Changing Seasons, Changing Sizes

If you get into a zone with eating healthy and begin to lose weight consistently, another challenge arises: what do do about a wardrobe that no longer fits.

I know your pain. I’ve always loved clothes, and if you’re like me, it’s bittersweet to part with your “before” clothes. There are memories in those clothes! There is security in those clothes–the ones that made you feel confident and attractive in the body size you inhabited for years. You may feel like now you’re being forced to shed your old wardrobe staples for a new identity and look that is still evolving as you lose more weight. Then there’s the matter of the hundreds of dollars you’ve spent on those clothes, if you’re talking about doing a big purge.

Now, with the changing of seasons, is a good time to make a fresh start with your wardrobe. If the clothes are no longer hanging properly on your body or giving you a polished look, it is time to move on, time to snatch the clothes out of your closet, yank them off the hangers, and toss them in a box for Goodwill. After this, your challenge will be to find things to wear every day that will still look flattering on you, even if you intend to continue losing weight. Here are some strategies I’d like to suggest:

Make sure you have basics. For example, when I gave away my “before” clothes it was winter, and I loaded up on turtlenecks in several colors. The following spring, I did the same with T-shirts and polos. Don’t forget belts and pantyhose as well. Focus on these kinds of items first. You can always add a trendy or special occasion item here and there, but it’ll be more important to feel comfortable in the clothes you’ll be wearing every day under normal circumstances.

With any larger clothes you’re keeping, improvise for as long as the clothes look neat. I didn’t give everything away when I first junked my closet, and since that big purge, I have things that are getting too big that I intend to wear a bit longer. I have been able to wear my basic shirts tucked in or out, alone, with blazers, vests or hoodies, or under jumper dresses, or with shorter skirts (with leggings underneath). Layering too-big shirts under something can help them to look streamlined for longer. Additionally, I cinch with a wide belt when long shirts get big or shift or shirt dresses look too shapeless.

Regularly replace bottoms and bras, going for the bargains. I’ve gone from 18s to 16s to 14s to 12s, and I can say that it’s much more important to keep up with skirt and pants sizes as the size number goes down. Poorly-fitting pants and skirts that drop well below your waist are the worst offenders in ruining an outfit, in my opinion. ll-fitting bras are second worst. I strongly advise getting fitted for a new bra, rather than guessing yourself, as it’s hard to know if your chest measurement changed or your cup size (or both). If you’re like me and intend to keep up with changing bottoms and bra sizes more frequently, don’t worry about spending a lot of money until your reach your weight loss goal. Sears and JC Penney have good clearance sales, and I have also bought jeans from Wal-Mart, Old Navy and Target at decent prices.

Give yourself at least one spurge item. I tend to be frugal with most of my shopping, but I’d encourage you to buy at least one nice item–a dress, a coat, a piece of statement jewelry, a killer pair of shoes or a bag–to pull your outfits together, and also to reward yourself for the hard work you’ve done by losing a significant amount of weight. Such a splurge may not end up being as pricey as you think, because you can often find excellent markdowns at department stores. In my first round of clothes buying, I bought a Calvin Klein dress. (Unfortunately, it wasn’t on sale, but it was less than $150. Since then, I’ve found bargains, like a Ralph Lauren dress I bought for about 50 bucks; its original price was $130.) It felt great to know I could fit into the dress, and it felt great to feel so poised and professional in it–kind of like I did in my old clothes.

You may be fortunate to have had unshakeable self-confidence in your larger body, but if you’re like me and feel the confidence growing as you shrink physically and evolve mentally, I think being satisfied with your look in your clothes is as valuable to your self-perception as being emotionally and spiritually grounded. A fashionable, size-flexible wardrobe can be achieved with a keen eye for which of your clothes will still work (and which won’t), and a keen eye for bargains.

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