I Tried On Clothes In 9 Of Your Favorite Mall Stores And Here’s What Happened

Turns out, I’m a 10 at Nordstrom and a 2 at Zara.

Beauty is in the glare of the overhead lighting.

You know that one mirror that makes you look like a 6-foot supermodel and the other that makes you look like a stumpy bridge troll? You know how you feel like a total babe in a softly lit restaurant but a creature of the deep in a fluorescent-lit grocery store? Do you ever feel like a young Cher in the reflection in your bedroom but an old Cher under the bare bulbs of the bathroom mirror? No?

Lighting and mirror quality can make a big difference in the way we see ourselves. And nowhere is this more apparent than going from shop to shop at the mall. So, I put together a little guide for which of your favorite chain stores will make you feel like a goddess and which will make you feel like a goblin.

Please excuse my selfies.

Forever 21: More like “Almost 30.”

I waited for 25 minutes behind the biggest group of youths I’ve seen since the last time I was in a cafetorium. The fitting room itself was so teeny tiny that I knocked my head on the door handle when I was pulling on my jeans. The direct overhead lighting cast some unflattering shadows on my face that reminded me I haven’t been 21 in a while.

Gap: The best lighting for khaki.

I had a friend in high school who worked at the Gap and she told me she once found a human turd in the dressing room. The only turd I see is this khaki cargo number that falls somewhere between a dress and a vest. But the fitting room is spacious enough for a whole Gap family to cram in (there’s even a chair!) and the mirror is backlit, making for soft indirect illumination of my cargo-clad bod.

H&M: So many mirrors, so little room!

Two mirrors reflected in each other?! In a space that’s only 3 feet by 3 feet?? Now I can see multiple views of myself in this J. Lo hat! Otherwise, this fitting room is pretty dumpy. If it were a dog carrier it wouldn’t be airline-approved because I can’t really turn around. The paint is chipping and there’s a ball of hair in the corner. You can tell this fitting room has seen a lot of butts.

This hat is protecting me from the harsh rays of the of the H&M lightbulbs. On a separate note, I think I found Carmen Sandiego.

Zara: Oh no…

This photo speaks for itself. The florescent spotlights over each stall illuminate every pore. Why do I bother buying striped shirts and swing coats at Zara if I always look like a troll? Then I remembered…

You just gotta find your light, bb!

Loft: Cool shorts, cool bench.

These shorts got me pregnant and bought me a mini van (I’m a mom now). As far as fitting rooms go, this one is pretty spacious with lamps on either side of the mirror for a decently flattering glow. There is a bench so big I can (and do) take a luxurious mid-shop lounge break. AND there’s a coy poster asking for my zodiac sign…

Loft, are you flirting with me?

Anthropologie: Everything is so pink.

The walls are pink, the lights are pink, the dress is pink, I’m pink. The lighting from the backlit mirror is simultaneously soft and harsh. I feel like someone airbrushed my face but enhanced my mustache hair. The fitting room is the size of my entire kitchen and the only thing in it is a big wooden block. Ok, sure.

The portrait of a woman who has been dead for many years.

Ann Taylor: The country club of dressing rooms.

Ann Taylor makes me feel like a grown-up woman named Bitsy. Bitsy picked out this silky orchid wall paper. Bitsy got this bench at an estate sale. Bitsy chose delicate lamps that soften the look of her fine lines and wrinkles. I overhear someone complain that the “slacks” are too tight on her “tush” and I make for the exit. RIP Bitsy.

Nordstrom: All the world’s a stage…with a shit ton of mirrors.

I thought H&M had a lot of mirrors but damn, Nordstrom! I can see 173485 reflections of myself! They even have a little stage thing you can stand on and a waiting area that I would very much like to take a nap in.

You can’t tell but my shirt says “Guac This Way” and this jacket costs as much as my rent. It smells like leather.

I never thought I’d say this, but I could see myself living in the waiting room of a Nordstrom fitting rooom.

Urban Outfitters: Fluorescents are hip, ya?

Overheard: “Well the moon is in Scorpio, so you know…”

At this point, the mall has beaten me into a stupor and I’m understanding how one could actually shop until they drop. Good thing Urban Outfitters has a mysteriously stained bench in their fitting room. The fluorescent lights are less than flattering but at least they keep me awake long enough to buy this sweet pineapple hat.


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