Imagine this scene: You are standing in a fitting room in a store, evaluating the fit and style of that brand-new swimsuit or those trendy jeans. Suddenly, from the other side of the parchment-thin fitting-room wall, you hear two people having a profanity-laden argument. A moment later, a stranger’s head pokes through the curtain of your cubicle. Next, a discarded pair of trousers flies over the dividing wall.
“What’s next?” you say to yourself. “Whatever happened to common courtesy?”
As a convenience to shoppers, many fashion retailers offer private fitting rooms. Certainly, consumers need a secluded personal space to try on garments before purchasing. However, several unspoken rules consistently apply in this environment.
Consider these basic courtesy guidelines for shoppers using fitting rooms in stores. These have been gleaned from in-person conversations with several clothing store clerks and fitting room staffers. Some may sound like common sense, but apparently this is all too uncommon in store fitting rooms.
1. Cubicle conversations are not private, so it’s important to use soft voices. The fitting room is not a broadcasting booth. It’s also not a boxing ring, a conference room, a hotel room, a meeting room, or any other sort of gathering spot. Lingering and loitering are discouraged.
2. Cell phone conversations should be quiet as well. The fitting room is not a phone booth, either. Besides, cellular and WiFi signal strength is frequently diminished or nonexistent in a fitting room.
3. If a door or curtain is closed, that cubicle is very likely occupied. People generally do not like to be startled in a state of undress.
4. A parent should accompany a young child in a fitting room. This is a safety issue, and children may need assistance with clothing fasteners, garment hangers, and decision-making.
5. Customers should leave fitting rooms at least as neat as they found them. Tossing items in a corner or draping them over the walls doesn’t fit the bill.
6. Rejected garments should be placed back on the appropriate hangers and returned to the attendant, the garment rack by the fitting room door, or the appropriate department.
7. Make-up stains can ruin garments, so it’s important to be careful – particularly with collars and necklines. Who wants to buy a blouse with a lipstick streak, a jacket with deodorant smears, or a shirt with foundation smeared around the neckline?
8. Gentleness will prevent rips, tears, and missing buttons. (If a garment is found to be damaged, a courteous shopper will point this out to a store employee, so the item can be mended before re-stocking.)
9. If a line is forming outside the fitting rooms, those inside should be prompt about clothing changes.
10. Food and drink are not allowed in most clothing stores, so they do not belong in fitting rooms, either. Spills can damage the facility and the fashions.
11. By law, undergarments are to be worn for trying on swimwear and lingerie. (Those strange little adhesive tapes do not decrease the importance of this.)
12. Finally, courtesy to fitting room employees is rare, but expected. It’s not hard to imagine how some of these staffers may be fit to be tied after long days serving less than courteous customers.
Overall, shoppers should bear in mind that many stores employ security cameras, so fitting rooms are not as private as people might assume. Individuals can and very likely will, be held accountable for their actions, even behind the curtains of private fitting rooms.