As much as I mourn summer’s passing I absolutely love fall colors. Oh, the trees are nice, but I’m talking about the clothes. What’s not to love about the rich browns, intense oxbloods and opulent teals? And oh, have mercy, I have a little bit of an obsession with boots, handbags and scarves. One look at my “Fun for Fall” Pinterest page and you’ll see what I mean.
When I weighed 265 lbs. shopping for clothes and then deciding what to wear was a stressful task. The burden of my obesity went with me everywhere and impacted every activity I did, including shopping. I would walk into a plus-size clothing store and feel the weight of my situation as an almost physical presence. It was oppressive and diminished the joy I should have felt in almost every aspect of my life. But shopping was especially hard. My size was inescapable. My reflection unavoidable, with mirrors everywhere. Shopping was something to be avoided unless absolutely necessary, and even then I would rush into a store, make a quick decision – trying desperately to avoid trying on clothes in the store – and rush out again with my purchase.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to look nice. I did. But spending time shopping forced me to consciously think about my body and only underscored my anxiety about my physical appearance.
Maybe you know this feeling.
As a result, there were years when I could count the pairs of pants I owned on one hand.
I rationalized that I just “didn’t like to shop,” that I was too busy, that we couldn’t afford for me to buy more clothes, or that any money I had in the clothing budget needed to go towards the kids.
When I chose to lose weight for good I had only a vague idea of how my attitude about clothes would change. It didn’t occur to me that everything in my wardrobe – and I mean everything: underwear, bras, coats, even shoes! – would need to be replaced. While it’s very exciting to buy new things as your body is getting smaller, it’s a very expensive prospect!
I kept reminding myself, this is not a bad problem to have. But it was a dilemma.
My solution was to shop at consignment and thrift stores. As it turns out, both offer good quality clothing at huge discounts off of department stores or even discount stores (Target, Wal-Mart, etc.). I was amazed to find beautiful slacks from Banana Republic with the tags still on for under $10, coats and sweaters from J. Crew and Talbots in mint condition for just pennies on the dollar of their retail price.
I came to love the hunt of shopping. There were undiscovered treasures at these stores and I was on a mission to find them! I included stops at Goodwill and Value Village in my regular route while out running errands. Often I’d come up empty, but occasionally I’d hit the jackpot. A Michael Kors suit I scored for $25 still gives me a rush when I think about it.
Losing 120 lbs. took me several years to accomplish. My clothing size changed many times along the way. For practical reasons I had to shop for clothes frequently; out of necessity I had to do it on a tight budget.
What I didn’t anticipate was that learning to enjoy shopping could help heal the wounds of my shattered self-esteem.
Sometimes I am plagued with the thought: is it vain to want to like the way you look and feel in clothes? Though I suppose one could certainly get carried away with obsessing about appearance, I always come back to the thought that, no, there’s nothing wrong with feeling good in your own skin and enjoying the clothes you wear.
So now that I feel good in my own skin I love to shop! Because I’m not replacing clothes, just adding to my wardrobe, I don’t need to buy much these days. Having said that, almost nothing will stop me from buying a gorgeous new pair of boots if I see them on sale! And I’m forever getting new ideas on Pinterest.
Hey, a girl can dream, right?!
All this talk of shopping is getting my inner hunter-gatherer all excited. I think a field trip to my favorite vintage clothing store is in order. Time to call the girlfriends! Let’s go!!!