10 Real Women Share Their Mortifying Fitting Room Horror Stories

Photo: Emmerich-Webb/Getty Images.
Raise your hand if you actually like trying on clothes when you're out shopping. Crickets? That's what we thought. Most of us think of fitting rooms as a necessary evil. Yes, some stores are rethinking theirs, trying to provide a more customer-friendly, interactive environment. But for the most part, the reality is you pulling on outfit after outfit in a claustrophobia-inducing cabin with unflattering mirrors and someone asking you whether you "need anything" every five minutes, when all you need is to get out of there with something — anything — that you'd wear again.

Fitting rooms are often anxiety-inducing, ego-crushing places. Staring down your mirror image, with everything illuminated by the harsh lighting, can be a real moment of truth. So having a bad experience while you're behind that flimsy curtain (that never closes the whole way) can feel like rubbing salt into the wound. But it happens — a lot.

We’ve heard far too many stories of dear friends being body-shamed by salespeople, falling victim to awkward assumptions and rude comments, suffering mishaps with ill-fitting pieces of clothing (damn those sparkly unicorn American Apparel leggings), and the occasional accidental rip. And unfortunately, it doesn’t end there.

Now, we're taking back the fitting room and sharing these stories — because sometimes, the internet is the best therapy. Here, we’ve collected some of the more share-worthy fitting room horror stories out there. From excruciatingly embarrassing to downright hilarious, they’re the types of tales you’d tell your friends over brunch and cause them to spit out their mimosas. Read 'em below, and try not to have any terrible flashbacks.
An Inadvertent Hulk Smash
“In a coastal town outside of L.A., I ventured into this little shop that had an ‘Anthropologie at the beach’ feel, with a super-bitchy twist. The owners gave off the vibe, ‘Our husbands are rich surfers.’ I came across this shirt that was so delicate — soft as a baby blanket. But in the fitting room, I discovered it was super-fitted, tight around the shoulders, and really billowy at my midsection — and made me look like I was pregnant. I also noticed the price tag: $90.

“The ‘tight around the shoulders’ proved to be a problem. I struggled to get out of that thing for no less than 10 minutes, working up a real sweat and flashing through some moments of sheer panic. Meanwhile, there was a sign in the fitting room that warned, ‘Customers are responsible for any damage to clothing.’

“Finally, I broke free of the shirt like the Hulk, making an audible ripping noise and destroying the fabric on one shoulder. As nonchalantly as I could, I hung it back on the rack and walked out of the store without making eye contact with anyone. Once I reached the sidewalk outdoors, I ran. All the way to my car. And then, I got in my car and I left that town.” Katie, 34
Photo: MirasWonderland/Getty Images.
Giving Them Paws
“I was in a vintage clothing store upstate — and very excited to try on clothes. I took my chihuahua into the dressing room with me; I thought the dressing room was fully enclosed. But then, I looked down, and to my horror, my dog had slipped out. I remembered that when we entered the store, the front door was open to the street, so I panicked and rushed out of the dressing room in my underwear to grab my dog. I did find the dog safe and sound, but I'll never forget the horrified look on my boyfriend's face when he saw me running through the store in my bra and underwear...” Anonymous

Nope. Nope, nope, nope.
“When I first moved to NYC, I met this really beautiful model. Once she went into a fitting room at the Gap, took out a bloody tampon, and threw it over the dressing-room partition; she got kicked out of the store for doing that. She didn’t seem to understand why it was such a problem.” Randi, 36

The Journey Not Taken
“I scheduled a fitting at Bra*Tenders right before attending my dance class. I was in full workout mode — in dress and in conversation — and kept asking for good running sports bras for the upcoming NYC marathon. The fittings at Bra*Tenders are great, but very intimate. You are topless with the fitter for nearly an hour, trying on bras as they watch and help adjust you.

“We talked working out and sports bras for some time while I tried on new styles. The good was that I found out I was an F cup and had been wearing the wrong bra size. But I guess between my large cup size and stretch marks, the fitter made some assumptions: Just as I was getting super-comfortable au naturel, she asked me how much weight I'd lost on my ‘journey.’ Journey? I was so confused. I had to explain that I hadn't lost any; that I just wanted a proper fitting and was getting into working out. That was followed by an awkward silence and her recommending a sports bra favored by Sherri Shepherd.”Cambrey, age not disclosed

Sized Up
“I had a sales girl at the Levi's store tell me that I was a smaller size than I think I am (solidly a 29 in boyfriend jeans, not mad about it). She kept bringing me two sizes down and asking me to try them, even though I knew they wouldn't be right. I ended up crying in the dressing room, because it brought up all this body drama and self-loathing. Word to the wise: Don't push things on people. It sometimes ends with mascara tears all over a white button-up.” Elizabeth, 28
Photo: Gbrundin/Getty Images
“I was in my late 20s at the time. I came out of the juniors’ department dressing room, and handed all of the clothes to a clerk, sighing that none of the jeans fit. The woman — an older lady who had worked at this downtown Boscov's for decades — replied: ‘Honey, maybe it's time you shopped in the women's department.’ It hit me then and there that I was still trying to squeeze into juniors’ sizes when my body had really evolved.” — Donna, 37

Pre-Interview Jitters
“A couple of years ago, I had a job interview and I was fully prepared. Still, the nerves got the best of me and I arrived too early. In order to kill some time (and release some stress), I went ‘shopping.’ I was just browsing — until I stumbled on the most perfect navy blue dress. I had to try it on. Now, I’m relatively small but I have broad shoulders. I still tried the smallest sample size on, and it felt a bit snug on top… Still, I could zip it up and admired myself in the mirror. I was content and decided to buy it.

“But then, I couldn’t get the dress off. It was stuck. I asked for help, and the salesgirl thought it was funny but initially she couldn’t get the zipper to work either. She called her colleague to help us out. I was so embarrassed, since by then it was three people who couldn’t get this dress off me. In the end, they got a pair of scissors and slightly cut it on top. I was sweating, anxiety at an all-time high. I felt so guilty. Once I bought it, I replaced the zipper — now it’s hanging in the back of my closet.” — Giselle, 27

Not Petite
“I was in college and visiting Italy with my family. We went into a store specifically for small, petite people — which, at size 2 and 5-foot-5, I thought I fit the description for, although I do have wider hips. When I started trying on jeans and tops, the saleswoman immediately approached me and suggested that this store ‘is for smaller women,’ and I may want to try a different one. I was confused and mortified — I had never felt terrible about my body in my life, but in that moment I felt ‘fat’ for the first time.” Caroline, 28

A Brief Encounter
“Back before the Barneys Warehouse Sale was online only, they would have it at the Santa Monica Airport. It was just racks and racks of clothes, and tables of jeans in the hangar. The prices were amazing, but the catch was there were no fitting rooms. So unless you knew what size you were, you had to improvise. While girls wore leggings and tank tops so they could slip anything on over their clothes, I just pulled off my jeans so I could try on anything and everything. I ended up walking around the hangar in just a T-shirt and my underwear, sliding into pair after pair of designer jeans. The discount was definitely worth the undignified shopping experience.” — Christopher, 31

Dud Studs
“When I was 16, I tried on a pair of pleather pants with silver studs up the side seams. When I pulled them on, I heard a ‘ping ping ping ping!’ ALL the studs had shot off the pants and were littering the floor of the fitting room. I crumpled up everything in a ball, shoved it in the corner, got dressed, and hightailed it out of the store.” — Jen, 32

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