Avoiding Awkward Situations Shop 'til You Drop (But Not of Embarrassment) Eliza Hurwitz

Sometimes, when shopping for clothes alone, I feel awkward. Not having friends to rely on or ask for advice from can be difficult. Not to mention the clothing store clerks might ask me questions that I’m not prepared to answer, such as, “Are you looking for anything particular?” “Do you want that in another size?” or “How are you?” I just want them to leave me alone. When I shop, it’s me time. I need to focus on the task at hand and that means no interruptions, no trick questions and no awkward encounters. Here’s how I do it.

Get the Look:

First things first: when you walk into the store, put on a look that says, “I mean business. I’m not going to stop my shopping to answer your stupid questions and no matter how much I look like I want/need help. Trust me, I don’t.” This look could be different for everyone. Ideally, for me, I would like to wear sunglasses and a scarf around my mouth because my eyes and mouth don’t read seriousness as I shop. Instead they read pure joy, excitement and more than a little bit crazy. If salespeople see this, they trip over themselves trying to talk to me. I need to cover up my elation. Other options include squinting your eyes, but only a little, because if you squint too much you run the risk of looking confused and or impairing your vision, which will only result in an awkward physical confrontation. You could also wear a large hat and if it’s cold maybe one of those snow hat facemasks if you really need to cover up.

Know the Layout:

When I went to NYU, I would stop at Forever 21 pretty much every day, which was kind of stupid since they don’t change their inventory that frequently but I had to procrastinate some way and whatever, I’m seriously proud of the fact that I knew that store like the back of my hand.

Of course, I worried that the people working there would start to recognize me. To avoid the awkward encounter of “Wow, you come here all the time”, I suggest using my previous technique and change up your serious look every day. For example, do the squint Monday, large hat on Tuesday, sunglasses and scarf on Wednesday, squint with a scarf on Thursday and maybe try to take a break on Friday, that will give you ample time to update your look, try a new store and/or have the sales people forget about you.

Be Prepared and Be Resourceful:

When I shop I tend to go a little crazy and pick up way more clothes than I can reasonably handle. This results in salespeople looking at me and asking if I need help. So, I suggest go into the store with a certain item in mind. Not only will this result in wasting less money but it will also result in fewer awkward stares. It’s also easier on your arm muscles.

Another problem I run into is a result of being short. I’m often unable to reach an article of clothing that I want. This issue combined with the fact that I hate asking for help can make shopping difficult. But, do I let this little problem deter me from getting what I want?  Hell no, it just adds to the challenge and thrill of shopping. This complication actually inspires me; it’s what I live for! No clothing or accessory is too high for me. As stand on my tippy toes, using a hook I found lying on the ground, connected with another hook I found lying on the ground, reaching and getting a hold of that beautiful top that’s only $12, I call myself, “Lil’ MacGyver” because I’d like to think I’m just like him if he were smaller and uncomfortable in social situations.

With these tips you are now prepared to shop with your new best accessory: total confidence, leaving that awkwardness at the door.

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  1. I am so glad I wasn’t the only NYU girl who went to F21 daily.. It was like…yes I’ll go work on that paper.. first i need to hit up F21, Joyce Leslie, and like 10 other crappy stores on broadway…then Roni and then Zachary’s Closet and then grab a coffee at Think and I’ll do the paper.

  2. This is exactly how I shop hahaha

  3. unfortunately us sales people have to say hello. we don’t really want to but we have to. At my previous job we even had to ask for your name…it was a big ol hoopla. As a shopper myself I hate when I get asked questions but I understand this isn’t really a choice for the salesperson. Either we talk to you or we get a talking to.

  4. Great post! That first paragraph pretty much describes what I’m thinking every time I go shopping! Also, the being short thing doesn’t stop me from attempting to get things down from higher shelves by climbing and using a hanger from a lower shelf (although, only in department stores, not in super nice stores!) but sometimes I end up having to ask anyway. Good tips! Also, that “I mean business and I’m not going to stop to answer your questions” works for avoiding the people at the kiosks in the mall who want you to try their hand cream or smell their herbal mask in an attempt to suck you into buying something! ;)