How and Where to Buy Clothes During Weight Loss
Yes, yes I did ask my roomie to take a picture of my butt.
Why do I have a picture of my big butt in a pair of Levis? Because, until about a month ago, I was too fat to wear them. Levis only go up to a size 24W. This is my first pair, ever.
I've decided that, when I'm too small to wear these, I'm going to frame them as a reminder of what a lot of hard work can do and as tangible proof of my success.
Also, I bought these on eBay! Regular retail new for these jeans is about $50. I bought them for $16 used, including shipping. SCORE!
When you lose weight, especially a lot of it, you truly do become a whole new you. When you're all brand new, though, some things need to be considered - namely buying clothes.
The last time I got on a scale was November of 2010 and I weighed 316 pounds. I'm not sure what I currently weigh, though I'm estimating it around 250, since that's what I weighed the last time I could fit into my current size. For me, "under-growing" (as opposed to outgrowing) my clothes happened gradually at first, and then I was losing my pants whenever my roommates' toddler pulled on my pockets. (She has a thing about wanting to see what's in my pockets!) I was shocked when I bought new clothes in smaller sizes only to find out that they were already too big.
If you're like me - about half-way through the weight loss process, there are several things you need to think about before you buy clothes.
- How fast are you losing weight? This will tell you how fast you will "under-grow" your new clothes.
- How do you determine what size clothes to buy?
- What options do you have for buying clothes?
- How much cash are you willing to spend on your new wardrobe?
- Are the seasons changing? Will you need winter clothes in your new or transitional size?
- What do you do when you're too small to wear your new clothes?
Hopefully I'll have an answer or two for these questions and more. So sit back and learn from my mistakes! At the very least, you will save a buck or two and look good doing it!
What Size Should You Buy?
A lot of people that are "morbidly obese" have no idea what size they really wear. I figured it out by trial and error. Then I realized that a tape measure is my friend. When you're very overweight, though, tape measures can be cause for concern, as well as depressing and demoralizing (which is part of the reason why I haven't bought a scale, either, but that's another story).
Standard tape measures (in the US) only go up to 60 inches. That may seem like a lot, but a 60" waist is a woman's size 44W. 60" hips, though, are a size 34W, which is about right where I was a couple years ago. (The average American woman is a size 14W.) This may sound ridiculous to you but, even though I was wearing a woman's size 30/32 or 34/36, I thought that those 60 inches were not enough to gauge my correct size. I ended up buying a plus-sized measuring tape that went up to 96". I also ended up not needing it.
Tip 1: Get a measuring tape.
Do it pronto! Measure your bust, waist, hips, inseam and even your neck. Ignore the M, L, XL type sizing - refer to the next tip. Dude clothes usually go by measurements anyway.
Here's something you may not have thought about - your shoes. I've worn a size 9W for most of my adult life. Now that I'm losing weight, my damned shoes are too big! Zappos has a size guide that will help you find the right shoe size via your measurements.
And ladies, seriously, know your bra size. I read once that 70% of women are wearing bras that don't fit. Oprah even did a show on it once, which is one of the few shows of hers that I actually watched. Here is a handy link to finding your correct bra size. Measure, measure and measure again. Believe me, the right bra makes all the difference.
Just wait till you have to figure out what size underwear you need. That's a fun one!
Tip 2: Beware of vanity sizing.
Then there's vanity sizing and the age-old M, L, XL type sizes. Different manufacturers and designers have different size charts. Again, measure away. I bought a size 3X tank top that I was virtually swimming in and a size 3X sweater that barely fits. Pay attention to the measurements when buying on the internet. When you're going into a brick and mortar store, try everything on, even if you're sure it will fit.
Some fabrics, obviously, have more give than others. If you're buying jeans that do not have spandex in them, they will fit more tightly than those that do. A pair of stretch jeans may fit now, but they'll be loose more quickly than a pair of plain denims. This about this before you buy.
Transitional Sizes and Buying Clothes
If you're already at the end of your weight loss journey, congratulations! If you're not, you need to put your thinking cap on when it comes to buying clothes.
I already mentioned that I've gone from a size 30/32 to a size 22/24. I figure that, if my current rate of weight loss continues, I'll be wearing an 18/20 before Halloween. I had to think about the effects that my weight loss was going to have on my wardrobe.
I bought several pairs of jeans all in a size 24W. When I got them a few weeks ago, they were all tight as heck. Now they're only a little bit tight. I'll be able to wear them for about another month. Then I will have to change out my wardrobe again.
Tops are a cause for concern, too. Some of the more fitted things I have, like tank tops, are going to be useless to me in a couple of months anyway because the temperature is going to drop. So there's no need to buy anything else sleeveless. T-shirts have a little more life in them because I can still wear them once I've lost weight. It seems as if everybody wears them a few sizes too big, anyway. Sweaters and long sleeve shirts are iffy. Those that have crew-neck or slight v-necks will be used a little longer than anything that has a more open neckline.
I would caution you here about two things:
- Avoid buying anything that fits perfectly right now. Try buying one size smaller, as long as it still fits you. This sounds stupid, especially to me, but it's true. What fits you perfectly today will start to be too big in a couple of weeks or a month at best, especially if you are on a fast losing trend. Unless it's a have-to-have item, buy the smaller size.
- Don't look at clothing as something that will last you forever, because it won't if you're losing. Some people spend big bucks on things that they like or things that are really trendy. This is just plain dumb if you are still losing weight. Your big-ticket sweater or those Lucky Brand jeans won't fit you long enough to justify that price. I'm having problems with this one, because I can finally fit Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. I want those clothes - not so much because I like the style, but because I'm overwhelmed by the fact that I can now wear them. Fortunately, I haven't shelled out serious cash... yet.
This brings me to my next point...
Where to Buy Clothes When You're Losing Weight
I've heard this more than once: Buy a great piece for your wardrobe that will serve you for years, even if you have to break into your piggy bank to do it. Again, this is simply stupid when you're transitional. You can't look at clothes as an investment at this point, everything you buy is temporary. Don't get attached to them, don't pick favorites. They are not going to be your friends for very long. Do not spend a small fortune on cute clothes just because you can now wear those sizes, even if you have a ton of spare money to spend on them.
So... How do you buy new clothes? Buy used. Seriously. Buying used clothing has a sigma attached to it. Only poor people buy used clothes, right? Wrong.
I was one of those people. It came from an incident in my childhood when someone gave my mother a ton of clothes for me. She wouldn't let me wear them outside because she didn't want the people who gave them to me to see me wearing them. Though I thought this was dumb at the time - I'd have thought that the people who donated the clothes would have wanted to see them being used - but it stuck with me for most of my adult life. I went to a second hand store when I moved to Buffalo and found a ton of things that fit me at super cheap prices. Besides, you can't catch cooties from used clothes unless you don't wash them before you wear them.
Here are some tried and true tips for buying clothes on the cheap, courtesy of yours truly.
- eBay. There are about a million and one pieces of clothing just waiting for you on eBay. You will have the advantage of being able to look over tons of pieces, different styles and price ranges. If you find something you like and the seller does not have the measurements listed, ask them for them before you buy. Chances are they'll be cool about it. They want to make some money, right?
- Goodwill, Salvation Army and other thrift stores. Yeah, this is the whole enchilada here. You can paw through hundreds of pieces of clothing and try them on. Some second hand stores have days when specific items are on sale for even deeper discounts. The one store we frequented in Buffalo had different colored tags and each day one of those colors were on sale.
- Clearance. If you must buy new, shop clearance. There is no need to pay big money for anything that you won't be able to wear in a couple of months.
Just about the only things I won't buy used are shoes and undergarments. Wash everything thoroughly before you wear it, even if the person you're buying from says they're freshly laundered.
This is also what I think you should do with your clothes when you under grow them. Put them back on eBay and make a few bucks towards your next new wardrobe. Though I am sending all of my 26/28's to someone near and dear to me, my next set is going to make me some money back.
There's one more point I want to make...
Stop Buying Clothes That Are Way Too Big!
I know why we do it. We buy clothes that are too big when we're fat because we don't want people to see our rolls. Hide our imperfections - that's what they tell us to do, anyway. Because imperfections mean we are bad people.
To that, I say a simple bullsh*t.
To me, although I've done it for years, wearing big, baggy clothes says that I'm ashamed of myself. I'm ashamed of the way I look and I don't want you to see that which I'm ashamed of.
The problem with wearing baggy clothes when we're very overweight is that this style makes us look bigger. I didn't realize the difference until I bought a pink Old Navy tank top in size 3X from the Goodwill store. The damn thing gave me a shape other than round.
Now, I'm not saying to take your size 30W self and put it in a tube top. Seriously. But wear the right size. Look at the pictures I've shared here of me in differently sized clothes. In the first picture, which, in my defense, are the clothes that I wear to walk in, I look bigger than in the second picture where I'm wearing clothes that actually fit.
Yes, in the second photo, you can see my belly bulge and my "flubber" as I like to call it. But I know that I look smaller in the second picture than I do in the first. The facial expressions are just for show, or are they? This is purely psychological but, when I'm wearing clothing that actually fits, I feel better and I feel better about myself.
The thing is, society wants you to think that you are unworthy or less than human if you don't fit the standard that Cosmopolitan and all it's Photoshopping glory sets. We already demoralize ourselves enough just by being overweight. Your flub is not for public display, right? Again, you must hide your flaws and imperfections.
I contend that me and my big butt are just as good as if not better than the women whose Photoshopped bodies grace everything from pop ads to magazine spreads. I also contend that I am more confident when I wear clothes that don't make me look five times my size and I also believe that wearing properly fitted clothes causes other people to treat me differently. When you're not afraid to say "Hey, I'm flawed and I think I'm awesome anyway," your self confidence comes through.
Don't believe me? Look at the two photos side by side:
© 2012 Georgianna Lowery