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On Clothes and Covering My Ever-Changing @*#


nimiety

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The other day, I got down my box of too-small clothing for the first time since surgery. I went through the things I thought might fit that would be appropriate for fall and winter, and put away a few things from my closet that either don't fit me anymore or likely won't by the time their season rolls around again (and also a couple of things I'm just not feeling like wearing these days). Because I'm a lifelong weight-cycler, I have clothing that covers nearly a 100-pound range, from something like an 18 to something like a 26. I'm in the middle of my wardrobe right now—I have a few things that are too big, and a few things that fit more loosely than they did, and a few things that newly fit, and a few things that fit but don't look quite the way I'd like them to, and a few things that simply don't fit yet (including some that never fit in the first place, because I bought them anticipating more weight loss than I actually had).

I was noticing how nice it was to get out some things I haven't worn in a long time, most of which are more recent acquisitions (because I was really upset about my most recent weight gain, and also broke as hell, the combination of which resulted in not a lot of new clothing purchases on the way up) and thus reflect a sense of who I am and how I dress that feels up-to-date and comfortable and good. It's nice to feel, in this stressful time, a real sense of pleasure about caring for and dressing myself, and I had a nice interlude with the clothes box. I've taken pleasure in clothing since I got to college and found my way both into the amazing, critical Fatshionista Livejournal community and also under the self-presentation wing of a woman who's still a very dear friend, who despite being five feet tall and maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet put 19-year-old me in her car one day, drove me to the mall, and marched me to a Torrid to oversee a $400 spree that changed my wardrobe and my life forever. God bless her and keep her. Clothing has been a way for me to manage my self-presentation, to intervene in the way the world responds to me and my body. It gives me a sense of femininity and a sense of control over my social persona that fatness has sometimes threatened. I love clothes. I love them as signifiers, and I love them as sensory experiences. And yes, I will miss my wardrobe when I have to replace it. I'll miss it a lot. 

(Side note: I'm hanging onto my too-big things to donate to the Big Fat Flea event this spring, and if you happen to be in the tri-state area I would really encourage you to consider donating too. The Flea is a thoughtful organization that brings stylish fatties together to freshen up their wardrobes on the cheap and raise money for fat-politics group NOLOSE. I understand a certain irony in the name there, but my fat politics are as ever they were, and it's an inquiry and a cause that I really believe will be close to my heart 'til the day I die.) 

My closet covers a wide range of sizes not only in the actual size tags that are in the clothes I own but also in that my entire style of dress has adapted for size flexibility. Which means I know exactly how I'll be managing the transitional period that I need to cover between when I run out of clothes and when I settle at a stable size. Which is good, because I love clothes, and I like taking my time to find the right ones, and I like buying fewer things I really like, that have heft and substance, rather than filling my closet with fast fashion, even though I will definitely need some cheap-and-cheerful filler pieces. But here's how I've dressed for maximum size flexibility, for my own reference and for the reference of anyone it may help:

  1. Stretch. Obviously. Clothes that have this have size versatility. Especially skirts and dresses. Things will look different on you at different sizes when they're stretchy, but that's something you can style and accessorize. 
  2. Sack dresses. Suddenly find yourself a size or two down? Grab a belt. The dress is already cut to drape, so it won't look bad the way a baggy waist on something that's meant to be fitted would.
  3. Wrap dresses. The alternative to no waist at all is a waist you can adjust. True wrap dresses offer you this opportunity, and they're pretty universally flattering and widely available. My favorites come from Kiyonna, but they're all over the place.
  4. Tunic-length and empire-waist tops. Tops that skim over the hip and hit you at the natural waist will add size flexibility to your wardrobe because if you don't like the way your bottoms are fitting, you can cover it up with a longer top. An empire waist hits you at your natural waist (which is less prone to fluctuation than your low waist anyway, thus giving your top a longer life), which helps things not have that baggy, shapeless vibe that some long tops can have. This one kinda feels like cheating, but it 100% works.
  5. Neutrals. Black, grey, navy, taupe. That way, the outfit is more defined by the accessories, and you don't look like you're wearing the same thing all the time. Plus, I really love a palette of mixed neutrals; I think it's understated and sophisticated. I get that a lot of people never wore color when they were bigger and have a real emotional investment in bringing color back—and I say rock it, if that's your thing, but I've always worn color (and sometimes quite a lot of it), so I don't have super-serious feelings about cranking it down.
  6. No pants. The fit on pants is finicky. Personally, I've always had problems because my hips are significantly bigger than my waist, proportionally—so if it fits me in the hips, it gaps at the waist, and if it fits me at the waist, it's too tight in the hips—so years and years ago, I solved this problem by just cutting pants out of my wardrobe completely (except for stretchy or compression pants for the gym). Instead, I pair dresses and skirts with leggings and tights, which are much more size-flexible and also cheaper and easier to swap out when my size changes.

 

So that's what it'll likely be. Not that I won't also want to be experimenting, trying new things, branching out, and challenging my sense of self and style. Just that, you know, when those things fail, a girl still needs to put on clothes to leave the house in every day.

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Good list. I've never considered myself a fashion person and I never have taken much pride in my appearance, but I am a little bit of a clothes hoarder. I purged a lot of too-small clothing 2 years ago when I moved to a new apartment. 8 large trash bags got donated to Goodwill. Right now I don't have a lot of too-small things except pants. Instead of shopping at stores, due to embarrassment of my size, I do a lot of online shopping and ebay. I have several pairs of pants and jeans that are too tight or couldn't be zipped up when I bought them. I hadn't re-sold or donated them yet so they're in the bottom for my closet waiting for me. I look forward to actually getting to wear them instead of just having them as trophies of wasted money. I recently found a local plus-size consignment shop in my city and I hope I can get a little $$$ for my too-big clothing or do some trades with the shop as I fluctuate in my sizes on the way down.

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Yeah, @ThriftyTheresa, I also have a few things that I never got to wear because I bought them anticipating weight loss that never happened or because they were just smaller than anticipated when I bought them. Those things are going to come in handy! I probably won't need to do any substantive clothes shopping for at least another 40 pounds—it's nice to be able to wear one's own clothes despite a lot of dramatic physical change. It gives a sense of consistency, which I always appreciate. When I really leave my wardrobe behind, presuming that happens, it's going to be a rough moment for me.

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I'm with you on the clothes box.  I have a large tub of clothes in my basement storage that I mournfully walk past every time I go down there.  Unfortunately these clothes are a decade old and I'm going to look very silly breaking them out and wearing them again.  But I'll be damned if I won't.  Not all are bad, but none are current or trendy.  But I never was really current or trendy.  As a matter of fact, I'm wagering that 80% of the shirts are band T's or T's centered around car culture.  And I'll wear my Dead Kennedys, Ramones, Megadeth, Tool, etc. shirts with pride once they fit again. It's a time capsule of college me.  32 year old husband, father me is no less excited.

On the other hand, I hate buying clothes for me at my current weight.  Once they no longer fit I will not miss them.  I'll be tempted to burn them on a pyre in the back yard, but they'll probably just make the trip to Goodwill.

Edited by Obsidian
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31 minutes ago, Obsidian said:

I'm with you on the clothes box.  I have a large tub of clothes in my basement storage that I mournfully walk past every time I go down there.  Unfortunately these clothes are a decade old and I'm going to look very silly breaking them out and wearing them again.  But I'll be damned if I won't.  Not all are bad, but none are current or trendy.  But I never was really current or trendy.  As a matter of fact, I'm wagering that 80% of the shirts are band T's or T's centered around car culture.  And I'll wear my Dead Kennedys, Ramones, Megadeth, Tool, etc. shirts with pride once they fit again. It's a time capsule of college me.  32 year old husband, father me is no less excited.

On the other hand, I hate buying clothes for me at my current weight.  Once they no longer fit I will not miss them.  I'll be tempted to burn them on a pyre in the back yard, but they'll probably just make the trip to Goodwill.

Basically my entire wardrobe has migrated into the clothes box at this point—it's been expanded into two bags. I had one really foul day when I was trying things on and looking terrible in dresses I just love and never wanted to lose, and it's a little depressing opening my closet and seeing pretty much only fast fashion and not anything more substantive. But I've also had a totally great time wearing things I'd never gotten into that I'd bought anticipating weight loss or more stretch or whatever, and yes, some of them are totally out of date, and yes, I have still had fun wearing them. I don't want to pull them out every day, but I've taken victory laps in some fairly ridiculous clothing over the last couple of months. 

I also get that I'm being a total princess-and-the-pea about this and on the whole, I'm psyched to get to dress in a way that feels like it suits me authentically, which is really on the table in a new way since my clothing options have opened up. (I'm also completely overwhelmed by that, but luckily, being a broke-@*# graduate student does enough limiting of the options that I don't have to hyperventilate.)

Frankly, bringing back the Ramones shirt sounds like a totally great idea. And actually kind of a way to process feelings around size, too (sometimes I think men tend not to give themselves enough chances to do that, but I certainly don't know you well enough to say whether that describes you or not).

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i have gone through so many different sizes, day of surgery i was a 22_24 now 6 months later I am in a misses 12 and they are not tight. 

I keep going to thrift stores and buying off the $1 rack or $2 rack. 2 weeks ago I was in Good will and got the most closes I have bought yet at one time. Normally I can't find much at Goodwill but it was my day, 2 pair of shorts, 2 pairs of Capris , 1 skirt, 3 tee shirts and 2 blouses. They were 12s, and 10s and the skirt was large. I can't wear the 10s yet. 

My neighbor gave me some dress pants size large and medium, I was very thankful since I didn't have any dress clothes.

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