Dressing for Your Body Today: Guest Post


How to dress for your body shape | Buying clothes for your body type

Photo by H. Koppdelaney

Today’s guest post is by Sally McGraw of Already Pretty on why you need to dress for the body you have today, not yesterday or tomorrow.

A girlfriend of mine has been unhappy with her body for… well, for as long as I’ve known her. She is one of the most naturally beautiful women I’ve ever known, and her generous, open, loving personality just serves to amplify the startling physical beauty that shines out from her silky hair, ladylike hands, creamy skin, perfect-pout lips, and dive-into-me eyes.

But she battles her body, and loses. Constantly.

She adjusts her food intake, and then adjusts it some more. She tries meal schedules and diets and avoidance of certain foods. She counts calories. She exercises twice as much as me and twice as hard. She varies her workout routine, and monitors her heart rate to optimize her efforts.

And she stays the same shape, and she stays unhappy.

I don’t know why she can’t seem to lose weight. It’s truly bizarre that someone who is as focused and dedicated as she should see no progress whatsoever. And while it doesn’t matter a whit to me if she gains weight steadily for the rest of her natural days, it drives her insane with frustration. So it hurts me, too.

My girl constantly compliments me on my taste and style, while simultaneously lamenting her own unsatisfying wardrobe. I’ve offered countless times to shop with her, but she always declines, saying she doesn’t want to invest in new clothes until she’s in a better place with her body. And for a while, I understood that. I’ve been there. I’ve shopped for a transitional body, and been frustrated when I had to cast off newish duds after just a few wearings because they no longer fit. But recently, I began to push harder. And here’s why:

Even if she finally hits on the magic combination of diet and exercise that allows her to smallen, why should she feel uncomfortable, uninspired, and unhappy with her appearance in the meantime? Wouldn’t it be possible to bring in a few key pieces – just a few – to make the rest of her wardrobe more flattering, functional, and fun? And what if she doesn’t change her waist size for another year or more? Will it have been worth it to feel frumpy and grumpy that whole time?

My weight and body configuration have shifted more times than I can recount. Well, more times than I can recount without boring you into a stupor. And the most important lesson I’ve learned from all those body shifts is this: You MUST dress for your today-body. Buying too-small clothes that you plan to fit into “someday” is ill-advised, and seldom the motivator you hope it will be. Wearing crappily-made or ancient or stopgap clothes until you’ve reached a different/better physical place just makes you impatient and uneasy while you’re working toward your goal. Dressing for a body you no longer have or don’t yet have encourages you to live in the past or future, and keeps you from enjoying the present.

If your clothes do not fit the woman you are right now, you should get rid of them and get some different ones.

Note that I did not say “new” ones. I recognize that anyone in the throes of a physical transition won’t want to max out her credit card on items that might get worn a single time. Exploring thrift, vintage, swap, and hand-me-down options for these purposes is a fantastic way to keep yourself looking and feeling great – even in transition – on a budget. You don’t have to get new, but you can certainly get different.

I believe that part of learning to love yourself is learning to see yourself. And that means seeing yourself as you are right now, not as you hope to be in six months or as you used to be six months ago. And that can be so hard: Facing down the numbers on the scale, or the sizes on a rack of skirts at The Gap, or even just the mirror. The emotional effort it takes to see ourselves in our today-bodies can be tremendously draining, I know.

But there is real benefit to be gleaned from dressing your transitional body well. Looking good now can get you hooked on looking good: It can establish a habitual desire to feel awesome when confronted with a mirror, and can even fuel fitness and body-related goals. Even if your body is changing shape, you are likely to maintain the same basic proportions: The process of learning to dress your transitional body will provide knowledge about your figure that will carry over even if you shift again someday. But more than any of that, dressing in a way that flatters your figure right now will make you feel good RIGHT NOW. And you deserve that.

So what are you waiting for? Why are you dressing for a body you don’t have, and neglecting the beautiful one you’ve already got? Start dressing for your today-body, and worry about your tomorrow body… well, tomorrow.

If you’re looking for some fabulous vendors from which to buy stylish plus-sized clothes, or perhaps some inspiration from stylish women in a variety of body types and sizes, here’s a list of resources to get you started! Questions? Leave them for me in the comments section.

7 responses to “Dressing for Your Body Today: Guest Post”

  1. Rachel Peterson says:

    OMG!! This is so true!! We are really starting to discover the power of the brain (and our emotions) in the management of our physical selves (studies on people with multiple personalities in which one personality has a deadly allergy to foods that the other personalities do not… the power of the brain? I think so!). If you are convinced your wardrobe is horrible and you look terrible in it, you will!

    Getting a few pieces of new (or different) clothing so that you LIKE what you are looking at in the mirror will start your brain on a path of LIKING what it sees in the mirror… and the more it ‘likes’ the more the body will respond positively.

    This was a wonderful post, thanks!!

  2. […] I was honored to contribute a guest post to the Green Mountain blog this week about dressing for your today body. […]

  3. Deborah says:

    I can really relate to your friend’s mindset cos I’m there as well. I’m better than I used to be, but perhaps that’s also because the larger clothes available now are much nicer than they were 10-20 years ago. I once felt like a fat frump because that’s how I had to dress.

    I hate that I can’t walk into any store and buy stuff, but I’m also conscious that I have some belief system that tells me I shouldn’t wear certain things until I lose weight, or that I’m not worthy of things of a certain expense… until I lose weight etc.

    No answers from me yet I’m afraid.

  4. M-C says:

    I think you’re totally right to emphasize that having a few good clothes for you right now doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. I’d like to add that one can dress well and happily with a lot less than the brimming closets that are pushed as necessary. If your body is truly changing, you won’t have time to get really bored with half a dozen options anyway before you’re ready for the next. And I’d also encourage you to really get rid of wrong-size items rather than push them to the back of the closet. By the time you get back to them, chances are they’ll be out of style, which is just as depressing as the wrong size. By not buying too much or too high you can encourage a healthy turnover, which will keep you feeling much more glamorous at all times.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that there’s no help to good body image like sewing :-). Even rudimentary skills will make you a lot less dependent on manufacturing fads, and totally change your perspective ony our body fitting into stereotypes.

  5. Marisa says:

    I LOVE this article! For years I would only wear a few different pieces of clothing, hoping that someday when I lost the weight I could go out shopping and buy a new wardrobe. That day never came until I just got tired of wearing the same things and went out to buy a few pieces that fit well and made me feel great. Then magically, the weight starting coming off! ~marisa

  6. […] Do you dress for your body or against your body? Sally McGraw reminds you how important dressing your body is in your self-love journey. […]

  7. Susan Bewley says:

    This is so very true. The hardest thing for many women is looking good self esteem with their body. Its very hard feeling good about your body when you have clothes you don’t ‘love’.

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