Body Bliss: Dress for the Body You Have Today

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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CARD512002 6/27/2020
Thanks for sharing, this helps
GUDIV7 4/21/2020
The whole time all you had to do was so simple... : "I started eating better and exercising more regularly and eventually, the pounds melted off."

The article has all this build up of how you couldn't ever commit to working out or eating great and then, just like that you stopped negative self talk and it all came together? …
not realistic.
RAZZOOZLE 11/27/2019
thank you Report
KHALIA2 9/25/2019
Great Advice! Thanks! Report
MUSICNUT 9/15/2019
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
JAMER123 9/5/2019
Thanks. I am finding that different brands have different sizing for their products and they fit the same/ Could be a 10, 12 or 14 and comfortable to the body. Report
Great advise that I am going to try to follow! I didn't realise until I read your article that I have the same feelings towards clothing sizes. I'll start working on that mind set...
WOW!! Self acceptance? This has been a challenge for most of my life. It's sad when your own parents deny you. Report
Interesting. Thanks. Report
Thanks Report
thanks. Report
Girl, did you just read me, or what? I just blogged about this same issue! I had to fess up about my own self-shaming and how I hated shopping because of my size. I can totally relate and plead guilty. But I promised myself that I would take a different approach the next time I go shopping, and after reading this, I KNOW I will. Thanks! Report
I have struggled with this for a long time now. I've had the same size 15 jeans in my closet for years now, and all I've done is gain weight! I have recently made steps to building a wardrobe at the size I am now instead of dwelling on what I'll buy when I'm at the "perfect" size for me. What I realized in reading this article, is that buying clothes for my new body will be fun, but the journey getting there will be the real adventure and I should enjoy it as well. this is my life after all, no matter what size I am! A person can lose all the weight they want, but they can't lose the negative feelings they have towards themselves unless they work on it too. thank you, I really needed to read this and all the wonderful comments!! - Report
Wow from the number of comments this blog generated I guess I belong to a popular club! I would punish myself for my weight by only buying a few items in my current, ever larger size. I would wear the same baggy things until they fell apart or I outgrew them. I too use to love shopping and fashion. I am now finally able to let go of things that don't fit. I buy enough clothes to feel good in what I'm wearing. Thanks for a great post! Report
Another great blog, and awesome advice, too! We all deserve to look and feel good about ourselves, no matter what size we are! Report
Wow Nicole! This sounds like a response to blog that I wrote only a few weeks ago. I was admitting to being ashamed to go out in public because of my weight. If there was a way that I could avoid the public, I would do it. But thank you so much for the advice--dress for the body that I have now!! Thank you again, Nicole!
I'am going through that now when you buy something I'am 5/2 inches when I-buy-clothes for short people. I get a size 12or 14 pants legg is too long if I like what I buy that more money I spend. Report
Absolutely! I love this blog! You are spot on! Self love, self love, self love. Your actions will follow how you feel! It took me soooo long to realize that when I give myself some postivie attention, and when I feel good, I will continue to make more positive changes. For so long I thought the other way around - that I should deprive myself of nice things until I did something "good" to "deserve" them. And that way of thinking NEVER worked to make positive changes in my life.

I learned to "dress for the body I have today" from TLC's What Not To Wear. Stacy and Clinton have quite literally changed my life. I can now dress in a way that is age-appropriate, fun, stylish, and expressive of my personal identity.

So awesome, thank you for posting this! Report
I love this blog and think the message is dead on. What if you literally cannot find clothes that fit right? I desperately need new pants but I'm at a weird stage. I have a very curvy body - big in the butt, hips and thighs, very small waist, also very short waisted. I have literally been to at least a dozen stores and have tried on tons of different styles and sizes. I'm willing to pay to have things tailored but am having trouble finding things that are sewn in such a way that they could be effectively tailored. I'm at wits end and am going to end up going to work naked soon!!! I'm currently stuck with pants that are too tight or baggy. It's embarassing and depressing. Report
I can so relate to hiding in large clothes. I use to do it and then grew into those where they came to tight. I have hoarded away clothes that I couldn't where anymore for around 5 years ago I lost 40 lbs. Then I gained it all back. I couldn't bear to through out my clothes so I kept them waiting for the day that I could get back in them. Now, I won't say I have kept them all for as organize my closet each year I get rid of stuff I know I will never wear again. I am gld I kept those clothes for it has saved us money from me buying new stuff. I am excited though because I am almost out of of those stored away clothes and look forward to going shopping. I go in and out of enjoying shopping but during my last spree at Christmas I loved seeing the new lower sizes I was fitting into. :)

I am happy to say I now dress for the body I have today! Every 10lbs lost I like to go Closet Shopping. I clean out the stuff I know is to big and I try on the smaller size stuff I stored away and see what I can pull out. Looking forward to getting into those 16 pants! :) Report
You are so right-one has to love oneself;i am in that phase myself and the advice is timely,Will learn to dress the body I have at this time!No more tight old clothes! Report
Yep! I can identify!! I feel a blog coming on!! =) Report
I actually did this a fortnight ago. Its soo hard to admit when you've gone up a few dress sizes and adjust to the size you are now. Thank you - great blog Report
So true! Stacy & Clinton on TLC's "What Not To Wear" stress this very point, & I've always agreed with this. Yes, I have hidden behind oversize clothes, although at the times I did, I always thought I was just wearing those things because they were "comfortable." Oh, how S & C hate that word! Comfort is important, yes, but it doesn't have to be in huge, baggy clothes. On the other hand, I also don't like to wear things that're too tight, either. They're horribly restrictive & definitely show what I DON'T want seen. I have some clothes that I've had for years & know that I need to get rid of them because they're definitely outdated. Not that I'm a slave to fashion or anything like that, but I do like to look somewhat up-to-date.

This article's actually spurred me on to seriously go through my closet & to get rid of all the stuff I've kept that I know I'll never wear again, unless they're for sentimental reasons, & just toss 'em, especially if I was saving them for a "smaller me." Chances are, when I do get to that place, they'll be in a style I won't want to wear anymore anyway.

Thanks for this! :) Report
Love, love, love this article! I have come to this conclusion over the past week: I have to love my body as it is before I can make any lasting change. I have been trying to dress more appropriately for my size and taking more pride in my overall appearance. It has helped me to be a lot more positive and motivated to make healthy choices. If you love yourself, you'll naturally start to make choices to take the best care of yourself -including eating healthy foods and exercising. Report
I agree with this article!! It is great advice. No one can see the tag but you! So if you have to buy a bigger size... who cares as long as you look good and feel good! Report
"I kept only the clothes that fit me, flattered me and made me feel good." This strikes a cord with me. I often wear clothes that are past their prime because I hate to shop. I've promised myself that I will give these clothes away and make others into rags once I drop down a size. In the meantime, I am returning to work and will buy some nicer things that flatter the size I currently am. Report
I am a hoarder. I have sizes from 12 to 18. The comments has made me think I should get rid of the clothes that don't fit. I don't want to have to wear them again so, why am I still keeping them? Report
THAT ME Report
This blog sounds exactly like me. I have 2 storage tubs of too-small clothes leftover from thinner times &/or purchased w/ intent to someday fit. Now, I don't plan to get rid of these, because I believe I am going to be able to fit now, but I have stopped spending all my days dressed in casual pants & t-shirts while waiting for that day to come, & I've bought nice jeans & cute tops that flatter me at my current size. Report
This advice is HUGE! I've only recently started wearing more "cute" clothes, and I'm so much happier! Even though my current size 12-14 is still "fat" to a lot of people, afterall I'm still about 45lbs overweight, I look fab when I dress in flattering clothes! I really wish I'd done that the whole time, since I'll never forget once (right before I joined spark, so circa 286lbs) that I went shopping with roomies and actually tried on a fitted knee-length jean skirt that was a size 24 and a cute top in Lane Bryant, and they literally did not recognise me when I came out of the dressing room! They thought I looked great! I had been stuffing myself into old stretched out 20's (muffin top galore!) and oversized shirts (to cover the muffin top) and I looked SO MUCH BIGGER! So even though I was mortified to be wearing a 24, they were astounded at how great I looked! It is just really one of those things that the sooner you learn to flatter what you have, the happier you will be and the more fun the slimming-journey will be! You don't have to wait until your goal to look your best! Report
I completely agree with you! I too fell in that way of feeling about myself..not wanting to shop with anyone because I did not want anyone to know the size of my clothing to now saying SCREW IT I need a size 2x in something because I wanna look good too! Report
While reading this blog I was thinking, "Geez! She is writing about me!" I have had some of the same thoughts. But my reason for keeping the clothes that were too small was as follows: If i don't buy bigger clothes I will be forced to loose the weight in order to fit into the smaller ones. I figured at some point I would get tired of my pants pressing into my stomach, making me feel like I would throw up if I bent over or maneuvered the wrong way. Or at the very least I would get tired of wearing the 2 pair of pants that did fit while switching up my tops. Needless to say, neither of these strategies worked. But since I have started buying my size, I feel a lot better about myself and am motiviated to loose the weight so that I will be able to fit into some of the trendy styles and not look so foolish. Report
Great Article! So Relateable Report
I have always loved clothes and shopping but I did go through a phase where i was not taking care of my appearance. My issue was not so much the weight gain but that after having a baby i had weight in places that i never gained weight before. I felt like I was dressing someone elses body. But I agree you need confidence to make progress!!!! Report
It's always been hard for me to accept my size after having 4 kids. I am finally dressing to fit my body as it is now and people are always telling me, "You have really lost weight!" No, I just quit wearing oversized clothes. It does feel better and has allowed me to want to take better care of myself for me, my husband, and my kids. Report
One of my all-time favorite shows to watch is "What Not to Wear". It is on TLC. Clinton and Stacy have enlightened me in so many ways. Way before I started to workout and account for nutrition, I hated shopping for clothes. No way did I want to spend "good" money on clothes I had no intention in wearing for too long. So I would shop at Goodwill and find clothes that fit, albeit, mostly they were tent-like. Then, I decided that although I was overweight I was still cute, and why shouldn't I dress as though I believed it.Now, being a stay at home mom and college student, there still is not money in our budget for lavish shopping. I still shop at Goodwill. the major difference is I put though into my clothing purchases. I try on the clothes before and if they do not flatter, I do not purchase. I have also learned an amazing bit of advise. I am only 5 feet tall, but a stunning pair of heels (it doesn't matter how high the heel, as long as it is not a chunky heel... Those do not look good on anyone no matter the size! LOL) and a pointy toe are not only comfortable (SHOCKING!!!!) but the do add a bit of height and we now length makes us look leaner! You are gorgeous! WTG on your attitude!!! Report
Amazing what self acceptance will do for us if we simply let it in. Thanks! Report
I just bought 2 new tops, down from 2x to xl. I've been continuing to wear my larger clothes. no one noticed I lost 22 pounds. I wore one of my new tops on Friday and got all kinds of compliments on how fantastic I looked I was shocked how many people "noticed"!!!! I wore my other new top today and got just as many compliments. seems I'm going to have to let go of my old clothes but some of them I just loved and it's going to be hard to part with them. It's a good problem I know but kind of sad for me too. I have a closet full of clothes but I have these special favorites are going to be hard for me to let go. The last time I wore one of my old time favs I felt like I was wearing someone else's clothes cause it looked like I had been swallowed by a sweater! Report
I never intentionally purchased things in smaller sizes, but I did save the 'nicer' clothes I outgrew. Now I'm having fun finally fitting back into them, and it makes me feel wonderful. But I agree with the article; it is very important to take care of your appearance at any size because self esteem is what motivates you to care about changing it for the better. Report
I have also bought clothes with the clear intent to reduce into them. I heard Tim Gunn talk about this on the Dr. Oz show; he calls them "aspiration clothes." Funny, huh? Well, I just went on a three week trip for my job and had a suitcase full of aspiration clothes that I bought five years ago. Thanks to Spark People, I'm an 18 now instead of a 24! I have lost 50 pounds and hope to lose another 50, but I'm NOT buying aspiration clothes anymore! Thanks for the article. Report
I know how you were feeling when you were wearing nothing but baggy pants and tops, cos that's just what I've found myself doing these past months. Each time I opened my wardrobe doors I could have cried, cos there were all those lovely clothes I'd bought cos they looked nice on me and I couldn't even get the tops to sit down over my fat belly and the pants wouldn't come up over my huge hips. In a burst of disgust at myself I parceled them all up and took them to a charity shop - a full carload of near new clothing. Did I go buy clothes that looked nice on me, or that I wanted to wear? No. I bought baggy track pants and oversized windcheaters and cardigans, and bought baggy t-shirts for underneath. Each and every day I've opened my wardrobe I've felt a lil more depressed - all there were hanging there for me to wear were baggy, dark colored shapeless things. Twelve months ago I'd not have been seen dead in them. It has taken reading your story to make me realize how I've been sabotaging my attempts to be happy, to exercise and eat right so I can find the real 'me' whose hidden under all that excess weight. I'll give these baggy things a week or two more, till hopefully I'm down another dress size, then I'm gonna go SHOPPING!! I'm gonna go buy myself some brightly coloured, comfortable to wear and attractive looking clothes, that won't make me look like I've given up on life. I'm gonna start to dress like I would have before this weight problem reared its ugly head again. Thank you so much for making me realize what I've been doing to myself! Report
great advice! great blog! thanks! Report
Great article! Thanks!! Report
Excellent advice. I hate a closet full of has beens and wanna bees. Think I will clean out my closet tomorrow. Report
Great advice and so true! There is nothing more depressing than buying something a size too small and expecting to fit into it. Report
What a great article. I am guilty of wearing baggy clothes. I am in the process of cleaning out all the "big" clothes in my closet as I "shrink myself". It is much better to wear flattering clothes that fit even if in a larger size than I want to be. I could always see that on others but not for me. I have decided to treat myself as well as I treat others. Report
I'm still on my weight loss journey, now down to a size 18W from a very tight size 22W (truth be known I was probably a 24W). Since I want to lose more, I don't want to have too many outfits, but at the same time after all my hard work I want to look nice and show off the change. I work in a government office so I have to dress nicely and professionally. I haven't really liked to shop since gaining weight , but I've been forcing myself to shop at least a couple times a month for at least a couple of items to build my wardrobe. One of the reasons my weight eventually crept up to 256 was my ability to avoid mirrors, and fool myself into thinking that I looked fine. Shopping and trying on clothes takes away your ability to delude yourself any longer, and it makes you face the truth. Fortunately, my truth today is that I'm getting thinner & thinner, stronger & stronger and looking better & better each shopping trip! People will decorate their homes for the holidays to celebrate. I've decided to dress myself attractively & decorate myself to celebrate life and my ongoing weight loss, and more importantly feeling better! Report
This is the first article I've seen on the particular insight to dress for how you are now, which most definitely means loving oneself in any size, important for flexibility to move into "smaller". Report
You are so right-on. Be kind to yourself. Beauty is not exclusive to a size 2. Being the best you can be and being true to yourself is the path to happiness and a happy woman is a beautiful woman. Report