By Lynn B.
As an intimate apparel merchandiser, I’m in department stores most of the day, five days a week. When trying to help customers, I never know what I might see, hear, or learn. Most conversations I have with them deal with the body part they’re trying to lift, smooth, firm, or preferably make go away (without using liposuction). Much of the time, I help customers find the garments that will do the trick. And more often than not, I walk away with a cute story about the encounter that I’m able to share with others in the form of advice.
As an example, I once helped a lady in her 60’s who told me, “Not only has gravity made my breasts sag, it has made my rear end sag until it disappeared.” I showed her a padded bottom garment that added curves to her lower half and – presto – her clothes looked the way they did before age & gravity intervened. This garment also worked very well for another older lady who was facing a different problem. She was very thin, and about to embark on a long driving trip. She was looking for some extra padding to sit on during the long hours she’d be in the car. After I showed her that padded bottom garment, she said that it was exactly what she’d been looking for.
Sometimes my stories relate to the ways in which customers try on garments, rather than on the choices of the garments themselves. Not too long ago, I helped a customer find a high waist thigh slimmer with silicone on the bottom of its legs, and sent her to the fitting room to try it on. After a little while, I went to see how she was doing. She told me that she was having a very hard time pulling on the garment. It turned out that I had forgotten to tell her to roll up the silicone edges of the legs when first putting the garment on, and then roll down the edges after getting the garment in place. That thigh slimmer was just doing the job it was designed to do, which was not riding up on the leg.
In another case, a somewhat overweight woman whom I was helping showed me why she didn’t like the high waist garment I had suggested she try on. She said that the garment had created a roll at its top when she’d put it on. I asked her to take the garment off and put it on again, this time while rolling the top down a little bit and pulling it on like she would if it were a pair of pantyhose. After she had the crotch against her body and had worked the rest of the garment up, she popped the top up and, Guess what? No roll!! I asked her where she had thought all of the loose skin would go as she pulled the garment straight up her body. I explained to her that it had nowhere to go except over the top of the garment. She was amazed at the difference this technique had made.
Sometimes, my customer encounters are downright hilarious. I remember working on a fixture in a Macy’s store near the fitting room of the intimate apparel department when I heard a call from a customer. “Could someone please come and help me,” it said. When I went in to see if I could be of assistance, I had to stop and keep from laughing. The customer was in the process of trying on a shapewear camisole, and had tried to put it on over her head, rather than step into it and pull it up to her shoulders. She had her arms and head in the garment, but couldn’t pull it down anymore or get it off. She was stuck! As she bent over and I pulled the garment off, we both started laughing out loud. “You need to put instructions on these things,” she suggested. I imagined they could say:
WARNING! ALWAYS STEP INTO SHAPEWEAR CAMISOLES AND BRA SLIPS AND PULL THEM UP TO YOUR SHOULDERS. DON’T TRY TO PULL THEM ON OVER YOUR HEAD UNLESS YOU’RE READY TO CALL FOR HELP!!
Stories like these illustrate a couple pieces of good advice all shapewear shoppers should keep in mind when journeying into their favorite department stores. First, no one should be afraid to ask salespeople for help and advice when trying on intimate apparel. Second, everyone needs to keep their ears open. After all, you never know when you’ll be called upon to rescue a fellow shopper in a dressing room from the clutches of some spandex.CC Image courtesy ontwerpplus photography on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/ontwerpplus// CC BY 2.0 CC Image courtesy emdot on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/emdot// CC BY 2.0