Body Bliss: Dress for the Body You Have Today


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  242 comments   :  37,443 Views

In college, when I was about 30 pounds heavier and several pant sizes larger than I am today, I hated myself. All I wanted was to be cute and tiny, but no matter how much I wanted it, I couldn't make it happen. Diet after diet ended in failure. Workout plans came and went. I never lost weight—only motivation. I was close to accepting my fate as an overweight person, bound to struggle forever.

Eventually, I learned that getting healthy—both physically and mentally—had to start with love. Self love. I may have wished my body was different, but if I had any hopes of changing it, I had to learn to accept my body in its current state. That meant caring for it and treating it with respect.

During my journey to self-love, one of the best bits of advice I ever received was to dress the body you currently have. This single, somewhat simple, piece of advice helped me on my way to loving myself and eventually led me to weight loss.

When I was overweight, I hated shopping. When I did grow out of my clothes, I had no choice but to go shopping. I hated seeing the sizes on the clothing tags that fit me at the time. Sometimes, even though an item fit well, in protest I wouldn't buy it because of the size on the label. I didn't want to believe I really wore that size! And I certainly didn't want the store cashier to know! Hands empty, I'd leave the store and walk away feeling even worse about myself. Eventually, I had just one pair of pants that fit me; they were a size 12—vanity sizing at its best! I couldn't even zip any other size 12s.

My fashion choices were most often limited to bulky, oversized shirts and pants. I don't know who I thought I was fooling by wearing those tent-like clothes, but I guess they made me feel like I was hiding my body (although fashion experts agree that oversized clothes only make you look larger). In contrast, I would drool over the cool, cute fashions in smaller sizes. Sometimes I even bought clothes knowing they were too small—you know, for my "future" body. "I'll lose weight and fit into this someday," I'd think. But it never actually happened. I had a closet full of clothes that didn't fit, new ones I bought for the future and old ones that just reminded me of the size I no longer was. Shopping for my future body and hanging on to my past body was undermining my confidence in the present. It was also preventing me from accepting and loving myself in that moment.

Dress for the body you have today.

When I heard this advice, it was as if a light bulb went on in my head. I had always loved shopping, but I was allowing my size to prevent me from enjoying it. So, I cleaned out my closet and donated all of the too-small clothes I used to wear to others in need. I kept only the clothes that fit me, flattered me and made me feel good. I went shopping again—and had fun doing it! I realized that I didn't want to wear big, oversized clothes as I had been. I started wearing more fitted looks and basing my clothing decisions not on size, but on fit. Wearing clothes that fit me made me look slimmer. And by no longer squeezing into clothes that were too small, I was more comfortable, too.

As I got ready each day, I had more choices and I took more pride in my appearance, even got a new haircut. I felt more confident. I was more outgoing. I was starting to like this person, extra weight and all. And the more I liked myself, the more I cared for myself. The less I sabotaged myself and said nasty things about myself. I started eating better and exercising more regularly and eventually, the pounds melted off. Then I had fun shopping all over again as my pants got looser and looser.

I'm not saying that shopping or wearing cute clothes in and of itself is all you need to do to lose weight. But I do believe that taking pride in your appearance by dressing for the body you have today goes a long way to helping you feel better about yourself and love yourself. After all, you deserve to look and feel fabulous TODAY—not 20 pounds from now!

What do you think? Can you relate to hiding in large clothes or hoarding clothing that's too small? Do you dress for the body you have today?

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    Great article. I've decided that if I can't wear something...or haven't worn it for some time because of fit, to simply get rid of it. I believe when I am that size again, God will provide the clothes. What freedom! - 4/30/2010   8:01:03 PM
    What a blessing to share this. I am still wearing my larger clothes out of necessity, but my husband bought me a gift certificate to Herberger's for my birthday! That's about the most supportive thing he has done, and I love him for it. I also found a website, , where you enter your measurements and get an idea of the clothes that best suit oyur body. It is like a wonderful wish book that is somewhat educational, too. BLess you. Pam - 4/30/2010   7:56:55 PM
    Like many other members, I clean my closet out clearing out those purchased "too small or accept I'll never wear or when I actually get to that size they won't be in style anyway" clothes yet the biggest problem is cleaning out the mental images that I hold onto. Loving myself and realizing that I deserve the good that life has to offer allows me to hold onto the weight and keep hiding myself under the "ill fitting" clothes. For a while, I'll push the negative voices back and I begin to practice the self-love then I falter. Everyday is a struggle to keep focused. I will save this for a constant reminder to keep pushing through the negative and push to saving and loving myself. - 4/30/2010   6:56:12 PM
  • 189
    That was so me for the longest time!! I used to get upset about not being able to shop at my favorite stores and hating while feeling ashamed of the stores that I had to. One day after walking into one the "Hated" stores, I realized that while I am on my weight loss, lifestyle change journey. That I should at least look good while doing it! Thank you so much for writing this and letting me know that I wasn't the only who "saw the light." - 4/30/2010   6:44:25 PM
  • LINDA29513
    I'm sitting here reading about wearing 4's and 8's, etc. WHAT THE H DOES THAT LOOK LIKE??? I think I could get one foot in the leg!! We women also have to realize that clothing manufacturers are sabotaging us as well. What might be labeled a 14 could actually be lower. Me? I haven't seen those sizes in years but right now, that's okay. As long as I'm wearing something that looks good, I'm okay. When I finally lose more weight, I'll be able to sew my clothes and actually cut the pattern out as is! Even buying clothes is a hassle cause I'm under 5 feet. I have to cut at least 5 inches off pant legs! If a women's petite says the inseam is 28 inches, I know I'll be cutting. So being large and short is just as bad as being large and tall. WOMEN (and men) UNITE! WE WILL GET CLOTHES TO FIT! Oh, and just because someone says they can wear a size zero, maybe they best look in the mirror before heading out the door! Too many girls are wearing stuff today that our fathers would never have allowed in the house years ago! Course I come from the 60's and they had some pretty weird stuff too!! - 4/30/2010   3:34:36 PM
  • 187
    I do agree that we should wear what fits us now, but I really regret getting rid of my "small" clothes. I'm back down to that size now and having to spend unnecessary money buying it all again. - 4/30/2010   3:22:41 PM
  • 186
    Truth be told, loving yourself not only improves the way you treat yourself, but often how you treat others. Greeting people with a smile, a "good morning" or being genuine when you ask how they're going and waiting for a response. Love comes in all forms. Loving yourself and caring for yourself will create other wonderful opportunities. Start right now because you are worth it. - 4/30/2010   12:05:27 PM
  • 185
    This really resonated with me, not for the clothes bit so much, but for the fact that before you can have success, you have to love yourself. Currently I'm at the despising myself stage, because I'm constantly failing. Thanks Nicole for giving me hope. I'll work on loving myself for who I am now. - 4/30/2010   11:42:55 AM
    Reading this really started my head spinning. Wow! I though I had it all figured out, and that I was finally excepting myself for who I was. I was convinced I just hated shopping because that was just the type of person I was. I'm a tom boy so I dress the part, T-shirts and pants. When I do have to wear nice cloths there all in the shap of a tent. Tent shirts, Tent dresses, Tent jackets. If theres a tent out there I'll find it. And all for the sake of comfort, Ha! Ha! The real truth is I hate my body , I'm ashamed of how I look and I though I was hiding. Its deffenatly time for me to clean out my house full of cloths that don't fit and also cloths that are not becoming. Thanks for the eye opener! - 4/30/2010   11:31:48 AM
  • 183
    I always get rid of old clothing.
    I cleanout my closet every 6 months or sooner.
    - 4/30/2010   11:04:19 AM
  • 182
    I am just realizing how pushing aside clothes in the closet that don't fit "right now" can be hurting my morale. And the clothes stored in the garage need to go, so I can reward myself with new clothes when I reach each goal. - 4/30/2010   10:33:09 AM
  • 181
    I've NEVER done this...Ha! Of course I have! I have been learning to do better and yes, try the duds on and if you look good or better, buy it. If it's cute but if it emphasizes what isn't flattering, what good is it? Sigh.... - 4/30/2010   8:14:39 AM
  • 180
    I am older and I've found that I too buy things that don't fit or I don't like. Recently, I have cleaned out the closet, getting rid of what I don't wear (because of size) and what I don't like (even if it does fit). I've been happier with how I look and that has helped in making me feel great! - 4/30/2010   7:49:15 AM
    I am so glad I am not the only one here that goes shopping & doesn't buy a thing on account of the size!! And I too have a closet full of things that no longer fit. I weed a few things outs every time I do purchase something for my "new" body. Thank you for this blog & the encouragement to love my current shape. - 4/30/2010   5:33:27 AM
  • 178
    I held on to clothes as I grew larger, hoping I would be back in them some day--Well some day didn't come. I now have to make a point of going through my closet once a year to weed out small things, or things that have gotten worn, or even a few things here and there that were fashion mistakes. I am newly retired, but used to be a teacher, so I tried hard to wear something nice each day, or to add a bit of sparkle with earrings, bracelets or a pretty scarf. The kids ALWAYS notice and that helped me a lot, because I tend to be pretty casual in most dress, otherwise. It IS true, that if I dress up, even a little, I feel better about myself--so now in retirement, I will have to find some imaginary goals for dressing up a little, even if it is just earrings or cute patterned socks for the different holidays!!! Thanks for this article - 4/30/2010   4:01:02 AM
  • 177
    Vanity sizing is such a pain. I have pants that range from size 4 to size 10 in my closet...and they all fit. I honestly don't care about the number itself since nobody will see the number but me. People are far more likely to wonder about your clothing size if you wear things that don't fit properly. Otherwise, they have no reason to even think about it. - 4/30/2010   12:13:51 AM
  • 176
    This is so much me. - 4/30/2010   12:09:17 AM
    I dress for comfort, not for the sake of the fashion. I don't care what others think of me as long as I look OK to myself. I always ask my husband if I look decent enough to go out in the public! LOL Bless his heart, he almost always says yes, and he is proud to be seen with me. Once or twice he told me to change something better. - 4/30/2010   12:02:14 AM
  • 174
    Having been every size between 10 and 20, and all stages of health (that didn't necessarily correspond to the size), I've learned this lesson over and over. It's what made me good at my first and only retail job I had for a while last year. I took the time to really look at the women who came in and give them honest advice. A lot of them were actually choosing clothes that were too large, believing they needed to hide something (even the size 2s and 4s). Sometimes clothes that are too big can look too small because they're not sitting in the right places or they accent something you don't want to bring out. Once we talked about the way their clothes fit and they got my honest opinion as a complete stranger, I could see that they were looking at things a lot differently, even if it was just for a few minutes. - 4/29/2010   11:24:06 PM
    Words cannot express my gratitude. This is where I am and have always been my entire adult life. The thought of giving away my smaller size (and useless to me) clothing is a necessary act in and of itself. I'm EXACTLY where you were. Thank you! - 4/29/2010   11:03:39 PM
  • KLC357
    Wow! This blog was like reading a chapter out of my life. I have been a member of Spark People for a while, and never really took it seriously. After reading this blog I had my aha moment. Thank you Nicole Nichols for writing this, because it has definitely opened my eyes. - 4/29/2010   9:02:52 PM
  • 171
    I too had boxes of clothes that had fit me at different sizes. I was wearing over-sized t-shirts and pants and went with my daughter to Lane Bryant. She talked me into looking at some things and the women working there were so knowledgeable about what would look good on my figure (I have curves on every limb!). I was amazed at how nice I looked and felt in clothes that fit and flattered me at the size I was. It was a turning point for me. I got rid of the boxes as someone already stated ~ I may not get down to that size again and definitely won't be that age again! lol - 4/29/2010   8:48:08 PM
  • 170
    I had saved some of my nice work outfits (dress suits and stuff for my daughter) figuring a good cut and maker never go out of style. Problem was she wasn't me. I was a size 5/6 for years, even 6 weeks after I had her. But with the 2nd baby I was put on steriods and I have never seen that size again. I still thought that maybe my daugher could use them. After her 10th grade year she went from 120 pounds to 160. And as of last summer she is a size 20. Gave all the stuff to Good Will hoping somebody could use it a few years back. I wear old jeans of my daughters from when she was in 11th grade now. lol - 4/29/2010   8:20:31 PM
  • 169
    One day,while I was going through the stuff in my attic, I looked at some of my old, tiny clothes, and it occurred to me that while I may indeed be that small again, I will never be that young again!

    Oh, my. - 4/29/2010   7:44:10 PM
  • 168
    Unfortunately, my "fat pants" are the only thing that will fit over my engorged (incurable) diseased legs. But I'm designing a support to control it better so I can get into that next size down (that I already bought). LOL

    - 4/29/2010   7:41:00 PM
  • 167
    Been there, done that - even have a t-shirt, but it doesn't fit anymore! I'm not in a financial position to go shopping yet, but when I get there, I'll change my way of shopping. - 4/29/2010   7:17:08 PM
  • 166
    like many, I relate to your blog Nicole.
    I have fab retro and vintage pieces that are too small, taking up space and take me away from the NOW, but I just adore the fabrics, cut and memories of good times in my twenties!
    I can't get rid of my 5 yolds baby clothes yet either! Yikes, such a clutterer ! - 4/29/2010   6:21:37 PM
  • 165
    This is also my story. I had been watching "What not to Wear" for a while, and finally decided to take their advice. Each payday, I bought one or two new pieces of nice, fashionable clothing that FIT me well. Only a few months later, I decided it was time to get serious about myself. I stepped up my exercise just a little bit each week, adopted a healthy vegetarian diet and dropped 35 lbs. If Coach Nicole can do it, and I can do it, so can YOU! :-) - 4/29/2010   5:56:41 PM
  • 164
    I am 4'11" and curvy. It is impossible to find clothes that fit right. I finally started sew ing my own clothes. I have made a couple of things for myself that fit great and look great. The last think I want is clothes that make me look even bigger than I am! If I feel good in what I am wearing, I am more motivated to take care of myself and keep up the fight to keep looking better and better. If I run around in oversized clothes or sweats then I really don't care how I look so I don't make healthy decisions with my time and eating. It is hard for me to find clothes that fit right and look great on my oddly proportioned body, but I won't buy anything that I don't look good and feel good in! - 4/29/2010   5:43:12 PM
    I thought you were going to say you were stuffing yourself into a size 20 or something outrageous like that, but to be so very depressed over a size 10 seems kind of silly, only because I think a size ten to be honestly quite average.

    But yes, overall I can relate to hiding behind too-big clothing, and this is good advice. - 4/29/2010   5:14:19 PM
  • 162
    I don't dress for my body things are usually to tight or to loose. Every once in a while I stumble on something that works great right size, shape color and then I recieve compliments. Guess I have to learn more about how to dress. - 4/29/2010   5:00:15 PM
  • SBATES63
    I was told this many years ago when I was 100 pounds heavier than I am now. I always dressed well for my size. When I lost weight, I got rid of all the "fat" clothes because they would there as a parachute should I gain weight back. I just won't gain it back. As for sizers, they are just a number that is getting smaller as the years go on. Thirty years ago I wore a 12 but was 20 pounds lighter than now. Now I usually wear an 8, but have 4s to 12s that fit perfectly. I have been guilty in the past of buying something I might not otherwise have, because of the number on the label. I try and look past that now. No one sees the tags (hopefully! lol) when you have a garment on. - 4/29/2010   3:37:33 PM
  • NIKNAK27
    I loved this it is the first time I have heard this advice put across so simply but effectively. So I think I might just relook at myself and stop wearing my 'sloppy joes' old t-shirts and crocs, which are comfortable but certainly sloppy and do not make any kind of statement other than I can't be bothered! - 4/29/2010   3:26:09 PM
  • 159
    I have been reduced to shopping at the thrift stores because cost is such a factor and finding anything that fits even if not flattering is purchased at least for home usage and the better stuff for going into public.I had a very nice wardrobe that I had accumulated over the past ten years of being heavy.I wish I could have shrunk it while I am shrinking myself. - 4/29/2010   3:23:59 PM
    Due to a chronic pain condition I suffer from I have had to wear lose fitting clothing for the past 8 years. I also thought I'd been concealing my weight gain by wearing baggy clothes - not so. I've only been ensuring that I feel sloppy constantly and now that the waist bands have tightened I know that I've been lying to myself about just how much weight I've gained. As I started SP I went out and bought a dress for the first time in years and it's my size instead of 2 sizes larger. It accomadates my medical needs and I feel great in it and it only motivates me more to lose this extra weight. thanks for the article. - 4/29/2010   3:15:09 PM
  • 157
    I too have been guilty of keeping my "skinny" clothes, but due to the economic down turn, I had to move to a much much smaller and cheaper place. I doing so i had to go through everything I owned and had to really choose what was important. I came down to the choice of clothes I hadn't fit into in years, or books that I really loved. Needless to say, the book won. What use a big box of clothes that I may never fit into again when compared to beloved books that I will read again and again. The irony is that 6 months later, half the clothes I gave away would fit now, but oh-well, I can buy new clothes that I like, rather than ones that "just fit". - 4/29/2010   2:50:41 PM
  • 156
    I don't think this really applies to everyone. If I were thinking of donating a closet full of clothes that were brand new and a little too small I would be very annoyed with myself for wasting so much money that could have gone to any number of better uses (such as donations to charity). I would much prefer to bag up that kind of thing and set it aside if I know that I'm genuinely going to invest myself in improving my health and seeing what size my body settles at when its healthy.

    That's not to say that I think that people should wear clothes that don't fit at all for no reason. Wearing something that's too small just makes you uncomfortable. You can wear things that are too big for a while to avoid being wasteful by replacing clothes more often than necessary, but it does reach a point where the difference between the size of your body and the size of the clothes is unreasonable and a few replacement pieces are needed. (Though buying things from somewhere like Goodwill and then donating them back when they become too large is a wonderful option since it avoids the waste.) - 4/29/2010   2:39:21 PM
  • 155
    I love watching What Not To Wear and they always say to wear clothes that fit you now because you will feel so much better. While this is true, it also might make you a little too comfortable and maybe you won't try harder to get to another size. I am pretty much an hour glass shape and the only problem I really have is my arms being too big to fit into tighter shirts. I am also having trouble finding jeans that fit and don't stretch so they look terrible after wearing them only for a few minutes. Thankfully, my mother taught me to sew, so with her help, I am able to make something if I can't find something in the stores.

    Store bought clothes, unless they are designer or higher end, are not made for average women these days. They are either tight and skinny or huge and oversized. I did buy my first VS bras this fall and need to go for a slightly smaller size very soon.

    I have gotten rid of most of my old clothes, except a few pairs of jeans that I wear around the barn and of course my comfy at home pants, mostly worn at bedtime or during sickness. I do, however, have a few skinny clothes that I bought at yardsales that i am hoping will fit me this year. - 4/29/2010   2:16:54 PM
  • 154
    I have sewn my own clothes for many years and learned a long time ago that the size you wear is only a number. There is a HUGE difference between the sizes on store bought clothes and the size a pattern tells you to make based on body measurements. They are often in two different body classifications!
    We have to get past the number as that is all it is - a number. It is not who we are, not how we feel, and certainly not how we look when we are walking and standing proud. Every woman has her own beauty and should show it by what she wears and how she carries herself. If you don't want to wear attention getting clothes yet, wear a great pair of earrings, a new necklace or even new underwear (even though maybe no one else will see it, you know it is there!)
    You are worth it! Thanks for sharing this perspective. - 4/29/2010   2:02:35 PM
  • 153
    Too true. You've got to respect yourself at any size. You are still YOU - awesome! - 4/29/2010   1:40:30 PM
  • 152
    I'm in tears. I needed this today. Thank you. I think I'll go shopping this weekend. I have always left me for last because I hated me. - 4/29/2010   1:17:36 PM
  • 151
    What always irked me is the clothing manufacturers who seem to think that the bigger around you are - the longer your arms are! I'd like to see women's shirts and long-sleeved blouses sized like men's, so we could get the proper sleeve length as well as bust size! The other side of the coin is the designers who think that large women want to wear cute little puffy sleeves!

    I enjoy shopping for clothes when I can find styles that flatter the body I have, but all too often, it's not the popular styles that I end up buying. - 4/29/2010   1:15:20 PM
    yes dress to look and feel good right now. but years ago when i had many kilos to lose i bought myself a whole expensive wardrobe exactly 3 sizes smaller.went on a diet and tried on some pieces of my new wardrobe daily as motivation. it worked and six months later my new wardrobe was hanging on me. keep small clothes only if they work as motivation not otherwise. and always always always throw away anything too big for you.if you have a weight issue, keep your wardrobe snug. i always tell myself i cant eat this or that because tomorrow my jeans wont fit otherwise. works for me
    - 4/29/2010   1:08:54 PM
    I hate shopping of any kind. I currently have dropped from a size38, 5x to size 18 large. You would thing this was a good thing. I so hate the thought of shopping, I get frustrated because nothing fits and as I go down in size I have to get rid of things I like. There is nothing about shopping for clothes that appeals to me. I do not really get a rush when I fit in a smaller size.
    Years ago I kept putting of getting something for the company Xmas party. My boss at the time came in one day and told be we were going for a walk at lunch and to bring my bag.
    We ended up a t a store several blocks from work, when we walked in the clerk as my boss, went and got the 3 out fits she had picked. I tried them on and bought one. In and out of the store in under 5mins. That was th best shopping trip I ever did.
    Only thing worse than shopping is being forced to watch a chick flick type of movie, Kill me frist please. - 4/29/2010   1:08:17 PM
    Being only 5'2" and shaped like an hourglass (with great child-bearing hips!) I have a hard time finding clothes that really fit AND look good on my frame. Skinny jeans-no; shirt-dresses-no; sheaths-too boxy; gathers or pleats-NO WAY.

    BTW, size 10 is pretty big for me-just depends on how short we's all relative.

    Stores that carry petite sizes have a much smaller selection of petites than they do "regular" sizes. And lots of petite-sized clothes in those stores seem to be outdated in style. I want to make an investment in myself and start shopping in stores that cater only to petites-there are some really cute clothes out there for us shorties, and I deserve to look good too! - 4/29/2010   1:07:59 PM
  • 147
    I have definitely done this. After losing 21 pounds (9 more to go) with SP, I am now fitting back into the size 10's that have been hanging in my closet for at least 9 years! I still have some 8's too. - 4/29/2010   1:06:12 PM
  • 146
    I would love to wear clothes that fit properly, especially bras and until designers and stores cater to those of us that don't fit into the standard sizes, I will have to always wear clothes - especially bras - that don't fit right. Plus, I think its ridiculous that I have to pay over $100 to buy a bra that almost fits and fits better than anything else. And is a standard white bra, nothing fancy. All because I don't fit into the sizes that are standard. Up here I have one store in an entire city that I can shop at and the selection is limited, the prices are high. And there is this belief that being larger means we lose our sense of style and colour, so everything is ugly. And oversized. Or lately, belly shirts and hip hugger pants, in size 30 (5X). I wear between a 2-4X in shirts depending on styles and in pants, 24-30 depending on style. I couldn't believe when I came across this. I asked the clerk who was on drugs that thought overweight middle-aged women should wear belly shirts and hip hugger jeans. Its almost impossible to find jeans that fit just below the waist and above the hips, which is why I am wearing jeans that are several years old. So yes, I'd love to wear clothes fit for me and I think I have to go to the moon to make that take out a sizeable loan! - 4/29/2010   12:56:31 PM
  • 145
    I can completely relate. I too always wore bigger clothes than what I should wear thinking I was hiding my weight. I look back at some of the pics and can't believe I actually wore those clothes. I still have weight to lose but feel much better in clothes that actually fit. - 4/29/2010   12:31:36 PM
  • 144
    I've been watching "What Not to Wear", and I've certainly got some good ideas, about dressing for the body you have now, not for the one you want. they also tell you how to put colours and accessaries together. Thanks for the up-date. - 4/29/2010   12:27:12 PM
  • 143
    I dress for comfort. If I look good in my own eyes, I do not care what others think. - 4/29/2010   12:20:28 PM

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