Monthly Archives: July 2012

Clothing Size Obsession

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Are you obsessed with the sizes of your clothing?

Do you refuse to buy an item if it is a larger size than you normally wear?

A recent article on the Weight Watchers website describes this phenomenon.  Many women have a specific size in mind when shopping for clothing and are extremely hesitant to buy anything larger than that “magic” size.

Size Inconsistencies

Some highlights of the Weight Watchers article include:

  • There is no standard sizing convention among women’s clothing manufacturers.  Often, the more high-end the designer, the smaller the size.  Even within a single brand, there are disparities.
  • “Vanity sizing,” in which measurements run larger than standard, is used by the majority of manufacturers today. One exception is the dress-pattern market, in which the measurements for the McCall’s size 8 correspond to the current 0 or 00 on the Banana Republic website!
  • Vanity sizing is driven entirely by marketing psychology.  Women like to fit into a smaller size and single digits sound better than double digits.
  • The average American woman is 5’4.5” and wears a size 12 top and a size 14 bottom.
  • The dream size for most women on the Weight Watchers plan hovers between an 8 and a 10.

My Reflections…

After I read the article, I reflected upon how it relates to me and my situation.  I know I feel good when I can fit into a smaller size even when I haven’t lost any weight and know it’s just a reflection of vanity sizing.  On the flip side, I feel a bit deflated when I am forced to grab the next size up when shopping for clothes.  Despite the fact that I am aware of the random nature of women’s clothing sizes, I still fall prey to the psychological pitfalls inherent in size variance.

A Plethora of Sizes!

In my closet right now, I have pants and skirts ranging from sizes 4 to 10 and tops from sizes extra-small to large.  All of these items fit me at my current body weight and size.   This fact alone should be enough evidence of size insanity to stop me from obsessing over the numbers when shopping.   In truth, I am less reluctant to grab one size larger than I used to be, but if I ever need to grab an item two sizes up, forget about it!  This size madness doesn’t work in the reverse direction, however.  Should I ever need to size down two sizes, bring it on!

No One But You Knows Your Size!

The funny thing is that unless one is wearing a pair of Levi’s jeans with the size plastered on the back, no one else knows what size we are wearing.   The important thing is whether or not the item fits and is flattering, not what size is on the tag inside the garment.

One suggestion for getting around size anxiety is to cut the size tag off after purchasing the item.  That way, you won’t need to flog yourself over the number and can instead celebrate the fact that you found something that you love and which flatters your unique figure.   This suggestion may be helpful to those of us who obsess over the meaningless numbers that are clothing sizes.  Clip it out, and then forget about it!

What Do You Think?

I would love to hear what others think about the Weight Watchers article and the issue of women’s clothing sizes.

  • What is your experience with clothing sizing when shopping?
  • Does the size of a garment affect whether or not you will buy it – or even try it on?
  • Are you more likely to shop at stores in which you can fit into smaller sizes?
  • Do you feel that the sizing of women’s clothing should be standardized, as has been proposed from time to time?

Closet Audit Tips

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When someone is interested in cultivating a new personal style and image, the best place to start the process is by doing a closet audit.  A closet audit involves going through all of your clothing, shoes, and accessories and assessing everything based upon your image goals as well as the color, style, fit, and fabric of each item.  You then release the items that no longer your body, lifestyle, and style preferences, and compile a shopping list to fill in any wardrobe gaps that have been identified.

An Effective and Liberating Process

The closet audit process is not only highly effective; it is also liberating, cathartic, and empowering.  At the end of what can sometimes be a lengthy and tiring process, you’re left with a nicely organized closet filled only with the pieces that support your image and style goals for success in all key life areas.

I feel that everyone can benefit from conducting a closet audit at least once per year.  It can be difficult to do because of the emotions that are often attached to our clothing, but it’s my hope that the questions I offer below will help make things easier.

Try Everything On and Ask Yourself These Questions

I suggest that you set aside at least a few hours to go through everything in your closet.  Ideally, you should try everything on and ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do I love it?  (Rate each item on scale of 1-10; if less than 8, alter or donate!  See “The Power of Alterations” for information and suggestions on tailoring your clothes.)
  • Does it fit?  (If it’s too tight, either donate or store elsewhere if you think it might fit again soon.  If too loose, consider alterations if you still love the item.)
  • Is it flattering?  (Does it highlight the parts of your body you love and downplay any areas you might not love as much?)
  • Is the color good for my skin tone?
  • Is it age-appropriate?
  • Is it my style?  (If you’re not sure of your style, tear photos out of catalogs and magazines of things you love.  Compare to what is in your closet. Also see this article for more tips on finding your personal style.)
  • Does it fit my lifestyle?  (We often buy things for “someone else’s life.” Your wardrobe should be appropriate for who you are and what you do.  More on this HERE.)
  • Have I worn it in the past year?  (In most cases, barring formal wear and a few sentimental pieces, items not worn in over a year should go!)
  • Do I feel good when I wear it?  (You want to feel attractive and confident in your clothes and ready to take on life’s important events and challenges!)
  • Do I receive compliments when I wear it?
  • Would I buy this item today?  (Ideally, your answer should be yes!  Wardrobe mistakes and outdated pieces should be passed on.)

Perhaps Enlist an Assistant

It can be helpful to invite a friend or family member to assist you with the process (and offer to do the same for him or her), especially if you know that person will offer honesty and constructive criticism.  In other words, don’t ask your mother to help you if she thinks everything looks good on you.  Remember, you want to edit your wardrobe down to a more manageable size and have it support your image and style goals.

Just Do It!

I hope the questions and suggestions above will be helpful to you when you do your next (and perhaps your first!) closet audit.  A closet audit may take a lot of time and energy, but the rewards are extremely powerful.   The bottom line is that you should follow the advice of Nike – Just Do It!

Body Confidence

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Awhile back, I watched an episode of “The Tonight Show” featuring a plus-sized model named Ashley Graham.  ABC had recently refused to air her Lane Bryant ad during “Dancing with the Stars” on the grounds that it was too revealing.

Jay Leno heard the story and felt ABC’s decision was ridiculous, particularly in light of the many Victoria’s Secret ads regularly shown on television.  Leno wanted to increase awareness of broadcast double-standards and discrimination toward plus-sized models, so he invited Ashley Graham to appear on his show.

Confidence, Magnetism, and Self-Love

Watching Ms. Graham on “The Tonight Show” elicited a strong and unexpected reaction in me.  When Jay Leno introduced her, Ashley glided out on the stage dressed entirely in spandex!  While she is a very beautiful woman, she’s definitely much curvier and voluptuous than most models we see in magazines and on runways (I read that she’s a size 16 at 5’9”).

While I didn’t feel the spandex ensemble was the most flattering thing she could have worn (this applies to pretty much anyone, mind you… – the outfit above is a much better option!), that’s not what struck me most about Ashley Graham.  What I noticed first and foremost was her abundance of … confidence.  She carried herself with pride and poise and looked every bit as statuesque, sexy, and elegant as any movie star who might walk onto the Tonight Show stage.  I was mesmerized by her magnetism and evident self-love.

Body Image Lessons from Ashley Graham

What can we learn from Ashley Graham?  Here are a few thoughts for women (including myself at times…) who could use a shot of “body assurance serum”:

  • Sexy and beautiful are not attached to a certain size or to a societal ideal.
  • There are many definitions of beauty, not just one!
  • If a woman acts and feels attractive, others will see her that way as well.
  • If you love your body, others will, too!
  • If you carry yourself with pride and “own” every inch of your body, you will feel more confident.

Self-Love at Any Size!

We can’t all look like Victoria’s Secret models, nor should we.  But we can strive to be our very best and love ourselves through each step of our life journey.  We can learn to love our bodies for what they do for us and for the fact that they carry us through our lives faithfully and steadily.  We can learn to embrace and celebrate our best points and release our judgment about those parts we don’t like so much (clothing can definitely help in this pursuit!).

We can end the war within and enjoy our precious, beautiful, and all too brief lives.  That is my solemn wish – for all women (and men, too) who struggle with body image issues.  We can learn to love our bodies as they are and one day stride onto the “stages” of our lives with the grace and assurance of Ashley Graham!

Wear Everything in Your Closet!

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Declutter your closetMany of us have far too many clothes in our closets!  Contrary to what you might believe, having more clothing does not make it easier to get dressed.  In fact, a preponderance of choices can be overwhelming and make the dressing process far more difficult than it needs to be.

If you love and wear everything you own, it can make sense to maintain a larger wardrobe.  However, I’ve found that this isn’t the case for most people.  Far more common is the situation in which there are a lot of unworn garments in a person’s closet.  This can make it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.  Your “star players” can be obscured by a bunch of ho-hum garments that are merely occupying valuable space in an overly stuffed closet.  That’s a situation we want to avoid!

A Simple Tip – Wear Everything!

The tip I’m about to offer is very simple and straightforward and is particularly useful when combined with my previous tips, “The Hanger Trick”” and “The Power of Tracking.”  My suggestion is that you push yourself to wear items that haven’t been worn in a while.  See, I told you it was simple!

If you’re like most people, when you go through your closet deciding what to wear, you pass over certain garments time and time again.  I suggest that at least a few times per week, you actually challenge yourself to wear one of those frequently rejected pieces.  Pull it out, create an outfit with it, and wear it!

Actually wear the item out of the house.  It may be better to wear the questionable piece on a short errand or low-risk situation (a first date may not be an ideal situation for test-driving your clothing!).  That way, if you find yourself hating it, you won’t have to keep it on for very long.

Wear It, Then Make a Decision

This is a two-part tip.  The first part is to wear the item in question.  The second part, and this is very important, is to make a decision about it!  When you get undressed later that day, decide what you want to do with the garment.  Did you find an unexpected “diamond in the rough” and wonder why you never wore such a great item of clothing?  If so, great!  Hang it up and vow to wear it again regularly.

If you couldn’t wait to get the garment off your body, you should know what to do.   If it’s in good condition, add it to a donation bag for charity.  After all, just because you don’t love something, it doesn’t mean someone else won’t.  One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, as the old saying goes.

Aim for All 8’s to 10’s in Your Closet

Some items will fall into more of a gray area, but I always tell people they should aim to have all of their clothes be “10s” or very close to that.  If something is an 8 or a 9, it is a keeper.  Below that, do you really want to wear something that doesn’t make you feel fabulous?  None of us really needs a huge wardrobe and “8” to “10” pieces can be found at all price points, so why keep things that are just so-so?

Alterations can definitely take some garments from ho-hum to magnificent and many people forget about this valuable opportunity.  If you really like a garment but it’s just not right, try taking it to a tailor to see what can be done.  I’ve rescued many a garment by having my personal “miracle worker” (for those in the Point Loma area of San Diego, I highly recommend Tiffany’s Alterations) perform her magic on it.

A Personal Example…

FYI… I personally use all of the tips I recommend on this blog.  As we’re now into the second half of 2012 and there are still items in my closet that haven’t been worn this year, I use this tip almost daily at this point.

Just yesterday, I wore a black lace top that hadn’t been worn since 2011.  I discovered I still like the top, but it’s an odd length – too short for pants and too long for skirts.  It’s also longer in the front than in the back.  I’ve decided to shorten the top and even out the length all around.  I feel confident I will then love this top and wear it regularly with skirts,  However, I would have never figured this out if I had left it unworn in the closet for months – or even years – on end.

Goal – A More Streamlined Closet

I hope this tip will be helpful for you in better managing your wardrobe.  Remember to wear those questionable items in your closet and then make a decision about what to do with them – keep (and wear!), alter, or donate.   Over time, you will be rewarded with a more streamlined, functional, and pleasing closet.

Try On Again at Home

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After you shop, I always recommend that you try your new purchases on again once you arrive home.

There are several reasons for this recommendation:

1. Harsh Lighting & “Skinny Mirrors”

Shopping Tip - Try On Again at Home

It is easier to assess an item in a familiar environment.

Store lighting is artificial and often harsh and some stores are known to have “skinny mirrors.”

(If you’re a “Seinfeld” fan, you might remember the episode in which Elaine bought an ill-fitting dress at Barney’s due to this phenomenon.)

2. New Pieces Should Play Well with Others

You can try on the new item with your existing pieces to ensure that it “plays well” with them.  I recommend that each new garment should be easily incorporated into at least three outfits (the more, the better!).

3. Test Drive New Garments

You can “test drive” the new pieces more easily at home.  Move around in them, sit down, do the things you would normally do.

This is especially important with shoes.  When you try on shoes in a store, you’re often walking only short distances on a carpeted surface.  You’ll get a better sense of long-term comfort if you wear the shoes around your house for an hour or more.

4. Store Return Policies

Some stores have strict return policies.  If you try things on as soon as possible at home and end up determining that something won’t work out, you can schedule the return for a convenient time within the store’s return window.

5. Don’t Let this Happen to You!

In most overly packed closets, you’ll likely encounter unworn garments with tags still attached.  In many cases, these items have been in the person’s closet for months or even years and can no longer be returned.  This tip – try everything on again at home – would likely eliminate at least a portion of such problems.

I hope this tip will be helpful for you on your future shopping excursions. Stay tuned for more shopping tips to help you get the most out of your clothing dollars and avoid shopping pitfalls.