What To Wear When You’re Downsizing

DeAnn and Darla love to keep me in Fashion Friday topics, which is a good thing because there is only so much I can come up with say about this topic! (Believe it or not.) But I love helping other moms with their fashion conundrums, probably because I’ve spent the past few years figuring out what works on a post child-bearing body, and I’m happy to pass along anything I’ve learned to those still in the trenches.

Earlier in the week, DeAnn left this comment on my What I Wore Wednesday post:

“How to dress stylishly when you’re trying to “downsize” and you don’t necessarily feel comfortable with your body yet especially now that the weather is getting warmer and you’re still in child-birthing years and don’t necessarily want to wear flowy tops that look like maternity clothes.”

Mmmm’kay. Surprisingly, I know EXACTLY what she’s trying to say.

I have birthed 3 children, and I gained 45 lbs with each pregnancy. On my 135-lb frame, that was, um, quite a lot. Yes, I just disclosed what I weigh. I’ve broken the cardinal rule. Now we may as well go ahead and discuss politics and religion. Who wants to start? Oh nevermind, let’s stick with fashion. It’s so much more fun.

Well, okay, admittedly, shopping when you are still trying to “downsize” is not much more fun than discussing politics, but I’m certainly more informed on the issues surrounding the former.

Phew! Ramble much?

Honestly, this is how I talk in real life. If you’re lost, no worries. People get lost all the time. It’s not you, it’s me.

Here are a few tips for dressing when you’re “downsizing” or just not at the size you want to be:

TIP #1: Layers

I know it’s hot in the summertime, and layering is not always practical, but there are lots of lightweight options out there these days. It’s never been easier to layer than it is right now – layering is such a hot trend.

I often throw a cardigan on over my outfit, especially on days when I’m feeling kind of thick around the middle.

You can find short sleeved ones now too, perfect for the warmer months. And also, the slub is a very lightweight material that works great with a tank top (or a ruffly blouse).

Or a very lightweight, almost sheer blouse works well. I couldn’t find a link or a picture, though. SORRY.

TIP #2: Structure

There are so many flowy things out these days but I’ve never found them to be particularly forgiving on me, personally. They must work on some people, but when your body isn’t the shape you want it to be, finding pieces with structure help give it the shape you want it to have, or at least the illusion of the shape you want it to have.

For instance, I cannot overemphasize the importance of a structured jacket. I prefer denim, but it could be a lightweight blazer too. If you get denim or a versatile color like gray or stone, you can wear it with many different outfits and color combinations.

Same thing with dresses. I like dresses with structure, and also with thicker fabrics that don’t cling to unsightly lumps and bumps. We all have them, we might as well call a spade a spade, right?

It’s really hard to explain with photos when models are all a size 00. Plus, if your weight tends to fluctuate, this style may not work for you because fit is key. But I do find that having structure in a dress helps reshape the figure.  See, here’s one who’s not a size 00. Yay for Nordstrom!

Ruching helps too.

I know a lot of us are in between a size 00 and a size 16, but I’m doing the best I can here, folks.

And let’s not forget about the miraculous powers of Spanx.

TIP #3: Disguise

Sometimes, on the right person, a shirt with the banded waistline, another hot trend this season, can help the tummy issue. It isn’t too figure hugging where there might be some extra stuffing, but instead of being too flowy all the way down over the hips, the hem of the blouse sits right on the hips and brings it back into the body. It’s important not to wear this style too big, though, or the blousy part will balloon out and make you appear bigger than you are.

TIP #4: Fit

Don’t discount the importance of good fit. Even if you’re planning to lose weight, try to pick up a few items that fit to wear right now. If you plan to get pregnant again, you can always put them away and label them with the size so you can find them easily when you need them again.

I realize not everyone can afford to have three different sized wardrobes in their closet, but I felt SO much better about myself when I was “downsizing” if I had a few things that fit well – at least one pair of jeans, a few tops, and a Sunday outfit. You can change it up with accessories that fit no matter what your size — shoes, handbags, jewelry, scarves.

Leave it to those items to bring in the colors or the trends you want to wear, and keep your clothing classic so you can wear it again in a few years if need be.

Join The Conversation

9 Responses

  1. I loved this post. Great advice (from someone who gained more weight in college than she did pregnant), lost it, and then was pregnant 4 times. I’ve fluctuated through several wardrobes and STILL have jeans in sizes 00 – 8. It does help to have at least one pair per size. And if you KNOW you’re downsizing, then its totally fine to go for the cheapy jeans. Just have something so that you aren’t smooshing yourself in.

  2. so true.
    layers are my trick for when ‘m feeling thick around the middle. and loose ruffley tops. regardless of my weight or how i feel, i rarely feel like my legs are the issue. its almost always the tummy area – so i often will wear slimmer jeans with a looser top to disguise the middle. or add a scarf.

  3. LOL I love it that I have partner in crime. 😀

    I tried on a dress similar to the hot pink one (but in black) and I wasn’t crazy about all the material at the bust. There was a lot of this way and that way going on with all that fabric.

    I have a few structured jackets now thanks to you!

  4. Great post! Thanks for responding to my request. I was partially kidding with that ridiculously tall order but you seemed to have filled the cute sparkly shoes of my Fashion Fairy Godmother, so thank you! #1, I ramble too. You read my comments…you know. I also leave messages like that. One time my son commented after I left one particularly succinct voicemail, “Wow, Mom, that was pretty good for YOU.” Anywho, I digress.

    Yes, structure! Why do I always forget that somewhat fitted is actually flattering? I have a thick middle so I usually stay away from structure but the key is finding the right kind. Stacy and Clinton used to say that you should find a structured jacket/top that comes in at the thinnest part of you..usually right under the girls.”

    And yes, it is nice to have something that fits no matter where you are on the weight or budget scale. I can usually find a decent pair of stretchy Levi’s to hold me over until I can squeeze myself into some of my other, smaller jeans. Well-fitted jeans are a must!

    I’ve had seven children and gained a 30-50 with each one. Don’t even want to do the math with how many lb’s I’ve lost and gained over the years! I decided to go back to Weight Watcher’s after they made some great changes to their program (i.e. more real-food friendly) because I need the accountability. Yes, I need to pay someone to weigh me in each week. Down 14lbs and about 25 more to go before my 20 year high school reunion in the Fall! So, Jo-Lynne, prepare for a,” What to wear to reunion events now that I’ve lost my weight” Fashion Friday around the beginning of September!!! 😉

  5. It’s helpful to use consignment shops or thrift stores when buying a downsizing wardrobe! That way when you’re out of it you don’t feel like you spent a fortune on in-between clothes. You can find some great stuff if you’re willing to take some time and look! (Don’t take the kids with you LOL)

    I just take my sister along when I shop for clothes now, she grabs stuff off the rack that I wouldn’t look twice at and it looks GREAT on me. It’s amazing. I obviously have no clue how to dress myself hehe.

  6. I’m all about layers. Cardigans, tanks, denim jackets, pull-over hoodies, etc.

    I also like the banded waistline tops. My current favorite shirt is in that style.

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