By Shalayne Pulia
Updated Dec 28, 2017 @ 12:30 pm
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Credit: Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Getty Images

Zara on its best days is a gleaming labyrinth of It girl-inspired clothes, shoes, and accessories. Racks upon racks will lead you to the promised land of a chic New Year's Eve get-up, whether it's a jewel-toned blouse or a glittery dress. On-point style can be yours, if you’re willing to thumb through 10,000 hangers, sort 47 fallen blouses, and wait your turn in the snaking fitting room line.

Holiday try-on lines, why do you have to be like that? On top of the particular anxiety all fitting rooms inevitably cause, the holiday season try-on line at Zara provides a special thought-provoking series of micro-crises. I came to this realization while on a recent shopping trip in pursuit of a dress to wear to a wedding.

As I waited in line for a tiny, curtained-off changing stall (for 32 minutes), my arm numbed from the pounds of material indecision weighing down on it, and my mind began to wander—through six emotional stages, to be exact.

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Maybe this sounds familiar to you?

Minutes 1-4: Patiently Observing

Once you’ve convinced yourself that you have, in fact, grabbed the best and most you items in the whole store, you mosey on over to the longest try-on line you’ve ever seen and settle into the back. Then comes the panic of committing to your chosen items and the long wait ahead.

Did I get everything?

Do I have time for this?

Maybe I should’ve gone down to the men’s section; their line is always shorter. But I can’t lose my place…

Do I really want to do this?

Is this tight velvet robe-ish looking thing worth this test of my patience?

Is it a trick?

Oh, that girl’s coat is cute. Where’d she get it?

OMG am I waiting in this purgatory to try on a batch of clothing that doesn't include the coat of my dreams?

Minutes 5-10: Committing to Style-Stardom

You breathe deeply as the worries fade away. You’re here and you’re not moving, no matter how many times the girl behind you with the excruciatingly high-pitched voice digs her hangers into your side. The clothes in your arms are worth it. And you might just have struck gold with that last find. This phase is a dynamic one, though, and things begin to change as you advance in line, passing by a rack of accessories.

I can do this.

Oh, these necklaces are cute…

Do I need sunglasses?

It’s winter. No, I don’t need sunglasses.

But maybe for those days when the sun is out and it reflects off the super white snow.

Too late. We’re moving. Thank god. Almost fell for it.

Minutes 11-17: Questioning

You are an official member of this line. It's home now. You see women behind you joining the club. And then, a Mecca before you in the shape of an empty, black-curtained fitting room appears. You’re seven women away. This is where it gets ugly: Did you—gulp—forget something?

One thing. I came in here for one specific thing and I can’t even remem… Oh, the dress.

How could I forget the one thing I came here for?!

Wait, is that a dress right there? Oh, that’s cute! That could be The Dress. More importantly, it is The Dress That's Right Here on the Rejected Rack. And soldiering on through this line is what's important now.

I need to grab it.

How far can I reach while keeping my big toe in line?

It’s too far. Plan B.

“Excuse me, can I just grab that dress right there and come back?” [Blank stare from zombie customer still in stage 2.]

GOT IT. I am a shopping ninja.

What filter are those girls in front of me in line using on Instagram? Did I sound that annoying when I was their age? I didn’t know you could do that with Instagram.

Am I trying too hard with this crop top-and-skirt-pretending-to-be-a-dress combo?

Minutes 18-20: The Point of No Return

Actually Zara does accept returns. But there's no turning back for you. The tweens are giving you a seething look.

Why are these things so f—ing heavy? I should work out more.

But seriously, how can hangers be the most heavy thing I've ever carried? Because it feels that way.

There has to be a better way to hold these.

Am I crazy?

I’m not crazy. I’m committed.

Does this count as working out?

I'm counting this as my bicep work for the week.

Oh my god, a puppy joined the line! A puppy IN A COAT. I love winter.

Minutes 21-25: Successful Elation

You’ve made it! And a major win: The fitting room manager woman let you sneak in more items than the try-on limit allows.


And it's a smaller size than I normally wear. I'm feeling myself. (Now I feel guilty for being happy about that.)

Okay, now for this bright orange tunic thing. Oh, god I’m a giant pumpkin. No, no, no.

Minutes 26-32: Accepting Defeat

One or two items fit you like a glove, but the majority of your 14+ (heavy on the plus) pieces did not. You concede to selecting a couple that worked and discarding the rest on your way to line two: Check Out.

Why is it so dark in here?

What size are these? Did I grab the wrong one?

Is this worth asking someone to get me another size?

Maybe if I jump I can get them ... over my ... no, these are too tight. I give up.

What could I wear this giant poufy coat to? Am I a poufy coat person? It’d be so comfortable on the plane … but I’d get overheated. It would give me more personal space on the subway, though.

Eh, I’ll wait. Maybe it’ll go on sale.

Have I eaten today? What time is it?

I’m done. I can’t. It’s almost past happy hour. I must go.

Good lord, the checkout line is just as long as the fitting room line.

I'll be back next week anyway.

To the devoted fashion-lovers still holiday shopping for that New Year's Eve dress or wedding outfit or orange tunic thing, we stand (in line) with you.