Lies I’ve Told Salespeople

A few vignettes


After years of aggression and disappointment and too many unflattering jersey dresses, salespeople and I have arrived at a tense understanding to preserve a fragile peace. We lie.

They extoll the “virtues” of white linen. I promise to come back for that “super versatile” sequined gown after my “dentist appointment.”

We smile.

We laugh.

We never see each other again.


“You have great legs,” she says, towering over me.

I am 5’2.

“I’m obsessed with Core Fusion,” I toss off enthusiastically.

This is only partially untrue. While I have never once attended the famed workout class, I am a longtime subscriber to its bi-weekly newsletter…which I have reflexively deleted approximately eighteen trillion times. Still, I am reaping benefits left and right. My thumbs have never looked better.

I plan to try it soon. Perhaps this lie — more of a fib, really — is exactly the motivation I need. Everything changes today!

Given the preponderance of wellness-related emails that I receive several dozen times each week, I know that intention matters. Life is a choice. Health is a state of mind. This is going to be great.

“I’m addicted,” I tell her.


“This is such a great wallet,” says the redhead behind the sleek white counter of the charcoal bi-fold I have just purchased. “Your boyfriend is going to adore it.”

I smile.

She’s right. It is gorgeous. The leather is soft and sophisticated, and I have spent most of today on the lookout for one exactly like it. Woo-hoo!

It is 100% perfect for my fictional boyfriend. I hope my older brother likes it nearly as much.



“Are you looking for anything in particular?” asks a well-dressed man moments after I enter the boutique that is his part-time fiefdom.

“Just browsing,” I say cheerfully.

“Okay, my name is Roger. Let me know if you need anything.”

“Sounds great!”

This is not great. This is terrible.

I am, in fact, on a desperate hunt for an outfit to wear to a party tonight. The dress of my dreams is so specific — mod-ish, navy, collar detailing — that I fail to understand how I have not yet willed it into being. But despite — or is it because of? — Roger’s eagerness, I know I cannot share these specifications with him.

I shake Roger, collect several versions of the same dress and two pairs of silk pants that I already know I will not buy, and attempt to sneak over to the dressing room.

Roger is hot on my tail.

I’m doomed.

“That looks great on you!” he coos, once necessity forces me to emerge from the cramped fitting room; lacking decency and probably daughters, the capitalists who designed this store have put all the mirrors outside the dressing rooms.

I consider my reflection as Roger smiles widely behind me.

I hate it.

“I love it!” I say. “Can I put it on hold?”

Shot by Mikael Jansson for Interview Magazine

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  • ee_by_cc

    Absolutely for the first one. For added effect, I usually ask “What time do you close? Ok great, I’ll definitely be back before then.”

  • “Wow this is a… really interesting combination I’ve not been brave enough to try out before now, thank you for giving me the courage to put these colours and materials together! Can I come back this afternoon when I have my purse with me?”

  • Camilla Ackley

    I’m impressed, as soon as the sales person introduces themselves by name I bolt out of the store- probably why I’ve never lasted more than five minutes in J.Crew…

  • Thamsa

    I really wish I could just be honest with them! Ugh, I’m ashamed to admit to myself that I’ve purchased things when I didn’t really want them. My new mantra is to say no! lol

  • Heather Funk

    I felt so guilty the other day because I spent an hour wandering around a teeeeny boutique trying to figure out the best way to spend a gift certificate, and I knew the salesperson wanted to just help me so I’d get the F out! Finally I told her the exact weirdly specific thing I was looking for– “a statement necklace with orange in it, because I have to wear blue in a wedding this weekend and I’m wearing a blue dress and orange earrings now and it looks AWESOME”–and she talked me into a gorgeous leather collar wrapped with metal and colored thread that normally I would not buy on my own. It helped that it was’t real money, but still.

    When it comes to lying, I’m really bad about saying I’ve already donated when people at the drugstore ask me if I’d like to give to this or that thing… :/

  • Very funny article and so true! I hate it when salespeople are “stalking you” and definitely when i’m shopping alone.

    x Karen

    • jdock

      “If I had wanted to shop with a friend, I would have brought one.”

      Though, I tend to wear a face into most stores that says this, so sales people generally leave me alone after the initial “hello, do you need any help?”

  • Ludapris

    The site is gorgeous! Ladies I bow down to your epicness.

  • Nathalia Kalil
  • starryhye

    Ah yes. I’ve been on both sides of these situations, having spent many years working in retail. As a customer, I love the “Can I put this on hold?”. As a shop girl, I knew I’d never see you again.

  • Ha! This is is great, Mattie. I love all of your posts.

    Salespeople are one of the many reasons I shop almost exclusively at thrift stores! When I enter Goodwill or Amvets, or some little place, there’s no fear of being confronted by an overly eager salesperson. You’re just on your own to plow through a smelly stack of clothes, no interruptions.

    When I am in a regular store, though, I usually pretend to speak little english and walk quickly yet nonchalantly to the opposite end of the store when I see them coming.

  • Outfix

    I once told a salesperson I had to feed my dog to escape the inconceivable pressure to purchase a can’t-live-without Saint Laurent jacket. I have no dog.

  • Wannah Heeler

    Can I just say that I really like the new format of the blog… I especially like that when I am on page 3 (ok, sometimes I am on page 10) and want to hit the back button, it takes me back to where I was on page 3! Not all the way to the most recent posts! …Its the little things…

  • Glad to know I’m not the only one of randomly lies to sales people. I don’t know why we do it, it’s just an inherent part of shopping. The old, ‘oh I’m meeting someone but will come right back’ feels better than just saying, ‘eh I don’t like anything in here. Peace out.’

  • Kandeel

    I will never ask a salesperson where something is. I’d rather look through a store for an hour than DARE asking a salesperson. (btw loving the new site!!)

  • jmm

    Salespeople are people too, y’all.

    • Anna Louise


  • Aubrey Green

    I am so uncomfortable walking into a store because of this – I really don’t like it. I know it’s their job, but it is so terrible. Especially department stores!

  • This is all true, especially the last one!

  • We don’t mean to but when they’re so pushy… we lie. we lie hard.

  • mylene

    I believe in saying: ‘it’s lovely; but i really don’t need it.’

    • Mattie Kahn

      Really going to try to memorize that line, mylene. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  • “This is my first stop. Do you mind if I put it on hold and come back on my way out?” has to be my go-to line when shopping and 4 times out of 5, they’ll never see me again.

  • Miller

    Reminds me of that time I said I had to “pay” the meter (as if I actually drove a car into the city, and as if I would let a parking meter dictate my life even if I had), in order to get out of trying on a blazer. When in reality I didn’t want the nice salesman to see the cream cheese icing I accidentally got on the lapel.

    This is what happens when your mind is overly stimulated by G-town cupcakes and wool…

  • Anna Louise

    I really wish everyone would stop lying. About everything. The truth will set everyone free. And you owe no explanation. Boring, but no thanks suffices and is easy. So is: I prefer to look by myself, but I’ll let you know if I’d like your assistance. I remember begging a salesperson to hold a one of a kind item for 5 mins (she swore she would) while I got my husband (my credit card was full) and in the meantime (I did come back within five minutes) she sold it to someone else. Her explanation was “nobody ever comes back when they say that.” I can hardly blame her. More than that one incident, it has gotten so that everything everyone says is read as insincere because so many of us are so much of the time. When did it stop being possible to be truthful AND kind?

  • Name

    It is so clear to me that none of you have ever worked in the service industry.

  • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

    I used to avoid sales people, thinking they couldn’t really help me, until I had one at Bleu that was so persistent, but ended up finding me some absolutely gorgeous boho luxe items that were incredibly unique and perfectly my style. I now have a great appreciation for them. After reading comments I feel like I’m the odd one out, I’ve never even thought about lying to a sales person.If they say it looks great and it doesn’t, I just say, “I don’t love it, it’s not doing anything for me.” or I point out what i don’t like style or fit-wise. It actually helps them to narrow down what I want and makes everything go quicker.

  • Luciana Safdie

    This is so incredibly accurate, its half the fun of shopping!!

  • That´s really true!

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  • Perry

    I work in retail and I always tell women the truth and quite frankly, majority of them don’t want to hear that a dress is too tight, too young or just too unbecoming. Don’t get me started on the fashion consultants (friends) because they’re just liars too.

    Also, I once told a customer that she frequented the shop a lot and I never saw her again….

  • Aodette

    I recently did the first one at a Valentino store when a salesperson automatically started pinning a gown for alterations without giving me time to say no to the dress. I told him that I was running late for a spa appointment, and felt horrible for lying, but I felt a little trapped. Sometimes it needs to happen.

  • I once completely fabricated a life for myself to a sales girl at Alice and Olivia.. twas quite fun!


  • Allie Fasanella

    this is so good. i work at a retail store and i hate when my managers want me to be all up in people’s grill. i know when I’m trying things on i just want to be left in peace to consider my arm fat. also have you ever seen the movie Bachelorette? If not, it’s really good, i would get on it. there’s this part where isla fisher – who works at banana republic i think – tells a woman that something looks great on and then makes a disgusted face to her sales associate and the woman catches her. its too great.

    happy shopping diva. i feel ya.

  • A

    As someone with broad experience in working retail I can tell you all with the utmost confidence, you will almost never offend a sales person if you tell them that you actually hate the clothes you’re trying on. Unless that person is uptight/getting paid soley based off commission – but that’s really no ones issue but theirs.

  • Cheyma

    Salespeople are totally different depending on the country you shop in. I feel like they’re so helpful and kind in the US! We know it’s just to sell more, but anyway it seems genuine and very cool!

  • How about, “Will you hold this until I come back? I will definitely be back (insert time).”

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