Curing The Dressing Room Blues

Okay, time for true confessions: I find shopping for clothes a depressing experience. Specifically, it’s the ego-crushing act of trying on clothes that is a chore. Being overweight is depressing when it’s fully reflected in a three-way mirror.

First, the mental degradation starts when you begrudgingly step into the plus-size department (often sympathetically called ‘women’s sizes’ or ‘fuller figured’). It’s ego-blow number one on the typical shopping trip from hell.

Next, so-called fuller figure clothing is often, well, simply gross. A plethora of polyester, a gaggle of grandmotherly garments. You know stuff your typical Internet trendsetter would never be caught dead in.

Shopping trips quickly turn ugly as I dig through the dredges and locate non-polyester possibilities. Stress mounts as I head for the dressing room — the chamber of horrors. Exposed in front of the dressing room mirror, I am forced to face the reality that I somehow tend to ignore in my everyday life.

Things don’t fit. Things don’t look right. And there’s the inevitable problems with things that do fit a skirt with no jacket to match, an outfit that fits but that is a putrid color. Or, on a good day, an outfit that does fit, looks good, but is priced at $1,200.

So you are wondering what’s all this whining have to do with killer commerce?

Well, exactly this: A cool tool I found on the Lands’ End site called “Your Personal Model.” Using Your Personal Model, Lands’ End visitors can create their own virtual model based on their body proportions, and actually try on an endless possibility of clothing selections. A true godsend! This will save me years of therapy!

At last, I’m not singled out as a ‘plus size.’ I’ve got a vast selection of clothing styles in every available color, and I can actually see what an outfit will look like on me without even moving anything but a mouse-clicking finger!

The process begins by specifying your body characteristics for height, shoulders, waist, hips, and hair color. I was relieved when I was asked for generalities instead of specific measurements. Narrow, regular and wide are much more palatable than actually telling Lands’ End what I weigh! (No matter how secure the server.)

Wide. Click. Generous. Click. Broad. Click. Voila!

Hey! It’s a virtual me who doesn’t look half bad!

Next, Lands’ End provides me with information on the four different body types, and explains what kind of clothes flatter my specific category. Funny they didn’t mention my cardinal rule: Wear black at all costs.

In addition, Lands’ End then makes specific outfit recommendations based on my body characteristics, and also provides a broad range of clothing styles and selections that I can browse. When making my selections, I add them to my “dressing room,” where I accumulate everything I want to try on.

Once I’m done browsing and making selections, I enter the dressing room. My clothes are waiting. At this point, I check off specific combinations of clothing that I wish to try on and click to see them modeled by the virtual “me.”

I was skeptical as to how well the process would work. But I was amazed by the results. Not only could I see which outfits would look good on me (and which would look embarrassing), I spent quite a bit of time mixing and matching color combinations of jackets, skirts and pants to find the combination that I liked best.

I was curious to see what a non-chubby model would look like in my same selections, and I was able to quickly change the body parameters on my model and dream of what I’d look like when I lose that 40 pounds.

This new tool is a true example of functionality that can only be delivered via the web. It’s like the Dell or Gateway PC configurators, only for your body! And if Lands’ End is smart, they’ve captured all of my body characteristics and will use that information to make recommendations to me when I return to their site in the future. There’s one obvious flaw in the process though — I’ll have to ignore their recommendations when I lose those 40 pounds!

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