25 reasons not to miss going to clothes shops: The hell of an all-around mirror. Pushy staff on commission. And all the big sizes hidden in the back

  • High Street retailers across the UK have been closed for nearly two months 
  • Claudia Connell explains why she doesn’t miss going to clothes shops 
  • She says after hours of shopping you return home tired and hating purchases

Nearly two months have passed since department stores, clothes and shoe shops shut their doors — and the announcement at the weekend that we’ll have to wait weeks longer for them to reopen was greeted with widespread groaning.

But while some people are itching to get back on the High Street to shop for their summer wardrobes, I feel liberated by this particular aspect of lockdown.

Let’s face it, the shopping trips I used to live for as a twentysomething have become hot, exhausting, hellish ordeals in middle age.

Here, for my fellow loathers, are 25 reasons not to miss trawling those infernal rails for a new outfit . . .

Claudia Connell (pictured) listed the reasons that she’s not missing the clothes shops, as stores across the UK remain closed 

1 Shops never get their temperature right. In winter, the heating is pumped up to hotter than the surface of the sun while you try on woolly jumpers. Then, in summer, as you shiver in a floaty dress, the air conditioning is set to ‘freezing with a chance of frostbite’.

2 When the sales assistant offers to find you a new top from the stockroom after you point out the make-up stain on the one you tried on. No! That wasn’t the plan. You didn’t want a pristine new one, you wanted that dirty one at a 15 per cent discount.

3 Never being able to find what you want. Shops have a habit of keeping some items in illogical places. Take socks. Common sense tells you they’re most likely to be found in the lingerie section. Wrong. The store you’re in keeps them in ‘accessories’ next to hair brushes and umbrellas. Obviously.

4 Inconsistent sizing. I’m a size 14 in Marks & Spencer. Joy. I’m a size 16 in French Connection. Oh well. I’m a size ‘Ha ha, we’ve got nothing for you, fatty’ in Zara.

5 The squirmy embarrassment of being measured for a bra. You stand half-naked in a cubicle while a stranger runs a cold tape measure over you. Why do all bra specialists think that not being able to breathe is a key criteria for a well-fitting bra? No wonder eight in ten of us wear the wrong size.

6 Folded item anxiety. Some stores have a special way of folding their display jumpers and shirts. An assistant is guaranteed to appear just as you poorly refold an item you were inspecting, ready to angrily fix your handiwork.

Claudia said she doesn’t miss curtains in clothing shops that don’t reach all the way across and saloon-style doors that hide only your mid-section (file image)

7 The curtain that doesn’t reach all the way across, the saloon-style doors that hide only your mid-section, the used plaster on the floor, the nauseating aroma of other people’s feet — changing rooms really are the pits.

And the lighting. Oh, God, the lighting. How many times have you caught sight of someone in the communal mirror and thought: ‘Look at the state of that old bag,’ only to realise it’s you?

8 The search for a lavatory can take even longer than the search for the perfect party dress. In department stores, if ladies’ fashion is on the ground floor, the loos will always be on the fifth, behind the TV and stereo section.

9 Cherry-flavoured lip gloss? A teeny-weeny notebook and pencil? Ooh, a unicorn keyring! It’s no longer only supermarkets that place tempting things you absolutely don’t need by the tills. Increasingly, High Street stores such as H&M are doing it, too, so that suggestible fools (like me) will fill their baskets.

Claudia (pictured) complains that trying on things such as jeans can leave your legs dry 

10 Why, after three decades of trying on clothes, do I always convince myself that this time I will be able to remove my trousers without taking off my shoes?

11 ‘Would you like your receipt emailed?’ No, I’d like it in the bag with my purchases, please. Why are shoppers made to feel bad about this? Emailing a receipt is not about saving paper, it’s about getting your details so they can bombard you with spam until the end of time.

12 When did I turn into the incredible lizard woman? All the peeling and unpeeling of jeans to try things on leaves legs dry. You then feel a little ill as you realise you are standing barefoot on a pile of other people’s flaked skin.

13 Rotating rail rudeness. You’re happily browsing clothes on a circular rail, turning it in a clockwise movement, when suddenly another customer comes along and starts moving the rail in the opposite direction. You gently edge it your way again. She firmly moves it back. You aggressively tug it towards you. All this takes place without making eye contact. The first one to walk away is the loser.

14 Do I have a store card? Do I want a store card? If I take out a store card today, then I’ll get 20 per cent off — why don’t I want 20 per cent off?

Claudia (pictured) claims that some shops don’t make larger customers feel welcome, as they have a habit of keeping their bigger sizes in the stockroom 

15 Has anyone yet unravelled the mysterious workings of shoe shops? Why, when you ask to try on shoes, do the assistants only ever hand you one from the box? Has anyone ever purchased shoes based on one of them fitting? And why do they offer you a manky pop sock — resembling one of Nora Batty’s stockings — to put on first? How many other people have had their sweaty foot in it that day?

16 The till interrogation. You’re at the finishing line when, suddenly, you’re hit with 20 questions. Did you find everything you were looking for? Who helped you today? Are you on our mailing list? Would you like to come to our VIP event? It’s a very good time to make a fake phone call.

17 The way some stores don’t exactly make larger customers feel welcome. Higher-end shops have a sneaky habit of keeping their bigger sizes in the stockroom. I’m looking at you, Whistles.

Sizes 8, 10 and 12 are on the rail, but you have to put in a special request for a size 16 or above, as they’re all kept ‘out back’.

Claudia asks who invented the full-length, all-round mirror in the changing room (file image)

18 The commissionistas. Staff who work on commission are easy to spot. They’ll gush that you look fantastic when clearly you don’t. They’ll bring you things to try on that you didn’t ask for, and will tell you that clothes that are too tight will magically ‘give’, while ones that are too big will ‘shrink’.

19 Being overwhelmed with choice. Shopping for a plain black T-shirt sounds easy enough. The reality is that after two hours of looking at V-necks, scoop necks, boat necks, cap sleeves, no sleeves, three-quarter sleeves, long, loose, tight, cropped, you’ll just give up.

20 Being emotionally blackmailed into completing a survey. Cashier Amy tells you if too few people respond, she might not get a bonus. You can’t be responsible for Amy not getting her bonus, so you duly complete the survey — and then find yourself having to unsubscribe from 100 unsolicited emails from the store’s partners.

21 What monster invented the full-length, all-round mirror in the changing room? I don’t want to see my back fat and squishy bum, and my nose doesn’t really look that big from the side, does it?

Claudia claims after hours of trudging around the shops, you return home with purchases that you hate (file image) 

22 No clothes look good when you’re standing almost on top of the mirror, so you exit the cubicle to admire yourself in the larger full-length one. There will be someone younger and thinner trying on the same dress. Suddenly you don’t look like the supermodel you’d imagined, but a sack of spuds tied in the middle.

23 Sometimes security tags are left on and they set off the alarm. Why, when this happens, even though you know you haven’t stolen anything, do you react like you’ve just been caught with the crown jewels under your arm?

24 You’ve broken a zip on a dress you don’t want to buy. You hand it back to the changing room assistant, say nothing and leg it out of there like Usain Bolt before she notices. Then you feel horribly guilty for the rest of the weekend.

25 Finally, after hours of trudging round the shops, you return home with your goods. You’re hot, you’re tired, you’re bad-tempered and broke. You unpack . . . and hate every single one of your purchases. Guaranteed.

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