I let strangers in River Island, Topshop and H&M dress me for date night and here’s what happened

Date night. We’ve all been there. You spend hours stressing out, planning your outfit and debating over accessories just to change it at the last minute. And probably ending up wearing the first thing you tried on. The struggle.wardrobe

Letting your style guard down and allowing shops to dress you might sound like risky business for some, but I wasn’t worried. I’m fairly laid-back about my style, I’m not too fussed about following trends and I’m prone to the odd quirky outfit – what could go wrong?

Apparently a lot. Oh, how I severely underestimated this challenge. I asked sales assistants in five high-street stores –  River Island, H&M, Topshop, New Look and Miss Selfridge – to dress me for date night, and here’s what happened:

River Island


First up and I was very happy that the sales assistant picked something which had some form of a sleeve. *mini fist pump*

The style of this dress is something I often find myself being drawn to – a simple bodycon which is comfortable to wear and not too skimpy. However, I usually avoid patterns and for some reason really don’t like clothes that tie around the waist.

Despite the fact I would never have thought to pick this myself, I would definitely wear it. After the first successful shopping experience, at this point I am feeling very optimistic for the future.

Rating: 8/10



I tried so hard to disguise the look of horror on my face when the sales assistant picked this eye-sore out, but I just couldn’t help it. My entire wardrobe is extremely muted and consists of black, grey and white. It might be spring, but I, for one, am not interested in having any pop of colour in my wardrobe at all. Soz.

In terms of the design of the dress, the neoprene material feels very spongy and weird. Also, who wears pleats any more? I think I was supposed to feel like that cute dress emoji but in reality I felt more like Kermit the Frog. Not exactly the vibe I want to be giving to my hot date.

Rating: 5/10



NOOOOOO, A CROP TOP. I was hoping this moment wouldn’t come as I detest those skimpy pieces of cloth with a passion. Who wants to walk around wearing half a top? I don’t get it. Also British weather is COLD. I feel very naked in this outfit.

Despite my initial concerns, I didn’t actually dislike this outfit as much as I thought I would. It’s like something straight out of a ’90s movie (my guilty pleasure) and I do like the cute style of it… however, it’s just not ‘me’. I felt like I was dressing up as the newest member of the Mean Girls clique, ready to rule the school and break football players hearts – a level of popularity and coolness I’m afraid I don’t aspire to.

Plus the sizing of the skirt is really weird and doesn’t hang right on my body.

Rating: 6/10

New Look



Plunge V-necks are sexy and all when you actually have cleavage to flaunt, but unfortunately we weren’t all blessed in that department. I wouldn’t be able to wear this anywhere, let alone on a date, without a serious amount of tape to prevent some major nip slips. The material is already falling down in the photos.

I feel like I’m wearing an oversized robe which serves only to make me look even more pale and exemplify my flat chest. No thank you.

Rating: 2/10

Miss Selfridge


A little black dress is a very safe and easy option. (I think the sales assistant was just trying to get rid of me as quickly as possible.) However, somehow they still managed to get it all wrong as this dress does NOTHING for me.

I’m not even sure I’m wearing it right but the shape is very weird and slightly ostentatious. Everything about it is just so wrong.

Rating: 4/10

What I learnt:

  • Nobody knows your style like you do. I wish that someone would have picked out a trouser and top combo or a jumpsuit. My style is very casual, minimal and leans towards being androgynous. I don’t wear skirts or dresses very often and although I did ask for a date night outfit, I think there is a way to be feminine and formal without dressing ‘girly’ with your legs on display.
  • Everyone has different ideas about what looks good. Each of the 5 shops I visited picked very different outfits and I would never have chosen any of them myself, but they must have seen something in them which they liked. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Comfort is key. If you don’t feel comfortable in what you’re wearing, don’t wear it. It’s not what you wear but how you wear it. True style shines through in your confidence, rather than the actual outfit.
  • Explore outside your comfort zone. The fact that I pretty much hated most of the outfits has taught me that I don’t experiment with my style much. While I’m happy with the way I dress, it doesn’t hurt to try new things and see if you like them.

Turns out you never really know yourself until you ask 5 strangers to dress you. Who would’ve thought? Let me know what you think of the shop’s choices below.

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Written by Nina John-Clement

Style writer, maths geek and positive viber who's madly in love with words. Also an aspiring member of the Swift squad.

Tweet me @TheNinaJC

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