This is me in the dead of winter.
This is me during the summer.
Still the same overall shape, but I’m bigger in January, smaller in June. I don’t diet once the weather warms up, I’m just naturally more active when it’s warmer than -30 degrees. And by the end of the summer, I have inevitably lost 5 or 10 pounds. Which I then proceed to gain back through the course of the long Minnesota winter, no matter how hard I work out.
And I’ve made my peace with this cycle. It’s natural and normal. It’s part of my physical self, just like my curly hair and pale skin and strong legs. But it does pose some wardrobe challenges. And since I know I’m not the only one who deals with seasonal weight fluctuations, I thought I’d share my techniques for building a chic, versatile wardrobe that works for my changing body year-round.
Observe: This is the hard part. It took me a couple of years to figure out how much my body was going to shift each season. Now that I’ve got a rough idea of what I’ll look like in February versus what I’ll look like in August, I can estimate what will fit me seasonally and plan accordingly.
Dress to your shape: Your weight may vary from season to season, but your figure will (probably) remain more or less the same. Hone in on styles that flatter your body shape no matter what your body SIZE may be, and stock the larder with those.
Buy multiples of key pieces: If you find a style of jeans that looks AMAZING on you, don’t just buy several pairs … buy pairs in several sizes. That way, you can wear that killer denim all year long. Sounds spendy, I know, but it’s an investment in comfort.
Stay consistent: If weight gain tends to bring you down – as it does for so many women – do your best to set and maintain a personal, consistent style standard for the entire year. You may be tempted to dress in nothing but loose, figure-masking clothes when you weigh more, and in sleek, fitted clothes when you weigh less. But doing so will both exaggerate the differences in your body and cause you to associate the weight gain with shame, sadness, and self-consciousness. Cold weather means that looser, drapier styles are a natural choice, and that’s completely fine. But don’t make them your only choice. There are ways to dress stylishly and beautifully at any weight, size, and shape. Find a happy medium that reflects the personal style you adore, and try to stick to it year-round.
Heed materials: Go for 100% cotton and silk in summer, but opt for versions with give and stretch come winter. This may seem contradictory in light of the previous point, but hear me out. In this day and age, structure and tailoring are possible in garments that allow for some give. A little hit of spandex in a twill blazer or pair of jeans can make all the difference in the world. And if you’re like me, that winter weight gain can mean real discomfort in tight, unforgiving clothing that doesn’t flex a little. So keep an eye on fiber content.
Don’t stress: If you’re a seasonal fluctuator like me, please, please, PLEASE don’t get upset about these weight changes. As I said above, they are natural, normal, and part of your physical being. Shame and guilt won’t change your shape. Focus instead on finding ways to dress and feel fabulous no matter the season.
Originally posted 2010-10-28 05:13:00.