Reader Request: What to Wear When Your Weight Is in Flux

clothes for weight loss

Reader Dona had this question:

I’m curious about how to shop/what to shop for when you are trying to lose weight. I know people, sometimes, say to wait until you get closer to your goal weight, but I’m not patient. I wonder what are some good garments that you can wear when your weight is fluctuating, whether up or down.

A great question, and relevant to many, I’m sure. No matter what your weight is doing, you’ve still gotta get dressed! If you’re gaining weight unexpectedly, you may want to wait to create stylish looks until that weight has come off … but sometimes it doesn’t come off, and dressing your new body stylishly may feel challenging but is important to maintaining a positive relationship with yourself.

If you’re losing weight unexpectedly, you might try to make do with clothes that no longer fit your frame … but experimenting with new sizes and styles is a good way to make your new body feel more familiar. If you’re gaining or losing on purpose, it may be tempting to wait until you level out before shopping, and that’s not a bad plan. Unless the changes are gradual and you’re swimming in or squeezing into what’s currently in your closet.

So! Here are my shopping tips for anyone whose weight is in flux:


It’s true that you still need to wear clothing even when your weight is fluctuating, but if you haven’t reached a resting place yet spending big on clothes that might only get worn for a few months is a bad use of your moolah. Thrift and consignment stores are incredibly useful during this transitional time, and allow you to spend less, get more, and do so without hitting the fast fashion shops. It’s best to thrift in person during these times since you might feel unsure of what will fit you, but if you’re lacking decent secondhand options in your area, try online outlets like thredUP, and Tradesy. If you’re in the size 10 -32 range, you could also give rental service Gwynnie Bee a try.

Play with prints

Big blocks of solid color show far more of your body’s nooks and crannies than prints and patterns do. Printed dresses, blouses, skirts, even pants can be fabulous for making slight fit issues less obvious. Irregular organics like the print on the wrap dress above are especially great since regular geometrics like polka dots and stripes can sometimes be almost as revealing as solids.

Embrace scarves

You may be more likely to go this route in cool weather, but the volume and flow of scarves can downplay both weight loss and gain. Pick printed and patterned scarves to add more motion and color to your outfits, especially if wearing bold colors all-over feels uncomfortable for the time being.

Try draped detailing

Wrap dresses are fantastic for people whose weight is going up or down, since true wraps can be let out or cinched in without a single alteration. Wrap blouses and tops can be great options, too, but really anything with draping, ruching, or asymmetric design elements can benefit a body in transition.

Swap in some skirts

Pants are considerably less forgiving than skirts in most cases. Once they become too big or small, there’s only so much that belting tight or covering with loose tops will do to conceal their ill fit. Skirts – especially non-pencil styles with flat elastic waistbands – can generally expand or contract along with you. If you dig the look of drapey pants, those styles may be more flexible but jeans and dress pants will be tough to fit when your weight is changing.

Do long over lean

If your workplace and/or lifestyle can accommodate a slightly more casual bent, consider a few tunics-and-leggings looks. Long over lean is a formula that can work regardless of which way your weight is swinging since the tops are generally loose and forgiving, and the bottoms balance with slimness. If you’re gaining or losing in your legs and are self-conscious, this might not be the best route, but if weight is shifting within your upper body it’s worth a go.

Shifting weight can be thrilling, aggravating, scary or confusing. But if you find yourself in a place where your body is changing shape or size, remember that dressing it with care and love can be a wonderful way to remain connected and grounded.

Images courtesy Nordstrom left | right
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