When my oldest daughter, Cassie (age 11), moved into junior sizes around Christmas time last year, I remember being appalled by the condition of the fitting rooms we encountered: empty hangers, clothes on the floor, cluttered benches. I assumed it was because of the hectic Christmas shopping season at the mall.

dressing roomI was wrong.

In the six months since, I’ve discovered that a tidy fitting room used by pre-teen and teenage girls does not exist in the Tri-State area.  I can only image what these girls’ bedrooms and bathrooms must be like if this is how they clean up after themselves in public.

As Cassie tried on clothes the other night, I watched as one young thing with an engagement ring peeked into a messy dressing room, asked if I was using it, and then shuttered herself inside to try on a dress.  When she was done, she simply left the dress on the floor where she’d stepped out of it and went back to shopping.  Unbelievable!  I guess her guy’s not marrying her for her housekeeping skills.

So what’s my point?  Always leave your fitting rooms clean for the next person and teach your children to do the same.  You know – Do unto others and all that.  It used to be called “common courtesy”, but obviously, it’s not all that common anymore.

    27 replies to "Dressing Room Chaos"

    • Kathleen

      I KNOW your blog will resonate with many of your readers! Sadly, I don’t think dressing room abuse is isolated to teen dressing rooms. It seems rare for anyone to think of who will come behind them any more, and even more rare for retail outlets to find employees who are conscientious enough to take care of the “menial” tasks that make shopping that much more pleasant for all customers.

    • Ashley Grosch

      I’ve worked in clothing stores before, and just running the clothes back to the racks is quite a job! Yes, it is extra work for us shoppers to put that garment back on the hanger in good condition, but just think – when you buy a garment, wouldn’t you like to think that it’s been properly handled prior to your purchasing it? You may not want that item you just tried on, but someone else will go home with it. One day, you’ll be that someone else . . . .

    • Paula

      Dressing rooms have gotten so bad that I actually prefer to buy the item and try it on at home, rather than use one of those rooms. Yes it is a waste of gas if I have to take it back, but honestly, I’d rather do that than step into some of the dressing areas I’ve seen. And I totally agree — “common” courtesy is no longer common at all. I worked retail in my youth and I was taught that the customer is actually important (imagine that!) — and if I had been caught chatting with another employee while a customer stood waiting, I would have been fired. That apparently isn’t the case anymore.

    • Marilyn B

      “Courtesy counts” should be posted in all dressing rooms (we have it here in our courtrooms). I agree with Kathleen and Ashley: It is not limited to teen dressing rooms, and, I, too, have worked in high end retail, and some customers just don’t think about what they are doing. Hopefully, your message will get across to LOTS of people.

    • Rosanna M.

      I agree that “courtesy counts”. I propose to teach these basic items in families and schools, since very young, having to face that some young ones will struggle a bit against rules, just for fun. To achieve an habit is difficult, so patience, but I do hope families will get this on. This subject is very frequent not only in adolescents, but in some ladies with 30’s and so forth, who will pick up what they are throwing apart? Sometimes I think shops should encourage manners in dressing rooms, for the sake of their employees and quality of their products.

    • Isabel

      The dressing room chaos is not confined to the Uninet States, sadly there are people with bad manners everywhere! In the Dominican Republic the rules have become strict due to this problem. They check every item before giving access to the dressing rooms and again when you get out. The employees act like police watching that no one leaves anything behind.

    • Paula

      So true! Some dressing rooms and clothing look like a rummage sale after those lazy shoppers leave. I suggest if the salespeople have contact with the customer prior to entering the dressing room, gently ask them to please hang up the items. A sign on the door (maybe the floor) is a good reminder.

      As for the dressing rooms – listen up retail space designers – Sales happen in the dressing room! If your dressing room is so small and poorly lit, that it makes one squirm just trying on your clothes, why would I want to return there? Retailers have much competition with the web based stores, not to mention the current financial climate. Put extra effort and funds there.

    • Ellen

      Completely agree on the dressing room situation! I always told my kids to think about whether it was the salesperson’s job to clean up their messes.

      Clothing stores could do their part, too, though… the unflattering lighting makes me run screaming. I am sure sales would be better if the lighting was better. And mirrors… one of my favorite shops doesn’t put mirrors in the dressing room… you have to go out in front of everyone, in the store proper, to get a mirror. Yuk. Most of the time I don’t even venture out… again, lost sales!

    • Lynne B.

      Yesterday I was waiting in line at CVS when a teen in a very tiny string bikini was shopping for snacks with her friend who at least had the decency to wear a beach cover-up. Bikini girl was barefoot, beautiful and knew she was causing quite a stir with the checkout guys which slowed the lines down considerably. A little girl behind me asked her mother why she was dressed (undressed?) like that. How to explain to a child this indecent exposure.Her mother and grandmother would be so proud. She probably leaves the dressing room in the same disarray. Lynne

    • Jessaccessories

      I remember years ago when Charles A. Stevens was still in existence in the Water Tower, (in Chicago)the sale’s clerks were responsible for keeping the fitting rooms clean and if they didn’t they got reprimanded for it. I guess customer service faded away with Charles A. Stevens.

    • Laury

      I work in a major chain. Work in shoes, but hear awful storied from the gals in ladies about how “grown women” leave the dressing rooms. We do not carry Kids or Juniors, so I wouldn’t know about that. I do know the priceier the clothes the sloppier the women seem to be….sad….very sad.

    • Katie

      I used to feel insulted by dressing rooms that issued you a tag for the number of items that you could bring into the dressing room and you had to account for the same number of items when you left. I thought it was intended to reduce shop lifting, but bring it back. At least them, clothing was left scattered hither and yon on the dressing room floor, doorways etc.

      No one cares for anyone else these days. i’m waiting for the pendulum to swing back to courtesy towards all.

    • Mary L. Rogers

      If you are looking for good customer service and lovely dressing rooms, go to Talbots. The sales force is always helpful, they know the merchandise, and they will even set up your fitting room for you. If other items will work with the things you have selected, they will make suggestions. Letting them know the level of help you want makes their job easy. I think Talbots gives courteous care.

      • Diana

        Hi Mary,

        Given the other tales told here, it’s nice to know there’s at least one retailer out there with excellent customer service. I’ll be sure to spread the word.


    • Christine

      I quit using dressing rooms nearly a decade ago. I went into a chain dept. store’s brand new location only to find dried urine in the carpet. I never went back to that location and boycot the entire chain to this day. I’ve had a complet mental block about entering a store knowing that garments are carelessly tossed, piled high and probably tried on by people that aren’t inclined to wear proper undergarments. YUK! Not that it guarantees pristine condition but I prefer to order online or make my own these days.

    • Shelly Miller

      I was in a lady’s dressing room at a major department store when I heard a child in the room next to mine complaining that he had to go to the bathroom. We had all waited a good 10 minutes for our turn and the line was quite long. The adult in charge of this child – as I was not sure if she was a mother, grandmother, aunt or a babysitter – told him to shut up and pee in the corner while she continued to try on a mountain of clothes. So he did – right there in the fitting room!

      • Diana

        Hi Shelly,

        OMG! I hadn’t heard a tale quite like that, but it brings the saying “You never know what goes on behind closed doors” a little to close to comfort for me. Yikes! I think I’ll be using those dressing room hooks to their full advantage from now on…


    • frumwannabe

      Shelly, I was just going to tell the same story! My daughters worked in fashion retailing and the toileting incidents alone are a problem. Leaving a used diaper, or worse, is more disgusting to clean than just leaving the clothes on the floor. Some of the stores want their employees to fold the items themselves so all the T-shirts will line up exactly. But I do put things on the hangers to give to the person attending to the fitting rooms.

    • Francine Huffman

      On the subject of the deplorable condition of fitting rooms, girls and women who lack the courtesy to zip up the zippers, button up the garments, and then place them back on the hangers are disrespectful slobs who expect that others will wait on them and clean up their messes. They’re likely the same ones who litter public spaces, throw trash on the floor of public restrooms, and are too lazy to find a trash can to deposit their chewing gum. Disgusting behavior!

    • Julie W.

      If you think peeing is bad this is even worse… I use to work retail for a major department store(now out of business) in the missy department. Went in one day to clean out a room and a woman left her baby’s cr@appy diaper on the floor and used the fabric curtain to wipe their rear. I thought I was going to gag from the stench.

      The other was a woman left her bloody used maxi pad on the floor. The stench was so bad, they had to close the whole dressing room area for two days. After that, I transferred to the men’s area.

    • Martha

      I have also worked in high-end and discount retail. In both cases the fitting rooms were a challenge to keep clean, but the discount retailer considered a dedicated room attendant a waste of personnel. We were expected to periodically scoot back to the rooms, grab the clothes, haul them to the front in a cart, and re-hang them with one hand while running the register with the other. Of course we could never keep up, and since the rooms were at the opposite end of the store from the registers and it ‘cost too much’ to hire an attendant, we were well known as an easy mark for shoplifters!

      I now purchase 90% of my clothing from consignment and thrift shops. They are cleaner and better staffed and have better quality merchandise for less cost, and after picking up after sloppy shoppers – rich and poor – I know how “new” clothing is treated before it ever leaves the store. In my opinion it is all used.

    • Marti

      I agree that the dressing room chaos is out of control, but I have another issue. MAKEUP! I can’t count the times I have fallen in love with a piece and found that a previous customer left makeup on the garment. It is always the last one in my size. As a result if I know I am going clothes shopping I sometimes do not wear makeup even though I won’t get a feel for how something looks if I don’t look my best. We used to have a store here that had something that women wore (memory fades) over thier heads when trying on clothes to protect the garment from makeup. I was at a high end store last month and saw a clerk busily trying to remove makeup from an item.

    • Holly

      I think the sloppy dressing room behavior happens everywhere, ESPECIALLY in high-end retail stores. It does matter the age of the customers, and in fact most of these customers are probably age 30+. I believe this is a problem because this segment has become accustomed to the idea that it actually IS the salesperson’s job to “clean up” after them. They consider taking the time to rehang items, etc to just be a chore that takes away from their shopping time.

      I have been in places many times where the attendants take my clothes and “set up” a dressing room for me while I shop, in order to make shopping easier. They even were serving drinks (non-alcoholic) to the customers. That is nice and all, and I appreciate it. But these high-end shops are where I’ve see the LAZIEST customers who refuse to do ANYTHING for themselves. I can gladly and honestly say that I have been the exception to that rule.

      As far as juniors dressing rooms, I think that all goes back to the parenting. Really. If a child has been taught that throwing things everywhere and expecting them to “magically” be cleaned up later… well there is no reason that child would behave any differently in public.

    • Gail

      At Target, you are given, by the dressing room attendant, a coloured tag according to how many items of clothing that you have to try on.

      After trying them, you bring them back to the attendant, and she will hang them back onto hangers, (if unsuitable), and then onto a rack to be put back into the shop. Usually the attendant is quite pleasant and friendly and asks about the clothes, ie whether suitable or not.

      I like this idea because you naturally bring the items of clothing back to be accounted for.

      Touch wood, I haven’t come across anything really gross.

    • Annie

      I worked as the ‘fitting room attendant’ at a large retailer during my college years and it became ingrained in me to return the clothes to their hangers. I could not imagine leaving a mess for someone else to clean up. I think it goes back to the way we are raising our children.

    • Joanna

      Re: Make-up marks

      I currently live in Japan and here there are special covers for face to put on when trying on garments in the fitting room. The instructions are pictorial, so the language is not a barrier. I think it is a great idea, for the shop and for the customer: when I decide to buy the well fitting garments it does not have my own make-up marks on it!

    • BeenThere

      I have worked in retail as a fitting room cleaner/floor straightener in a well known store. I am appalled at the messes people make. The store I worked in did not allow us to give numbers or limit merchandise. Sometimes in this job a straightener might be only scheduled 4 hours in a week – the fitting rooms would pile up with clothes – torn off price tags – total messes – stuff left inside out – trash and garbage – attendants aren’t given any gloves to clean up stuff that has touched naked bodies (if I worked in a nursing home I would be required to use gloves). Most of the employees – think they are too “good” to clean up messes in fitting rooms – so it just lays there – until the 4 hour a week person gets there. It is no wonder you ladies are finding messes – retailers don’t want to schedule people who will do the work. On the other side – people (men leave messes too) should have some manners and clean up after themselves. The price tags could be laying there under the merchandise for a week – and the fitting room attendant was in trouble because stuff was stolen in the week they were not scheduled.

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