How to Shop Successfully for Clothes When Fitting Rooms Are Closed

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Shopping post COVID
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With the lockdown restrictions eased, malls have now re-opened in Dubai — but the retail landscape looks decidedly different.

Measures are in place to ensure the safety of shoppers and staff, such as introducing one-way systems on the shop floor and limiting the number of customers who can enter at one time. Fashion retailers have said that fitting rooms will be closed, which means some guesswork will be required when deciding what to buy. So, how can you shop successfully when you can’t try on most items? We asked two stylists for their advice on how to shop like a pro now that stores have reopened. Follow these expert tips for finding garments that fit, so that you don’t end up having to return half your haul.

Shopping post COVID
GIF: Courtesy of Giphy
1

Measure Yourself

“The first, and perhaps most important, thing you should do in this new era of shopping is to get proper measurements of yourself,” says Anthony McGrath, celebrity stylist and lecturer at the Fashion Retail Academy.

“Once you have a more accurate idea of your size, you’ll be able to shop more successfully. If you want to be really organized, take a measuring tape shopping with you. With an accurate idea of your size and a measuring tape in hand, sizing up clothes will be a whole lot easier.”

Shopping post COVID
GIF: Courtesy of Giphy
2

Make a Shopping List

“Writing a list of what you need/want will be helpful as our new form of shopping may be overwhelming initially,” says Abbey Booth, founder of personal styling service Stories with Clothes.

“To avoid buyer’s regret and wasteful returns, have a good sort out of your wardrobe and work out where the weaknesses are, and what pieces would work hard with your existing clothes to elevate your look. Having a list keeps you on track and stops you from buying ‘stuff’ for the sake of it.”

Shopping post COVID
Photo: Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures
3

Use In-Store Mannequins

“If there are mannequins in store, which are dressed with outfits you like, check the height of the mannequins and note whether they are wearing heels or flats,” McGrath says. “This will help you determine the length of trousers, dresses, and skirts.”

Shopping post COVID
Photo: Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures
4

Refer to Sizing Guides

“Once fashion retailers reopen, some will likely make a conscious effort to display their sizing guides throughout stores,” McGrath says. “If they do, it would be useful to take a picture and refer to this as you shop. If they don’t have their sizing charts on display, they are available online, so make sure you take a screenshot and use it as a reference.”

5

When in Doubt, Size Up

“If you are torn between sizes, make sure you go for the larger size,” says McGrath. “You can always make adjustments if you have surplus material, but it’s extremely difficult if you don’t have enough.”

Shopping post COVID
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
6

Go With Brands You Know

Sizes can vary considerably between brands, so use what you’ve already got in your wardrobe to guide your choices. “There are some brands that come up bigger or smaller, so knowing this will be really helpful in working out which sizes to select,” says Booth. “Look through your wardrobe and make a note of which brands have worked for you in the past, and what size works best for you.”

7

Choose Easy Silhouettes and Fabrics

“Naturally, some silhouettes are more difficult to judge with the naked eye than others,” McGrath says. “For example, if you’re looking for a pencil skirt, it’s essential that you get true measurements of your waist and hips to ensure that it fits comfortably. With fitting rooms closed, it’s best to shop for easier silhouettes, in order to avoid the risk of having to return lots of items.”

“A-line skirts, tent, and shift dresses are much easier to judge with the naked eye than a more tailored or fitted style. Similarly, lightweight fabrics are more flexible and adapt much better to the body than rigid fabrics.”

8

Ask for Help

“This is particularly relevant if you are shopping locally, which we should all be aiming to do,” says Booth. “There are some brilliant local independent boutiques and department stores who know their brands, fit, and sizing really well. “Use their skills and expertise in working out if it will fit, suit your shape, and how you could wear it in different ways.”

Shopping post COVID
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