They say “Everything is bigger in Texas” and, as it turns out, that includes me. I have been hesitant to comment on this because size should be non-issue. I follow people on social media for all kinds of reasons and not-a-one of them is their size. However, you’d have to be blind not to realize that the most popular accounts are those with slim young women. As a women in her 40s, I’m here to say, you’re going to have to do more than look pretty if you want my attention, ladies. Write well, be entertaining, tell your story, interact authentically – those are much more endearing to me than a great photograph while wearing expensive clothing and looking nonchalant. I went on a spree where I unfollowed anyone who took photos of their legs with coffee in bed, or stood pigeon-toed looking down whimsically. ENOUGH ALREADY. Fortunately, there are many inspirational women on social media representing the body positive message – and I’m not talking about the “workout 4 times a week and eat clean” body positivity, I’m talking women sharing who they really are. In particular I enjoy Stasia who promotes “inside-outside congruency,” and Allie who encourages everyone to “just be you” and talks openly about how much happier she is having let go of the desire to be a certain size. These women are KILLING it and there are many more. Who are your favourite body positive peeps? Who should I be following?
Anyhoo, I’m not posting this to elicit a bunch of reassurance or anything, I’m good. I still love me, I’m still grateful that my body works so well. I just find myself in a position of having gained some weight since the transition to Texas started and I thought it might be helpful to share how I’m dressing around it. It should be noted that I am a tall woman, THANK GOD. I have gained more or less 20lbs since my bunion surgery and can still get into most of my clothes albeit they are tight and uncomfortable. My height is a blessing and not everyone has such leeway. Whatever your leeway, if you find yourself above your usual, here are a couple of ideas how to dress:
1. Clothes that fit well
I can get most of my pants done up but there is a significant amount of muffin top and nothing that can be smoothed out with a fitted layering tank. Instead, thrift yourself some bigger pants. No one knows what the tag says but you. It’s a simple fact that one looks slimmest in clothes that fit and, well, vice versa.
I think everyone knows that I prefer dresses precisely because, unlike pants and other clothes with fixed waistbands, they are usually very forgiving and accommodate a weight range. But one example…
I’m not talking fitted sheath dresses, body con dresses and the like. I’m talking about the rest of them. When you thrift dresses, make sure there’s some room to grow or shrink to maximize their wearing potential! As for wearing clothes that are too big to try and hide the sitch… just don’t. It doesn’t work. You’ll just feel frumpy. That is why I decided not to keep my LulaRoe t-shirt dresses. They’re a little too roomy, they give me no shape and I felt hidden every time I wore them.
In contrast, my two Eileen Fisher t-shirt dresses are just fitted enough…
They show my shape without being clingy. I could easily wear these with leggings/jeggings in the winter, plus or minus 20lbs. BUT, back to pants. You may have noticed that during this Texas cold spell, I have not been wearing my beloved JBrand collection much. That’s because they’re tight. Instead, I’ve been wearing my forgiving jeans, like those light-wash distressed jeans. I also thrifted pants that fit me right now…
I have been wearing my $6 jeggings constantly (wearing them as I type, in fact) and now have included the Pilcro and Babaton joggers in my regular rotation along with my Paige crops.
I spent $45 for 4 pairs of pants to get me through this season of life and that is an investment in my emotional well-being. No one wants to stand naked in their closet feeling terrible because nothing fits. So go thrifting, spend a little to replace a few of your pants and anything else that doesn’t fit well from tops to coats to bras, then wear the heck out of them until the season is done.
2. Outfit Formulas
To take the guess-work out of getting dressed on a daily basis, find a couple of combinations that make you feel good and repeat them with minor variations. Two that I have been favouring are:
Short over long over skinny… (some examples above and…)
Long cardi skinny pants
3. Hang Onto You
The size of your clothes does not change your personal style. If you like stripes and bold colours, keep wearing them! If you like neutrals and minimal jewelry, keep wearing them. If those outfit formulas don’t work for you, no prob, find ones that do. If you enjoy experimenting with fashion, keep at it! There are lots of women at all sizes wearing crop tops and high waist pants and doing their thang and I love it! Don’t be afraid to accessorize, wear a bold red lipstick, put on some sparkly jewels, carry your best bag. My hypothesis is that if you keep up your individual style throughout life’s weight fluctuations, you and those around you won’t really notice because it’s non-issue.
In the same vein, I will close with a shot that is me hanging onto me, me having fun with my hobby, learning a new skill. A shot that makes me laugh every time I see it…
Laughed out loud at “photos of their legs with coffee in bed, or stood pigeon-toed looking down whimsically”! Yes!
Very much liked that you wrote that you appreciate that your body works so well. Mine doesn’t so I love dresses because they work better in a wheelchair.
Your blog and Instagram are great because you are caring: about the people who make your clothes, who sell clothes, who benefit from services that charities who run thrift shops provide, the environment and about how clothes can people feel better without making anyone else’s life worse.
I’m in my 30s, don’t have legs nearly as long as yours and mustard looks terrible with my skin tone but I always enjoy your writing (and more pictures now I’ve joined Instagram) and am often inspired and encouraged. Thank you.
Thank you for your kind words!! Makes my day! Dresses may just be a superior form of clothing! Despite being an OT, I haven’t much experience of stylish dressing for wheelchair use but it IS a great topic. Hmmmm we may need to collaborate! I always think of my friend Stephanie who passed away who just didn’t care about trivial issues like weight. We always meant to do a post together about dressing after a double mastectomy and if that’s not humbling, I don’t know what is. In part to honour her and the blessing of being alive and healthy, I am abhorred to bemoan my weight gain but very glad to thrift my way to accepting my circumstances and encouraging others to do the same. Thank you again for reading and commenting! Truly appreciate it.
I started seriously thrifting because of a twenty pound weight gain. I don’t mind getting older, but I could do without metabolism slowing down. I had enough tops to wear, however I was down to two skirts and two pairs of pants on rotation. I needed more bottoms and didn’t want to break the bank. The answer was thrifting. I added a lot of pieces to my wardrobe and discovered a new hobby. Thank goodness for thrift stores.
True true. I’ve especially noticed changes in the past year which makes me gloat a little over the younger set (just you wait!!). Things will always be a-changing and yes, thrifting is freedom in a way – we never need be stuck during weight fluctuations in ill-fitting clothing. It is a wonderful hobby, I am so thankful for it and wish I had known about it when I was pregnant and post-partum! Thanks for your comment!
Your welcome. We have all been there and will be there in the future. Hormonal changes are the best. I wish I had known about thrifting earlier when my budget didn’t allow new clothes. I could have satisfied of my love of clothes and style without hurting my bank account. I meant to write that you look amazing and I couldn’t tell that you have gained weight. You are beautiful no matter what the scale says.
Now you’re making me blush! That’s exactly why I started thrifting (when my husband lost his job) and I could have saved a ton of money had I jumped in earlier! Thanks for your kind words! xoxoxo
Great tips! I’m applying them to my 25 week pregnant self (second baby) too. Babies create quite the rollercoaster of body changes/issues in a short span of time! One thing that also surprised me a bit, as I get older (mid thirties), is that I think I actually might look a bit sickly now at the same weight that I was in my twenties! It seems to be a fine line though…hard to figure out the right balance for me, right now. Interesting that it changes over time though.
Oh girl, I know it! I have 3 kids and each one brought new changes to my body. It was like my stretch marks were racing for my boobs! hahaha And you are a 100% right that each stage has its own set point, best weight, best style – whatever you want to call it. I suffered through some pretty terrible clothes before, during and after my pregnancies (where I was a good 50lbs higher than where I am right now) and I sure wish I had known to thrift back then. At such a time, it’s especially important to do what you can to take care of yourself and feel good about yourself and thrifting can certainly support those ends. I have done some post-partum posts in the past if you’re interested. Anyway, being pregnant doesn’t happen very often so enjoy dressing your cute body while you can! Sounds like you’re well on your way! Thanks for commenting!
Great post Nicole. My plantar fasciitis (one foot after the other) for 7 years resulted in weight gain. I am tall like you. We do have more leeway. Not worrying about what size the tag says is realistic advice.
For sure! Things like that affect your activity over the long term along with a whole host of other factors. Focusing on fit over size will always leave you dressed better, feeling better. Thank you so much for your kind comment!!
I love that you are encouraging women to accept where they are at right now and to not focus on the size on the label!
Thanks Nicole for your honesty and thank you for addressing a subject that some would tend to ignore, be ashamed of, or cover up. I appreciate all your wisdom you shared. You continue to inspire me to be the best me that God created me to be. Thank you!
I’ve been following you for a while (this might be my first blog comment) and I wanted to tell you how much I love this post. So many times people post about how to ‘get rid of that fat quickly’ or similar which basically just makes me hate my body until I get to that “right” size. Well, I’m 40 now and have finally accepted that MY right size is a 10/12. Sure, I’m trying to get a little more fit (more for my cholesterol than aesthetics), but that doesn’t mean that I can’t look cute and confident no matter how much I happen to weigh. And yes, I also recently unfollowed a bunch of instagram accounts that made me feel bad about myself!
Thank you for your comment! And yep, I’m not in the business of telling people they need to be a different size. I’m getting seriously sick of all the sponsored fitness and diet posts. PLEASE STOP INSTAGRAM! I do believe we need to be able to move our bodies, enjoy our activities, and have a healthy relationship with food but if you’re doing that, the chips fall where they may! Size 10/12 is awesome – below average in fact – and AMEN AMEN AMEN to looking fab at any size! I’ll say it again, personal style is simply not dependent on size! Au revoir to any social media accounts that don’t lift you up – otherwise, what’s the point!! Thanks again for commenting – makes my day!
I find skirts/tops easier to wear than dresses, but basically, the same principle applies… They are lot more forgiving than pants! I don’t have your height (I’m only 5′ tall!), so if I gain any weight, it goes straight to my hips 🙂
But my collection of thrifted and me-made skirts keeps me comfortable no matter what!
I totally agree about size issues. I am not concerned about anyone’s weight, particularly mine, but I am concerned about health, and each person needs to find their own “healthy” place.
Keep blogging! Always so much fun to read your posts!
Thank you for your kind words!! I wish I could do me-made anything besides cocktails 😉 Glad you found a style that works! So true about health – which is such a multifacted thing it can’t be anything but individual! Really appreciate you reading!
I really appreciate this post and want to thank you for writing it. Your jumping photo made me smile as well. One gentle reminder: please consider focusing on just the “feel good” aspect rather than including “look smaller” in your message. We are already bombarded with enough “trick everyone! Slimming secrets! Flattering!” type marketing as it is.
You look lovely and radiant as always and it’s great to see you adjusting to Texas life and going on new thrift adventures. I’ve followed your blog for over a year now even though I don’t comment often, and you’re one of my favorites! I strongly prefer seeing diverse bloggers with something to say instead of young cookie-cutter teeny tiny instagram model types with dozens of collaborations and sponsored posts.
My favorite euphemism for weight fluctuations: “the sands are shifting!”
Your comments about dressing for your current size are so important when we’re shrinking too. I’m a medium-tall athlete in my early 30s who has never given birth, and am currently a smaller size than usual due to transitioning to medication that makes me feel sick and affects my appetite. Wearing clothing that gaps and hangs oddly is just as unflattering as too-small garments.
Disclaimer: I totally realize my privilege in generally finding clothing that technically fits and makes me look relatively slim, and very much appreciate the struggle of others in finding the same. I would love for ethical, size-inclusive garments to be more affordable and accessible for everyone.
Thanks so much for your comment and your kind words! I hope the message from my post is all about fit – for both your body and your personal unique style! I did not use the words “look smaller” and that was not my intended message so I’m sorry to hear that’s something you picked up from the post. I do believe we all want to look our best and I was trying to say that that is achieved with clothes that fit! I find it interesting to note (and show in the photos I included, though I didn’t say so explicitly) that I looked “heavier” in too-tight clothes when I was 15lbs lighter! But again, it’s not about looking smaller, it’s about fit. I am with you and hope that as the ethical, sustainable fashion movement gains momentum we will see more and more diversity in styles, sizes and price points that are accessible in Canada, US and elsewhere. It’s coming! Thanks again and I hope you’ll comment again! I truly appreciate it – comments make my day!
Thank you so much for this article. After foot surgery i have gained 30 lbs, and due to not so perfect outcome, it has been hard to take off as my mobility is challenged. I also am tall, and have been thin my entire life, so gaining weight has been frustrating, especially with the realization that i have to think about what i wear instead of just throwing stuff on. Your tips are very helpful, and our similar stories was helpful mentally.
You are most welcome! Thank YOU for reading and commenting! It is hard but it is a common situation for so many of us. I recently started following some body positive Instagram accounts including the F-ck It Diet and @bodyimage_therapist and @therdnutritionist – all these rally against diet culture, especially supposed body positivity which is actually body shaming masquerading as health. My size hasn’t gone done since I posted this blog, and honestly, I just don’t care. With my dad’s recent passing, I am so glad I haven’t spent time feeling bad about my weight gain. It’s trite but true: life is too short. Wear what you feel good in and if you don’t feel good, IT’S NOT YOU, it’s the clothes. xoxo Nicole
Good post. Thanks for Sharing more
Thank you so much for your wonderful article! As a 30 year old woman with a history of anorexia nervosa, I have had to make several adjustments to my wardrobe as I’ve become healthier and started gaining weight. I have been slowly sifting through my closet- it’s sometimes difficult to let go of the tiny pants I know I should never fit into again! Thank you for your humor, information, and insight. I wanted to let you know that your article was so helpful to me and exactly what I needed to hear. Take care!
I know I am late in replying to your comment but I wanted you to know that I read it right away and it meant a lot to me. It made my day and reading it again makes my day again – it is encouraging to know my simple words are an encouragement to others. The battles with eating disorders and body image are hard enough, so I’m thankful for thrifting so we can get clothes that fit whatever stage we are at and let go of those that don’t fit (and all that they signify). I will be thinking of you in your journey and pray you continue to heal. If you’re interested, I post regularly on Instagram @thespiritedthrifter and often discuss #selflove and acceptance, normalizing that bodies change and have absolutely nothing to do with our value and worth as people. Thank you for reading and commenting! xoxoxo