How many times have you been stood in the Topshop changing rooms, eyes pricked with tears?

For despite dragging armfuls of clothes into a stuffy cubicle, wriggling in and out of the same jumper for 20 minutes yet never finding that rogue armhole and trying every shape and fit in the place – just to feed the notion I have coined “angst buying” – nothing works out. Eventually, confidence falls to a new low, drops of frustration trickle down your cheeks and you buy the pretty but ill-fitting trousers in the hope that by some miracle, they’ll look less shit in the morning.

Shopping trip = ruined.

Fitting Room
Fitting Rooms: A special kind of hell.

Following a few of these occasions comes the inevitable denial that you need to try on any garment before handing your hard earned money over and leaving the shop… just to get home and find the chance item isn’t all you’d hoped it would be. And because you’re a busy working girl, there it hangs in the “maybe-I’ll-find-a-use-for-an-ill-fitting-peplum-top-one-day” section of your wardrobe, passing it’s return date without a second thought, only to be donated to a bring and buy sale three years later.

Ladies, it’s time to stop plumping for outfits that don’t quite fit and spunking your cash away on things that you won’t have time to refund. This starts in the changing room, aided by strict rules and fast choices which will either keep your closet content or bank balance happy (though sadly these two things rarely work in harmony with each other).

To overcome changing room phobia you must:

Try on everything before you buy it. Don’t even think about leaving the shop until you’ve tried that dress on. You’ll be making more work for yourself if you’re less than thrilled when you get it home. Or worse, you run the risk of wearing clothes you aren’t 100% comfortable in, which will affect your confidence.

Don’t look at your face. An odd tip, certainly, but this works for several reasons. One is that you tend not to be at your best after wandering around a mall getting slightly sweaty, or battling against the elements on the high street. If you’ve got oily skin like me, melting makeup is the first thing to make me look haggard, whatever the weather. On top of this, the harsh lights of the fitting room are not flattering. Instead of getting caught up on this, I make an extraordinary effort not to look at my face (that can be sorted later) and channel my focus into making sure every bit of the garment looks awesome on my actual body. It works – and I won’t be hung up on my questionable strobe lighted skin for the remainder of the trip.

Don’t forget about underwear. In an ideal world, you should be wearing your favourite underwear to have the best luck in the fitting rooms, but if you’ve shoved on a bra that’s a bit on the raggedy side don’t forget to bear underwear in mind when you try something on: Is that cut out back going to allow you to wear a bra at all? Will you need to invest in something strapless? Are knickers with big frills a no no? If you have going bra-less, you won’t wear a backless dress. Put it back and invest in something you won’t be too scared to wear.

Make a quick decision. If you don’t put something on and immediately think I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT THIS, then put it back on the rail. Move on and enjoy the fact that as you didn’t buy a £40 pencil skirt, you more than deserve a £4 milkshake – and have still spent a great deal less money!

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