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Stylist James Yardley tells us how to banish changing room blues

Brits spend an average of 9.3 weeks of their lives in changing rooms, yet according to new research from retail property group, Hammerson, over half of us dread the experience*. Changing rooms are the necessary evil of high street shopping, so we spoke to celebrity stylist James Yardley for advice on how best to avoid changing room blues.

Despite the rise in online shopping, the high street has retained importance for true fashion lovers, especially for those looking for unique or high end items. In James’ opinion ‘there isn’t a person in all the land that wouldn’t use the high street,’ and his particularly fashion conscious clients, such as Katie Piper, often head to the high street themselves to complement their wardrobe.

Having such an impressive portfolio of clients, including Tess Daly and Caroline Flack, one could assume James finds all the clothes he styles with online. This is in fact not the case, and James says he would always head to the shops if possible to ensure garments look and feel as expected. He stresses that, although the high street may require more patience to find ‘the one,’ the rewards make it worthwhile.

Shopping on the high street gives you a chance to try before you buy

One of the merits of the high street is the possibility of trying before you buy, and 68% of shoppers commit to a purchase immediately if they like the item having tried it on. However, not all shoppers capitalise on this, with 61% of Brits likely to take the gamble and skip the changing rooms all together due to the aggravation it can cause. The curtain gap is the biggest cause of angst according to 55% of those questioned, but long queues, tight changing cubical and sweltering summer temperatures all contribute to the changing room blues.

In light of these findings, James worked with Hammerson to develop some insider tips on the ‘Ultimate Shopping Outfit’ in order to make the changing room experience less irksome. James wouldn’t dream of hitting the shops in a high maintenance outfit, and his go-to shopping look includes easy to slip off shoes, such as non-laced trainers, a dark t-shirt which will hide makeup or hair product stains from frequent removal, and joggers. Here are his hints and tips for planning your own shopping outfit:


Plan your outfit before you leave the house for your spree. And be comfortable. Some women prefer to wear flats, but if you have a go-to pair of heels that you can last in all day, throw them on and strut your stuff.


Wear something for the first time. You don’t know how it wears, if it rubs etc. A crucial shopping trip is not the time to find out.


Wear over the head tops and stylish joggers with stretch waistbands to make changing easier. Avoid tricky fastenings.


Wear skin tight outfits. They might seem like a good idea but after one trip to the fitting room, you’ll wish you wore that-breezy top and trousers instead.


Embrace prints this season. Especially in menswear, exotic prints are huge this summer. Just because an outfit is functional, doesn’t mean it can’t be fashionable


Wear anything that fastens in the back. There’s no panic like the panic of not being able to do your top back up in a sweltering changing room.

James also stressed the importance of considering your jewellery choice, and shared one story he heard of a client accidentally damaging a high-end dress when her ring caught on the security tag and it leaked fluid onto the garment. He frequently hears stories of impractical outfits ruining a shopping trip, and most commonly people buying the incorrect shoe size due to shopping in lace ups that they didn’t want the hassle of removing.

Of course, transforming shopping from tiresome to a treat goes beyond simply the clothes you wear. James likes to make shopping a leisure activity, especially around Christmas when dashing to the shops with a deadline makes the process even more challenging. A day out with friends, with a long lunch to break it up, is James’ preferred way to shop.

Make your shopping trip fun – go with friends and take time for a leisurely lunch

He laments that the social side of shopping has ‘died a death,’ with 40% of women opting to partake in retail therapy alone, and advocates sharing the shopping experience both for enjoyment and practicalities. James told us that one of his clients, Katie Piper, often asks for James’ advice before purchasing items when shopping, and it is always worth shopping with another pair of eyes.

*Statistics resulting from a survey of 2000 adults carried out by Hammerson in June 2018