I knew upon starting my Purpose Project, I wouldn’t have discretionary funds to spend on a whole new wardrobe. I knew when I got dressed, I wore the same things. Most of us do. We have outfits we feel confident and comfortable in and we tend to choose them on repeat. That becomes a problem when the clothes you constantly wear are yoga pants and oversized t-shirts.
So here’s some of the steps I chose to stretch my wardrobe and mix it up day-to-day.
1.) Shop your closet.
Put on your makeup. Fix your hair. Now try on each item in your closet in front of a full size mirror. Try sitting down in that skirt. Try picking up your toddler. Some of the outfits in my closet were fine when standing straight in front of a mirror but ended up being a pain when I was loading groceries at Costco and trying to keep my top from falling off or my skirt from hiking up. Not at all practical for me with kids. Those had to go. Think about the things you do each day. Are you comfortable in a pair of pants that are a size too small and okay when you’re standing but you work a desk job and will end up with a muffin top all day long and a red welted belt in your skin from it digging in?
2.) When something fit, looked good, and was comfortable, I took a picture of me in the outfit.
I am now compiling my very own look book. When my kids were younger, I had a days of the week cubby hanger in each of their closets. Each week I’d put a complete outfit into each day of the week and the kids would get dressed without me having to pick through their closets looking for the navy sweater than went with her striped dress or a matching pair of socks right as we were supposed to be walking out the door. Although it may seem silly for a grown woman to need to have outfits put together in advance, it saves me the hassle of standing in my closet trying on everything, which eventually end up in the discard pile on my floor before remembering that my black sweater looks best with my teal top and dark jeans.
3.) If you’re a woman, and anywhere between birth and death, it’s a pretty sure thing that your body is going to undergo some changes.
Besides the lovely awkwardness that is puberty, we then have hormones, childbearing, menopause, and the ever-changing form that is a woman’s body. With PCOS and hormone changes, I tend to fluctuate a lot with weight, so I choose clothing options that are adaptable. Especially if you’re pregnant, nursing, or experimenting with diet and exercise, your weight and proportions may change. I never pick clothes I can’t comfortably wear yet. There are no ‘goal’ outfits hanging out in my closet for the time when I miraculously lose all the weight I’ve gained over the last years and can suddenly fit into my jeans from high school. Just no. Besides the fact that they were acid washed Guess or Gitanos tucked and rolled at the ankle into my white slouchy socks and I have nightmares about those styles coming back into fashion, it’s just better to live in the present. But I also pick things that could easily be tailored, taken in, or would look even better a few pounds lighter.
4.) I know what looks good on my body.
I am potato shaped. I know that’s not a technical apple or pear. But really, I’m more like a Mrs. Potato Head. I have no waist and a thick middle and bust but relatively normal sized hips, legs, and arms. Potatoesque. Empire waist silhouettes look best because they draw in under my bust but skim over my belly. I own an inordinate amount of dresses because they don’t cut me across the middle where I am thickest. If I do wear jeans, I wear them with long tops. It’s important when you’re plus sized not to drown yourself in clothes that are oversized and shapeless. I used to try to camouflage my weight by wearing looser clothes but found they made my whole form seem bulkier. Not a good look for anyone. Accentuate your best parts. Have a teeny-tiny waist but not such a fan of your thighs? Wear a cute belted dress or a vintage silhouette that nips in. Find something you love about your body and claim it.
5.) Invest in what you can get your money out of.
I used to shop primarily at thrift stores for clothing. I was frugal and I often found affordable clothes but sometimes the thrill of finding an outfit at a great discount or value makes you buy something that isn’t that flattering or practical. The same thing goes with sales. Just because you found it at a great price doesn’t mean it should go home with you and hibernate in your closet. Pick a few things you love. Invest in classic pieces that complement but are different from what you already own. The best things to splurge on are staples: a good pair of jeans, a coat, a sweater, a dress that can be fancied up with a scarf and jewelry or casualed down with flats and a cardigan, comfortable boots, and a well-fitting bra. An absolute must.
A few scarves, some beautiful earrings, a cute hat or necklace can make even a blah outfit perk up. If all else fails, there’s always red lipstick.
What are some of the ways you stretch your wardrobe? What styles do you find the most flattering? Can you see how many items in each of these photos are repeats? Five items, all repeats worked into different outfits.