Fitness Articles

Building a Weight-Loss Wardrobe on a Budget

6 Tips for Finding Clothes When You're on Your Way to Your Goal Weight

If you ever stared at your closet full of clothes and thought, “I have nothing to wear,” imagine how Amanda McQueen, a 28-year-old from Alabama, felt during her weight loss journey. “I’ve lost 115 pounds in total. I started at 260 pounds and a size 22, and now I’m at 145 pounds and a size 8,” she says. “I’ve gone through five or six wardrobes in the weight-loss process.”

If it weren’t for her smart shopping tactics, Amanda could’ve burned through her checking account faster than she burned away the fat. Instead of going wild with her credit card, Amanda purchased clothes that would last through several sizes and shopped at second-hand stores. Now in maintenance mode, she focuses on buying quality essentials, like the little black dress, that works well for many situations. “Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I’d be a size 8,” she admits. “I’m still working on rebuilding my wardrobe for good!”

Lose Weight, Save Dough
For Marisa Gizzio, a 42-year-old who lost 65 pounds, buying new clothes was an important emotional milestone in her weight-loss process. “It makes you feel good about yourself to wear something that fits you well,” she points out. “It doesn't have to be expensive – just treat yourself to a nice fitting outfit because you are worth it and deserve it!”

To reward yourself for your healthy weight loss, save some cash for each pound you lose. “It is such a great motivation,” notes Beth Klein, who saved $5 for each of the 55 pounds she lost in the last year. “It was so exciting for me to see the jar of money get more and more full, and was great to have it there when I really needed new clothes.”

Don’t be tempted to rush into a pricey department store. To save at name-brand stores, sign up for their e-mail blasts to get coupons and take advantage of seasonal sales. Alternatively, spend some time browsing the racks at discount chains like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Ross, to get more bang for your buck.

If you love to hunt for a good deal, second-hand stores or thrift shops are another excellent option. “I shopped at Goodwill a lot, especially during the early stages of my weight loss,” says Marisa. “Believe it or not, I got some really nice, name-brand pants/shirts (like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy). At $3 per pair of pants and $2 per shirt, I could shop away and not feel guilty about spending clothes that weren’t going to fit in a few months.” Additionally, try asking your family and friends if they have any gently-worn items they’d like to donate to your new wardrobe. Marisa’s mom cleaned out her own closet and donated many essentials to her daughter.
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About The Author

Caitlin Boyle Caitlin Boyle
Caitlin Boyle writes a daily food and fitness blog, Healthy Tipping Point, which chronicles how Caitlin balances her busy lifestyle with healthy eating and exercise. She also runs Operation Beautiful, a blog that encourages women and men to replace positive notes in public places to encourage self-esteem and develop a positive body image. She is also the author of the book based on Operation Beautiful.

Member Comments

  • Great article - 3/17/2015 6:14:14 PM
  • Skirts with elastic in the waist were a big help to me as I lost 45 pounds and went from a size 20 to a 14 petite.. Unlike trousers, they don't have to "fit right" across the seat and in the thighs to look good. Also, shirts/sweaters without structured shoulders and ones that could be belted were good. Those clothes looked good through multiple sizes.

    Finally ... I recommend that you be prepared to make a few mistakes. Just like with the weight loss itself, you will probably slip up a few times and make a few purchases you regret. You probably made a few bad purchases when you were gaining weight, too. It happens. Forgive yourself and move on. - 11/2/2014 12:28:04 PM
  • I keep clothing one size up and down because of my yo-yo-ing weight, but I don't keep clothes I know will go out of style before I am able to fit into them again and I don't keep my fat clothes anymore. - 11/2/2014 11:36:20 AM
    And if you have "transition" size clothing, DO NOT get rid of those, because, reality says you might need them again, and you will be thankful you didn't get rid of them. Unless you are rich, don't toss larger sized clothes. I'm almost 68, I have clothing in a whole bunch of sizes, and I keep the nicer stuff because I've needed them, more than once. The same thing with undies. Do yourself a favor. - 8/26/2014 2:46:42 PM
  • I agree with Marlo3456, great article until the last paragraph. Yes, cheers for you if 12 to 4 is healthy, but so many of us think size 12 is almost unreachable.

    I have lost my first 50 and almost 50 to go. I noticed that when I went to buy a celebratory outfit, a size 14 is not the same as it was 30 years ago, so I'll chill out and if I am wearing a 4 at the end of this journey, I will understand what is happening. And, then, sizes will carry no meaning whatsoever. But, as of yet, I have not been desensitized.

    And, why do stores put the larger sizes in the back of the rod? I wonder how all the size 4s would feel if they always had to contort themselves to find the size they are hunting! - 6/21/2014 7:08:23 AM
  • A friend of mine had a "Naked Party". LOL! It's not what you're thinking. She invited me and my sisters to a party wear everyone brought clothes they no longer needed or wanted. So if you saw something you liked all you had to do is grab it and try it on. I got a lot of shirts and some slacks for work. My sister who found a lot of casual pants and business pants. We had food and wine. Everyone brought some kind of clothes/accessori
    es and food. It was fun, I'm definitely going again.
    - 3/19/2013 10:52:20 AM
  • MARLO3456
    . I lost 60 pounds and have been enjoying buying new clothes and there are so many sales it is easy to find bargains. Macy's some days is practically giving clothes away with 65 off then another 25 off then another 15 off etc. You see it at all the stores. And don't forget accessories they jazz up an outfit no matter what size you are. I used to wear just golf hoops but now I buy long dangly colourful ones---a jaunty hat or scard. I boughta hat the other day that orginally was $50 and I got it for $4.

    The last line of the article spoiled the whole thing. Size 12 is not a big size unless you are maybe really short. I am 5"6" and happy to be a 10 or 12 depending on the make. I started out at 18W. Many women were never a size 4 in their prime teen years so give us all a break. Terrible way to finish a great article. Give you head a shake!!!! - 3/19/2013 8:08:31 AM
  • I bought 2 new tops today. It's so nice to look past my boobs and not see a huge midriff bulge!! 22 pounds gone, 42 to go, but I'll get there and enjoy the retail therapy on the way down! I will be passing my loose clothes on through Freecycle locally... - 2/5/2011 5:10:54 PM
  • I went on my facebook page and found out who was on there of my friends who was my old size and all I asked was they paid shipping cost. Then mailed it up to the Upper Pennisula. The lady had a health condition and the medical cost was causing more stress, so this helped her save on buying new clothing and gave me a chance to help out another in need. - 1/3/2011 7:55:34 AM
  • I gave away all my skinny clothes on New Year's Day. Since I hadn't worn them in 5 years, I decided Goodwill had a better use for them than I did. At the time, I had no interest or intention of changing my lifestyle.

    In March, out of the blue, I got the urge to change. Months later, those skinny clothes would look pretty good.

    Of course, my wife always seemed to get pregnant a few months after giving the crib away. Must be the same effect! - 7/15/2010 4:10:57 PM
    Having lost 180+ lbs - I've gone through several wardrobes! I haunted good resale shops and the owner of one became a real cheerleading section - and kept watch for things I could use! I "bought ahead" a few sizes when there was a really good buy, and generally bought things that fit very snugly and wore them until they wer elose. All that said - dress the body you ahve and buy fewer items. Don't let that transitioning body swimm in too big clothes!

    I discovered that our local Psychiatric hospital had people desperately in need of clothing, as well as a place which supplies clothing to women getting back into the work force from disability or welfare. I thought of the resale clothes I bought as "borrowed". I wore them for a few months and then passed them on to the folks I had relaly purchased them for. It made giving up neat clothes so much easier.

    I am now a size 4 to 6 qand the hardest thing is not buying EVERYTHING - it is such fun to shop!

    P.S. unfortunately, NO-ONE sells used clergy shirts! - 7/14/2010 4:25:07 PM
  • Buying jeans that fit me is my biggest reward in term of clothes! Sometimes it's a bit frustrating to buy pretty blouses or nice cut pants for curvy me but it's fun to do the shopping no matter if I found the right sizes or not, hehe. I subscribe to my favourite jeans brand so whenever there's a promotion (and it's time to buy new jeans), I surely rush to the store. - 7/13/2010 7:38:47 PM
    I the course of my weight loss, I was also faced with the problem of not being able to wear my work clothes because they were too big. I frequently have to wear suits and blazers for work, which can be expensive to buy new. I also had some clothes that I actually loved that were too big. I found that going to a tailor saved me tons of money. Pants and skirts can be taken in and jackets fitted for a fraction of the cost of replacement. This is especially great for the in-between time. - 7/13/2010 3:57:53 PM
  • CHRISSY1012
    This article reminded to celebrate my current success, so, I'm going home tonight to organize my closet to reflect my weight loss journey, i think this will be really motivating for me. - 7/13/2010 12:54:13 PM
  • I gained weight this past year and refuse to buy new clothes since last summer I bought a lot of really nice ones. So I have no choice but to lose this weight so that I can wear them again. - 7/13/2010 10:59:18 AM

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