Are Store Change Rooms Built to Make us Look Better? We Put 5 to the Test

Retailers know that the lighting, spaciousness and ambiance of a change room can make or break a purchase decision. We went into 5 store change rooms…

Retailers know that the lighting, spaciousness and ambiance of a change room can make or break a clothing purchase decision. While some stores fail to create a welcoming environment in their fitting rooms (such as Aritzia without any private mirrors), other retailers go above and beyond to create epic private dressing room experiences (a la Saks Fifth Avenue).

To dig a little deeper into these differences, I was tasked with investigating the change rooms at various retail chain stores across Toronto. After ‘trying on’ the change rooms at five popular retailers along Bloor Street, I developed some mixed emotions over my outfit of choice and overall appearance. In summary, all retailer change rooms are wack!

Wearing the same casual grey tee and jeans on a sunny afternoon, here’s a roundup of what I encountered in the change rooms of five popular chain retailers.

change rooms
Inside H&M’s Change Room

H&M

I found the second floor change rooms in H&M’s Yorkville location to be extremely small. Once inside (and cozy), I appreciated the generous number of hooks to hang personal belongings and potential purchases. I loved the two mirrors on opposite corners of the change room (giving you a 360 degree view of your outfit). The single backlit mirror was glamorous and softened my features (practically disguising me in shadows). This mirror was a bit too good however… “Could it possibly be a slimming mirror?” I asked myself. Still to be determined…

change rooms
Inside Zara’s Teeny-Tiny Change Room

Zara

If you don’t need to visit the change rooms in Zara, I’d say STEER CLEAR! Cons: the long line-up to get in, you can’t bring a friend in with you and there’s a security checkpoint before entering where you need to tap your purse! Seriously. Once inside the tiny Zara change room (similar to an airplane washroom), I felt a little curvier than 20 minutes earlier in H&M… I wasn’t sure if this was as a result of the mirror, or just a realization of my body type following my slimming mirror experience. Pros: Zara’s change room lighting makes you looked tanned AF (for someone naturally pale like myself, I loved it).

change rooms
Inside Winners’ Change Room

Winners

I rarely venture into a Winners change room – with a flexible return policy, I’d rather just try on my items at home. The Winners in Yorkville appeared to have newly renovated fitting rooms. With each change room feeling like the size of four Zara change rooms, I really loved the freedom to move around. What I didn’t love was the lighting! “Why does my hair look orange? Why is it so bright? Who could this lighting possibly flatter?” All of these questions crossed my mind and made me miss the Winners’ fitting rooms I remembered at older locations with broken locks and price stickers all over the walls.

Inside the Gap Change Room

Gap

The Gap location at the corner of Bay and Bloor is bright and welcoming; the same can be said for their change rooms! The single backlit mirror inside each room provided crisp, natural lighting and reflected the most realistic version of myself (hence the big dorky smile). As a result of this lighting, my clothing even looked much more true to colour. Pro: GAP fitting room staff are super helpful (without being intrusive,) and you can bring in as many guests as you like to critique your look – there’s seating for everyone. Con: the natural lighting reinforced that my foundation colour did not match my neck…

change rooms
Inside Banana Republic’s Change Room

Banana Republic

I’m not an avid Banana Republic shopper, but my hopes of analyzing Artizia’s fitting rooms were crushed when I realized that all customers share a communal mirror openly in front of store staff and fellow shoppers…  Once inside Banana Republic’s Yorkville location, I was in heaven! So chic. Their change rooms on the other hand, didn’t quite match the aesthetics of the rest of the store. I tried on a few pieces in the downstairs change room, which was drab, dingy and dark. Despite the darkness, I did ending up buying the pieces that I tried on in said fitting room. Therefore, maybe Banana Republic knows what they’re doing with their underwhelming fitting rooms… or maybe it was just the sale prices!

Do you think you look better in store change rooms?

All images via Cristina Avila

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