Clothing and the Transitional Body
If you’re a guy it’s quite plausible that your wardrobe can remain the same from your 20’s until your 40’s when you start to get love handles.
If you’re a women you need at least 5 sets of clothes because you’re body is in constant transition. Some of these transitions include:
- It’s that time of month
- I’ve gained weight
- I’m losing weight
- I started menopause and/or I turned 40; what the hell is happening to my body now???
During these times of transition your closet can seem like a landmine, so here are some ways that I’ve suggested to my clients to dealt with them and how I’ve deal with some of them myself.
Four days after I peed on the stick and turned it positive I went a little kooky and bought $300 worth of clothes from Ross. I decided that I wasn’t going to buy maternity clothes, I would just buy clothes in various larger sizes.
Don’t do that.
Pregnancy doesn’t mean your entire body will gain weight, just your breasts and belly. That’s why they make special clothes called “maternity”. Yes, they are more expensive than regular clothes but they give your baby bump the support it needs and can be form fitting everywhere else. Fashions are way cuter today then the stuff you saw your mom in when she was pregnant with you, so this is money well spent.
- Share/Trade/Borrow. Find another new mom or someone who is ahead of you in trimester time and see if she will loan you some clothes. It will save you a lot of money and chances are she will be so sick of seeing them in her closet she will gladly give them away.
- Top Secret.
If you are trying to hide your pregnancy until you get past the first trimester, suit jackets are helpful since they hide your shape.
- Big Foot. During the first pregnancy chances are your foot will grow at least half a shoe size. I have no idea why this happens. The good news it that it only happens with the first pregnancy. The bad news is that your foot will never shrink back to it’s original size, so if you have a billion shoes this could upsetting for you.
Post Pregnancy Clothes
First, if you are post partum, take a deep breath. You just gave birth to a beautiful baby and your body did amazing things. It deserves a prize and you are a rock star.
Second, you’re whole body is different now. Remember how big you thought your boobies were when you were pregnant? Yeah, wait till the milk comes in! And then you discover your breasts are two deflated balloons once you stop nursing. *Sigh*
You’re stomach looks different. When you were pregnant you had that cute baby bump and your skin was firm. Now it’s all saggy and may have stretch marks on it. Your hormones are nuts, the baby is crying and you wonder when you will ever shake the baby weight. But take heart, this too shall pass.
- Don’t go shopping right now. You may be sick of your maternity clothes but keep the shirts in a box or bag in your closet in case you get pregnant again and keep your favorite 2nd trimester jeans out. It takes a while to stop looking pregnant, so you will want clothes that feel good against your waist. Those elastic waist bands are also extremely practical, especially after your second child when you’ve got a baby strapped to your chest in a Baby Bjorn, you’re sitting on a toilet in a public restroom, and you’re grabbing your toddler’s leg as she tries to crawl under the patrician into the next stall. Do you really want to deal with a button fly in this situation? (And if you are a man, thank you for reading my blog.) Also, during this transitional phase, if you feel the urge to shop, buy cute clothes for your baby. It’s way more fun and trust me in less than 3 years he will not let you dress him anymore.
- Keep nursing pads in your bra and an extra shirt or jacket with you at all times. The wacky thing about nursing is that sometimes you have no control over when your milk comes out. I remember one time I went to work and looked at a picture of my baby next to my computer and next thing I knew I had milked myself. So I held my briefcase against my chest, escaped out the back door and drove home for some new clothes. #BePrepared
- Play up your best features. If you’re a small busted woman like me you will seriously enjoy your new cleavage. Make the most of it and enjoy the v-necklines. Feeling like you’ve got extra folds of skin? Wear shirts that bunch at the sides to hide the rolls.
I Gained Weight
If you’ve read my blog posts over the years you know a few things about me: I used to be 50 lbs. overweight, even when I’m fit I can gain 3 lbs. over night if it’s that time of month (or I eat pasta,) and my weight fluctuates depending upon whether I’m in competition prep for a bodybuilding show or it’s the off season when I’m trying to gain muscle and need to eat more. So I have had clothes that ranged from size 1 – size 14 in my closet over the years.
- Be honest with yourself. When I was borderline obese I used to tell myself that I was mostly eating ok. But you know what? Your pants don’t lie. If they don’t fit over your thighs and you can’t zip them you really need to dress for your size today, not what you were a few years ago or what you think you will be at some point in the future. Being able to sit without ripping the seam is a wonderful thing.
- Be kind to yourself. For the longest time I refused to buy clothes that were the correct size because it would be admitting defeat. So I wore the same five t-shirts and my husband’s jeans. This felt like punishment. F*** that. You need to feel beautiful no matter what your size is. Last year I gained some weight back when I was taking my mom to chemo and physical therapy because I’m an emotional eater and was so stressed out. It was very humbling to have to buy bigger jeans, but I did it, reminding myself that this was a temporary situation and I would get myself back on track.
- Aspirational clothes. In business management classes they told us to dress not for our current job but the job we wanted three years from now. Does this translate to buying clothes a size smaller than you are? Well, it depends. When I was losing weight during my first competition I bought some white sweat pants (!) in a very small size and wore them to motivate myself. It totally backfired. Instead of acknowledging how far I had come I focused on how much more I had to lose and I felt really bad.
But another time I bought myself a really cute outfit and kept it visible in my closet but didn’t actually put it on until I met my weight milestone. That worked out. So I guess the tip is, yes you can buy an outfit in a smaller size but don’t actually put it on until you’re sure it will fit.
I’m Losing Weight
Next to first pregnancy shopping, this has to be the happiest reason to shop for clothes that I’ve experienced. But it does bring with it a whole new set of dilemmas.
- Shop in your closet. It’s so much fun to be able to put on jeans you haven’t worn in years. Before you spend a ton of cash, see what you already have. One of the things I discovered was that a lot of my shirts that were the right size were now wildly out of fashion with my babymama body. Remember those baby-doll T’s and crop tops that were all the rage at the turn of the millennium? Yeah, well when you give birth that should make a rule that they will give you a baby and in return you have to hand over all your crop tops and baby-doll T’s. So if you are going outside your closet, start with some new shirts.
- Should you keep the big pants? Oh, this was a mental nightmare for me. It was totally easy to box up the size 14’s and 12’s no problem. Even 10’s and 9’s were a no brainer. But 8’s? What if I gained the weight back? I’d hate to have to buy them again. For me size 8 was the demarcation line.
If I get to that size it historically takes less than a month for me to balloon into bigger sizes so I did give it away. I kept one pair of size 5 jeans for the off season and holidays (cause everyone wants to eat Christmas cookies, right?) and let the rest go to Goodwill.
- Dress for your body as it is now. My brother recently lost 90 lbs. He kept wearing his old pants with a belt and it just looked odd. He was not used to seeing himself as a fit man because he had been obese for so long, but once he acknowledged that this was the new him and he bought the right size he felt (and looked) a lot better.
I Turned 40 and/or Started Menopause, What the Hell Do I Wear Now???
Some of my friends in their late 40’s/early 50’s are going through this now and from what they tell me it’s a total pain in the ass. The night sweats can happen during the day, all of the fat in their body has migrated to their stomach and their arms are now flabby.
Why is this happening? Read here: Why Do Women Gain Weight After 40? After Menopause?
- Wear layers. If you’re going through menopause your hormones are going nuts and you can have hot flashes at any time. This can be particularly frustrating if you live in a cold place where sweaters are the norm. So wear a t-shirt underneath a lighter sweater or cardigan. Keep a back up t-shirt nearby in case you sweat through the one you’re wearing.
- Dress your “age”?
I have some really cute skirts but I’m afraid if I wear them in public someone will say, “Lisa, your youth is texting you. It wants it’s skirt back.” If I’m feeling awkward it’s not worth it. By the same token, I don’t allow “society” to dictate to me what I should wear or how I should behave, as is evidenced by my bikini with 5″ heels ensemble and fondness for pole dancing. My personal guideline here is I wear it as long as I feel confident in it.
- Clear the clutter/save a few things. Most women my age have a closet full of clothes from every decade of their life. This is a great time to practice the art of letting go. Keep a few pieces from your wild 20’s for nostalgia and to show your kids that you were once a really cool person and get rid of all the cheap stuff from Forever 21. Unless you are planning to get pregnant again, get rid of the maternity clothes from seven years ago. Once you get more space, fill it with clothes that fit your body as it is now. Some people feel bad about getting older but I think your 40’s are fabulous because you really know yourself. Let the authentic you show up in your style.
Hope those tips help! And remember, no matter your age or transitional stage in life, the sexiest thing you will ever wear is confidence.
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two.
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