So there I was in Macy’s considering the purchase of a banana yellow jogging suit. I’d given it a good think and decided I was ready to try it on to see how it looked. It had been more than a year since I’d been to the mall and even more than that since I’d committed to a trip to a dressing room.

But here I was, grabbing life by the horns.

Along the way, I noticed a denim dress that seemed kind of nice, so I picked that up too. Then I decided I should jump on the high-waisted shorts bandwagon, so picked up a few pairs of them as well. Shorts tend to need shirts to go with them and I started flipping through the racks. Could I pull off a camo V-neck? Time to find out.

By the time I arrived at the dressing room area, my arms were full of clothes. In my life, that’s how a trip to the dressing room always starts: with my fingers in pain from all of the hangars that I have pinned between them. At this point, I figure if I’m actually going to commit to undressing, which will, oh me, involve re-tying my shoes when I’m finished, I might as well try on a thousand things to make it worth my while.

I stepped into the Macy’s dressing room hallway, which always looks like it was abandoned on a windy day in 1996. Yes, there is evidence that women were once there — their reject piles are still hanging in a room or two, there are threads and balled up gum foil on the floor — but there are almost never any other women actually there with you.

I closed a beige, slatted door and got to work. At this point, I always decide that this shopping trip is the shopping trip that I’m going to be both Super Organized and Super Respectful of the clothes that I’ve chosen to try on.

I hung the clothes that were on hangars on the provided bar and set the clothes that didn’t have hangars on the provided chair. Then I stripped and promptly threw the clothes I was wearing in a messy pile on the floor in the corner of the room.

Am I alone in this? Or are there actually people out there who fold their (now terribly old and outdated) street clothes before trying on new clothes? And if those people do exist, do they sacrifice the chair for their street clothes? Do they loop them over the bar? Or do they politely place them on the floor? I always wonder that as I’m tornadoing out of my outfit so I can try on a new one.

Speaking of the chair and bar, Macy’s dressing rooms are pretty special this way. In my view, the bar is far superior to rooms that only provide posts, since the posts do not allow you to display the potential you have collected in the scouting portion of your shopping spree. Also, they are almost always too short.

The chair is a nice touch in a dressing room, because if you’re in there with someone else, it’s nice to have a little sit-down as you give constructive advice. If alone, it’s an additional staging area. Of course, you know you’ve hit the dressing room jackpot when there is a bench, allowing for both a seat and staging, but this kind of luxury does not tend to exist at department stores.

They do give you room, though, and Macy’s is no exception. This is important since it allows you to really test out the clothes if needed. In my life, that has included performing a series of lunges if a pair of jeans feel particularly unforgiving. It has always included squats. And of course, it has included looking dramatically over my shoulder so I can see how I look when I (never) do that in real life.

That leads me to mirrors, which are, of course, game changers when it comes to dressing rooms. For myself, I like a mirror that lies to me a little bit but not so much that I’m completely deflated when I try on my new outfit at home. I have a love-hate relationship with three-way mirrors, since I both do and then absolutely do not want to know what I look like from the side. As for stores that don’t provide a mirror in their dressing rooms, forcing you to assess your potential purchase in a common area, they should immediately be subject to an audit by the IRS.

I started trying on my selections, zooming through them as if I were being timed. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become faster and faster at changing in the dressing room, and I’m now at the point where I can get through 30 items in about 15 minutes. This is due to the fact that I no longer love to stare at myself and come up with scenarios/fantasies in which my boy crush sees me walking in my new outfit on a busy New York street.  Now the assessment basically boils down to: does this make me look fat or skinny?

So, the question is: did the banana yellow sweatsuit make it to the “yes” pile (which also lives on the floor in my world)? Alas, it was a “hard pass” after I was reminded that you need to be 5’11” and 100 pounds in order to look like anything but rotting fruit in a monochromatic jogging suit once you’re over the age of 40.

Still, it was a good experiment. After surviving a pandemic, I didn’t take one second of being in a dressing room for granted.

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