Shopping is supposed to be fun. Ideally, we’d like for you to be kicking it Marie Antoinette style on a tuffet while minions parade in front of you with silks you can veto by rolling your eyes. But when you shop in actual stores IRL, scoring a bra is kind of a hassle. You can’t reach for a t-shirt without some retail worker offering her unsolicited opinion about your look, life, and choices. That’s because obnoxious retail workers counseling you about your right to exist lurk at every turn. Dignity-testing “customer service” like being told what you can’t try on and what section you should be in are all too relatable shopping experiences. So we at RunwayRiot asked five women about their most humiliating shopping tales. Let’s jump right in with one of the most unbelievably horrendous.
Heidi Marie Knight, 28, social media
“Probably the most memorable store related incident would be when I was at Le Petit Coquette or however the eff you spell it. This was like 6 years ago. I was looking at a corset (because I was going through a phase), and the sales lady came over, took it out of my hands and mumbled something to the affect of “Let me know if you need help with something. We don’t want to break anything.” In my head I was like “b*tch”, but out loud, I was just like “You’ve helped me. I now know I never want to shop here.” I was actually going to buy the corset because it was well made and very pretty. In hindsight, she saved me from buying something I would have toyed with for a few weeks then left to collect dust, but dammit, you let me spend my money if I want to!”
Holiday Kinard, 27, entertainment
I was looking for some fun fall clothes, specifically a mustard-colored cardigan. It was all over Pinterest for like 3 weeks and I really wanted one. I went to a nice-ish store and looked around.
I find that normal-sized sweaters are sometimes too long, so I thought perhaps I’d buy one a size or two up from the Petite Section. When I got there, a saleslady took one look at me and said “Excuse me, this is the petite section.” As I was somewhere I did not belong. As if I had wandered into the boys locker room.
Girl, I know I’m not petite! I also know how to effing read! There’s a big old sign above your head that reads PETITE SECTION. I could be in the petite section for a million reasons.
Maybe I have a petite mom/sister/dog, and I’m buying the sweater for them. Maybe I’m pervy and I just like looking at tiny sweaters. WHAT DOES IT MATTER??
I’m pretty average-sized, and consider myself lucky that I don’t have too much trouble when buying clothes, but retail employees need to understand that you just never know who’s super sensitive about their size. And maybe they should spend less time judging and more time unlocking the damn dressing rooms.
Danielle Jankosky, 28, Legal
It was a sunny June day. Not a cloud in the sky. I had just accepted a new job and was shopping with my mom for more “professional-looking” attire. I went to White House/Black Market and immediately gravitated toward some solid color tops with rhinestones and beading. I came out into the hall, the first blouse on. With a big grin on her face, my mom exclaimed “it looks cute.” I asked the saleswoman walking what she thought. To which she paused, looked intently at me from head to toe, and then replied, “it looks like you could use a bigger size.” I tried to mask my disappointment and said, “no thank you.” Considering the saleswomen was like me, by no means a supermodel, I was surprised by her emotionless and rejecting reaction. She could have at at least took the sting out if it by starting off her sentence with “it looks nice, but…” The good news of my new job seemed to take a back seat to this lady’s brief, but hurtful comment. I no longer wanted to shop for new clothes. I just wanted out of that store as fast as possible. I left with my mom without saying another word until the doors closed behind us . My next words to her….do you think I’m fat? And there it was.
Kristen Drew, 25, freelance opera singer and student
On a Sunday morning in June, a man I was consistently hooking up with dumped me in the middle of Copley Square. Being in shock, I decided to consult what seemed to be the best solution for healing an ego about to crack: Victoria’s Secret. I ran to Newbury Street to see those notoriously sexy windows flaunting the flashy models with their perky boobs, the Tyra Banks smizes, and effortlessly perfect hair. I didn’t want to be that dumped girl suppressing tears; I wanted to be that hot, sociopathic Regina George who wore hot lingerie and, most importantly, didn’t care a wink about feelings.
I approached a bored saleslady folding panties and boldly stated, “I want garters.”
“What a lucky guy you’ve got…” she said in the most apathetic tone.
Right there, I bit my tongue to hold back a sob. This is not what you do at Victoria’s Secret. Doutzen Kroes is too beautiful and perfect to cry about some guy.
I followed this bored woman around the store as she opened various drawers to find garters. She finally found a pair of lacey black straps.
“Are you a medium/small or a large/medium?” she said.
“I don’t know.” I replied. I had no idea what to do with garters.
“Here.” She shoved some black garters in my hand, “Fitting room’s in the back. We don’t have bigger or any other color, just so you know.” My name’s Stephanie. Tell the cashier I helped you.”
$150 later and with bag full of lingerie, I went home and tried on the garters again. I thought, “Look what he lost – a girl with garters.”
Over the next few weeks, I wore the garters underneath my outfits everywhere. Every time I wanted to cry, I put them on. I even wore them as I went to sleep.
Inevitably, the artificial shield could only last so long. A lousy saleswoman, a photoshopped model, or even a black lace garter couldn’t suppress my inevitable sadness. I stopped wearing it. A stupid, lacey piece of fabric is not how you handle a bruised ego.
As for the garter, it’s still in my drawer. The purchase wasn’t a total bust; they always make their cameo at a live showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Olivia Warren, 24, Hospitality
“I was in Intermix and I really wanted this Elizabeth and James red dress. It was just a little too tight, and so I asked the woman at the cashier if she had it in a large. An attentive and polite guy swiftly said, let me go check for you,” but the woman made a point of looking at him and rolling her eyes and shaking her head as to say, of course we don’t, what a ridiculous request. He still went and checked for me, but did she really need to tell him searching for it in my size was such a fool’s errand? She made it awkward. Anyway, I’m not running back.”