If there's one place where I see my clients struggle with negative body image most, it's around clothes. I know that's been true for me. As my body changes (as bodies do in life), and some items of clothes I really love don't fit anymore, that's been the one time I've noticed negative body image thoughts arise.
Being able to dress your here-and-now body in a way that makes you feel good isn't a shallow concern. Fashion is a way of expressing your personality. Your body is your home, and just like it feels good to walk into a clean home that's decorated to represent your tastes, it's the same with your body and clothes. Also, it legitimately sucks when you have to spend money you might not have because your clothes don't fit, or if you have limited shopping options because most stores don't sell your size.
Today I wanted to share tips for dressing your here-and-now body, wherever it falls on the spectrum of small to large, plus brands that sell a wide range of sizes, or specialize in plus sizes. Even if you are thin, I encourage you to shop from and support these brands. It's something I've been much more conscious about, because as someone with a lot of thin privilege, I don't really want to support brands that don't cater to larger bodies.
Here's some tips you may find helpful:
1. Buy clothes that change with your body.
If your body is changing, it's smart to purchase clothes that will fit your body in a range of sizes. Even when your body is at it's set point, it's really a set point range, which can fluctuate between 10-20 lbs, so you'll probably still need clothes that have a little give. Look for loose fitting blouses, pants with a stretchy waist, flowy dresses and skirts that cinch above the waist. I also learned recently that apparently all my friends shop the maternity section, even if they're not expecting, because the clothes are more comfortable - genius!
2. Be sure to have basics in your current size.
If you don't have a lot of money to spend on new clothes, at least get new jeans, bra and underwear. Wearing too-small clothes is incredibly uncomfortable - and triggering of negative body thoughts. Having comfortable undergarments can make a huge difference in how you view your body. Even if you don't have to wear your larger or smaller size for a long time, it's helpful to have basics in a couple different sizes, as weight naturally fluctuates.
3. Put away or donate clothes that don't fit.
Instead of hanging on to a closet full of clothes that don't fit, donate those old clothes. If you can't bear to part with them, pack them away so they aren't staring at you, making you feel bad every time you get dressed.
4. Change your perspective on shopping for new clothes
This tip is probably only useful if you have money to spend on new clothes, you fit in clothes that are sold at most stores, AND you actually enjoy shopping, but if so, try to look at your changing size as an excuse to go shopping! I know I get excited when I have something a wedding or a trip that serves as an excuse to go shopping, so why not change your perspective to look at your changing size as an excuse to buy something you've been eyeing.
5. Book a personal shopper - on a budget!
A personal shopper sounds uber fancy, but one of my clients let me know that you can book appointments for FREE with a personal shopper at Macy's. She spent over an hour with her shopper, who encouraged her to try on clothes that she wouldn't normally pick out because she had been told it wouldn't look good on her body shape - and she loved them! We've all been imbued with so many rules about what you can and can't wear for certain body shapes, and most, if not all, of those rules are bunk. I'm sure their personal shoppers vary quite a bit from store to store, and while my client had a really positive, body-shame free experience, it might be smart to set some boundaries first. Something like, "I'm learning how to dress my here-and-now body, and I'm not interested in what's 'slimming' or 'hides my problem areas,' just what looks good on me."
6. Invest in a good tailor.
Especially if you're taller or shorter, it may be difficult to find clothes off the rack that fit your body. If you can afford it, invest in a good tailor, at least for the basics. You might also be able to find a friend who can do simple alterations, or teach yourself! Sewing can be very soothing if you have anxiety.
7. Know where to look.
The following brands sell a wide range of sizes, or specialize in plus sizes. I tried to include a range of price points. If you see anything that's not listed, feel free to share your favorites in the comments!
ASOS - up to size 34/5XL
Gap/Gap Outlet - great for petites and talls, up to XXL
eShakti - sizes 0-6XL/36 and custom
Torrid - sizes 10-30
Universal Standard - up to size 32
Lane Bryant - sizes 14-26 and plus petite
Macy's - petite plus available
FullBeauty - sizes 12-44
Smart Glamour - sizes XXS to 15X plus customizable options
Modcloth - up to 4XL
IGIG - sizes 12-36 plus custom and made-to-order
SheFit - sports bras up to 6L
Glamourise - plus bras
ThirdLove - bras with super helpful customer service to help find your best fit
Alloy - tall sizes
Long Tall Sally - tall sizes up to size 20
Daisylace Boutique - one of my readers shared this PA boutique and you can also shop online
Fabletics - up to 3X
Woman Within - sizes up to 44
Premme - sizes up to 30/6X
Simply Be - sizes 8-28
Target - up to 4X
Rachel Roy - go shop Becky with the good hair
On the Plus Side - 2X - 8X
ReDress - up to 5X
Again, please feel free to share more in the comments!
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