How to Build a Transitional Wardrobe for a Changing Body

by | Jul 12, 2016 | Blog


Bodies are great. They do so many amazing things! Mine is really good at finding snacks and eating them, for example. It’s also great at picking up my daughter, putting on lipstick, and walking aimlessly in search of adventure. We all do so many different and fantastic things with our bodies, so it’s no wonder that for many of us, our body size and weight fluctuates.

Maybe you’re on a weight loss journey, or maybe you’ve started to lift weights and it’s changed your body shape. Maybe you’ve just had a baby, or you’re getting ready to have one. For a lot of us, our bodies are in a state of flux. Regardless of our size, or our end goals, we all want to look good. We want to wear clothes that make us feel confident. The question is, how can we do that if our bodies are changing? How do you build a wardrobe for a body in transition?

Because I am a human woman (allegedly), I have a few answers to that question. My size has fluctuated quite a bit over the years, due to my own sometimes healthy habits, or to pregnancy and breastfeeding, among other things. Like most military spouses, I’m building a wardrobe on a budget. I also try not to accumulate too many clothes in order to minimize PCS packing stress.

Find a tailor

This is my number one tip for anyone who wants to look good and feel comfortable, not just those of us who might be losing or gaining weight. Having a tailor alter a garment so that it fits you really well can turn something average into a wardrobe staple. It can also extend the life of clothes you already have. If you’re losing weight, it’s usually pretty easy to have seams taken in and hemlines and pants shortened. Instead of getting rid of things that don’t fit well anymore, see if they can be altered. Luckily there is no shortage of tailors around military bases. I also noticed while living in Europe and Asia that having clothes altered is a lot more commonplace there than it is here in the States, so take advantage of the abundance of tailors if you’re stationed overseas.

Look for stretch

Try to find items that stretch so you can comfortably wear them as you go up or down a size or two. I find that I’ve had the most success with knit skirts and dresses in this way. I have a jersey pencil skirt that I’ve owned for almost fifteen years and it has worked through several size fluctuations. I even wore it when I was pregnant and I’m still wearing it now that I’m at my pre-baby weight.

Wrap it up

Wrap dresses, tops, and skirts are your friend! They are super flattering on just about everyone, and they can be wrapped tighter or looser to accommodate your changing shape. Wrap dresses in particular come in lots of styles, and I love that a dress takes all the guesswork out of what to wear in the morning. Just put one on and go! Because wrap styles are so classic, it is easy to find them at varying price points. I really like this one from Boden at the moment.

Put a belt on it

I don’t just mean using belts to hold up pants that are too big. Please buy pants that fit if yours are falling off. I do think, however, that a belt can sometimes save a top or dress that has gotten slightly too loose. Cinching them in at the waist is a flattering and simple fix. It also works well with a lot of trendier styles, like maxi and midi dresses, or tunic tops.

Embrace leggings as pants

I used to believe that leggings were not really pants, but I have been converted. They are most definitely pants. They are the most versatile pants around, especially if you buy a pair made from a thicker, sturdier fabric with a high waist. They will comfortably stretch and shrink to accommodate at least two or three different sizes. The high-waisted styles don’t dig in, and if you get smaller, you can fold the waistband over your hips for a better fit. I personally like the high-waisted options from American Apparel and Victoria’s Secret.

Sometimes there aren’t shortcuts

It’s tempting to not replace important items of clothing until you’re sure you’re at a steady size, but if your underpinnings don’t fit properly, you’ll look and feel uncomfortable. I’m afraid there is no life hack for this one. Make sure you have a few bras and undergarments that fit you at your current size.

A very wise and well-dressed friend once told me that your clothes should fit you, you shouldn’t try to fit your clothes. Even if you have a changing body shape, it’s possible to find outfits that are comfortable and cute. Don’t wait until you’ve reached your fitness goals to wear clothes that make you feel good.

What are your transitional wardrobe tips?

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