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Ill-fitting new clothes cause us more grief than we know

85% of women feel depression around having the 'wrong' body shape and the money they waste on clothes that don't fit.


Ill-fitting new clothes cause us more grief than we know

85% of women feel depression around having the 'wrong' body shape and the money they waste on clothes that don't fit.

According to a survey of 1,000 shoppers for virtual fitting room provider, making a mess of online clothing selections sends a whopping 43 out of 50 people on a journey through a set of emotions comprising Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

These stages correspond to the well-established Kübler-Ross model which, in the world of psychology, describes the ‘five stages of grief’.  As with mourning a death, some people will experience all five stages, while others may experience – for example – just depression and acceptance.

Retail psychology expert Phillip Adcock, who consulted on the project, said: “Unlike buying something like an iPod, buying clothing is intensely subjective.  Do I love it?  Does it make me look fabulous?  Online shoppers find it easier to accept that the colour may be different from what they saw on a screen, and it’s obvious that a shopper can’t handle the fabric before buying.  But people expect the fit to be right and they definitely tend to blame themselves for clothes not fitting properly”.

The survey asked what feelings or actions follow the purchase of an item of clothing that doesn’t fit.  Ninety per cent of all respondents admit to keeping clothes that don’t fit them, rather than returning them to the store. 

57% of people feel Anger at themselves for purchasing an item of clothing that doesn’t fit, while 21% direct their Anger at the retailer for not meeting their expectations.

There are significant differences in the way different age groups manage grief: 25% of 18-34 year olds do everything they can to squeeze in to the garment, while only 9% of over 55s do the same.   60% of people cling on to items for more than a month. 

The survey also revealed that a typical shopper has five items of clothing hanging in their wardrobe that don’t fit them, costing an average of £110 – leaving wardrobes bulging and pockets empty.

Peter Rankin, VP Sales at, said: “It’s pretty disappointing to open a delivery and find it doesn’t fit – now we learn the disappointment runs deeper and lasts longer than we knew.  The good news for online shoppers is that retailers are getting more sophisticated in their efforts to avoid disappointing their customers.  They are using technology like virtual fitting rooms to avoid fit mistakes – and this sort of research could help them to react better to customer disappointment that might still occur.

“For example, if a retailer knows that you’ve been disappointed and are probably experiencing grief, it might contact you in the tone of a close friend who sympathises, while they fix the issue and turn a negative experience into something positive after all.”


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