Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dressing For The Size You Are Now...


Do you find it frustrating to go shopping or get dressed when you aren’t at your desired weight? Do you completely wait to shop until you've lost the extra pounds? Do you hold off on wearing certain items in your wardrobe until you have? Trust me, I have been there more times than I would care to remember. You see, I have struggled with my weight from the time I was a teenager...gaining and losing time and time again. Each time I lost I felt I could dress in cute outfits and deserved to go shopping for myself. Each time I gained, however, I would revert back to wearing oversized clothing, trying to hide the weight I had put on. For some reason I felt the 'larger me' didn't deserve to wear the pretty clothes.

After giving birth to my eldest son, I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life, having gained 75 pounds during that pregnancy. Even though I was elated to have my new baby, my self-esteem was at an all-time low and my clothing choices weren't helping the matter. I wore my maternity clothes for the first several months of his life, and then after that it was oversized t-shirts and sweats, trying to hide the extra pounds I still carried around with me. I managed to lose most of the 'baby weight' by the time my son was 1 year-old and was able to maintain for the next four years (wearing the cute clothes I allowed myself when I was at a smaller size) until I became pregnant again. 

I was thrilled to be having another child, but at the same time afraid that I would once again gain a large amount of weight and repeat the entire process I had gone through after the birth of my 1st son. Well, I did indeed once again gain a large amount of weight, despite my extra efforts to eat very healthy and exercise, but this time I was determined not to let myself revert back to wearing my maternity clothes or oversized tees and sweats after his birth. I decided that I would dress for my current size and shape, instead of waiting until I was at my ‘magic number’, as I call it (you know, the one where you will feel pretty and self-confident, accomplish all the tasks you have been putting off, and life will pretty much be perfect) like I had done after my 1st pregnancy (and every other time I had gained in my life previously). I decided that this time things were going to be different, and they were.


I dressed myself in Cropped pants (similar here), button-down shirts (which gave easy access for nursing my boys...similar here), and comfortable skirts (similar here). I accessorized my outfits with pretty scarves and jewelry, wore cute shoes with matching handbags, and made the time to fix my hair and put on a little makeup each day. Well, I must tell you that it really made a difference for me in the way I felt about myself on a daily basis, and I think it actually helped to speed up my weight loss, since I felt more confident and seemed to eat less out of boredom or ‘just because it was there’. I had given myself permission to feel pretty and confident even though I wasn't at my 'magic number', and it worked.

Now, I didn’t go out and spend a fortune on clothing that I knew wasn’t going to fit in a few months, but I did pick up a handful of pieces that were flattering for my figure and made me feel pretty when I wore them. These items also transitioned as I lost weight…button down blouses now became shirt jackets as I wore them open over a tee or tank top. My pants were altered for a few dollars by my tailor so that I could wear them until my next drop in size. Then each time I did have to shop for a smaller size I chose clothing in basic colors -white, black, navy, khaki, and grey. This way the new outfits worked with all of the accessories already in my current wardrobe, allowing me to continue to dress in a way that made me feel confident and pretty, without spending a lot of money. I followed this same process after the births of my last two sons, and found the results to be the same. I felt better about my appearance on a daily basis, had more self confidence, and allowed myself to feel pretty, even though I wasn't the size I wanted to be.

After the birth of my youngest son I still struggled with my weight (and still do to this day). Despite my efforts to eat healthy and exercise, there have been times when I have gained. However, instead of reverting to my old ways of 'hiding' in unflattering, ill-fitting, oversized clothes, I follow the process I took after I gained during my pregnancies, because in my experience...it works. 


I am sharing this because I know that many women struggle with self-image and weight issues...I am one of those women. There are many who don't (or won't) shop for themselves until they have lost a certain number of pounds...I have been that woman. Many women don't feel pretty because they are not at their own 'magic number'...I have been there, too. However, I want you to know that it doesn't have to be that way. You deserve better! You deserve to feel pretty and dress in stylish, flattering clothing at the size you are right now! I spent too many years waiting...waiting to reach my 'magic number', waiting to feel pretty, waiting to dress in clothing that I truly love, and I can tell you that they were wasted years. I believe that every woman deserves to feel pretty and dress in clothing that she loves right now...no matter her size! Please don't wait for your magic number and waste time away like I did...you deserve better!

xoxo,

38 comments:

  1. Hi FFM,
    This post really speaks to me! Thanks! I remember thinking after I first started reading your blog, that "I bet she goes home from the hospital in her jeans." I always gain 80 lbs when I'm pregnant and it was like you were describing me! I find myself being embarrassed to see people after I've had a baby. I always buy myself goal outfits to fit into to help motivate my weight loss. I've had many people say "Why are you buying clothes in THAT size its not like you're going to stay THAT size?"

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    2. Hi Dorothy! Well, I definitely was very far from fitting into jeans (or anything I had worn before I was pregnant) when leaving the hospital after having each one of my boys. I also gained large amounts of weight with each pregnancy and have come to believe that a woman's body has a sort of predetermined weight it will gain each time she is pregnant. No matter how hard I tried with each one, I gained at least 50 pounds or more, and even though I was excited to be having another child, the large weight gain was very frustrating for me.

      On another note...I think that it is wonderful that you buy yourself goal outfits to motivate your weight loss and that you have decided to also take care of yourself, even when not at your preferred size. You deserve it! :)

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  2. FFM I think this is a wonderful post that deserves wide exposure. Thank you for sharing your story and for offering such caring advice. I think all women could benefit from reading this post!
    I couldn't agree with you more. I was heavier in my early 20's and I remember feeling terrible about myself, hiding in giant black clothing, the cheapest I could find. Those were miserable years for me, but looking back I wish I hadn't wasted them in feeling and looking terrible.
    Even today those feelings come back if my weight fluctuates even slightly. Thank you for reminding me to take extra effort on those days rather than putting on a plain black dress with no jewelry. (Which is what I'm wearing right now. Going to go change into my Tory Burch dress and pearls pronto!)
    Thanks FFM. :)

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    1. Thank you Dani! Like you, I also still have days where I feel terrible about myself and want to hide in something big and baggy. It is on those days that I try extra hard to remind myself that there is more to me than my dress size, and that it does not determine my worth. I'm not saying it is easy to do, but I have found that at least making an effort not to dwell on the extra pounds, and choosing instead to focus on helping other people in my life really does help. :)

      I love the way the Tory Burch dress looks on you, and it is definitely a mood lifter, too! :)

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  3. Thank you for the thoughtful post. I can relate. My weight is a constant battle, and my closet is kind of like a boutique with a couple of different sizes at any given moment. Although I do shop regardless, I find that I don't wear what I am most drawn to because it just doesn't look good at my current weight. I have also found that wearing over sized sweats can lead to weight gain because I'm less conscious of how clothing feels against my body. My challenge is the combination of a hypo thyroid (which I take medication for daily) and the reality that my body weight set point is higher than I'd like it to be. I can maintain my current weight no matter how much I eat or exercise. Loosing weight is a huge struggle because I'm fighting what my body has become accustomed to, and likes. However, hiding is out of the question. Like you, I work in fashion and know some tricks to looking my best and share that insight with my clients.

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    1. Julie: I completely agree with you that wearing over sized sweats (or for me, even my workout clothes) can lead to weight gain. I have also personally experienced this, as well. Your comment about your closet being like a boutique with a couple of different sizes sounds all too familiar. I have a couple different sizes in mine, as well. :)

      My sister and I were just talking the other day about body weight set point, and like you, how we are struggling to deal with the fact that it is more than the weight we are really most comfortable at. I call the weight where I want to be my 'fighting weight' because I have to fight to get there and also fight to stay there.

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    2. That's interesting! I call the weight I feel best at my fighting weight because I feel like I could succeed in a boxing match or some other sporting event. Not that I've ever boxed...

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  4. Excellent post, I think this is an issue for most women at one time or another. I also made the assumption that you bounced right back after having your children, you always look fit and slim. I haven't started having children yet but I imagine I will gain a significant amount of weight. I really want to focus on being as healthy as possible before, during and after, whatever size I happen to be. I'm sure I'll obsess a bit about my size but I hope I can keep it in perspective.

    I am between size 4 and 6 on the bottom and my size will fluctuate, sometimes from week to week. At any given time I am wearing only about 1/2 the bottoms in my wardrobe. I was a size 2 in college but really feel best at a size 4 and have been there for several months now, not even gaining over the holidays this year, which was a first for me. I buy quite a few pencil skirts and I try to ensure I have about equal in size 4 and size 6 because I want to look good, even if I'm on the larger end of my range.

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    1. Thank you, xoxo! Pregnancy was always a difficult time for me due to the large weight gains, but knowing what the end result would be did always help to keep it all in perspective. :)

      You are not alone in the weight fluctuations from week to week. Sometimes I even feel like I can gain an entire size overnight, especially if I eat too much sodium. My grandmother had a horrible time with fluid retention, and I am the same way. Like you, I also own the same skirt in 2 different sizes (and have a couple different sizes in general in my closet, as well) to ensure that I always have something to wear that makes me feel good, even if I am at my larger size.

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  5. This is great! I gained 75 pounds with my first and only 40 with my second. I was able to lose most of the weight within a year but when I hit 40 is seemed to want to come back!!! I have learned a few techniques for dressing to keep my weight from inching up. Wearing lose fitting clothes seems to allow me to gain weight easily so I tend to wear things that have a waist, even if it is tight. I like dresses and fuller skirts because I can hide my bottom half and be comfortable while keeping my waist under control. I eat less and can tell if I am gaining weight right away so I can adjust my eating if the waist starts to feel uncomfortable.
    Thanks for the great post!
    xoxox,
    Sandee
    from katespade-aholic.com

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    1. Thanks Sandee! I have been experiencing the same thing since turning 40 two years ago...the weight seems to keep wanting to come back on! I have found that it is harder for me to lose now, too.

      I agree completely that wearing loose fitting clothes makes it easier for the pounds to creep on! I also opt for wearing fitted dresses and skirts on a daily basis to help keep myself in check. :)

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  6. FFM, this post resonates with me so much! I gained more weight than I had expected with my first child - and I was so unhappy about it, secretly, that as soon as I lost the weight, I embarked on the style revolution that is currently in full force in my closet. What scares me is that I lost the weight not because of anything I actively did, but rather bc of circumstances that just happened to kick in at the 'right' time. Now, I'm terrified of having a second child bc it will surely mean losing my body again. It's the most ridiculous thing in one sense, but honestly, such a pressing concern, in another. I don't really have a solution for myself, even as my closet is brimming with clothes that fit me so well right now, when I am at my 'natural' weight (that I was at when I was in my twenties). I like your advice a lot... it's a very sympathetic loving approach to handling oneself and still getting to where one is going!
    Thank you.

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    1. Hi maqsad! I completely understand where you are coming from! After having my first son, I told my mother (when I was in the process of losing the weight) that I was not going to have more children if I ever got back to pre-baby size. Gaining all that weight was really a very rough experience for me, and not one that I looked at all forward to going through again. However, after a few years my mindset changed, and that is when I became pregnant again. I was determined not to gain all the weight a second time, but my body had something different in mind and it happened all over again. This is when I decided that once he was born, no matter what my size, I was going to dress nicely and take care of myself. (I even bought myself pretty PJs and slippers to wear at the hospital, and got a pedicure the weekend before he was due.) The weight did come off again eventually, as it did two more times after, and while my body isn't exactly the same as it was prior to having my boys, I was still able to get it back to being pretty close.

      What I am trying to say in all my rambling, is that even though you may be frightened of losing your body again, you will be able to get it back to a certain extent, especially since you will have your wardrobe of fabulous clothes to keep you extra determined and motivated. :)

      P.S. You know you can always email me if you need to talk about it further. :)

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    2. Thank you FFM! Having other people who understand and have been through the process is a great blessing! Again, thank you for sharing and being willing to help me out! It means a lot. Best wishes!

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  7. I used to be 2 sizes smaller before kids and I still have cute clothes ( investment pieces) that I hang to despite the fact that I am not fitting in them and do not know if I ever will. I just can't bring myself to get rid of them.Sigh!

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    1. Slastena: You are so gorgeous now and your boys are absolute dolls! If I had purchased any investment pieces before my boys were born, I think I would want to hold on to them, too. :)

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  8. FFM, what a thoughtful post that resonated with me. I don't know what it's like to gain weight due to pregnancies, but I have recently started wrestling with the concept of weight-gain due to age. I don't like it. It's unfamiliar and uncomfortable. I don't know why it's happening when my exercise/eating routine hasn't really changed. Actually, I eat healthier now than I did when I was younger. Anyway, the point is, it's hard when a woman's body changes, because in some ways it's a part of your identity. It's how old friends remember you or how you fit into those pair of favorite jeans you've had for years. The last thing I want to do is worry about what I'm eating and how much I weigh all the time, but it's definitely something that's crossed my mind more often than I'd like to admit.
    I like your approach that rather than punishing oneself for not being at their ideal weight, keep looking and feeling great by investing in yourself, whether it means purchasing a couple of fun accessories or exploring new projects and hobbies that get your mind off your appearance. There are so many pieces that complete us, and I can't pretend that our image or appearance doesn't factor into anything, because it does, and it can affect our self-esteem.
    Thanks for this piece.

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    1. Thank you Dea! I completely understand how you feel about the weight gain due to age. I have found that over the past 2 years since I turned 40, that I gain much easier and it is more difficult to lose, as well. You are right that a woman's appearance is part of her identity. I think that is one of the reasons it is so difficult to feel pretty or self-confident when gaining weight, because you don't actually feel quite like yourself when you do, and it can be very frustrating.

      I feel it so important to treat your 'larger' self like you would your 'smaller' self. Just because you aren't at a particular size you want to be, doesn't mean you are any less deserving of kindness, respect, and being taken care of. :)

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    2. I enjoyed this pot as well and the weight thing doesn't get easier as one approaches mid 40's and ....our bodies are such efficient machines that it adjusts way too quickly to a routine and we need to constantly mix it up as we women get older. Sigh, but the alternative is to dress for the size you are and still look fabulous and feel great :)

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    3. I completely agree, Bronzi! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. :)

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  9. Oh FFm this is so me! I have been a drab dresser all winter due to an extra five pounds...I refuse to buy new clothes because I am so darned angry with myself. For me, 131 is way too much...I am so much happier around 125...and my clothes fit so well. I have just had a hard time fitting in exercise.

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    1. Nantucket Daffodil: I had the same experience this past winter, too. For some reason it has been much more difficult to lose the weight I gained over the holidays. I'm thinking it may be age related, but even so it has been very frustrating.

      One thing that has worked for me before when I didn't have a lot of time to exercise is not eating past 6pm. I was able to continue eating normally otherwise, but just didn't eat after that time of night.

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    2. Btw, Nantucket Daffodil: I know that you don't want to buy new clothes, so how about adding a pretty scarf to your outfits to brighten them up a bit now? Also, if you do consider getting in a little something new for yourself, I recommend one of the dresses from Target that I've mentioned a couple of times in my Thursday 'A Little This, A Little That...' posts. They aren't overly expensive, and you will be still be able to wear them after you do lose the 6 pounds. I have the 2 printed ones and wear them weekly. I like them so much I also ordered 2 of the solid color ones earlier this week. :)

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  10. Thank you FFM! I am currently up 10 pounds as a result of working too much and as a result, not exercising enough or eating as well as I should! We have to love ourselves at all weights and do our best and I agree, hiding under a tent was never the answer!

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    1. You're welcome WMM! I'm very happy to hear that you love and accept yourself even though you aren't at your 'normal' weight...that is the way it SHOULD be! Good for you! :)

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  11. FFM - I LOVE THIS POST! This is so timely for me right now as I prepare to go back to work after maternity leave.

    While I am fairly close to my pre-baby weight (less than 10 pounds to go!), I find that my old clothes do not fit! I am wearing jeans that I wore when I was 30 pounds heavier before I ever got pregnant. Say what?! It's like things are just distributed differently. I feel so frustrated when I look at my adorable (and expensive. sigh.) pre-pregnancy jeans that I can't even get over my thighs. Whenever I start to beat myself up, I always remind myself of what this body did for me - created a life that it carried for 9+ months and then safely delivered after hours of pushing and an emergency c-section. Most of the time, that brings me back down to earth... but other times, I can't help but stare at my little "pouch" from where she was and feel down.

    Sorry - I felt like I just wrote a ton! Just wanted to say how much I liked your post and how much it spoke to me. Thank you so much!

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    1. Thanks Julie! I understand how you are feeling! My measurements now are larger than they were before my first pregnancy, even though I can wear the same size in certain items. As you know, your body spreads to make room for the baby, and in the case of most women, it doesn't quite go back to where it was before. I say in most women, because there are some women who are just as tiny as they were before giving birth, but I would consider them in the minority. You also need to realize that it takes at least a year for your body to recover and start truly returning back to 'normal'. I think you are doing amazingly well for just having had a baby so recently! Be kind to yourself and remember that you are a beautiful woman and mother, no matter what your current size is! :)

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  12. FANTASTIC post! Love it and love your blog!

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  14. I'm so glad I saw this yesterday. I didn't see it the first time around. Two things that stuck with me are "wasted years" and "allowed myself to feel pretty." What an important, important post. We can let life pass us by waiting for a magical weight, or choose to allow ourselves to feel good. I got it! Another thing women can do is compliment one another. I know the desire to want acknowledgement that I look nice. I feel it more often than I like and believe I recognize when other women feel that way. I try to give a compliment if I like something another woman is wearing or just tell her she looks great overall. We can all use a boost. Thanks, FFM for giving us one in this post!!!!

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    1. Thank you Gigi! :) I think complimenting other women is very important, too. You can see how a woman's face lights up when you tell her she looks nice, or that you love what she is wearing. So much of society and advertising tells us that we need to look a certain way or be a certain size to look pretty and that just isn't true. Every woman is beautiful in her own unique way and deserves to feel pretty no matter what. We should all help each other realize that more, and complimenting each other is a perfect way to do this. :)

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  15. Fantastic post! I gained weight in my 40s, and basically went around in sweats and oversized clothes. The thing that finally helped me lose the weight was starting to buy cute well fitting clothes for my size, just as you suggest. I felt better about myself and therefore I gained the motivation to eat better and exercise. I continued dressing well through each size change until I finally reached my goal.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story Sue, and congratulations on reaching your goal! :)

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