Build a Weight-Loss Wardrobe Without Spending a Fortune

It's no secret that weight loss comes with countless lifestyle changes. Day after day, you'll find it easier to walk up the stairs and lift groceries. Joint pain, blood pressure and cholesterol will all improve, potentially taking medication out of your daily routine. And then there's the change of fitting into and wearing new clothes, one of the most rewarding results of weight loss.

Yet, this can also pose a tricky situation. It's not exactly practical (or cheap) to buy the same item in sizes 14, 12 and 10 as your waistline shrinks. By the time you reach your final goal, you'll have a full closet and an empty wallet.

Understandably, it's tempting to go on a shopping spree every time you hit a milestone. You're excited, and there's nothing wrong with that. "It is common to be impressed with the changes you [see] in the mirror," shares Candace Rhodes, a personal trainer and creator of Rhodes To Strength. Strength training will bring on even more changes, ranging from defined arms to a perkier behind.

Needless to say, it's exhilarating to slip into a shirt or dress that shows off your new body. But what happens when the credit card statement arrives? Is it even possible to lose pounds without losing money?

With the right mindset, it most certainly is. To start, check out these basic tips and tricks, topped off with advice from real people who have found the perfect shopping-budget balance.

Before Tackling Your Wardrobe

Remember, healthy weight loss takes time—the Centers for Disease Control generally defines this as losing one to two pounds a week.

Of course, this may differ from person to person. "Everyone loses weight at a different rate based on body composition, food intake and training program, but a weight loss of one percent [a week] is a common healthy guideline," explains Rhodes. It's also a culmination of little habits over time, and the clothes will reflect that.

In other words, you won't need a brand-new wardrobe in a week—and that's a good thing.

How to Build a Wardrobe That Shrinks With You

Whether you're on a mission to drop five or 50 pounds, your current wardrobe will likely need some fine tuning. Here's how to make it happen without spending a pretty penny.

1. Buy Stretchy Clothes

During this transition, elastic is your best friend; the stretchiness will see you through several sizes. SparkPeople member DREAMERSPIRITT also suggests drawstring waistbands, which can be adjusted as needed.

If you're all about functionality, take a tip from SparkPeople member HAWKTHREE. "Look for stretchy workout pants that are similar enough to work clothes that you can actually wear them to work," she suggests. This Lucy Everyday Pant is the perfect example: According to the reviews, one customer wears her pair on the tennis court then straight to the office.

Stretchy fabric will also contour your body even as you drop weight. Better yet, you'll feel comfortable all day long, too.
2. Avoid Baggy Fabrics

Loose tunics and dresses might be comfortable now, but what happens when you drop the pounds? You'll be swimming in your clothes that are a constant reminder of the old you, while hiding the body you worked so hard to achieve.

If you love this style, wait until you're closer to your goal weight. Until then, T-shirts and tank tops that are too big can be used to your advantage. Keep them in your car in case you find unexpected time to go workout, a clever technique suggested by Rhodes. She also recommends having at least three to four workout outfits so you'll always have clean clothes on hand.

3. Visit the Thrift Store

Thrifting gives you the thrill of shopping without the heart-stopping price tag. If you can, look for clothes made with stretchy fabric or elastic to get the most bang for your buck.

DREAMERSPIRITT is all about the second-hand game: "Thrift stores are your friend! Without them, I don't know where I'd be. I simply can't afford to buy brand new clothing every time I drop a size."

Later on, you can pay it back and donate clothes that are still in good shape and no longer fit your new figure. "This way, you never feel like you've lost money," says SparkPeople member ARCHIMEDESII. "You wore the items, and once they are donated, someone else will be able to get some use out of them."

4. Buy Basics at Each Milestone

From blouses to sweaters, most clothes can wait. However, basic essentials like a good-fitting bra and flattering pair of jeans are an absolute must. These items are the base of almost every outfit, so it's worth focusing on these garments at every milestone.

Keep your lifestyle in mind, and consider what pieces will bring you the most value and function. From there, make a "milestone purchase," like an excellent pair of work pants, when nothing feels like it's fitting right.
5. Use Belts

As you drop pounds, don't be so quick to toss loose-fitting tops. A belt can be used to cinch around your waist. For instance, a loose sweater can accentuate your waist just by adding a thin belt or sash. Just put in place, wear over jeans, skirts or leggings, and show off that hard work.

6. Get Crafty
If shopping is out of the question, consider altering the clothes you already own. "A lot of times, it's the shoulders of clothing that begin to look to wide as you shape up, even with minimal weight loss," shares HAWKTHREE. "You can [create the illusion of] another smaller size by placing safety pins on the inside that pinches the fabric in."

Simple stitching can create the same effect. Don't worry, though—you don't need a degree in fashion design. All you need is a needle, thread and a few straight stitches to take certain items from flat to flattering.

7. Don't Rush It

There's nothing more exhilarating than seeing a new number on the scale as you start your journey to weight loss. Whatever you do, though, avoid jumping into a shopping spree. It's a great way to end up with an empty wallet and clothes that won't fit down the line.

And when you do reach your final goal? Continue to take it easy and avoid buying pieces just because you can fit in them. Building a wardrobe with intention takes time, especially if you want to let your personality and body shine.

The idea of new clothes may be a driving factor to lose weight, but don't let that be your only motivation. Achieving a healthy weight also comes with the reduced risk of chronic conditions and related risk factors. Every time you slip into those new threads, take it as a reminder that you did something amazing for your body and health.