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If the Clothes Fit: Making Your Wardrobe Work During Weight Loss

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It’s a good problem to have, really, but how do you deal with the fact that your clothes are too big but you don’t want to invest in a whole new wardrobe for your in-between sizes? Actually, if you had as much weight to lose as I did or more, you would need several wardrobes in a number of sizes.

I’ve heard women say they aren’t going to buy clothes that fit because they don’t want to spend money on wardrobe until they read their goal. I haven’t been able to do this. I tried, but I just don’t feel good in oversized clothes. People who’ve never been in this situation don’t understand. They think it must feel great to be swimming in your clothes, and on some level it does, but hiding your hard-earned shrinking figure within your 2X tunics is somewhat…depressing. You should feel good about how far you’ve come and you should look sassy. But how do you accomplish this without breaking the bank? During my own wild, weight loss journey, I’ve found a way.

I don’t know about you, but my problem is that I have WAY better taste than my finances allow. It seems I have Jamaican Blue Mountain taste with an instant coffee budget. Plus, the minute I can fit into a smaller size I cannot get rid of the clothes I just shrunk out of fast enough. There’s something celebratory and “no turning back now” about it. Like the Russian tradition of downing a glass of wine after a toast and flinging the glass into the burning fireplace. So, I take the best of my large clothes and bring them to my favorite resale shop. Actually, I have a series of three stores that I take them to.

I start with the highest end, the one that makes me the most money, and whatever they don’t take, I bring to the next one, and so on. I know, time consuming, but with the money and credit I receive from the sales, I can buy clothes in my current size without guilt! In fact at One More Time in downtown Montpelier, I have $180 in credit right now, and the coffers are constantly refilling since I keep upgrading (or down-“sizing”, as it were) pieces. Not only is it fabulous when you are dying for some retail therapy and have no money, but it allows you to keep refreshing your wardrobe and stay fly.



My advice is to anyone looking to try this is to find a resale shop in a wealthy area near you as they will have the best choice of good quality clothes. They will be more picky about what you bring in to sell, but don’t take it personally. It serves you that the shop is known to have good clothes: more people to buy yours. You might not be up to my three-tiered approach (it used to be four, but the lowest end shop was just not worth the time for the money I got. Besides, my son says the store smells like old ladies), but if you can get money for any of your larger clothes, it is worth it.

Check the policies of the particular store. Some require appointments and most have particular days of the month when they accept consignments. Some stores give cash up front, but keep in mind these will pay you the least money as they are gambling on your clothes selling. Consignment shops, on the other hand, will only give you money if the item sells, but you usually get a larger percentage of the sale. Most are around 40-50% of what they make on selling your clothes. Other stores will only give you credit. Here you usually get the most fashion bang for your resale buck since they don’t have to fork out any money. East Coast resale chain Second Time Around even takes clothes online these days. It doesn’t get any easier than that.



You can also sell your larger clothing items on eBay. In my experience, however, this is only worth it with the higher end pieces. If you want to go this route, be prepared to let your item go for way less than you had hoped, cause if that week no one is looking for a size 18 cocktail dress, you might only get one bidder or none at all. The best way to sell on eBay is not to set too high a starting price, and ship for free if you can. Again, be prepared to let some things go for less than you feel they’re worth. Other times you might have people fighting over your size 16 Talbots blouse, you just never know. But be sure to take good, enticing pictures. Nothing ensures an item won’t sell like an out of focus, dark, camera phone shot. Do your research. Look for similar items that have sold in the past so you can see what they might go for. Sometimes it’s just not worth it and you’re better off taking them to the resale shop.


With a little help from my friends.

My absolute favorite way to get new, smaller clothes is from friends. Just last week I gave a box of plus sized clothes to a friend who is 30 lbs into her weight loss journey and looking for stuff in her new size. Two days later another friend who has reached her goal showed up at the gym with a garbage bag filled with medium sized exercise clothes for me. It was like Christmas! Yes, sometimes their style is different from yours, but often you end up with items you wouldn’t normally pick off a rack but they look great! Ask your friend ahead of time what they would like to do with items you might not want. They might prefer to sell it or give it to someone else. But remember, pay it forward. When you move on to smaller size, give some of the clothes to someone else who is not as far along in their quest. It will come back to you, I promise.


Clothing Swaps

Clothing swaps are another popular (and free) way to spruce up and resize your wardrobe. If you are unfamiliar with the trend, a group of friends or colleagues get together and they each bring some clothes they don’t want anymore, and they swap amongst the group. The wonderful thing is, your friends are happy that their things have a loving home and you get new outfits for free! You can’t beat that with a stick!

Now I recognize that some people might not be comfortable with buying used clothes. Rest assured that good resale stores will only take in clean, like-new items, but if it still bothers you, stick to outlets or discount stores like Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. There is no reason to pay full price for clothes you won’t be wearing long. But I can also say that another nice thing about resale is that you can buy designer labels you normally couldn’t afford, which, I can tell you from experience, feels really good.

Again, like with the tools I covered last week, keep an open mind. What better time to step outside your comfort zone and try some new fashions than when you’ve lost some weight. If you’re not up to the sport of updating your wardrobe every ten pounds or so, at least find a way to keep at least a few nice pieces in your current size. It is such a mood lifter and makes it feel celebratory, as it should be. Each size you go down is a major milestone towards being a healthier, happier person. So why not look hip and stylish while you’re walking the path?


What credentials do I have to be blogging about health and weight loss? Nada! Bupkis! I don’t know shit! But I find that I’m inspired by people’s stories and I’m hoping that, perhaps, I can inspire others with mine. All I can do is share my experiences, not give any answers. Hell, I’m barely in control of my own life and body; I’m certainly not going to tell you what you should do with yours. So, if you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy, for God’s sake, see your doctor! Make her your best friend! I’m sure she will not only be overjoyed at your desire to get healthy, but will help you do it in the safest way for you and your body.

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About Ann Hagman Cardinal

  • Debra A

    Thank you so much! It’s all new to me trying to figure out how clothes should be fitting on my slimming body.. the in-between stages are the worst for me. I found this link off of Google.. do you have a main blog page? I would love to read more from you. Thank you, again.

  • Ann Cardinal

    Thank you, Lori! I’m so happy to hear you like it.

  • Lori Williams

    Another great blog post! I so love this blog!

  • Ann Cardinal

    I hear ya Treva! I’m all about the hand-me-downs! It’s like Christmas all the time! 🙂

  • Treva

    Ann, that was AWESOME! Loved the disclaimer the most, but also have to say that I agree with your clothes swapping! If it weren’t for hand-me-downs, I’d look like a rag-a-muffin! It’s used, it’s free, it fits – IT’S FOR ME!!! Nice job!