Monday, October 22, 2012

Surviving Clothes Shopping

When I was overweight, I hated shopping for clothes.  Well, wait - I liked shopping for clothes, but I was either with normal-sized people and we were in stores where nothing would fit me, or I was shopping in the plus-sized section, where yes, things fit, but I didn't particularly like how I looked in them.  So this was a big motivator for me, as I was losing weight, to go try on clothes and see what new size would fit.  I had some pretty exciting dressing room moments, as I dropped from a size 24 to an 18, to a 14, and then when I finally was too small (!!!) to fit into the plus sizes altogether - now that was a huge milestone.  I was normal...NORMAL!!!

One thing I didn't expect, being a long-term dieter, was that my body shape would end up being different than it was when I was 20 and thin.  I'd had it in my head, during all those years of being overweight, that if I could just lose the weight, I'd look the same as I did when I was 20. 

It didn't happen. 

Too many years of pushing my skin in the wrong direction, too many years of storing fat around my middle, plus, I'm sure, a bit of natural aging contributed as well - the end result was that I didn't recognize this body.  Not going to lie - while I was thrilled to be smaller, I was also disappointed that I didn't look how I thought I would.  Even with all the exercise I was doing when I worked out with my trainers didn't change certain things.  It's taken me a while to come to terms with how my body looks now, and figure out what works for me, clothing-wise, and what - no matter how cute - just doesn't.

So now, when I shop for clothes, I have a few sanity-saving rules, because otherwise, it's amazing how one bad day of trying on clothes can make me feel like I'm right back at my starting weight; and yet, the very next day, I can have a great day of trying on clothes and feel like a million bucks.  Here are my rules:
  1. Ten pairs of pants/jeans is my try-on limit for the day.  You pretty much know when you've found a pair of pants that fit; for me, if I can't find anything within the ten, I'm usually hot and tired and either try to talk myself into something that isn't perfect for me, or I get disgusted with my body.
  2. I have to love it.  Now that the majority of what I try on fits, I have more options and am no longer stuck with "well, this is the only one that fits so I'll buy it" thing that quite honestly, WAS my life for a long time.  So if I don't completely love what I'm trying on, I don't buy it.  
  3. Know what I'm comfortable in, and only try on those styles.  Sure, it sounds like I'm not being open to new things, but really - I don't like my upper arms and therefore will not wear a sleeveless top in public.  I just won't - so why waste time trying something on when I know I won't leave the house in it?
Along with these rules, here are the other things I consider as I shop for clothes:
  1. Fabrics.  My body has lumps and bumps, and as I'm not willing to wear smoothing shapewear (hello, hot Texas weather), I've discovered that heavier fabrics - twill and denim vs. thin cotton, and heavier knits vs. fine guage - make me look better.  
  2. Patterns.  On the top, they help camouflage my belly.  I still have to be careful not to go too "old lady" with patterns, as I have always been drawn to bright florals, which my close friends have gently pointed out to me are not in my age demographic.  No patterns in pants, though - that's an area that I don't want to draw any extra attention to.
  3. Cut.  I have one skirt, bought a few years ago at Target, that I like.  Last fall, I tried to find another, and absolutely despised how I looked in every single one I tried on.  My shape is odd for skirts, but I discovered, with the purchase of my favorite Adidas running skirt, that the dropped waist, lightly-pleated look works for me.  Now that I know this, I'll look for a regular skirt in that style.  Understanding how certain cuts of clothing work for me saves me a lot of angst in the dressing room.
And the most important thing to know? 

It's not me, it's them.

Saying that this article of clothing doesn't work for me, instead of saying "Oh I'm so fat, I can't find anything that fits, my thighs/butt/stomach are horrible" - NO.  There are a lot of clothes out there that are not right for me - the manufacturer/designer didn't do a good job of making it for ME.  Turning the tables on the offending clothing - instead of feeling bad that my upper arms are squeezed into this particular top, I can see that the designer messed up on proportions - has helped me immensely.  I realize that not everything is going to fit me - after all, we all have different body types - but I know that lots of cute clothes are out there that will fit me, and I'll look pretty good in them.  I just have to find them, and not settle for less.

31 comments:

  1. for some reason, especially the first few years with the husband, I can still get pushed into the "TRY THIS. BUY THIS. YOU WILL LOVE IT."
    I know what Im comfy in too.
    and if it isnt in that realm it usually will hang in the closet unworn forever.

    It took me decades to learn TREND doesnt mean it looks good on me...

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  2. I hate shopping, not only for clothes but for everything and try to avoid it as much as possible and buy a lot online.

    But I do know, like you, what works for me with clothes. The funny difference between us is that the thinner fabrics work better for me. I feel much fatter in heavier fabrics and I prefer wearing layers (like a blouse and a jacket) instead of a sweater.

    Seems to me you have found what works for you and makes shopping a fun thing to do for you.

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    1. So Fran, when I come to Holland does this mean you're not going to go shopping with me?

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  3. I love that mentality "it's not me. it's them"

    SO TRUE! Even at my current size, there are some styles that just don't flatter me even if I do fit into them. I used to take that personally because other people seem to be able to wear whatever without a thought. I realize now I need to know what works for my body type and show that off :)

    Love this post!

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    1. Thanks - and I bet most of us are guilty of thinking that "those people" can wear whatever without a thought, but not me. I'm sure they have issues with clothes, too...at least, I'd like to think they do, lol!

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  4. I'm with you on both the 10 pant limit and not buying unless I love it. I don't care if it's a $5 t-shirt, I'm done with buying things just for price. I've also determined, that I will buy things that fit and look great on me DESPITE what the size tag says. I refuse to let that number sewn into the article of clothing define me. It is not me, it's them!

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    1. It's been hard for me to not buy something just because it was such a good deal, but I'm getting there with my "do I LOVE this" question.

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  5. After watching the last 10 seasons of Project Runway, I have come to realize the clothing designers have absolutely no idea what the majority of woman actually look like and need to wear on a practical basis.

    I just hate it when a fad is in and it looks terrible on me and it's hard to find clothes that don't fit that vein (peasant blouses, I am looking in your direction!).

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    1. You are correct on the Project Runway "designers" - they have no clue.

      And I want a peasant blouse, too!

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  6. Not to mention all the clothes at Lane Bryant were so gross compared to the normal size people clothes. I never understood why there was so many animal print clothes in plus size stores!

    I love how you turned it around - its not ME its THEM!

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    1. The thing I liked about LB was that they had everything laid out so you could coordinate outfits easily. Plus once I found something that fit, I'd buy it in all the colors. But yeah, it was very easy to step over the line with their clothes and go into crazytown with the prints.

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  7. I hate shopping. I buy it (close to my size), go home and try on and then return if it does not fit. But I don't really buy pants/clothes unless they are wicking (lol) or have elastic (hahano).

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    1. ...so what you're saying is you pretty much buy only running clothes? I get that! :)

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  8. Clothes shopping is the worst...I went yesterday and got frustrated as it seems I have gained a bit a weight in my abdomen...ugh! Menopause has come calling me early but I will prevail...Also wanted to let you know I have awarded you the Sunshine Award and you can come on by any time to collect it. Blessings

    http://runningsurvivor.blogspot.com

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  9. Yes yes yes!! Should be required reading for any serious weight loser.

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  10. I absolutely hate and detest shopping for clothes. Some of it is the nightmare that was my mom, when I let her have any say in anything at all (now she's not even allowed to join, I don't care if she offers to pay $1000, she's not coming and she's not paying). Most of it is the nightmare days when nothing fit. I'm a size 10 now, everything fits, I just can hardly bring myself to do it.

    But like you, I no longer buy stuff that simply fits, it has to be flattering. I'll have to go soon, I now wear everything until there are holes from my bicycle, cooking stains, lab stains, etc. I just can't get myself to do it. I can always convince myself that I'm waiting for 10 more pounds, but the pickings are becoming sparse.

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    1. Love that you took back the power; it MUST have been a nightmare to turn down free clothes.

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  11. I thought I was the only one that would just buy something because it fits. One thing I really like about shopping now is having more variety to choose from. I have also had my emotional moments in changing rooms when I can't believe something fits me now.

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  12. Love it! I love the idea of saying that they didn't do a good job of making it for ME. Excellent!

    If you only knew how many times I've said these exact same words:
    ________________
    "well, this is the only one that fits so I'll buy it"
    ________________

    Ugh!

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  13. For you I'll put my hate for shopping aside for a day and take you shopping :)

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  14. This has got to be one of my most favorite posts ever...you nailed it with each and every point and rule! Just the other day I told someone that if something doesn't look right on me, it's the fault of the clothes/designer not my body's fault!

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    1. Thanks - I feel like we should start an uprising against poorly designed clothes, lol!

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  15. Clothing ... the very thing I am bummed out about, even as we speak! Thanks for writing this post... it is exactly what I needed to read!

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    1. Glad it helped, Anne - and I hope you have a good shopping trip soon.

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  16. No matter how much weight I lose, my arms are going to be bigger. And that is okay. These are the arms that hold my nephews, the arms that hug my friends. These are MY arms.

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  17. That's the attitude! It definitely is not us, it's the clothes.

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