Monthly Archives: June 2012

Fashion Isn’t Frivolous!

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I have always enjoyed clothes and shopping, but over the years I’ve also come to learn the power of what we wear to help improve our body image.

I’m not necessarily referring to being a “fashionista” or a slave to trends, but rather the way that clothing can help to enhance our positive points and encourage body acceptance.

“What Not to Wear”

I’m sure many of you have seen the television show, “What Not to Wear.”  In case you aren’t familiar with this program, the premise is that a woman gets nominated for a makeover by a friend or family member because she dresses in a way that’s either frumpy, age inappropriate, or just plain over the top.   That person then gets “ambushed” by the show’s hosts, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, and is shown secret footage of her “crimes against fashion.”

The hosts then throw away virtually all of her clothes (actually, the clothes are donated to charity) and give her “rules” to shop for new clothes that will best suit her body and lifestyle.  She is given $5,000 to shop for a new wardrobe and is also treated to a make-up consultation and a new hairstyle.   In the end, all of the women look infinitely better, and many of them also appear ten years younger and ten pounds thinner, all through the magic of clothing.

An Added Benefit…

The fact that the women look better is no big surprise.  It stands to reason that a new wardrobe, a flattering hairstyle, and professional make-up would make anyone shine.  What’s not so obvious is the transformation which takes place in the women’s confidence and body image.  They all stand up straighter, smile more, and reflect a genuine glow and sense of pride in themselves.

Many of them actually seem like different people in terms of their attitude and demeanor, in addition to their appearance.  It is a joy to watch the metamorphosis that takes place in the makeover contestants, and I don’t doubt that they end up experiencing a higher degree of self-esteem and happiness once they return to their everyday lives.

My Personal Experience

During my many years of struggling with eating disorders and negative body image, I adopted a kind of “quirky and bohemian” style of dress that primarily consisted of loose-fitting garments in which I could hide my body.  I always did my best to look nice and paid special attention to my grooming and accessorizing, yet my clothes didn’t flatter me nearly as well as they could.

As I entered my late 30s and was inching ever closer to the big 4-0, I decided it was time for a change.  Over the next few years, I gradually transformed the way I dressed.  I began to wear more form-fitting clothing that showcased the positive aspects of my figure.  Along the way, I started to feel better about my body.  I found myself feeling slimmer and more proportionate, as well as more vibrant, attractive, and confident.

I sometimes still struggle with body image issues and have days when I feel fat and down on myself.  But if I take the time to dress in attractive and flattering clothing, I get a boost of energy and a shot of extra self-esteem.  What I wear really does make a difference!  Clothing helps me to take more pride in my appearance and my body.

At age 45, I feel like I look better than I’ve ever looked!  Even though my weight may be a bit higher than my personal ideal, I can see that I look good in what I wear.  I am gradually learning to accept my body as it is and stop striving to reach unrealistic ideals.  If I wear clothing that fits, but doesn’t pinch or bind anywhere, I feel slimmer and more readily accept my present weight and size.

When I shop, I buy items that fit me now, not 5 or 10 pounds from now.  The size number is becoming less important to me as I focus more on fit and style.  After all, who else sees your size tag besides you?  If it bothers you too much, you can always cut it off!  I used to do that, but now I am more able to let it go and enjoy having clothes that fit, regardless of the number.

The Power of Clothing

Some will still say that fashion is frivolous, but I have a very different view.  I believe that clothing has the power to help us look and feel better, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or especially time-consuming.  Once you determine what looks good on you, you can apply the same basic formula to a variety of outfits and occasions, and you can find beautiful pieces at all price points.  While I love to shop at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, I have found some fabulous pieces at Target and JC Penney as well.    No one need know where you bought what you’re wearing; they will just notice how fabulous you look!

The Power of Tracking

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How often do you wear your clothes?  Do you have any idea?  Most of us think we wear the items in our closet far more often than we actually do.  It can be a useful practice to track what you’re wearing and how often.  This article highlights an easy way to do that, as well as my personal experience with tracking and how it’s helped me become a smarter shopper.

A Simple Tracking Method

I started tracking how often I wear my clothes at the beginning of 2011.  I decided to do this because I had an overly full closet, was shopping on a regular basis, and still found myself making purchasing mistakes.  I reasoned that if I learned what I was wearing most often, I could them buy more of those types of pieces and fewer of the items which languished in my closet.

My clever engineer husband devised a simple tracking method.  We purchased a box of tags on strings and hung a tag on each hanger in my closet.  For those items that are not stored on hangers, such as jeans and shoes, I created a tracking spreadsheet that I kept on a clipboard in my closet:

Clothing Tracking Spreadsheet

Wardrobe “All-Stars” and “Benchwarmers”

Clothing Tracking Hanger TagEach time I wore any item, I would mark an “X” either on the item’s hanging tag or on my spreadsheet.  I also used the “hanger trick” that I wrote about in a previous article.   My tracking only took a few seconds each day, but provided me with valuable data as the months went by.  I was able to see that I was wearing my jackets, cardigans, and jeans frequently and my tops, dress pants, and dresses less often.

At the end of the year, I took inventory of my wardrobe “all-stars” and “benchwarmers.”  All-stars were defined as clothes worn four or more times, but I actually wore a lot of them many more times than that.  My biggest “all-star” was a casual jacket that I wore an amazing 116 times in 2011!   Wardrobe “benchwarmers” were designated as things not worn at all or only worn one to two times over the course of the year.  Sadly, I had quite a few of those…

I learned I had far more tops than I needed.  All in all, only thirteen of my tops achieved all-star status!  I had also accumulated a number of shoes that were so uncomfortable, I only wanted to wear them to walk in and out of a restaurant.  Not surprisingly, such shoes aren’t very versatile and receive little wear.

Better Decisions & a More Manageable Closet

My shopping decisions have definitely improved since I started using my tracking system.  I now buy more jackets and fewer tops, as one example.  In combination with the regular closet purging I do (more on that on future articles…), my closet has become more manageable and a lot less cluttered.

I’m continuing to use my tracking system in 2012 and I have no plans of stopping this activity.  It is so quick and easy to do and it’s extremely beneficial.  Why don’t you try it for at least a few months to see how it works for you?