THE BLOG

Chic Boutique Shopping Etiquette

09/15/2011 06:46 EDT | Updated 11/15/2011 05:12 EST

In retail, we're taught that the customer is king -- but that doesn't mean they're free to act like a royal pain in the ass. Here are some rules that all clothing shoppers should respect, particularly in vintage or consignment boutiques:

1. Most stores have signage forbidding food or drink in the store. However, you should still adhere to this rule even if a store doesn't have such a sign. If you spill or stain a piece of merchandise, are you willing to dry clean it? If you feel an irrepressible need to bring food and drink into a boutique, best to ask the staff if you can rest your edibles on their counter.

2. Yes, long fitting room line-ups are annoying and once you're in, you feel as if you have to rush. But if you have time to shop, then you have time to patiently try on your items in the fitting room, rather than pull them over your street clothes in the middle of the store. Perhaps because you feel you can do this in Forever 21 or H&M that you can do it anywhere. Please don't -- you could potentially stretch out the garment or cause snags, runs or popped-off buttons. Are you willing to break it and buy it? Think about that the next time you throw on a vintage sequin slinky dress over a cardi and jeans.

3. Someone, somewhere decided that it was okay to bring pets in stores. I've seen dogs and even a pet rat in my shop. Leave them at home or tie them up outside. It's the same rationale as the food-and-drink rule above -- what if an accident happens? What if someone in the store is deathly allergic to your pet? What's worse is when owners let their dogs off of their leashes -- don't even get me started on how disrespectful this is. The appropriate thing to do is ask the store-owner if you can bring your furry friend in and keep your pet on a tight leash.

4. Unless you're in a flea market or at a garage sale, bartering is never cool; it's insulting.

5. We've all done it: left the house or restaurant in a hurry and not paid attention to what our bodies are telling us. But boutiques are not public restrooms. Some chain stores or big-box stores may open up their washrooms to customers, but smaller stores do not and should not be expected to provide this service. (Don't worry, there's probably a Starbucks nearby.)

6. Most people find shopping to be a relaxing and enjoyable activity. Take some time, browse and become one with the merchandise. That means leaving your phone in your purse -- there's nothing more annoying than someone talking loudly on their cell phone in a quiet shop. I understand emergencies arise that require taking a call on the spot but, in any event, it's best to leave the store to have your conversation in private.

7. Put all merchandise back the way you found it. Yes, store staff is there to assist your shopping experience, but not to clean up after your laziness.

8. Not sure who Ann Demeulemeester or Hanae Mori are and why their items are so expensive? Ask the store-owner about the designer and their background -- it's a much nicer and less embarrassing tack than scoffing loudly at the price.

9. After doing your laundry at home and tending to stain removal, ironing and hanging, are you going to crumple the clothes in a ball and throw them on the floor of your closet? Probably not -- so why do it in a store? Respect the work that the owner and staff put into each garment to make it look amazing for you. Please place items back up on the hangers and let the store staff handle any re-zipping or buttoning up.

10. I'm a big fan of kids and babies; at my store, I even have a private area for breast-feeding moms. However, in a shopping environment, some parents tend to ignore their misbehaving children, annoying everyone around them. Sometimes, little girls like to try things on for "funsies," but they aren't mature enough to respect special garments. (I also fear the effect high heels could have on their wee ankles.) Please mind your children, and remind them that clothes are not playthings.

11. Unfortunately, the "funsies" phenomenon isn't limited to children. If you're not considering buying an item, then why try it on? This is a big waste of time for the customer waiting next in line for the fitting room and the staff. Goofing around and trying on special, collectable items can ruin them -- are you willing to pay for that?

12. Don't drop footwear on the floor in order for you to try it on -- it could ruin the heel or leather sole.

13. Don't steal -- you're not sticking it to The Man, you're preventing someone from paying their rent.

14. Treat sales staff with kindness -- we're here to assist you in having the best shopping experience.