changing rooms

“An ode to the nightmare of trying on clothes in changing rooms”

From the lighting to the mirrors, changing rooms can sometimes make the experience of shopping for clothes a living nightmare, says comedian Tania Edwards.

I was queuing for the changing rooms recently, contemplating the dead-eyed friends/spouses/relatives (delete as applicable) waiting outside of them and wondering what they were being punished for, when I was handed a large plastic number seven. 

That number seven tells us everything we need to know about changing rooms. It insinuates that the experience will be so euphoric I will leave with a whole new wardrobe. And it also hints at the reality – that I’m about to put on, and take off, seven different tops before I head home empty handed. 

Of course, the only alternative to trying things on in a shop, I realised when I saw a friend schlepping to the Post Office recently, her arms full of returns, is to have everything delivered. But we all know that that surplus of packaging isn’t good for the turtles. So here are my top tips to wake up from the nightmare that is the average changing room experience…

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Be bold

We ask too much of changing rooms. We want them to identify our style, our shape, and our personality, when nine times out of ten they can’t even convince us that the knickers we need are a good idea. We want them to give us courage.

Lower your expectations. Accept that a changing room is never going to prod you into making a brave choice. Make it yourself. If you want to wear gold sequinned lamé hot pants to a summer festival, then go for it.

Think ahead

Never, ever leave shopping to the last minute. If you want to panic in a confined space then go to an escape room. It’s miserable attempting to find shoes for an event you’re speaking at that very afternoon. The most spontaneous people are also the best prepared. Shop today for the kind of party you want to be invited to in 2021.   

Shopping for clothes
Shopping for clothes is always best when you're prepared.

Listen to the music

The soundtrack you spend by is important. Shopping is proactive, so don’t be hypnotised by the sort of white noise you’re waxed to. At the same time, remember that shopping is shopping, not a rave. An establishment pumping out more than 150 beats per minute does not sell the office-wear you want

Maintain focus

One mirror is enough. You do not need to see yourself from every angle. If someone has made the mistake of putting multiple mirrors in a changing room, ignore the extra ones or change shop. Your behind is behind you; look ahead. 

Wear sunglasses

Fun fact? Fashion always looks more fashionable when you add shades, so accessorise accordingly.

shopping for clothes
Shopping for clothes can actually be fun...

Beware the distorting mirror

You’ve looked in a normal mirror before, and you’ve also seen your reflection in the distorted ones at the fairground. Know which is which, and don’t let yourself be deceived.  

Dress for yourself

It is polite to follow protocol at christenings and funerals. It can even be helpful to check the theme of someone’s fancy dress party before you buy a whole new outfit to wear to it. But generally, you must be your own guide. Your mother* is (probably) not in the changing room with you, so stop wondering what she’d think. She doesn’t like ripped jeans*, but that’s OK, because you do. 

*delete for person and outfit as appropriate

Expensive is good

Whatever your budget is, aim slightly beyond it. Good quality clothes look better and last longer. Buy one thing that you love instead of three things that you think are OK. Sustainable fashion truly is the way forward, and the turtles will thank you. 

I tested out all my changing room rules on a quiet morning this week. I worked my way through dresses until I found something fabulous and potentially affordable for 2021. My massive sunglasses meant I almost forgot how tired I am. It turns out a changing room can actually be a dream if you stop to rethink what you’re in it for. 

Tania Edwards is taking her new show, Don’t Mention It, to Monkey Barrel 2 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 2nd-25th August at 4pm. More info and tickets available here or at

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Images: Getty, Unsplash


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