Occasionally I’ll try on an item of clothing in stores and love it. I purchase it immediately and can’t wait to try it on again at home. But when I do so, all of sudden I don’t love it quite as much. Even when the item works with other things in my wardrobe. Why is that? Why are we more critical when we look in the mirror at home?

One obvious explanation is that the conditions in the store are different to those at home. It could start with the mirror itself, which might be “skinny” in the store. Or maybe the music in the store put us in a buying mood. As I mentioned on the Today show, retail stores go to great lengths to get us into this state of mind.

But maybe the real reasons are less about the store, and more about us.

Perhaps we’re subconsciously looking for a reason to get back the money we just spent. Perhaps we weren’t discerning enough in the first place. Perhaps a second opinion from someone at home causes us to doubt our initial perceptions. Perhaps it’s just in our nature to have second thoughts about the items that we purchase.

I do believe that the most important dressing room is the one we have at home. We should re-evaluate our purchases with a critical eye, and with input from someone else at home. That said, it isn’t practical to be constantly bringing items home only to return them the next day. We need to strike the right balance. If you understand the factors that make you return items after trying them at home, then maybe it will help you to make better decisions in the store.

Having spent so much time in the retail environment, I’m usually confident about my shopping decisions. Even so, I too have my moments of doubt when I look in the mirror at home. Does this sound familiar? Are there any recurring factors that make you return an item after seeing it at home?