One of the hazards of shopping for any new personal clothing item is the dreaded fitting room experience. I know some Real Women who flatly refuse to try anything on at the store. They would rather just buy the item, try it on in the comfort of their own home, and return it if it doesn’t fit. I appreciate that, but that is not me. The potential of having to drive back to the store for a very likely return is even more annoying to me than the ordeal of trying it on in the fitting room in the first place.
As a general rule, fitting rooms have unforgiving lighting and lots of mirrors. And I swear they run at least 30 degrees warmer than the rest of the store. Often when I’m clothing shopping, I’m not looking my best. My hair is haphazardly thrown up in a pony tail, any semblance of make-up is gone, and I’m wearing ugly socks or flats. I should know better, and plan ahead to look much better – but such is life. Odds are also good I’m feeling bloated. So there I am, trying on some sort of clothing item and frequently the result in the mirror is not the best. It helps to take a willing accomplice BFF so horror can turn to humor. This is also helpful when you invariably get “stuck” in some sort of outfit and begin to panic that will you not only have to buy it, but will have to leave the dressing room with it half on and half off, with your head and arms sticking out at odd angles while you sweat to death.
But I digress.
One of the most horrifying personal shopping experiences, one that we all put off until the last minute, and one that really does require going into the dreaded fitting room, is shopping for bras. (For any men reading this – I apologize for the images I am about to put into your head – because as much as you’d love to think this was a very sexy experience, it is generally the direct opposite.)
Very few of us really and truly accurately know our size. It is a guessing game at best. We start with whatever we’ve been wearing, which by the way probably hasn’t been fitting right in the first place, and go from there. Even if we do know our size, it still varies by brand, style, etc. not to mention any recent weight gains or losses, body changes, you name it.
One of my BFF’s was brave enough to share with me her shopping experience recently. And she very aptly described the kind of ongoing monologue she was having with herself in the dressing room. It went something like this:
“Maybe it’s too big. No, maybe it’s too small. I should have brought eight sizes in here. Why does it gap there? That’s going to show through all my shirts. Are the girls too high? Too low? Maybe it’s the wrong brand. No, just the wrong style. Maybe I just have to adjust the straps again. I tried this on four times and every time it fits differently. I really don’t like this color. But why do I care, no one but me sees the color! Well, not entirely true, my husband would really like this color. Geez, I hate taking my clothes on and off this many times. Why didn’t I wear a shirt that’s easier to get on and off? Oh wait, this one’s buy-one-get-one-half-off so now I have to start all over again to find another. I know they won’t have my size in anything I like. Can’t I just put them all back and go home? But then I’ll just have to come back and do this again another time, so buck up, girl, and get it done!”
I’m not sure it gets any better if you go to one of those stores where the ever-so-perky 20-something offers to help you by measuring, suggesting styles, etc. I had that happen to me in the not too distant past, and she was trying hard to be helpful. But all it really did was make me realize that my size changed based on style (I need a bigger size for that push-up version, or else my “stuff” protrudes out the side, or I experienced gaps in odd places), which made it even more frustrating. And when I told her what style I had at home and wanted more, of course she had to tell me “we don’t make that particular style anymore, but this one is close….”
So in the end, when our patience is gone, we buy what we think comes closest to meeting our needs and seems fairly comfortable, with the rather desperate hope that whatever we take home will suffice well enough that we won’t have to come back to visit the Little Room of Horrors anytime soon.
Happy shopping, and good luck.