Image from Bourbon and Pearls
One of the unexpected things I discovered after losing twenty-five pounds (and dropping 2-3 dress sizes) was that my previous shopping strategy had been quite simple:
Does it fit? Is it flattering? Buy it.
Those questions summed up my entire deliberation process before buying a new garment or returning it to the rack. At a bit more than 5’5”, my 162 pounds was distributed lumpily, but most settled in my gut (where rebel forces are still hiding out, plotting their insurgence). It was hard to find big clothes that flattered my frame; most size 12’s or XLs were made for people with a different body fat distribution. Using those two simple questions -- “does it fit?” and “is it flattering?” -- I managed to eliminate the vast majority of items I tried on. I often left stores with nothing, because seemingly so few items looked decent on me.
As I approached my goal weight and dipped into sizes 4/S, I noticed I was buying a lot more clothes. Many of these items languished in my closet for some undiagnosable reason. I eventually realized: before I got down to my target weight, I never had to ask myself whether I liked something. Whether it was my style. So few clothes looked decent on me that I just grabbed up whatever I could without a second thought, and I still came in way under budget. I carried this mindset with me once clothes started looking better on me, and before I knew it I had a closet full of stuff that didn’t call to me.
Part of the reason I enjoy shopping so much, playing dress-up in the morning, and blogging about my personal style (among other things), is that this world I’m living in --- a world in which clothes look the way they should when I put them on --- is a new one for me. I feel like I’m still exploring this body and still figuring out what I like. A side effect of all this is that I sometimes slip back into my old mindset. Buying everything that looks good without a second thought can get out of hand, especially at stores like Anthropologie. The past few months have been a learning process, and I'm still in the midst of figuring this out. When do I stop collecting -- hoarding clothes that look good --- and start choosily acquiring only the things I love and must have? How do you do it?
Some shopping trips still remind me of my old body and my old way of thinking, but they have become fewer and further between. I don’t think twice before grabbing a size four, and I don’t punish myself if I need to go up to an eight (or, as happened yesterday, to a ten in an especially teeny-made skirt). But every once in a while, that old mentality comes back and I find myself blindly heading to the register with a shirt I’m not crazy about but that looks good on me. I hope that continuing to explore my own style will make me stronger in these moments.
By way of a disclaimer, I feel I should add the following: Sometimes it feels strange to reflect on losing twenty-five pounds. When I first hit my goal weight back in May, twenty-five pounds felt like quite an accomplishment. I dropped several dress and pant sizes and my whole body looked different. It was a big deal. But now, I almost feel self-conscious about mentioning it. Twenty-five is such a mundane number compared to fifty, seventy-five, one hundred, two hundred pounds. Other people seem capable of dropping twenty-five pounds in a month or two (it took me eight). Even more, my clothing-buying mentality at 162 pounds was unnecessary. I know many gorgeous women with higher numbers on the scale who dress spectacularly and only buy items they love, but for some reason, this just wasn’t me. Perhaps that’s fodder for another entry. In the meantime, I ramble on...