8 Things to Do When You Try on Clothes
Follow this advice in the dressing room and you won’t leave the store with buyer’s remorse
By Alina Dizik
Who hasn’t bought clothes that end up hanging untouched in the closet? Even if the clothing fit well when you tried it on, some surprising factors may have led to your shopping regret. Deliberating your purchase in the dressing room rather than rushing to the cash register will help you “invest in long-lasting pieces that you’ll pull out of your closet again and again,” says Colin Megaro, a Los Angeles–based celebrity stylist. What exactly should you consider? Do these eight things in the dressing room and you’ll wind up with a wardrobe you love.
1. Read the care instructions.
Ask yourself: “Does the garment require special care—hand-wash or dry-clean only—and am I willing to follow these instructions?” advises Carol Davidson, founder of StyleWorks, an image consulting company in New York City. And don’t forget to factor in the cost and hassle of dry-cleaning or hand-washing before you buy. Laundering a dry-clean-only shirt can cost $30 a year. If you still want it after considering that, it’s a sure sign you should buy it.
2. Conduct a wrinkle test.
To make sure the fabric wears well all day long, Davidson suggests you “scrunch it in your hand and hold for a few seconds. If it’s wrinkle-free after releasing the fabric, it isn’t likely to be wrinkled at the end of a day of wear,” she says. If the item is wrinkled in your hand—or on the hanger—you may want to skip this purchase.
3. Try it on as an outfit.
“Some women will try on a fancy top with the jeans they wore running out the house. This makes it difficult to judge the true look of the item,” says Dawn Del Russo, a fashion and lifestyle stylist in New York City. “Instead, try on the piece with shoes and the appropriate bottoms or top,” she recommends. If there’s an item you’re eyeing, take key pieces to the dressing room that complete the look, or ask a salesperson to assemble an outfit from other items in the store. Some dressing rooms already have heels on hand to help you evaluate dressier pieces.
4. Do a mental run-through of your closet.
Many of us stick to styles and colors we already own. Think about whether you’d be doubling up if you bought the piece you’re trying on. Also, make sure your upcoming purchase can be integrated into your existing wardrobe. “New clothes should coordinate with and be mixed and matched with what you already own,” says Melagro. Take a peek in your closet before you shop, so its contents are fresh in your mind.
5. Get a rear view.
No matter how you pose in front of the dressing-room mirror, it’ll take extra effort to see your backside, says Stephanie Poli, a fashion blogger and TV editor. But it’s worth it. Get an accurate glimpse in a three-way mirror whenever possible. Or take out your makeup compact, turn around with your back to the dressing-room mirror and use your little mirror to check your reflection. If you have time, get an even better grasp on all-around fit by trying on two sizes of the same item.
6. Seek out natural lighting and mirrors.
Dressing-room lighting can change how you think the clothes look on you. “Super-bright lights can make you look washed-out,” says Del Russo. “But in too-dim lighting, you won’t notice if a top is sheer.” Tilted mirrors can also be misleading, elongating your figure and making you think the clothes are slimming. Find mirrors that are flat against the wall to get an accurate reflection. And beware of this sneaky store trick: Some disguise leaning mirrors with a thick frame, so they look like they’re flush against the wall when they’re actually tilted. In that case, step out of the dressing room for a fair assessment.
7. Move around.
Simply posing in front of the dressing-room mirror isn’t enough to get a feel for fit. Instead, “sit, bend over and stand on your tip-toes if you’re wearing flats,” says Poli. “Getting the full range of fit, length and comfort will alert you to certain surprise factors,” like a button that digs into your stomach or a jacket that restricts your arms. Sitting in pants and skirts is especially crucial because something that fits you standing up can suddenly seem too tight when you’re sitting down. And if you’re wearing the item to a party, dancing in it is a good idea—you may want to stay out of sight of fellow shoppers, though.
8. Check the details.
You may know to test zippers and check that all buttons are in place and there are no loose threads. But you should also see if there’s enough additional fabric to make alterations. “A few simple changes can make almost any piece of clothing look perfect for your body,” says Megaro—and add longevity to your purchase too. So turn the garment inside out and look for at least one centimeter of extra fabric at the seams.