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Lessons from my post-weight loss style journey



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I've seen a lot of posts with questions about how to dress and buy clothes during and after significant weight loss. I'm by no means an expert, but there are some things I wish I had realized earlier along the way of my 200-pound weight loss that might be helpful to others.

I spent my entire adult life up to age 39 as morbidly obese. At my heaviest, I wore size 28, and it's difficult to find ANY clothing that size (even stores that say they carry plus sizes often only go up to 24), let alone flattering or stylish clothing. I sought out black and other dark colors because it's slimming, you know? I just wanted clothes that would (a) fit on my body and (b) hide my size as much as possible. Now, I wear size 6-8 in most brands, and I can shop anywhere... Which is nice, but also overwhelming. Here are some things that helped me:

  • Color analysis - I wish I had done this a long time ago because wearing the most flattering colors helps no matter what size you are. I don't want to endorse any particular company because there are a lot of people who offer this service, but I got mine from a House of Colour consultant after seeing a very informative YouTube video by Sierra Schultzzie about her color analysis. Spoiler alert: black is only recommended for those with a "winter" season.

  • Style analysis (or "clothing personality") - This was life-changing, and I think it was particularly helpful for me after I lost 200 pounds because my body is so different from what it used to be. For example, I used to be a big-busted lady and now I am not, and I used to worry about how big my butt looked and now it's undesirably flat. Again, there are various systems (I think the most popular is the Kibbe body type), but I went back to House of Colour with the same consultant who did my color analysis. I got a ton of information on how to dress to flatter my body based on my proportions and shape, including things like necklines, rise of pants, length of skirts/dresses, fabrics, embellishments to seek or avoid, pattern shapes and scales, jewelry shapes and sizes, accessory shapes and sizes, and more. This was incredibly useful information, especially after my body changed so significantly. A lot of the recommendations were completely at odds with the way I've dressed for most of my life, and once I started wearing clothing that suited my colors and clothing personality, I started to look stylish. I frequently get compliments on my clothes, which, until recently, I didn't even know actually happens in real life. It almost feels like cheating -- as though I am impersonating a stylish person.

  • Clothing rental - Do it! I wish I had started this while I was losing weight. It would be incredibly useful to someone who is rapidly changing sizes, since you can change sizes every time you exchange the clothing. Again, there are a lot of services available, but I went with Rent the Runway and I'm pretty happy with it. I didn't start using it until my weight stabilized, but I've found that they are really good at recommending the right size (since sizing can vary a lot between different designers/brands). It's also a great way to try out clothing that fits into my color season and clothing personality since I can just exchange it if I don't like it (but there's an option to purchase it at a discounted price if I want to keep something). They have some pretty high-end clothing, and I get compliments left and right when I wear my Rent the Runway items.

  • Loose skin - I have a confession: it enrages me when people who haven't even lost any weight are freaking out about the possibility of loose skin. Talk about putting the cart before the horse -- you have to earn loose skin. I literally worked my a$$ off to achieve my saggy butt. I have nothing against anyone who chooses to get plastic surgery to remove the loose skin, but as someone who has lost 200 pounds, I have quite a bit of loose skin and no plans to get plastic surgery. I've accepted that I'll never have a bikini body (and honestly, even with a lot of plastic surgery, I doubt that would be a possibility), but with a combination of Shapewear (I swear by shaping camis to smooth my abdominal region and hold everything in place) and well-fitting clothes, I don't think my loose skin is evident under normal circumstances. I think if you saw me on the street, you would probably consider me to look like an average middle-aged lady -- but a semi-stylish one!

I hope some of this is helpful to those of you in the process of figuring out how to dress your new bodies. I've come a long way, but I'm still a work in progress, so I'd love to hear other people's experiences and tips as well!

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Before my surgery , I'd constantly look like I was going to a funeral - I was always in black or really muted colors. You know - black is "slimming" ....LOL Now , I'm in bright prints and colors ,,what a difference :) Also, every year I'd pack away my summer clothes . I would just panic when it was time to get them out again - I knew I grew out of them. Very rarely did any of them fit. Now I'm reaching into the back of my closet where I saved some of my favorite clothes and I'm actually growing INTO them - instead of OUT of them ! What a great feeling !

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So loverly of you to do this @BigSue. Great advice.

I did the colour thing back in the 80s when it first gained popularity. I am a winter & still wear predominately black. LOL! It makes it easier to put a practical & workable wardrobe together - things match (tops, bottoms, shoes, scarves, bags) & can be swapped about to switch up an outfit because of knowing the colours that work best on me also complement each other.

It’s interesting how our personal style changes too. Pre surgery I wore a lot of architectural avant garde type clothing. Can’t now cause even though my height hasn’t changed (😉 still short) I don’t have the body to support the clothing anymore. I feel like I’m drowning in fabric & being overwhelmed.

As someone who constantly gained & lost weight, the fear of getting something out to wear & discovering it wouldn’t fit was real & occured every day. Now it doesn’t even enter my mind. Bonus of actually maintaining my weight for more than a week for the first time ever.

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This is such a great piece of advice, @BigSue! My background is in costume design and I love clothing, both historical and modern, but it's been years since I could really indulge in stylish clothing in the way I wanted to. Right now, I tend to favor a lot of wraps and kimonos. I have heavier ones for winter and silky ones for summer, with tunics and leggings.

I was talking to a friend recently about needing to replace my wardrobe and she said something along the lines of at least I would still have all my wraps, since those are one-size. But I realized when she said it that I might not want to wear those so much in the future, or might choose differently. I admit I choose what I do to hide my figure. I have no idea what I'll like if that isn't a necessity anymore. But, like @Arabesque, I think at a smaller size I will feel like I'm drowning in fabric with some of what I wear now.

I will say that going through my closet now, I have too many clothes, none of which I love. I'll be happy to see most of them go. For the next year, I'm going to do my best to take it easy with my wardrobe buying. Easier said than done, I know! But it feels like a good time to enjoy having a lot less, and make the most of the seven thousand or so scarves and necklaces I have to achieve different looks until I can settle into a maintenance weight and really think about how I want to dress.

I'm tempted to do the Wool& 100 day challenge this summer, where you choose one of their dresses and document yourself wearing it for 100 days in a row and get a $100 gift card toward buying a new one when you complete the challenge. The variety of looks people achieve with accessories is amazing, and wool jersey is a surprisingly good fabric for all seasons, including summer. I figure by June my rapid weight loss will have slowed a bit (surgery is tomorrow!!!!!) and by the end of 3 months, I'll be ready for a new dress size anyway, so win win! Besides, I love me a good dress in the summertime.

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I love this topic, I'm recently thinking about how I will want to dress when I hit my stable weight. I've reinvented myself many times over the years and now I'm going to again. Right now I'm only wearing sweatpants and pajamas since it's so cold but come summer there will be lots of dresses. I'm 7 weeks post op and already my swimsuits are baggy and I'm hesitant to get new ones, I don't know what size I'll need now, and I don't think it will fit for very long, but maybe worth it anyways then donate it. I did splurge on a pair of jeans that I love but they're starting to sag on me. This is going to be fun and a bit scary I think.

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56 minutes ago, NickelChip said:

(surgery is tomorrow!!

Good wishes for tomorrow @NickelChip. Onwards and downwards x

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I have a wedding to go to in a few weeks and went into my wardrobe to see if I needed a new outfit. My last summers posh frock still fits beautifully. The jacket that didn't fit yet - fits beautifully. Its such a revelation.

The shoes are a different kettle of fish. My old shoes drown my feet and are flats. My new style is heeled and a narrow size smaller. So new shoes and of course a bag is now mandatory.

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Best wishes for tomorrow @NickelChip, we'll see you on the other side of it. After everything you've been through and your unfailingly positive attitude, I know you'll do great.

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I love this so much! I am approaching 4 weeks Post op tomorrow and I don't have a lot that fits. This weekend I am donating clothes so I can start my wardrobe. I am going to probably rock the Billie Ellish look and wear baggy pants. But I went to Old Navy and took advantage of their jean sale and got a couple of jeans that are smaller sizes. Its been such a good feeling to find that confidence! However I notice that I have no idea what my style is! I always wore t-shirt and jeans since it hid what I wanted to cover. This is fun tho! Its unimageable that that I am still shrinking.

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On 2/19/2024 at 10:25 PM, Arabesque said:

I did the colour thing back in the 80s when it first gained popularity. I am a winter & still wear predominately black.

I am so jealous! Only when I started to avoid black clothing did I notice how many things are ONLY available in black.

On 2/20/2024 at 10:04 AM, NickelChip said:

I will say that going through my closet now, I have too many clothes, none of which I love. I'll be happy to see most of them go. For the next year, I'm going to do my best to take it easy with my wardrobe buying. Easier said than done, I know! But it feels like a good time to enjoy having a lot less, and make the most of the seven thousand or so scarves and necklaces I have to achieve different looks until I can settle into a maintenance weight and really think about how I want to dress.

I was initially frustrated after my color and style analysis because it seemed so difficult to find anything that met my many new "rules", but I eventually came to realize that this is a good thing because it stops me from buying clothes that look good online but end up being unflattering on me. I am a lot more picky with what I buy now, so instead of having a closet full of stuff I never wear, I have a small selection of pieces that suit me well. The clothing rental subscription helps a lot, too, because it allows me to wear new outfits all the time without buying a lot of additional clothes. It's really tempting to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe all at once, but I think I am much better off building it over time.

On 2/20/2024 at 4:23 PM, AmberFL said:

I notice that I have no idea what my style is! I always wore t-shirt and jeans since it hid what I wanted to cover. This is fun tho!

There's a lot of good info online about how to dress for your body type (Kibbe body type is a pretty common system), if you don't want to go for a professional analysis. I think clothing rental is also a great way to try out new styles outside of your comfort zone.

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Really interesting post thank you Sue!

I haven't thought about this logically. I have no idea what suits and doesn't suit my new body. I'm still just super excited that I can buy stuff because I like it rather than just because they have it in my size.

Will now have a big think about the next step and looking fabulous 🤩

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