How do you handle your wardrobe while losing weight?
October 2, 2012 4:00 AM   Subscribe

How do you handle your wardrobe during a period of (fingers crossed!) on-going weight loss?

I am 1/3 of the way through a major weight-loss 'journey' (I hate that word but it is an accurate descriptor) - I've lost 20 lb and aim for 60. I have dropped a couple of UK sizes - 22 to 18 on top (I believe this is size 20 to 16 in US sizes), although my bottom half has not shrunk quite so quickly.

I really don't want to wait till I've lost all the weight to update my wardrobe as I look and feel terrible in baggy clothes, and I don't know how long it will take, but I feel like I am spending too much money because I am buying new clothes frequently. I've also had to make major purchases like a new winter coat etc because my old ones are too big for me now.

So I would like to know how other people handle this: how to look good while losing weight without bankrupting yourself on new clothes. I have zero sewing etc. skills and am terrible with my hands, so till date, taking clothes in myself has never been an option. But if that turns out to be the best option, I would learn.

I am a woman but welcome answers from dudes too.
posted by Ziggy500 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
A small tip:

Skirts (not fitted) are very forgiving to a changing waistline. I am able to wear the same skirts from before my weight loss (25lbs), but lower on my hips. Pencil skirts are out, but otherwise my entire professional wardrobe now relies on skirts (until I stabilize enough to have my slacks taken in).

Cardigans have also been my friend since both fitted and oversized styles are in right now.
posted by Vysharra at 4:19 AM on October 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

Congratulations!! That is very exciting, and a great problem to have ;)
I lost 4 sizes in about one year, and during that time I was a poor graduate student.
I lived in Germany, where it's not unusual for people to wear a few nice outfits over and over, even one during the entire week as long as it's clean! So, I bought only a couple of items and wore them a lot. Clothes were very expensive where I lived. When I would travel back to the states I would shop at the thrift stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army). One can find practically new clothes there.
posted by waving at 4:19 AM on October 2, 2012

I don't know about looking good but when I have to I buy cheap clothes - I got a bunch of stuff in the tesco sale recently in all different sizes.

Tops aren't too bad, I just deal with them being baggy, for trousers/jeans I wear a belt for as long as possible before having to buy a smaller size.

Even when there's no sale on the supermarkets are a good place to get low priced basics. When the sales come around though, try to stock up on a few different sizes
posted by missmagenta at 4:27 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ebay! I sold all clothes that were too big, month after month and used the funds to buy "stopgap" outfits on the way down, selling them on in their turn. Bonus: I (virtually) "met" some lovely people on the way.
posted by humph at 4:29 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm in the middle of the same "journey". (I've lost 30 kilograms, got another 30 to go probably. Urgh. )

It's hard but very rewarding. I've been shopping at thrift/charity shops. I love it. I've never done it before, I found them a bit smelly and nothing fitted and I just hated it. And I'm a terrible snob.

But now I have permission to buy whatever I want there because it's only transition clothing and it's dirt cheap and woo hoo, time to have fun! And I've found french clothes, beautiful clothes, intriguing clothes and fun clothes. It's all there.

My feet have lost weight also, so I've been buying transition shoes too. I think a beautifully dressed drag queen must have passed away or moved to Siberia because I've bought quite a few lovely pairs of NEW shoes in massive sizes (Australian 11). Salvos for the win!
posted by taff at 4:50 AM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

I bounce between weights a lot and I find going to clothing swaps is my best bet. If you go to they might have some in your area (or make a facebook group and host your own in your community). I've been swaping for about two years now and not only has it saved me money, but it helps with sudden weight changes - not to mention getting some awesome clothes to boot.
posted by Danithegirl at 5:21 AM on October 2, 2012

I've lost about 100lbs and have a bit yet to go. I know alllll about the struggle trying to keep at least some clothes that fit in your wardrobe while it goes on. My trick was just to buy cheap clothes. I'm in Canada, so places like Old Navy and Joe Fresh often have really inexpensive clothes that are made to be sort of disposable, so by the time they start falling apart they don't really fit anymore so who cares. Thrift store shopping can be good as well. And you don't need to buy a lot. 2 pairs of pants and a handfull of tops that can get you through the work week is all I ever really had that fit. On the weekend I care less about having things fit perfectly.

basically, buy cheap clothes.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:26 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Consider looking through second hand stores- after my first pregnancy, I went thrift shopping and was able to find some brand name clothing at exceptionally good prices. My favourite DKNY jeans were only 8$ and they were in great condition... until I ran them into the ground!
posted by sunshinesky at 5:33 AM on October 2, 2012

Not all consignment shops are created equal, but most of them give you more for an item in store credit than they would give cash. Take your old items in (make sure it's the right season--don't bring summer clothes now!), take the store credit, and find some items at the store. Then when those are too big, you can sell them back, since you know the store buyer went for them once already.
posted by lily_bart at 5:34 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding that you only need a few things. Get two or three pairs of basic pants or whatever you need for work, and about five cheaper tops. It's painful. I love having a variety of well-fitting clothes, but you just can't have that right now. Save your money for when you are your ideal weight. You're going to feel great when you're slim and wearing some cool threads.
posted by amodelcitizen at 5:46 AM on October 2, 2012

Do you know anyone who loves to sew or is creative who you could barter/exhange skills for? Keep in mind, nipping things here or there is usually doable within two, maybe three size changes. Anymore than that it is much more cost and time effective to buy cheaply at thrift, fast fashion stores such as Old Navy or do a clothes swap.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 5:54 AM on October 2, 2012

I've lost a total of 170 lbs (or 77 kg), and I buy everything second hand. I tried to take in some of my favorite items, but clothes for large sizes are cut differently from clothes for the more common sizes. I never really liked the fit of garments I had altered.

How are the thrift stores where you are? I'm lucky to live in an area in the States that has a ton of good second-hand stores, so I never run short of options.

What about rummage sales, garage sales, yard sales and whatnot? Do they do that in the UK? I got my coat at a garage sale. Around here, it's the season for people to start having sales.

Congratulations on your weight loss, and good luck on your journey (wish there was a better word to express that, but there you go).
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 6:03 AM on October 2, 2012

Right now I am wearing a wrap dress from Lands End that I bought for the same reason. Wrap dresses and skirts are more forgiving for weight fluctuations within a reasonable range, so you should be able to wear them through a weight loss plan.
posted by maxg94 at 6:09 AM on October 2, 2012

My mom is dealing with this right now and updates her wardrobe every week or so at thrift shops. She gets very expensive brands for a few dollars. This depends largely on style though -- I've tried going with her and after 4 secondhand shops I found a grand total of a skirt and a purse.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:21 AM on October 2, 2012

Don't buy a new wardrobe all at once, just buy something nice that fits every few weeks or so. At the same time, get rid of the most oversized item of clothing you have. That way you'll always have some clothes that are on the big side, a few that are way too big (good for gardening or whatever) destined for disposal next time you buy something new, and a few that fit perfectly. By the time you reach your target weight you'll only have things that fit well or that are a little baggy left.

At no point should you buy clothes that you don't actually fit at the time of buying them, that's just depressing.
posted by atrazine at 6:57 AM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

I would buy inexpensive clothes. Old Navy, Target, Wal-Mart. Thrift stores if you're down with that. Maybe a nice coat from Macy's, but then some other basics on the cheap. And keep the wardrobe smaller than normal -- it's more important to have some things to wear that fit well, and it's less important right now to have a lot of variety and super nice things to wear.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:07 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I strongly favored knits and things that were 5% spandex. They were more forgiving of issues like the bottom half and top half are not getting thinner at the same rate of speed and no longer quite match up. I also favored knit dresses during certain periods. They don't fall off your butt one day when it is suddenly smaller the way pants can.
posted by Michele in California at 8:09 AM on October 2, 2012

What about rummage sales, garage sales, yard sales and whatnot? Do they do that in the UK?

The nearest equivalents here are jumble sales - usually held at church halls or scout groups, and skewed towards older lady clothes - and car boot sales, which are like yard sales but held in a car park or playground, and don't generally tend to be where clothes are sold though you do get a few. We don't by and large have consignment shops here (there used to be 'dress agencies' but I haven't seen one of these in years).

I don't know if it's because I live in London, but charity shops near me tend to have mostly 8-12 sizes and a few 20+ clothes, but not much in between. For that reason clothing swaps might not work unless you know people of a similar size range - I tried a swap event once but because I'm taller and I guess larger than the demographic that went I came out emptyhanded. Your best bet for second-hand is to travel to a small but reasonably prosperous town near you and hunt through the charity shops there - I used to find nice stuff in Ilkley when my parents were in Yorkshire, and I've also heard seaside towns are good bets.

For new and new-ish - I'd try Tesco as my old housemate who did a similar 'journey' to you replaced her wardrobe there, as they go up to a 26 if I remember correctly. Primark is not great for larger sizes - I'm a 16 with a curvy shape and nothing fits me properly there. I'd also look for Boden, Monsoon or Next clothes on eBay as all these brands are fairly generously sized and you could probably fit into a 16 now that's a bit tight but will fit in a month. I've put on a little weight due to medication and, as others have said above, I've just been wearing my skirts a little higher up - as the weight comes back off they'll sit where they were before.
posted by mippy at 8:11 AM on October 2, 2012

Oh yeah, jersey is the perfect fabric. Tesco and George at Asda do wrap dresses sometimes - you could try eBay for these as well. Both brands have held up well for me in the past even though they were cheap to buy.
posted by mippy at 8:13 AM on October 2, 2012

Thrift stores. Replace your wardrobe frequently on the cheap.
posted by zug at 8:53 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

1) loose draping, stretchy shirts and dresses, with or without a belt/band of some kind so you can show off your weight loss (if you want to of course). Can add leggings if it's starting to get colder where you live.

2) thrift stores as much as you have time for, especially for pants (I love them for pre-shrunk, broken-in jeans). It takes time so if you're super busy and have lots of money you may prefer to just take the hit and buy new at fairly low-end stores so you're not out too much money later, or wear mostly clothes that transition well.

3) I see a ton of youngish people wearing the yoga pants or leggings/giant baggy top, YMMV as far as actually liking or looking good in this look, but it seems like it would be very adaptable to changing weight.

edit: OMG an edit button???! :D
posted by randomnity at 9:07 AM on October 2, 2012

Is there a UK craigslist type site? You could sell no-longer fitting clothing in lots of like sizes on there then apply the funds towards cheap clothes for the new size until you settle on teh "permanent" size at the end of your journey.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:35 AM on October 2, 2012

I approach this problem by season as I've been very gradually losing weight over a couple years. Each time the weather is about to turn, I take stock of my closet. For example, I can wear a couple pairs of last year's pants for fall/winter but will need a couple more. Most of the sweaters will work but I'd like to treat myself to a couple that are better fitting. Each season, I find that I buy a few basic pieces. I don't feel like I have a great variety of clothes but feel good that I'm wearing clothes are appropriate for my current size. I figure eventually my body will stop changing and my wardrobe will grow because I will end up buying the same sizes whenever I need something.
posted by rglass at 11:39 AM on October 2, 2012

I've been working on the same 30 lbs for 3 years, but before that lost a quick 40. My rule is to always have jeans that fit, even if it's just 1-2 pair (and they aren't expensive). Shirts I have a little more wiggle room on, but baggy pants are just a no-go for me.
posted by getawaysticks at 11:47 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Focus on buying items that will carry you through a range of sizes if at all possible.

That would be tops made of light materials, with necklines and shoulders that are forgiving that you can chinch in at the waist with a belt.

Wrap styles, especially made from stretch (jersey/spandex) and knitwear may be good options.

A-line skirts without much of a waistband that can be made to fit by tightening elastic and taken in really easily anywhere where they do alterations or by a kind friend with a sewing machine.

Get items that have to be the right size cheaply - Tesco/ASDA are your friend here. You can normally pick up a pair of trousers, jeans or a new bra very cheaply and they can normally be machine washed so you can wear the same item over and over.

Belts, not so much to hold up trousers or skirts that have become too big, but to chinch in items that have become slightly too big and give you a little more wear out of them.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:15 AM on October 6, 2012

« Older Best Spanish language tv/radio/podcasts?   |   Name That Song Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.