12 Fitting Room Rules You Should Know, Per Retailers

When faced with a long line, other equally impatient patrons, and a hostile attendant, trying on clothes can be one of the most dreaded aspects of shopping. But reverse the situation, and it’s retail sales associates who are tasked with having to deal with, well, us. And let’s just say, there’s no shortage of horror stories, like finding icky surprises left behind and stained clothing. For the sake of common decency, we’d all benefit from knowing a few fitting room rules.

Stores may not hand out a dressing room decorum guidebook, but if anyone knows what you can and can’t do in the dressing room, it’s the people who give you access to it in the first place. That’s why we spoke with sales teams at a host of stores and rounded up a list of what counts as appropriate dressing room behavior.

Keep reading to learn the 12 dressing room rules that retailer experts need you to follow.

Clean Up After Yourself

“Don’t leave the room trashed; we’re not housekeepers,” says Allison Huba, an H&M sale advisor who has found empty cups, food, and glasses left behind. Melanie Gomez, Bloomingdale’s lingerie department sales manager, says the grossest, by far, has been stumbling upon a used tampon.

Hang Clothes After Trying On

As far as the clothes go, “Ask yourself, ‘What would I do with something delicate or something expensive or something beautiful that I own?,” says stylist Stefany Wohebban, who works at the local NYC boutique Warm. “You don’t throw it on the floor, you don’t leave it off the hanger, or leave it inside out. Bring it back the way it was given to you.”

“As long as the clothes are back on the hanger, then it’s all good,” says Bloomingdale’s sales associate Shania Banton. “It doesn’t matter if they leave it in the fitting room or bring it back out. It doesn’t even matter if it’s not hung properly, just as long as it is hung.”

A giant heap of clothes can slow down the process of getting a fitting room ready for the next person, especially for an incredibly busy retailer like H&M that sees a high volume of people and clothing daily.

No Phone Calls or Photo Shoots

“If you’re taking a long time because you’re in there taking selfies with no intention of buying anything, then you’re wasting everyone’s time,” says Andria Bush, the store manager at Warm. If you’re not planning to make a purchase, then limit time spent in the dressing room to five minutes, she advises.

Check Your Hygiene

“We’ve had people come in after the gym and then try things on,” Banton says. “Good hygiene is important. You have to understand if you’re not going to buy it, then the next person will. It’s about consideration and having courtesy for the next person who’s going to try it on.” You wouldn’t want to try on someone’s sweaty clothes, so try not to make others try on yours.

No Boyfriends, Please

“Don’t bring boys in there—it’s awkward,” says Wohebban. “Even if there’s enough room for two doesn’t mean it’s for two.” The rule is stricter when it comes to lingerie dressing rooms: “We’re fitting bras, we’re opening their doors, girls are coming out in their underwear,” Gomez says. “It’s not appropriate to have men in that area.”

Think About the Time

Anyone who’s worked retail can tell you that the last 10 minutes often feel the longest. Employees hold their breath and cross their fingers that no one’s coming in—especially to try on clothes. “If you’re coming in at 7:55 p.m. when the store closes at 8 p.m., it’s not nice,” says Bush. Make sure to check business hours before you head out on your shopping spree.

It’s Not a Restroom

It might seem like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, these accidents happen way more than they should. “We’ve had people go to the bathroom in the fitting room,” Huba says. “We think they do it on purpose when we tell them we don’t have a bathroom.”

Don’t Forget Your Manners

Many people forget that the people who work at their favorite stores are still, well, people. And sometimes their job and personality require them to talk to shoppers. “I like to ask how people are doing, but then there’s nothing,” Wohebban says. “I hate that awkward silence.” All it takes to avoid that silence is saying, “Good, thank you!”

Get Dressed Before Exiting

If there’s no one around to help, it’s fine to quickly hop out wearing the outfit you were trying on, Wohebban says. (At a larger retailer, ask the attendant before you leave the fitting room area.) But it’s not fine to walk out in your underwear. “We’ve had people come out in their bras and start searching,” Banton says. “It gives us a bad look.”

Let the Store Know About Damages

Perhaps you’re trying something on and a bit of your foundation gets on it. Or you’re slipping into a smaller shirt and it rips. “Let us know so we can fix it,” Wohebban says. “It happens, and then we can take the garment to [get fixed].” But if you don’t say anything, the stain will set in, the tear will get worse, and the workers won’t be able to do much about it.

Know How Many Garments You Have

“Only seven garments are allowed in a dressing room as a security measure, but most of the time, people bring a full bag that they switch out, which is fine,” Huba says of H&M’s fitting room policy. The annoying part, adds Huba, is when people don’t know exactly how many items trying on. “They expect you to count for them…It slows everything down. Be prepared.”

Never Go Commando

In case you’re someone who tries on underwear before buying it, the experts say to keep yours on when doing so. The same goes for trying on swimsuits. “We’ve found dirty underwear, and it’s disgusting,” Gomez says. “We [count it as damaged] and throw it out.”

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