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How and Where to Buy Clothes During Weight Loss

GH has been an online writer for over six years. As part of her weight-loss journey, she learned what to wear and what not to wear.

How to Shop While Losing Weight

How to Shop While Losing Weight

Buying Clothes While Losing Weight

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 halfway 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!

My big butt in Levis.

My big butt in Levis.

The Joy of Fitting Into Cute Jeans

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 price for these jeans is about $50. I bought them for $16 used, including shipping. SCORE!

Take care with your fashion choices. My weight loss has given me an infatuation with ridiculously printed pants!

Take care with your fashion choices. My weight loss has given me an infatuation with ridiculously printed pants!

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 guide 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!

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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 denim. This about this before you buy.

You will look like this in clothes that are too big.

You will look like this in clothes that are too big.

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 Clothes That Fit in the Moment

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.

Know That Clothes May Not Last Forever

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.

DOWN! \m/ And this is how I felt realizing that I could actually wear a men's size 2X t-shirt.

DOWN! \m/ And this is how I felt realizing that I could actually wear a men's size 2X t-shirt.

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 stigma 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 was 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 undergrow them. Put them back on eBay and make a few bucks for 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.

I know I look better when I'm wearing the right size.

I know I look better when I'm wearing the right size.

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 BS.

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. BS again.

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 different sizes of 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 its 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. BS!

I contend that my big butt and I 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 below side by side.

So quit it with the baggy clothes, mmkay?

So quit it with the baggy clothes, mmkay?

© 2012 Georgie Lowery


Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 25, 2013:

Interesting read and I firmly believe as well that feeling good about what wears oneself is of prime importance.

Good tips however on buying clothes while losing weight.

Voted up.

H Lax on October 13, 2012:

LOL! Step away from that button! Too funny!

Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on October 13, 2012:


Thanks for the Freecycle tip. I just ventured over to the website and made myself an account!

I am kind of digging my plan to resell what I undergrow on eBay to buy more clothes, but someone needs to remind me that I already have everything I need right now and encourage me to please step away from the Buy It Now button.

Thank you for your comment! :)

H Lax on October 13, 2012:

You can also find used clothing for free on sometimes. Somebody should start a site for people to get used clothes for free. Even the costs of used clothes can get expensive if you continually have to purchase new ones, especially for people on a fixed income. Great advise on this hub.

Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on August 24, 2012:


A lot of the incentive is actually being able to buy smaller sizes. I was a 32W for so long that, when I realized I could fit 24W, I actually sat down and cried.

I think the best bet is to buy "snug" if you're still on the downward trend. But keep a few outfits that are loose, too, in case you gain some of it back.

Thank you for the comment! :)

carol stanley from Arizona on August 24, 2012:

This is a dilemma. What do you do? It is easy to buy big clothes as you know they will fit. You don't want to buy clothes that are too small..or do you??? What is the best incentive for the dieter????

Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on August 23, 2012:

Right, and part of the reason I'm in this predicament! ;)

pmorries from Golden, CO on August 23, 2012:

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are hard to beat.

Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on August 23, 2012:

I think you're okay, pmorries, even if you aren't giving me octopus treats!

pmorries from Golden, CO on August 23, 2012:


Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on August 23, 2012:


Since I haven't worn anything resembling high heels since 1994, I'm afraid I can' t help you. I recommend sparkly red ones, cause of the whole clicking your heels together thing.

It isn't hard at all to find fat people clothes. It's hard as hell to find them at decent prices. Even eBay sellers know this and charge through the nose sometimes, so it can be hard to find good deals.

I refuse to answer the zombie questions on the grounds that I might incriminate myself. Did you know, though, that octopus treats look and taste exactly like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?

pmorries from Golden, CO on August 23, 2012:

Okay, what do you recommend to a morbidly obese man that has lost some weight and is looking for a good pair of high heels?

Also, if so many Americans are obese, why is so hard to find clothes in larger sizes? In closing, how is your pet zombie doing? Your zombies looks a lot like you with green goo on your face. Did you off your nice twin? Is that why you leave the house once a month? And, what exactly is in your pants pockets? Zombie chow? Octopus treats? What!!!

Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on August 22, 2012:


An online swap would be logistically impossible for me for several reasons, namely that I really only get out once a month. I will look for them, though, and see what I can see. Thank you again!

Mama Kim 8,

eBay! Don't let your shorts fall down around your neighbors! Thank you for your comments! :)

Aloe Kim on August 22, 2012:

Congratulations on your weight loss Georgie!! You too TT! I wish you all the best for the remainder of your journey! You hub serves as great inspiration for others. I can relate to the the toddler pulling down your pants. Breastfeeding has caused me to loose more weight than I like recently and my pants keep falling off! I tried to go running and couldn't because my shorts started coming down :/ I think I need to go shopping too. Voted up!!

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on August 21, 2012:

Georgie, some of the swap meets are online from what I remember, you just have to sign in, etc.

Um...I had the surgery in Oct of 2001 and I was down to my highschool weight by Oct of 2003. I started at 363 and my high school weight was 165.

I had my second son in 2006 and had a heck of a time gaining weight while I was pregnant until almost the very end ( I think I gained 30 pounds the last 3 months because I was on complete bed rest). There were times where I was losing 7 pounds a week and the doctors weren't too happy with me.

I found that being around 150 pounds made me feel yucky, but if I maintain 165 to 175 (I'm 5'9ish), I feel much better. I guess it works, hubby says I have a boney ass. :)

Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on August 21, 2012:


I guess I'm a little weird, I'll admit things that most people don't want others to know. I've always been exceptionally extroverted anyway. Besides, it's a little hard to hide the fact that I'm a fatass! ;)

I got a good laugh in a cab one day. The DJ on the radio was talking about this new study where people used to think that wearing vertical stripes made them look smaller and how it turns out that it's crap. I actually said "If you're fat, then you're going to look fat. What's the big deal?"

It's hard not to get depressed when we gain weight. Especially since we (subconsciously?) buy into that whole "you have to be perfect" crap that the media sells us. I don't love my curves, I wish they'd get the hell on, but I'm not ashamed of who or what I am anymore. When I came to that realization, it's almost as if a whole new world opened up to me.

I'm sorry that you're going through your ordeal. You seem like a great person and it makes me sad. They always say that the worst shit happens to the best people. Oxycontin though? That stuff made me throw up buckets. Do. Not. Like!

My cyber ohana? I've seen Lilo and Stitch enough times to know what that means. Nobody gets left behind. Thank you! I got the warm and fuzzies. :)

Ka'imi'loa from Tucson, AZ. on August 21, 2012:

Eh Honey-girl, I am extremely proud of you that would post actual numbers and pics on your weight condition. A lot of women should learn from you. As for me, nah....I stay perfect and handsome, so I cannot relate, yeah.

Joking, I get a few pounds I actually have to drop. Since I became sick from my legs, my movement has been to a minimum. I lay in bed all day and pop my pain medication, where for anybody else, this would be nirvana. OxcyCodone 30mg 6x's a day, and an OxcyContin 80mg 1 at night to knockout. So naturally, I began to get Momona (fat), and With the extra weight, I started to become very depressed. I look at pics of myself when I was healthy and good looking. When I was up and about and active, I was a 34" waist, I haven't past 40" waist YET, and that is where I am drawing the line. I have gained I think about 40-50lbs. Which now gets me winded while brushing my teeth. So, I'll bebthere alongside you losing weight. I got the Michael Sembello soundtrack to "Flash Dance", my leg warmers and dumbells, and I'm ready to blast "Maniac" and sweat this sh*t off. Smile girl, you have a "real" cyber ohana here that won't let you down.

Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on August 20, 2012:


I've heard of those swap meets. Unfortunately, I live in Belmont, NY: population 969. I don't know if there are that many people on a weight loss journey here!

Just out of curiosity, how long did it take you to lose the 200? I've been up and down since 2006, and I think I'm about 150 pounds down now with at least 100 to go.

Thanks for the comment, as always! :)

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on August 20, 2012:

While I was losing my 200 pounds thanks to gastric bypass, a bunch of us formed a 'loser' group. We met a couple of times a month and exchanged all kinds of hints, tips and clothes we were too small for. There was always new members that were in need of the smaller clothes. As we moved down the sizes, the bigger sizes were re-donated to the group and passed on. It really saved money.

Great job on the hub AND the weight loss! :)

Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on August 20, 2012:


Thank you! I am proud of me too, for once and it's great to have other people say it! :)

Those two pictures, not the butt one but the full body ones, were taken on the same day.

I did write a Hub on how I've pretty much done it. It's here:

It's hard at first, but you roll with it until you get used to it.

Thank you again! I also saw your comment on benisan85745's post about "China." I think you're pretty awesome, too! :D

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on August 20, 2012:

Bravo, Georgie, bravo! I am so very proud of you. I need to lose 50 pounds myself, so I found your article to be very motivating. As I read and came to each picture, I actually thought--no lie!--that I was looking at two different women here. Wow! Amazing!

I love that you believe in yourself!

So...did I miss a Hub or two where you might have shared with us other weight-challenged writers what you're doing to lose so much weight? Is there something about the water in Buffalo that the rest of us should know about? LOL!

Best wishes for continued success in your transformation journey. You're one of my all time favorite Hubbers, Georgie, and that's not going to matter what the tape measure reads!

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