Ever wondered what would happen if you challenged a girl to try on 100 different outfits in one day? Me neither. That didn’t stop me setting that exact challenge for my amazing and beautiful girlfriend, Meri, to try to accomplish on the first Saturday of May. If she succeeded, I agreed to buy her one of the outfits she tried on. If not, she had to buy me a crazy hat.

Within an hour of arriving at Myer, she had already chosen at least 10 different outfits. Meanwhile, I’d started to realise just what it was i’d gotten myself into. After conversations with various people in the weeks leading up to this, I thought the main challenges would be the waiting at the change rooms and overall being a guy in the women’s clothing department for around seven hours. Neither of which really bothered me (I’m weird, I know). With clothes hanging from both arms (as well as being strategically hooked onto my shirt), it was clear that my pack mule clothes carrying skills would be tested too. I hadn’t trained for this. For anyone planning on trying this at home – clothing is surprisingly heavy after balancing several layers above the ground for quite a while. It’s not for the weak willed/armed.

Myer staff were really helpful at the beginning, they even gave us our own rack to put our insane amount of outfits onto. Along with allowing us to use the counter to keep the rest of the clothes and accessories (yes, there were that many). Myer staff did get a bit annoyed when I tried to take photos and document the adventure, apparently it’s store policy not to allow photos. That was a little disappointing. Meri ingeniously, steathily and sneakily took a few photos MySpace mirror style instead with her phone, defiantly stating there was no way she’d go through all this without a record of what she’d tried on. Talk about determination.

Definitely Agent 99.

One Myer staff member was really sweet. She helped put a lot of the clothes back and offered to take a photo of us (she was surprised at the number of clothes I was carrying… after we’d already put half back). When i’d pointed out we weren’t allowed to take photos, she even went and checked with her manager who sadly said we couldn’t. Apparently a walking clothes rack with a DSLR camera and a girl whose face was shining with happiness and joy really wasn’t enough to invoke a leniency of the rules. We must have been giving off a European tourist vibe because they asked if we were from Germany. Guess not many locals photograph what they’re trying on.

After about two and a half hours, Meri had reached 16 outfits and we’d decided we’d probably reached the limit of Myer’s staff patience. Time for lunch and then some more stores.

Favourite outfit: I really liked the trenchcoat look, I get the feeling I should be worried Meri is actually a secret agent or detective from the government sent to spy on me. She pulls off that look pretty dam well.

Small Parramatta store 1
We were instantly given much better service at this store than Myer. The lady behind the counter had no worries about me taking photos and even let Meri try on way more garments than store rules usually allow. Meri was granted “special” status (totally deserving of such a title too).

Favourite outfit: The outfit including only one cowboy style boot… just because we couldn’t find the other to try on with it at the same time.

The Monkey Hoodie

Hip Hop Charisma
My favourite store of the day by far. Seeing Meri dress in hip hop outfits was hilarious. Disappointingly, Meri didn’t wear anywhere near enough bling, nor did she breakdance. She did wear suspenders and pants that reminded me of MC Hammer. Staff here were brilliant too, they had no issues with me taking photos and even were happy to have a conversation with me about my annoyance at their lack of Phoenix Suns merchandise.

Favourite outfit: The monkey hoodie for sure. Closely followed by the outfit that involved wearing suspenders. Gave off a hilarious MC Hammer vibe. Honourable mention to the hoodie I saw with the Flash on it. Lets just say I really liked this store.

Small Parramatta store 2

Meri looking amazing!

This store had my favourite staff member of the day. He was really friendly, had no issues with me taking photos and even offered me a seat while I was waiting for Meri to get changed. While Meri was trying on outfits, I was having a whole conversation about DSLR cameras with him. Had a great time!

Favourite outfit: There was a really nice white dress which looked amazing on her. Still very tempted to go back and get it for her (shhh, don’t tell Meri).

Small Parramatta store 3
Staff here were pretty busy, so we didn’t really interact with them much. It was a nice store but no really interesting stories.

Small Parramatta store 4
This wasn’t really a clothing store but a bit of everything. It had a lot of pink everywhere, with stuffed toys, random character based clocks and other cartoony merchandise. Meri tried on one outfit here which included a brilliant tiny hat. Loved the hat.

Small Parramatta Store 5
Ended up being the store which killed our adventurous buzz, prematurely ending the challenge. While it’s an interesting story to tell and I can finally say i’m technically banned from somewhere (only took 21 years), it wasn’t a nice way to end the challenge. All was well, the store lady was really kind, friendly and was happy to make conversation. Didn’t worry or yell at us when we were taking photos and even gave feedback on one of the dresses. Then she changed as soon as we were about to leave without buying anything. That’s when I was told to delete every photo I’d taken on my camera before I left the store. It got worse when we were called back to the store to search for an outfit we’d apparently tried on that was now missing. Funny thing was, Meri hadn’t actually tried an outfit on which matched the description the lady was giving. We’d know because i’d been documenting each outfit and we’d been taking photos. After searching Meri’s bag and surely after the confusion both Meri and I were showing, I thought it was pretty obvious we hadn’t stolen or misplaced the outfit. Those who know us will agree, neither of us are the sort of person to even consider such a thing. While walking away after finally being allowed to leave, she made sure to call us back and tell us she didn’t want to see us around there again.

Guess she won’t be. Though my mind is entertaining itself with thoughts of us walking in wearing trenchcoats (already know Meri can pull them off really well), secret spy hats and Groucho glasses. Possibly with the Pink Panther theme playing in the background.

Small Parramatta Store 6
This was the store we were in before getting called back to sort out the whole missing dress drama. The lady in this store was also quite friendly and nice. I think there were a few outfits Meri liked in this store, I didn’t get a chance to see or focus on much of them.

Final thoughts
I’m actually quite surprised at the approach a lot of stores take on photos. I don’t see it doing any harm allowing customers to take photos of what they’re wearing. Even if they don’t purchase it that day, looking at the photos later leads to purchases down the track. Meri was finding dresses and clothing she wanted to go back for after reviewing the photos and I’m sure many others would too. Even if she didn’t buy them and just showed them to friends… that’s free publicity. That’s a whole bunch of people considering your store’s clothing line who might not otherwise have even thought about it.

There was one good point that photos in some places aren’t allowed because you could be photographing where security cameras are placed. Surely if I was going to be doing that though, I’d be doing it secretly and not so openly with a big DSLR camera.

OR maybe the store owners could sense my shockingly bad portrait photography skills and instinctively knew they were against their clothing lines being a part of it.

Honestly, it seemed like retail stores have a very short term view of customer habits. Just because someone doesn’t buy something from you that day, doesn’t mean they won’t be back. I’d definitely go back to the store with the really nice guy who offered me a seat and talked to me about my DSLR. I’m seriously considering going back to Hip Hop Charisma for that Flash hoodie.

Overall, it was a pretty fun adventure. Meri reached a total of 43 outfits. She could definitely have gotten to 100 but had a serious moral objection to wearing anything she wasn’t happy with. Meri’s pickyness lead to her downfall.

Mobile devices like iPods, PDAs, smartphones… all pretty great technologies. They make our lives easier. We’re always connected. Gotta love it right? Well, sometimes it’s a good thing that technology, whilst improving all the time, also loves to fail.

I thought I’d summarise this story in a list of yays and uh ohs.

Yay – I get a friend request on Facebook over my iPod (hey, that’s convenience… no need to go all the way to a PC to accept a friend right?). It’s a guy I know, he’s pretty cool, always good to add a new friend on facebook.

Yay – My girlfriend is on my iPod making a song selection (she does have good musical taste).

Uh oh – Aforementioned girlfriend also has access to my Facebook account.

Uh oh – She likes to respond.

Uh oh – In interesting ways.

Yay – My iPod failed (rarely a “yay” situation)

Yay – This error didn’t appear until I went back to my iPod the next morning

It's times like this I think Zazu* was looking out for me.

You know what? Errors aren’t so bad after all.

* Zazu is the name I gave my iPod. Yes… I named my iPod. It’s after the singing bird in the Lion King and was a name suggestion from Ali. Maybe naming technology makes it like you more? More personal. Shows you care?