Since high school, my body has gone from a size 16 and 200 pound body to a size 10/12 and 150 pound body, and bounced up to a size 20 and 235 pound body. Currently, I’m hovering around a size 18 and about my high school weight. I’ve been on the path to developing a healthy and fit body, whatever that size may be. (Above: the same two dresses, two size different sizes… and not a whole lot of difference.)
This means that over the last 10 years, my closet has gone through some dramatic overhauls– ones that I’d like to prevent happening in my future. It’s hard for me to practice what I preach of buying quality, beautiful garments I’ll keep forever when I can’t fit into them 4 years later.
I’m not sure if this bouncing is drastic for most women, but I imagine when you consider aging and pregnancy, that it’s not unusual for women to go through some dramatic weight shifts over the course of their lives. And like most women, I’m on a budget: I don’t have the time or money to replace my wardrobe entirely each time my body goes up or down a size.
Knits are lovely. They’re easy to care for and are generally more forgiving fit wise than non-stretch fabrics can be. In my experience, you can also get more size range out of a knit piece than a rayon or silk one. My size Large Gap t-shirt may fitted at a size 16, become relaxed at a size 14, and loose on a size 12 body. The stretch and ease makes it easier to accommodate subtle shifts in your body, without making you feel self-conscious. There are many wonderful knits that can dress up or down (like linen knits or ponte knits). This helps keep your wardrobe look more polished while your body changes.
Not just for ya gramma! It took me a while to accept elastic waists, and occasionally I still feel a bit dumpy or insecure in them. WHICH IS RIDICULOUS. Overall, a bit of elastic can go a long ways for helping with fit. I love a dress with a little slip of elastic in the waist, or a skirt with a back panel of elastic. It creates ease and comfort when sitting, especially in more structured or stiff fabrics. It also makes it easier for skirts to transition between sizes– an elastic waistband with a fuller skirt can help you transition between sizes easily.
Shop: ASOS Curve Shirt Dress;
Shape & Silhouette:
As much as I love a 1940s shape, it’s very fitted and defined. If it’s too big or too small, it’s not quite as forgiving as a shirt dress, swing dress, or wrap dress. A playful circle skirt can be worn at your natural waist and then shift to your hips (or vice versa) with a loss or gain in weight.
In general, I’m haven’t been a fan of wearing oversized pieces– it reminds me of high school Ashley who wore XL and XXL t-shirts to hide her body. That being said, I’ve begun to love a loose button-up blouse because it has a little bit of Katherine Hepburn-esque ease and class, while giving me flexibility to create a better silhouette.
Belts & Layers:
If the weather permits, layers can be a great way to disguise a piece during a transitional period. A cardigan over a button-up top can hide a button that keeps popping open or that a shirt has become baggy and shows your bra (because face it: these things happen to ALL of us). A pretty camisole can make a button-up blouse or dress wearable in a pinch when your bust outgrows the shirt.
Similarly, a belt, simple as it may be, can help hold up the skirt that has gotten a little too loose, or add definition to a swing dress. It can pull together two voluminous pieces (like a circle skirt & blouse).
Shop: ASOS Belts;
These are the ways that I’ve been maneuvering through my weight loss while keeping my wardrobe feeling fresh and “put together.” When I’ve picked up new pieces, I’ve purchased them with transition in mind: how can this be styled to fit a shrinking body (or if I slip up and gain a few pounds).
Whether you’ve gone through bodily changes due to pregnancy, illness, weight gain or loss, I’d love to hear how you’ve made your wardrobe work through the changes!
Call her Ash, Ashe, or Ashley– she doesn’t mind! Already Pretty contributor Ashley began blogging in 2007 about fashion and style to fill a void in her life while living in the wintery tundra of Indiana. Her blog Dramatis Personae focuses on food, life & style. As a plus-sized woman, she loves promoting fashion for all women and shops that want to make all ladies feel beautiful.