Shopping for clothes is so simple in theory. It should go like this: find something you like (preferably on discount), try it on with great success, buy it, and walk out of the store, bag in hand, whistling.
In reality, things tend to go downhill at one very precise moment: when you step foot into the change room. Once that curtain’s yanked closed, all bets are off.
Here are 11 awkward fitting room moments we’ve all endured… and somehow survived.
1. Realising you’re, ah, stuck.
It always happens when you’re in a hurry.
You spot a slinky, zip-up dress on the 70 per cent off rack, and decided to quickly pop in to see what it looks like on. You look in the mirror and swiftly decide it’s not for you, but as you try to whip it off again… the zip refuses to budge. Or perhaps it’s a sports bra that won’t fit back over your shoulders.
However it happens, the result is the same: you’ll end up thrashing around in the fitting room (and almost shattering the mirror), crying a little bit, or sheepishly requesting help from a sales assistant before making a red-faced departure.
Watch: How clothing stores trick you into buying more. (Post continues after video.)
2. Responding to someone who wasn’t actually talking to you.
Let’s face it: when you’re inside a change room, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on outside it. You can’t see that the woman who just asked if the jeans fit is actually someone else‘s mum, so really, you can’t be held accountable for answering back, “Shit yeah, my bum looks great!”
3. Accidentally ripping off the tag…
If there’s one sound you don’t want to hear when trying on clothes you don’t own, it’s a rip.
For some reason, my strike rate of accidentally tearing the price tags off garments is quite high, which results in me panicking and spending 10 minutes frantically trying to re-attach it before shoving it into a pocket.
Shopping never looks like carefree. (Image: Touchstone Pictures)
4. ...or worse, accidentally damaging the garment.
If ripping the tag off isn't cringe-inducing enough, try actually damaging the garment without meaning to.
It might be a jewellery snag, or a detached button. It might be a streak of foundation or red lipstick on a white collar. It might even be a full-blown rip up the bum of a pair of pants, which has happened to a certain Mamamia staffer.
To the store assistants of the world: we're truly sorry.
5. The dreaded 'curtain gap'
Seriously, are the clothing stores of the world in on some kind of giant conspiracy to make life incredibly awkward for shoppers? The fact so many of their change room curtains are just too short to fully cover the entry — thus exposing your semi-naked body to prying eyes outside — suggests so.
And even if your curtain does close, you'll spend the entire session worrying about it being yanked open by mistake.
The genius Natalie Tran has an entire skit dedicated to the monstrosity that is the change room curtain gap. Please enjoy:
6. Not knowing how to respond to the 'are you OK for sizes?' question.
This situation is particularly tricky when there are several other people trying on clothes, so you never know exactly who the sales assistant is talking to, so you choose to say nothing and all. And so does everyone else. *tumbleweeds*
7. Summoning the shop assistant while half naked.
Without fail, the exact moment you need a sales assistant's help will come just after they've headed back into the store to get on with their job.
This results in you awkwardly trying to get their attention while half-naked with the curtain semi-wrapped around you... in view of everyone in the vicinity of the change room. (Post continues after gallery.)
8. Trying to use the big communal mirror without being noticed
Sometimes, a girl just needs a bigger mirror — but sneaking out from behind the curtain to use the communal mirror can be a risky move.
You'll either be met with swarms of other shoppers, who sneakily asses your outfit while you check yourself out, or you'll be flanked by store assistants who are a little too enthusiastic. "I have that in black!" "That looks sooo amazing!" they'll say, even (or especially) when said garment looks awful.
"OMG, it looks sahhh gooood!" Image: MGM Pictures
9. Tripping over.
It has to be said: skinny jeans are a disaster waiting to happen.
10. Taking advantage of the great 'pimple squeezing' light.
Have you ever noticed change rooms are the perfect lighting environment for examining your skin/lip hairs/pimples closely in the mirror? Me too.
Have you ever proceeded to do so, before being struck by the horrifying thought that there are probably security cameras tracking your every move and a team of people watching the footage and laughing at you? Me too.
Image: Paramount Pictures
11. Feeling the need to justify not buying anything.
Even though there's no obligation for shoppers to buy what they try on, handing your discarded pile to the sales assistant and sauntering out of there is easier said than done.
If you're anything like me, you'll feel so guilty about your lack of purchases, you'll take one item with you so it looks like you're going to buy it... before sneakily returning it to its rack.
You know, maybe online shopping has its perks after all...
Featured image: iStock