Real Life Style: How To Shop Efficiently When You’re Losing Weight

It’s been almost 2 years since I started eating a Paleo diet. I’ve gone through 7 seasons and 5 major size changes all while working in a business casual professional environment, being in the gym 5 days a week, attending weddings, parties and casual nights out with friends. You can probably gather that I have needed to purchase A LOT of clothes in that time.

This sounds fun in theory, but I have to be honest — my days trolling the mall are over — a habit I broke when I was digging myself out of some serious debt about 5 years ago. I love new clothes and I obviously enjoy talking about style, but these days I don’t really find shopping to be a very productive hobby. But when your body changes sizes along with the seasons, you don’t really have a choice.

What this means is, and I need you to ready your gag reflex for the term I’m about to use: when losing weight, an efficiently curated wardrobe is a must. Unless, of course, you are independently wealthy. And if you are, well you can quit reading right here. Go buy yourself some new clothes! GET CRAZY! If you are not, however, here are some tips I’ve used to efficiently keep my wardrobe looking decent:

Find a Seasonal Uniform and Accessorize

Hey — guess what always fits? Shoes, purses and jewelry! It’s why I’m always willing to invest in those areas :) Take advantage of accessories while your body is changing shape and focus on making sure you always have basics that fit well. Find economical versions of classic silhouettes that look good on your body — jeans (fancy and casual), sweaters, tees, tanks and skirts.

Make sure you have a neutral and a couple of colors. But no need to have 10 versions of each thing. Let your accessories add that certain something to your outfits because they are made for the long haul. I love Target and outlet shopping from my favorite stores to accomplish this: Gap, Banana Republic, Loft. You can cull together an entire wardrobe of basics from these places for a couple hundred bucks.

photo courtesy of gap.com

I wore two pairs of jeans through all of winter. I only have 2 pairs of jeans that fit now. No one notices and no one cares. Especially if they fit well.

photo courtesy of jcrew.com

Buy Versatile Statement Pieces You Can Mix With Your Basics

I used to have 3 or 4 coats in different styles and colors, and one day I will get back to that because I love a kelly green coat! Coats are a fun way to spice up an outfit but this winter I only wanted to buy one because I knew I wouldn’t be able to wear it next year. Instead of buying a black or brown coat because it “goes with everything” I spent a little extra time and found an awesome cream colored pea coat. It was neutral enough that it went with my entire wardrobe, but it was still uncommon enough that I felt stylish every time I wore it.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, buy a maxi dress or a pencil skirt that stands out, but is neutral enough that you can pair it with other things and make multiple looks. Drama + Versatility is your best bet.

photo courtesy of nordstrom.com

Keep A List, Do Some Research & Have Patience

This is the most important advice I can give you — when you are trying to be efficient with your wardrobe, you must always stay aware. Keep track of items you feel like you are missing, because inevitably with a limited wardrobe you will sometimes feel like you don’t have exactly what you want to wear. Jot it down on a 3×5 card and keep it in your purse if you find it pops up over and over when you are getting dressed. (For me, lately, it’s been a black pencil skirt!) Then harness the power of the internet!

Always check your favorite retailers for coupons, wait for sales — and then pounce! I keep a list of items that I want to buy in my purse at all times, and then I keep a list of stores/items on the back that I have seen online and maybe want to try on if it has piqued my interest. This way if I *do* have to go to the mall, I can be efficient — I know what I’m looking for, what I want to try on, and most importantly — WHAT I NEED.  Not to say there is never an impulse buy, but it keeps them to a minimum. :)

Also, as a side note: These days something has to be REALLY useful and REALLY awesome (read: in danger of selling out) for me to pay full price.

Take The Time To Work On Developing Your Sense of Style

One of the things I have struggled with the most when my body started changing, was that I had NO IDEA what looked good on me anymore. It was the genesis of 30 Days of Denim and that project was a huge help! Take time to experiment. Take pictures of yourself. Participate in style challenges. Try on articles of clothing that scare you (hello, jumpsuits!) Pin outfits for inspiration solely because something in the picture made me happy! And do it without fear…it’s only clothing! No big deal.

Still Splurge On Worthwhile Items

Losing weight doesn’t mean you need to purchase EVERYTHING on deep discount. But you definitely don’t want to be buying a new pair of investment jeans if you aren’t planning to be able to wear them next year. Items NOT to skimp on: bras, sports bras and good foundation garments. Skipping on the foundation is NEVER a good idea in any arena, so get the good stuff!

Keep the spending in check by making the selection small, with neutral colors and versatile styles. Neutral and Versatile will soon become your new favorite adjective. Sure hot pink bras are fun, but when you’re body is changing rapidly, you can get by with a only nude and black. You’re drawer won’t look like a Victoria’s Secret catalog, but your rack will look great while your bank account thanks you.

Also, still make an effort to shop for deals. I am in love with Wacoal bras from Nordstrom, but they are usually $70-90. I work about 5 minutes from a Nordstrom Rack though, so often times I will swing in there on my lunch break and peruse the bra section because you can easily pick one up for $35. STEAL!

Lastly, if I can offer one parting thought to guide you through your journey to stock your wardrobe while losing weight:

Don’t Buy It Unless You LOVE It

And if you remember only one thing, remember that.

*****

Anything I’ve left out?

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6 comments to Real Life Style: How To Shop Efficiently When You’re Losing Weight

  • Steph
    May 8, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Bras are the main thIng I spend big bucks on. I’ve always had a big chest, and so starting when I was young my poor (literally) mama would take me to buy good quality, expensive bras (I.e. Wacoal, chantelle, le mystere…). I’ve found that the right bra makes your clothes look so much better & I don’t have to obsess over where the girls are going because they just stay put! Great tip about going to Nordstrom Rack! I never thought of that!

    • Holly
      May 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      And they have such a great range of sizes at Nordstrom Rack that I am sad I spent years paying full price for them! But you’re right, TOTALLY WORTH IT!

  • Emily
    May 8, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Thanks so much for this post! I’m at the beginning of my 4th major weight loss in the past 10 years (i wish i was kidding) and constantly struggle with what to wear. I have a closet full of clothes that are too small, only a few thigns that fit now and hate spending money on clothes i don’t want to fit into and hope i won’t for long. Even so, i do feel a little more confident when I wear clothes that fit well. I know i should suck it up and invest a little in right now and will feel better. Thanks for the guidance

    • Holly
      May 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      Oh man! Just do a little investing…it feels so much better to wear clothes that fit well! You deserve it :)

  • Linda Sand
    May 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I lost enough weight that my shoes are loose. Who knew feet get fat, too?

    My next challenge is three weddings this summer and two of the brides are cousins. How many dressy outfits do I have to buy that I will not be able to wear next summer?

    • Holly
      May 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      Well hooray for new shoes!!!! :)

      As for multiple dressy outfits — I’d hit outlets (hopefully you have some by you??) When we went away for a wedding a month ago, I got all three dresses that I had to wear for under $75 (two were from Gap Outlet and one was from Banana Republic) Hopefully they aren’t black tie weddings????? 😉 Good luck!

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