How To Buy Clothes For A Better Body Image!

by Golda Poretsky, HHC

full figure fashion week plus size

Image From Full Figure Fashion Week (from CBS NY web site)

I had a really awesome day yesterday.  I had brunch with a friend, then was interviewed for a really cool blog (more on that to come) and then I returned 3 of the 4 things I had ordered from Macy’s and got a dress that I actually liked.

I probably spend as much time returning as I do shopping.  And that’s because I won’t settle for clothes that are just okay.  I’d rather have a nearly bare closet with a few clothes that I really love than a closet filled with stuff that’s okay or acceptable.

Acceptable, when it comes to clothes, is just not good enough.

I used to just buy stuff that fit and was appropriate for whatever I was doing.  When I was a student, I pretty much wore jeans and black tops all the time.  For work I’d just wear pants and sweater sets.  I just wanted to be appropriate, to blend in, to not stand out.

I never really thought about wearing clothes that made me feel really good, and I had a limited notion of what I could wear. Then, in 2006, I just decided to try dresses.  Maybe it was because I saw someone with my shape do it on What Not To Wear, or maybe I just got sick of my “work uniform” as I called it.  But I started to experiment with dresses, and I found that I actually liked wearing them.  I had worried that I would either look too frumpy or too sexy, I worried about not being appropriate, I worried that my legs were the wrong shape, that I didn’t have enough hips to pull it off, etc. etc.

But in the end, I liked wearing dresses.  I liked that if I went out after work that I liked what I was wearing.  I felt sexier, I felt more attractive, and I started to like my body more.

I think it’s a mistake to divorce body image from clothing. It’s true that the more you like your body, the more you’re going to like more kinds of clothes on your body, but it works the other way around too.  The more you like your clothes, the more excited you are to step out your door in the morning, and the more you’re going to enjoy having the body that you have right now.

If you’re waiting to lose X number of pounds before you buy clothes, stop waiting. If you’re waiting to love your body more before you buy new clothes, stop waiting.

Even if you have only a small budget or no budget for clothes, you can start to change your wardrobe and get pieces that you like.  Here are my top 8 suggestions for creating a wardrobe you love!

1) Go Through Your Closet — Pull out everything that doesn’t fit, doesn’t look good, doesn’t turn you on.  Make 3 piles — (1) things that are falling apart, (2) clothes that are still in good shape but probably don’t have much resale value, (3) anything that still has tags, was only worn once, or was more expensive to start with.  Throw out pile #1, donate pile #2, and as for pile #3…

2) Sell Stuff With Resale Value — If you have a consignment shop like Re/Dress NYC near you, you’re golden.  Go there and get your store credit!  If not, you’d be surprised at what sells well on Ebay.  Start the bidding low and see what happens.  Even if you sell something for $20 that you bought for $80, that $20 will do you more good than having that item taking up real estate in your closet.

3) Have, Go To, Or Create A Clothing Swap — If you have similarly sized friends, have a clothing swap party.  Bring pile #3, get down to your skivvies and try on each other’s clothes.  This is a fun and free way to get new clothes and have the satisfaction of seeing your clothes go to someone who will love them!

4) Return Stuff You’re Not In Love With — If it still has tags and you still have the receipt, certain stores will take that stuff back even a year later.  Most stores will give you store credit for items with tags even if you don’t have the receipt.  (And again, even if it’s less than what you paid for it, you’re still getting credit that you can use for new stuff!)

5) Buy Off Season — I’ve bought winter coats in August and and sandals in November.  I just bought a spring/summer dress on clearance at the Avenue for about $10, and I’m already wearing it with sweaters.  It’s true that you don”t always get the satisfaction of wearing these things right away, but if you love them when you buy them you will likely love them later.

6) Coupons Are Your Friend — I may be preaching to the choir here, but before you order anything online, always google the store and “coupon code” or “promo code.”  Free shipping, percentages off… it’s all there to be googled!

7) If You Don’t Like Shopping, Shop With A Body Positive Friend — Shopping is so much more fun when you have a friend who is supportive and loves to shop.  If you have one of these friends, don’t be afraid to ask him/her for advice and bring him/her with you!

8) You Need A Shopping Mantra — You must use a body positive mantra when you shop.  Here are some of my favorites:

When Nothing Is Fitting Correctly:  “It’s not me, it’s the clothes!”
When You’re Feeling Disapproving Of Your Body:  “I have a gorgeous, fabulous body!”
When You’re Shopping For A Particular Event:  “I always find the most perfect outfit no matter what the occasion.”

If you try these tips, you will start feeling better about your body.  So let me know what you tried, or share some of your favorite tips in the comments!

If you’re in NYC for the 2011 Fat Girl Flea Market, don’t forget to stop by Golda’s table to get a signed copy of her book, Stop Dieting Now, and other goodies!

Get great body love tips and more when you subscribe:

Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.

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21 thoughts on “How To Buy Clothes For A Better Body Image!

  1. This is fine for people who are large but have a fairly proportional shape, especially if they are tall (the clothes from Lane Bryant seem to be designed for such). But if you carry your weight around the middle, as I do, then not much looks right. I can’t wear dresses or skirts at all, and I never tuck in shirts. I’m short, too, so that makes it worse.

    1. @Aggie5, I carry my weight around the middle for sure. I know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s definitely a challenge, and that’s probably why I end up returning stuff so much, but don’t give up. Just keep trying different styles.

  2. Great post. I’ve dressed well in bright colours for years my only problem in accepting that I look good. I know I look good (don’t mean to sound arrogant) but to carry myself with confidence and openness, that’s the trick. The challenge for me is believing that a guy or a woman is looking at me because I’ve got on a great outfit and cared enough to put myself out there in an attractive way rather than gawking at a fat girl.

    1. @Jill Moran, Knowing you look good is the whole trick. Don’t worry if people are gawking or think you look awesome. Their opinion doesn’t matter, and the more you feel good in your body, the greater the percentage of people that will agree with you.

  3. Hey Golda ~ this is great advice. I used to stock up whenever Avenue had a sale but those were things that did nothing for me. Now I know that clothes should reflect the passionate side of me. :)

  4. I love that idea, but clothes shopping is a serious body hatred trigger for me. I usually feel pretty positively about my body, but going into a store (or placing an $1000 “order a bunch of things and send back whatever doesn’t work” online order) and coming out with NOTHING that even comes CLOSE to fitting is really demoralizing. It’s the loudest “your body isn’t okay” message I get in my life.

    1. @Jess, I hear you. I really, really do. But that’s why I talk about returning things in this post. Your body IS okay. Just because you order clothes and they don’t fit doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It’s time to recognize that the hatred that you’re putting on your body should be anger that you have at a system that doesn’t support you in finding good clothes. Check out some indie designers (some will even make clothes to your specifications), keep trying, and when you see a women with your body type wearing cool clothes stop her, tell her you like her style and ask her where she bought her stuff!

  5. Golda, This has to be one of the best posts about becoming more fashionable I’ve read in a long time. I too stick to many pieces because I know it works for me, but venturing outside my current style is a great tip and one I know I need to do more so. Maybe to follow up you can write more specifically about defining your own style. You seemed to do this well by venturing outside your comfort zone by wearing dresses. I’ve found that creating a personal style is still challenging for many and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Many Thanks,
    The Full Fashion Fix Team

    P.s. We’re gonna tweet this as one of our fav posts of the day!!

  6. Wow yes that is so powerful: “I won’t settle for clothes that are just okay.”

    I started doing the same thing, too. If I am trying to make do with the fit of something its gone. I also take back a lot as well. I want things that look BOMB on me and would rather have that than tons of just OK things. I wont buy it cause it is available in my size.

    great post!

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