time limit. The minute I feel like I'm about to become my lesser best self, I'm out. It's the universally kinder move.

    Oh, and I only shop where I can return:)
    xo, f
    The House in the Clouds

  18. This is so funny, Elissa! It all depends, for me, on the particular store I'm shopping in as to whether I love or loathe the whole experience. At my favorite WAY high priced boutique (think racks of artfully displayed Rebecca Taylor, Trina Turk, Ali Ro, Velvet and Testament t-shirts, Tolani scarves, stacks of designer denim, jewlery cases full of Chan Luu and Alexis Bittar, etc...GOOD stuff!) I love trying things on. The dressing rooms are beautiful, the lighting is perfect, I'm a regular, lol, and I spend a vast amount of my recreational cash in there every year. I'm embarrased to admit that I am a *platinum elite* status shopper there...don't even ask!! So, I love those dressing rooms.

    However, at somewhere like TJ Maxx, for instance, while I love scanning the racks for that elusive Vince, Joie, or Autumn Cashmere piece, the whole icky sterile dressing room thing there is NO fun. The good thing is that places like that have very liberal return policies and don't bat an eyelid if you need to return something, so...sometimes I try on before buying, and sometimes, I take a chance. I'm pretty good at glancing at something and knowing pretty much whether it will be flattering on me and is it is my style, so all is good. :-) Sorry for writing a chapter, yikes! And, before I forget! I love those wedges with your outfit in this post...a great, almost Frye boot cognac color!


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