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It's happened to all of us: An item that looked fabulous in the store dressing room is hideous at home. (Hmm… maybe there's something to that old Seinfeld episode about the skinny mirrors?) Get expert tips on how to really put clothes to the try-on test -- and avoid having a closet full of garments with the tags still on them.
Timing is Everything
"The most important thing is to avoid shopping at times when you are not at your best," says Jene Luciani, style expert and author of The Bra Book. That means forget about it during your period (a woman can be up to 10 pounds heavier at that time of the month!). And, even if the kids are waiting for you or you're on your lunch hour, avoid making purchases in a hurry. "Unless you're shopping at a designer discount store, where there's often only one or two of each item, chances are, it'll still be there the next day." And then, you can return refreshed or without the kids in tow, and really get a good look at yourself.
Streamline Your Look
If you know you're going to be hitting the dressing rooms, wear minimal accessories, says Laura Kronen, lifestyle coach and owner of Be You, Only Better! "The wrong accessory can kill an outfit. Just as the right one can make it look incredible," she explains. "Plus, you do not want to snag something that you do not even own." One thing you should bring with you: appropriate shoes for whatever you're trying on. "You would be surprised at how the right shoe can transform any look," she says.
Read a garment's label to find out what it's made of and its cleaning requirements. "In the situation that you have found the 'perfect fit,' one run through the washer and dryer and it may very well shrink," warns Lauren DiLauro, CEO of Beauty & Grace Image, a lifestyle-consulting firm. Skip garments made of materials that irritate your skin and think long and hard about ones labeled "dry clean only" -- will you really take them to the cleaners?
Try a Three-Way
A three-way mirror, that is! Request a dressing room with one and "you can see how you look from all sides, says Julie Judd, an image consultant and founder of Stylewise. For example, a shirt that initially looks great may reveal flaws on closer inspection. "Sit on a chair, cross your legs, and bend over to see if you need longer tops to cover your back side," she suggests.
If you truly love an item (and maybe even found it at a bargain price!), but it doesn't fit quite right, it might be worth altering. Judd says some easy, affordable alternations include: taking in the waist in on pants, taking the side or back in on a blouse, shortening or lengthening sleeves or pants, taking in the hip or butt area of a pant, and putting lingerie straps in a dress so your bra straps don't hang out. But remember: It's easier to take in a garment than to make it bigger.
Dress the Part
Trying on clothes can occasionally be demoralizing, which is why a positive attitude -- not to mention a good hair day -- is key. "Put yourself together as if you're actually wearing your purchased items," says Sandra Soich, a stylist who has worked with celebrity clients and has a website called Your Fashion Therapist. "Go in with makeup and hair looking great. If you're dealing with a bit of a bulge, make sure you're wearing the undergarments that are the most flattering to your figure."
Trust Your Instinct
As you try on clothes, beware of seeking opinions from friends or salespeople. "Friends always seem to be on your side, but you have your taste and they have theirs," explains Soich. "As far as sales personnel, they're with you to sell. And, this is why we need to look our best, feel confident and buy what's best for us. Never rush, take your time, and never feel any pressure from yourself or anyone else."
Got any tips to share of your own? Chime in below!