I've just added a 3rd reason to my list of things urging me to drop weight: I want to be able to wear what I want to wear. Seriously. It's a tough world out there for a chubby girl who loves clothes. Matthew and I are having pictures done in a couple weeks, so we headed to the mall this past weekend for some photo-worthy ensembles. Now, I may be a "jeans and t-shirt" kind of girl most days, but I appreciate good fashion. Apparently though, if I were a size 5, I'd have a lot more fashion to appreciate. There just aren't many options for the plus size crowd. Thank Life for Torrid. While I'm still able to shop at "normal" stores, it's so much nicer to be able to walk in to a store and not have to wonder whether I'm looking at sizes meant for me or meant for the 14 year old version of me.
Anyhow, the point of this post is to start an ongoing list of style guidelines to help us chubby gals not feel so miserable in the fitting rooms. The following suggestions come from years of experience in retail, as well as years of experience in being fat, so believe me when I say that it's good advice. ;-)
Tips for Loving Your "Fat Clothes"
1.) YES, YOU MUST TRY THINGS ON. I know that the fitting rooms are like chubby girl Hell, but seriously, it's even worse to get home with something that just doesn't work. You won't return it, because you'll be too embarrassed to admit that it was too small or too unflattering, and there's a good chance that several months from now you'll try it on again because "it couldn't have been that bad..." and then you'll get to relive the horror of seeing yourself in it. I know, I've been there. But the advantage to trying things on in the store goes beyond that. Firstly, you've got sales associates at your disposal. They get paid to help you find things that look good... so take advantage of it! I find that plus-size stores are the best for this because most of the time you're being helped by someone with similar issues, so she knows what's up. Secondly, you can try on things that you wouldn't normally think to wear. You would be absolutely shocked how much different something can look on the hanger versus on your body. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new!
2.) BIGGER IS NOT BETTER. I blame both designers and consumers for this. See, chubby girls like to think that if they wear bigger clothing, it will hide the fact that they are chubby. Designers, therefore, create bigger and bigger clothing for plus sizes. When I worked at LB I would constantly be shocked at the array of giant muumuu-like outfits (which, by the way, would always come in outlandish patterns of leopard or snakeskin or the dreaded florals). Once, we got a collection of "fall blazers" that literally looked like someone had taken their great-great-grandmother's curtains and made a box with sleeves. People bought them. I pitied them. Say this out loud: Bigger clothing makes me look BIGGER. Seriously. You may hide a roll, but you also add 20 lbs to your overall appearance. Wear the correct size and avoid things that hang.
3.) Similarly, SMALLER SIZES DO NOT MAKE YOU SMALLER. Interestingly, some people take rule #2 to the opposite extreme, and somehow fool themselves into thinking that if they buy a smaller size, it means they aren't as fat. Be realistic with yourself. The number on the tag has no bearing on what size you actually are... just buy what fits!
4.) NO CLINGY FABRICS. Clothing that hugs your body is good. Fabrics that stretch along your skin are bad. Avoid clingy synthetic fabrics at all costs. It is also a good idea to stay away from silks and satins, which can be equally unforgiving.
5.) NO ALLOVER PRINTS. This rule should apply to thin gals as well, but it's less of an issue for them. For some reason, designers/buyers seem to think that plus size women want huge bold patterns on everything they wear. Don't fall for it. Patterns attract the eye and make things look larger. Opt for solids with patterned accessories or layering pieces.
6.) KNOW YOUR FLAWS. It's okay to want to disguise certain parts of your body. If you hate your upper-arms, look for flutter sleeves in the summer time. If your belly always bothers you, search for tops with strategically placed ruching or wrap styles. There's a solution for everything. Having trouble? See rule #1.
7.) KNOW YOUR ASSETS. Personally, I think this is even more important than #6. Playing up the parts of your body that you like will help you to feel confident in what you wear. Even something as simple as knowing what colors look good on you will help you to find pieces that you can wear happily, even on a "fat day." For example, I happen to look great in blue-reds, so I try to always keep a go-to item in that shade around. =)
8.) YOU ARE WHAT YOU WEAR. If you allow your weight to make you dress like a slob, then you'll come off as a slob. Learning to love your body means accepting it and embracing it... not hiding it. So keep it classy. ;-)