It’s Not You, It’s the Clothes


The calendar says it’s spring and temperatures are finally starting to warm up, so now it might be time to buy some new, warm weather clothing. For some, shopping is fun and relaxing. But for many people the thought of trying clothes on under the harsh lighting in the dressing room can cause a lot of anxiety.


Last year Dr. Susan Albers, Psy.D., who is a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic specializing in mindfulness and body image concerns, shared a post on her Facebook account about her recent experience in a dressing room. Dr. Albers started a #DressingRoomChallenge to encourage everyone to speak kindly about their own bodies when in the closed dressing room quarters and also to compliment fellow shoppers when they are trying on clothes. Women in particular are very quick to speak or think negative thoughts about their bodies when clothing doesn’t work for them. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why trying on clothes can be a frustrating experience and it’s not your fault.

  • Women’s clothing sizes are inconsistent between stores and even within the same brand.

  • That overhead fluorescent light creates shadows that would not show up in most other circumstances.

  • Dressing room mirrors are so close to us – in front and behind, and it can be overwhelming looking at all of the angles at once, especially with bad lighting.

  • Styles change from season to season and some designs are more flattering on some shapes than others. It might seem like no clothes work, but it could be that all of the clothes you tried on are all a similar style or shape.


  1. Face the door when trying on clothes. Try on the clothes and see how they feel first, instead of looking at your body close up under the fluorescent lights. Once you have decided the outfit is comfortable, turn around to take a look.

  2. Grab one size larger and one size smaller than your expected size. Since women’s clothing sizes vary so much, having different size options with you will give you a better idea of whether an article of clothing works instead of discarding it if your expected size doesn’t fit.

  3. Stay neutral. Dr. Albers has said that trying on clothing is like dating and not every person is going to match up with every article of clothing. When you don’t find a match right away it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with your body, it just means that you haven’t met your match yet.

  4. Get help. We are not all born stylists and some people have more talent for choosing clothing than others! This may be a friend or family member, or you can have a store employee help select clothing. Online personal stylists, such as, will send you some clothing options after you fill out a detailed intake form. Then, you can provide feedback to the stylist about what worked well and what didn’t.

  5. Speak positively about all bodies, including your own. Dr. Albers reminds us that everyone can hear you in the dressing room and hearing people call themselves names can be damaging to those around you, especially children. Instead, move on if a piece of clothing doesn’t work, and consider making someone else’s day by complimenting a fellow shopper if an outfit looks good on her.  

  6. Buy clothes online and try them on at home. At home you can see yourself in the lighting you are used to and you can feel more relaxed. If you had a stressful day, it’s probably best to wait until you are feeling better before trying on clothes.










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