I recently conducted an F.R.I = Fitting Room Intervention. This is what happened…
I was in the fitting rooms of a major department store, styling my client. I watched as a fifty something year old shopper was being eagerly ushered into a nearby fitting room by a shop assistant. The shop assistant carried an arm full of clothes. I scanned the selected items and thought to myself, surely they can’t be for the lady who just entered the fitting room? Within moments she popped out of the change room, with the first of what was to be three hideous dress options.
Her first outfit looked like an art and craft project gone wrong. Suddenly my eyeballs began to hurt. “Oh sweetie, you look like heaven”, shrieked the shop assistant. I thought to myself if heaven looks like that, I think I’ll pass. I swallowed my feedback and attended to my client with the hope that when the shopper comes back out, the shop assistant ‘s brain would be working. The shopper quickly pops back out in dress number two, not only did it age her by two decades, it made her look three sizes bigger. “Wow, I love that dress on you!”, exclaimed the youthful shop assistant. I swallowed my feedback again, deciding to apply the ‘three strikes and your out’ policy, before I intervened.
She came out to parade outfit number three. Had the shopper been 3 feet taller, 15 years younger and a drag queen, it would have been perfect. “Darling, I think this dress was made for you”. The words “are you bloody serious?” launched out of my lips, faster than I could blink. I explained why I felt the options were horrendous and offered my advice on what she should look for.
It was evident the shop assistant only had her budget in mind. She didn’t give a damn about this poor lady who just wanted a gorgeous dress for a special occasion. I ran out onto the shop floor and carefully plucked a few options, which first and foremost suited her body shape, were priced within her budget, age appropriate and matched her colouring. There was no way, I could sit back and allow the shop assistant to blatantly lie to the shopper just so she could make budget. In the end, the shopper purchased three fabulous frocks and expressed their appreciation.
My top tips to avoid fitting room disasters:
1) Shop with a good friend that tells the truth and be sure to tell them that they must be truthful when offering feedback.
2) When shopping for a special occasion outfit, consider hiring a stylist. A good stylist should be able to select a dozen or so options for you in an hour and will offer you honest and independent advice.
3) If you can’t afford a stylist, think of the most stylish friend you have and ask them to come shopping with you. Offer to buy them lunch in exchange for their advice.
4) Get the shop assistant to take a full length frontal and back shot of the outfit on your camera phone. Take a good look at these before you make your decision. Photos can sometimes provide a better visual than mirrors.
5) If a salesperson gets too pushy, then push back.
Taken from my weekly column in The Wentworth Courier….