Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fitting Room Etiquette

I hate shopping for clothes. Unless you have the body of a Barbie doll, nothing ever seems to fit the way that you imagine it will. I am reminded of the Cathy cartoons, when Cathy goes through her seasonal ritual of trying on swimsuits. It's always an experience fraught with misery.

Of course the agony is compounded when you are forced to interract with others.

I was once in a typical fitting room. You know the kind that I mean: The doors look as if they're the entry to an old Western saloon. You expect to see Sheriff Marshall Dillon come striding in at any moment.

Now, that kind of fitting room always makes me nervous. There's barely enough coverage (if you aren't too tall) to conceal your private parts, but there's always a large expanse of knees and thighs and you can be seen from your shoulders on up. It's uncomfortably easy to make eye contact with others while you're naked as a mole-rat and the only thing standing between you is a set of saloon doors.

As if that wasn't enough to induce hysteria, the stalls on either side stopped at roughly 18 inches from the ground, so there was never any sense of true privacy. If you put your purse down at the floor level, someone could reach over and grab it while you were stark naked and take off with it. I suspect that most women would let a thief take their purse if it meant streaking madly after the thief.

I was wearing nothing but a bra and a set of T-back panties. I had one foot near my purse so that I knew where it was at all times while I struggled into an outfit. At this point, I could have auditioned for the Cirque du Soleil. I had just got the outfit adjusted, when I looked down to see a snotty-nosed boy of about 5 years of age peering up at me from the stall next door.

I gaped at the boy, as he stared solemnly up at me, picking his nose. I made a shooing motion, but he continued to stare. "Go away!" I hissed. He vanished.

I turned around to the mirror to see how I looked, when the kid appeared again, this time from under the saloon doors. "Will SOMEbody get this kid?!" I hollered. "We've got a Peeping Tom here!" I heard his mother call to him, and he disappeared. She called out an apology that I responded to with a grunt, as I was busy being a contortionist once more. What kind of a mother lets her kid run about like that? And... what is he doing now? Peeping in his neighbor's windows at night?

Other fitting room nastiness abounds: Women who try on underwear and swimsuits WITHOUT wearing their own underwear beneath. I've seen sales associates throwing away these items when they've become smeared with bodily fluids. Because I've seen that, I will NEVER buy such a garment and wear it without having washed it first! I always get a chuckle out of the pieces that have a little insert that reads "For Your Protection". The belief is that when you buy the item, you can peel off the little insert and it's ready to wear. Has no one heard of pubic lice?! The whole thing makes me shudder.

And what about the stalls that are missing locks? If you don't have a buddy system, you are left trying to hold the door closed with one hand while you wiggle about helplessly. And if let go even for a moment, you KNOW that someone will burst in on you. And what about that? If someone bursts in on you, will they apologize? Or will they merely go on their way, leaving you spluttering in indignation?

It has grown to a point that I would rather buy a piece of clothing and try it on in the comfort and privacy of my own home. If I must return it later, then so be it. It's still better than going through the agony of the Fitting Room Experience.

P.S. One of my articles is featured on the cover of Helium today (near the bottom of the page). This is a true honor, indeed.


Ed Abbey said...

I've done what you said in the last paragraph all my life. I buy it, take it home and on the occasion it doesn't fit, simply return it the next time I'm in town. Lately, I just check the tag and buy a like model on the internet and have it delivered to my door, guaranteed to never have been tried on before.

The Lazy Iguana said...

I think they make fitting rooms like that cause of theft. If you are invisible behind a door, you can steal stuff.

Mens fitting rooms are sometimes like this, and sometimes not. But who needs those anyway. I know my size, so I do not have to try on a lot of crap.

And as for swimsuits, just take an old pair of jeans and cut off the legs. BAM! Instant swimsuit. Or sew the crotch on a pair of boxer shorts shut. BAM! Instant swimsuit. No problem.

Yea. I got hairy legs. So what of it? When a double standard is in your favor, you never argue with it.

By the way, check out my animated flash thing in response to yesterday's subject.

Hans said...

Reason #984 why you'll never hear me complaining about being a guy. No need to try on clothes.

1 - Guys clothing generally comes in fewer sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL or head to the big boys store. Not size 0 to infinity. Less choices mean less chance to blow it.

2 - We generally know our sizes. The only real concern would be pant sizes where we are required to know both our waist and inseam but that is a sliding scale. I can still where the 32" waist that I wore in high school if I want to buckle them just above my knees. In which case I would need a shorter inseam.

3 - Trying on clothing in the dressing room doesn't really give you the full effect. We need to do at least a day in the shirt or pants to see how they feel over the course of the day. Kind of the same thing as buying a new couch by sitting on it in the show room. We need a full day on the couch, perhaps watching the NCAA Tournament or something. To really fully appreciate the comfort. Once we find a brand that works for the full day you stick to it. At which point we just replentish the stock once it's worn out.

4 - Trying on underwear or a bathing suit. Please.

Matt said...

I absolutely hate shopping, especially sans girlfriend. Sometimes, it's BYO Sales Associate.

Miss Cellania said...

Yeah, I've had some experiences, too. You don't think about telling your kids beforehand NOT to open the fitting room door while I'm undressed!! I was upset enough that this never happened again, BUT that one time was in a one-person fitting room that opened up directly to the entire sales floor.

Yes, I had locked it. But my toddler already knew how to unlock a door in a flash.

Paul said...

Hi, I guess you know that this was big news this morning. Now if we can get Gov. Perry to wash his mouth out with soap...

"After weeks of speculation and pressure, Merck & Co. has announced that it will no longer lobby states to make its HPV vaccine Gardasil mandatory for school attendance. A cloud of concern has followed the company since word broke that it was donating money to targeted lawmakers in hopes that they would help pass vaccine mandates for Gardasil in their states... especially since Merck stood to make a substantial profit from its legislative campaign..."

Senor Caiman said...


Do you really think that I won't give you a noogy? That wasn't funny.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Well you get a D or F in exhibitionism. THat kid was really a dwarf (small person) with a kid mask and you probably will show up on UTube.

Emma Sometimes said...

You know I just looked up your blog to get your email to invite you to write at Helium. NO JOKE.

Meow said...

I hate changing rooms with a passion. I won't try on clothes anymore, I'd rather buy something, take it home, try it on, and return it if I have to. Much preferable to the torture you just described !!! The light in those fitting rooms is always really bad, too, and I reckon the mirrors are distorted !!! (Oh, maybe that's just me !!!)
Take care, Meow

jsull28fl@yaho said...

i have been compared to Marshall Dillion actually, not my look but my attatude and gait. WHat is a mole-rat?
I dont do try on and i dont do shop either but when i went before with my bride there were signs that said no trying on panties/bathing suits?!
i mean if u have to try ur drawers on isnt there something wrong?