Building a wardrobe you love can be challenging enough, but creating a wardrobe for a body that’s changing can be almost impossible. This week, I share my top tips for creating an in-between wardrobe that will keep you looking and feeling fabulous, without breaking the bank.
Whether you’re experiencing body changes because of pregnancy, weight gain or loss, or hormonal shifts, it’s really tough to know what to buy, what to toss, and how to build a wardrobe that will change with you.
We all want the styles and silhouettes that we can wear during pregnancy and postpartum phases, and through a 30-pound weight gain or loss. After all, constantly replacing your wardrobe is expensive and exhausting! Sadly, there aren’t a ton of styles that can do that, and still look good. Instead, learn how to shop smart when you’re creating a wardrobe meant to bridge the gap between sizes or phases.
Our Capsule Wardrobe Guides are a great way to see how to create a small, mix and match wardrobe that will have you feeling great during the awkward in-between times.. The Summer 2021 Capsule Guide is available now!
Links & Resources From the Episode
Listen to The Basics of Proper Fit to discover when your clothes simply need to be retired.
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Read the Full Transcript Below
Hello Style Sisters! Welcome to what is officially episode 108 of the Everyday Style School podcast. I can’t believe we’re over 100 episodes already–I think this is actually closer to 111 or 112–we had some guests episodes early on that were labeled as bonuses, but wow–over 100 of anything feels like a lot–so if you’ve been listening from the beginning, thank you. If you are new to the show, welcome…either way, I am happy you are here.
Before we get into today’s topic, I want to share that the Summer Capsule Guide is out right now! You can get started on your own personal Hot Girl Summer, or Hot Mama summer, or even hot flash summer–whatever kind of hot summer you want to have, the Capsule Guide will help you dress for it.
Two quick things to tell you–first, our link team has put together the most over-the-top link database we’ve seen yet–it’s seriously amazing with more options than we’ve ever given before. The other thing I want to mention, and you know this if you get my emails, is that we’re including a bonus masterclass this season, which is Using More Color in Your Wardrobe. It’s designed to help you bust out of your black bottoms and a bright top rut, or jeans and a colored top if that’s your thing so that you can make more interesting outfits, and have more style with less stuff. It’s a super valuable class and you get it–for free- when you purchase the Summer Capsule Guide. It’s the only place you can get that class right now.
Head to our website, get your Capsule Guide, and in 2 hours you could be done shopping for the entire season, and have a gorgeous, mix and match wardrobe to help you feel fab and confident all season long.
Dressing a Body In Transition
Alright, let’s talk about dressing an in-between body. In-between what, you might ask? Well, that’s up to you. Maybe it’s in-between having kids and getting “your body back”. Maybe you’re in-between sizes in a way that’s making you happy. Maybe you’re in-between sizes in a way that’s making you less happy. Maybe changing hormones is causing extra stuff to settle in places it never settled before, and you’re not quite sure where you’re going to end up. Women’s bodies are miraculous things, but they can also be really frustrating because they change so much throughout our lives.
This is a topic I get asked about a lot, and I’ve given all of these ideas and tips in different places throughout different episodes, but I think it’s helpful to hear them all in one place, with a step by step plan on how to dress these bodies in flux…and I want one episode to say go here, listen to this episode, it covers what you need to know.
Right Now Body or Forever Body?
When I was young, and idealistic, and trusted people to tell me the truth, I used to ask my clients, “are we dressing a forever body, or a right now body?” Meaning, is this the body you currently have and have had for a while–you’re not going through any big life transitions, and you’re not actively doing anything to change your body–OR–are you experiencing major body changes right now, or very recently, or are you actively working toward major body changes. The reason I asked this, is that it is a very different approach to building a wardrobe. I wanted the result to be the same–a right-sized wardrobe that made my Linda look and feel fantastic, but how we got there–and where we spent her money was very different.
Here’s the thing, though when I asked my Lindas that question, 99% of them said “Oh, this is my right now body”. Everyone had grand plans to be a different size by the spring and didn’t want to invest in clothes that were going to be too big in 6 months. Everyone wanted a wardrobe just to get them through this period where their body wasn’t where they wanted to be–even if they’d been there a really long while. So I stopped asking. Instead, I asked questions about their body, and life changes, and situations, and then I basically made the decision for them. But I can’t be there with all of you to make the decision for you. You’re going to have to figure out if your body is really a body in flux or not. And that is the first step to dressing one well.
There are a few sure-fire–do not pass go-signs that you’re dressing an in-between body. First, are you pregnant or breastfeeding? Have you had a baby in the last 6 months? Have you had weight loss surgery in the last 6-12 months? All of these are in-between body things that will probably cause your body to change quickly, so building that forever wardrobe doesn’t make sense.
If you think you have an in-between body but don’t fall into those categories, you have to ask yourself, even if you’re not breastfeeding, have you had a baby in the last 6-12 months. Are you actively trying to get pregnant? Are you actively trying to lose weight in a non-drastic way? The key here is active–not thinking about it, thinking about things doesn’t count. What we’re dealing with here is bodies that are in-flux, but slower, more gradual changes–and you can feel okay having a little bit bigger wardrobe, but maybe not buying those investment pieces quite yet.
Dressing a Forever Body
I need to say something to you lovely ladies who think you’re dressing a right now body, but are now thinking wait–I don’t fall into those categories, and you know I say this out of love, but here it is. Being unhappy with your body is not the same thing as having a changing body. Wanting it to change is not the same thing as dealing with the changes. If you’re not doing anything about it, haven’t done anything about it in years, don’t really want to actually do anything about it, go ahead and buy the clothes you love. This mind game that you’ve set up for yourself, where things are magically going to be different next season, is only hurting yourself. Living for years like a better body and better life are just around the corner is a terrible way to live.
One thing women get wrong about this is thinking that if you buy clothes in a size you don’t love, somehow you’re going to be committed to buying that size for the rest of your life. That’s not how it works. Besides, the shelf life on clothes these days isn’t many many years. Quality is crap. Tops pill and get holes, bottoms fade and lose their shape. It’s ok to buy clothes at the size you are, and replace them when and if it changes. These aren’t the last clothes you’ll ever buy.
Last year, I was doing some market research chats with listeners and clients and one of them told me that she was struggling to get dressed because she simply didn’t want to buy clothes in the size she currently was. Hats off to that Linda for the honesty, because I think that’s a lot of what holds women back from buying clothes they love for a body they don’t love. I’ve said it a million times, but we need to separate weight and wardrobe. They don’t have to be connected–that’s in your head, and simply requires a mindset shift.
So if that’s you, I want you just to acknowledge you don’t have a changing body. That’s your homework for the day, and frankly, that’s enough.
Now, for you ladies who ARE struggling to dress a changing body, a body in-flux, an in-between body–whatever, let’s talk about how to build a wardrobe.
Building a Transitional Wardrobe
Let go of Emotions
The first thing I want you to do is to let go of the emotions surrounding your changing body and your wardrobe struggles. To solve a problem, you need to be able to look at it objectively. Imagine you’ve hired me to be in your closet with you, or go shopping with you. I don’t care that you haven’t lost the baby weight, I don’t care that you spent money on those clothes that you can’t wear anymore…I don’t care how we got here, I just want to fix it so you can feel great about yourself now.
Try on Everything You Own
The next thing I want you to do is trying everything you own, for the current season. Don’t worry about 6 months from now, just focus on the things you technically could wear right now. And I know lots of you are thinking, but I know they don’t fit, why would I try them on? A few reasons actually. One, you might be surprised, and finding even a couple of things you can wear is a bonus. Second, you need to get a read on how realistic is it that you’ll get into these things again. I’ve shared before about pulling out what I called my “tiny shorts” and realizing that I didn’t have it in me to do what it would take to get back into them. So I donated them. And recognizing that I don’t have the stomach, no pun intended, to make being that size my top priority took the emotion out of it. The third reason you need to try everything on is to see, do I like this anymore. Now, if you pull things out and you don’t like them, you don’t have to try them on, but often, especially women dealing with pre-kid wardrobes, we remember our clothes as a whole lot cooler than they are now. The goal here is to know what you’re working with.
The important thing here though is that I don’t want you to get rid of things IF you actually have a changing body. I’ve been getting a bunch of questions lately like “none of my pre-covid clothes fit me, should I throw them away and start over?” Slow your roll, Linda. Give yourself a season of grace. None of my pre-covid shorts fit the way I’d like, but I didn’t burn them in the backyard. I put them in a bin in my storage closet, and I’ll reevaluate next summer–or later this summer if my daily walks pay off. So pack up what doesn’t work right now, but what you think is realistic to wear again, and you’ll want to wear again. Don’t leave them hanging in your closet–remember clothes that you can’t wear are not a part of your wardrobe.
I get asked about what to do with clothes that are too big, and I guess my advice would be if you’re someone who goes up and down in size, and it’s just a part of your normal fluctuations and you’re ok with that, keep those things. Or if they’re post-partum clothes and you’re not done having kids, hang on to them But if you’re telling yourself that no matter what you do, you’re going to need those big pants again, I’d check your inner mean girl and ditch the clothes. But that’s just me.
Add the Right Pieces
Then, you’re probably going to have to add to your wardrobe. This is the part where everyone wants to know what styles they can buy that can accommodate a pregnant belly, the postpartum phase, and a 30-pound weight gain or loss. Here’s the thing–if those things existed, you wouldn’t be struggling. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of those out there. A few styles I’ve found that have worked pretty well are sleeveless swing or a-line dresses–they can be pretty forgiving. Also, surprisingly, skinny jeans. At their tightest, they fit like skinny jeans…as they get looser, you can belt them, and they’re kind of a tapered boyfriend fit. But if you go back to my episode on The Basics of Proper Fit, which I’ll link to in the shownotes, you know that when clothes don’t fit, they don’t look right. You can’t just throw a belt on most tops or dresses and call it a day. They don’t fit at the neckline or shoulder–and then they just look frumpy. Same with pants–you can do drawstring pants, or add a belt, but the hips don’t fit, and the rear gets saggy.
So give up the idea of having this Inspector Gadget wardrobe that will do anything you want and add some things to your wardrobe. Again, you may have to work on taking the emotion out of this part. You know how I just told you my shorts from last summer didn’t fit, so I boxed them up? Guess what I did next? I bought some new ones. I went to the store, I picked out a few pairs of shorts I liked, I ordered a couple of athleisure skorts-my summer staple–online, and called it a day. That was it. No crying, no beating myself up, just buying shorts. It’s not that deep.
I’ll never forget back when I had my free Facebook group open, I had posted something about dressing the body you have right now, and loving the way you look, and there was a very feel-good-up-with-women conversation going on, and then someone asked this question. “I gained weight in the last year, and none of my clothes fit me. Should I go shopping now, or just struggle through until I lose the weight”? I was like, wait, what? Why would you struggle through anything when you don’t have to? Struggling to get dressed is terrible. It limits your life, and it doesn’t motivate you to make changes. So go get what you need to get you through whatever phase you’re in, however long you’re in it and feel good about yourself.
Create A Right-Size Wardrobe
The goal when buying clothes for a changing body, or an in-between body is to build a right-size wardrobe. A mistake a lot of women make when buying a transitional wardrobe is overbuying–then they feel guilty about having to replace things if their bodies change even more, and it does feel wasteful. In this phase, you’ve got to consider the pace at which your body is changing. If it’s changing rapidly, you need very little. If the changes are slow, you’ll probably want a little bit more.
I worked with a Linda who called me after she had weight loss surgery. The first time we worked together, she was 4-5 months out from surgery, and her body was changing rapidly–like a size every 6 weeks or so. The second time we shopped together was about 12 months after surgery, and her body was still changing, but it had slowed down a lot.
Our approach was really different, but we used the Capsule Guides as our shopping plan. The first time, we stripped it down to just the essentials, which is always about 12 pieces, not including shoes or accessories. The second time, we went halfway between the essentials and the full capsule.
When your body is changing, buy less, but choose well. Make sure all the pieces go together and can mix and match. Don’t buy navy pants and black pants. Don’t buy 3 pairs of jeans.If you have to replace 5 things, it’s a lot easier than replacing 15 things.
When you’re shopping, in general, knits will be more forgiving of body changes, as will things like elastic or drawstring bottoms. The less structure a garment has, the longer it can work during body changes. With that said though, there comes a time when even unstructured knits are too big.
The other thing that’s often overlooked when buying a transitional wardrobe is tailoring. My strategy with altering in-between wardrobes is to alter the bottoms, replace the tops. For the most part, you can replace tops cheaper than you can buy them. But bottoms can be taken in a couple of sizes, and in the long run, may be less expensive than replacing. Knit fabrics are harder to tailor, so I wouldn’t bother with those, but things like dress pants, or woven fabrics I would look into. The nice thing about tailoring is that it gives you permission to buy things you really love because you don’t look at them as disposable.
Finally, when dealing with a changing body, you have to reevaluate often, especially when your body is changing rapidly. When things you used to feel cute in make you feel frumpy, they’re too big, and need to be replaced. When things you used to feel confident in make you feel self-conscious, or uncomfortable chances are, they’re too small and need to be replaced.
Sum It Up
The first thing you gotta do is evaluate, do I really have a changing body. If so, build a transitional wardrobe. If not, build a forever wardrobe.
If you do have a changing body,
Take the emotion out of it. Look at your situation as I would–an objective problem that needs to be solved.
Figure out what you have, pack up what isn’t working right now.
Go buy what you need
Focus on having a right size wardrobe, considering the pace at which your body is changing
Buy less, but shop smart–create a mix and match wardrobe
Unstructured knits are great because they can transition with you a bit better
But don’t rule out tailoring, especially for bottoms and workwear.
Finally, reevaluate often, and never ever forget, even when dressing an in-between body, to buy clothes you love.
That’s it friends–we’ll be back next week with a fun interview, helping us be more optimistic. I hope you love it. Don’t forget to head to youreverdaystyle.com and grab your Summer Capsule Guide–I can’t wait to meet you in the Facebook group
Have a great week everybody and I’ll see you next time!