As a Mom Style Mentor, the #1 struggle that I hear from women is that they can’t find clothes that fit. Many are becoming acquainted with a new postpartum body that doesn’t look or feel like their “former self”. Many are experiencing health changes that have affected their weight. Many, like me, have put on some pounds in the past couple of years, and our jeans just don’t fit quite right anymore.
So how do we dress a body that’s changed? How do we find clothing that fits and flatters? Here are five tips. I’m starting with the first and most important tip first, because I don’t want anyone to miss it.
Honor your right-now body with clothes that fit in this season
Your body is incredible. It’s been through a lot. Perhaps it’s nurtured new life, both inside and out. Perhaps it’s been through autoimmune health struggles leading to weight fluctuation. Perhaps it’s borne the brunt of these stressful recent years. Your body is absolutely doing its best.
The very first and most important thing you can do when shopping for your right-now body is simply to do it. I hear it all the time: “I’ll buy new clothes after I lose this weight,” or “I’m not comfortable in my body right now, I don’t want to waste money on clothes.”
My friend. You are worthy. You are worthy of clothes that fit right now. In this season. Even if you won’t wear them for more than a couple of months. You are worthy of feeling confident and vibrant and powerful. Stepping into clothes that fit you now can help you reclaim a little bit of self that you may have lost in motherhood. Please don’t wait until you’ve lost the weight. Your right-now body is worthy.
Understand your body shape
There’s no magic formula to finding clothes that fit. You’ll always find some misses (maybe a lot of them) before you find a hit. But you can equip yourself with knowledge to remove some of the frustration.
Understanding your body shape and measurements can help you identify the styles that will work best on you. There’s a reason why that dress looked adorable on the fashion influencer, but just didn’t work on you. You’re probably not shaped the same.
Knowing and understanding your body shape is a tool to add to your arsenal. It’s not a set of rules to become rigid about. Ultimately, you can wear whatever you want to wear. I have a free guide to help you identify your body shape and choose styles that flatter you, as well as learn how to take a few measurements to make shopping easier. You can get the guide here.
Knowing your measurements can make online shopping so much easier. I’ve even been known to take my measuring tape into stores where I can’t use the dressing room. When shopping online, many retailers will include measurements such as waist, rise, and inseam for pants, and bust, waist, and length for tops and dresses. If you’re shopping on a site for preowned clothing such as Poshmark, you can even ask the seller for measurements.
These numbers are taken when the item is laying flat, so a 16” waist measurement on a pair of high rise jeans would be a 32” waist, or a size 12. I always recommend measuring an item of clothing that fits you really well, and then using those measurements to look for new clothing.
Knowing your measurements and your body shape can help you choose styles and sizes right the first time, so you don’t have to order multiple sizes and return the ones that don’t fit (we won’t dive into the issue of what happens to returns here, but if you’re trying to shop more sustainably, then cutting down on returns is important).
Choose preowned for the clothes you’ll replace soon
If you’re in a season of weight fluctuation, it can be hard to justify the purchase of new clothes, when you know you won’t wear them for long. For the clothing that you won’t wear long, opt to shop preowned.
You can often find your favorite brands for a fraction of the retail price. When I want to shop in a store, I love consignment stores and Buy Sell Trade stores such as Clothes Mentor, Buffalo Exchange, or Uptown Cheapskate. The selection is generally more curated and more organized in these stores than in a traditional thrift store. Google “Buy Sell Trade stores near me” to find one in your area.
For online shopping, I love Poshmark and Thredup. Both are massive online marketplaces, and they can easily become overwhelming. Utilize their filters to drill down by size, color, and even material. The more specific you can be in your search, the more helpful your results. On Poshmark, use keywords such as “J. Crew blue cotton floral button-down size 8”
There are also a lot of individuals selling preowned clothing through Instagram or through their own website. A couple of my favorites are instagram.com/pine.and.oak.threads, instagram.com/__curatedgoods__, and my own website, thebluebirdcollective.com.
By choosing preowned clothing, you’re not only saving money, but you’re also helping to reduce the demand for the production of new products from retailers. There is way more than enough clothing already in circulation.
Invest in a few timeless items that always fit
If you’re in a season when your size is fluctuating, you likely won’t want to invest a lot into clothing that you won’t be wearing for long. Rather, if you’re craving something new, invest in a few high-quality pieces that will last in your wardrobe for years, and will still work even when your size changes. Shoes, outerwear, and bags are a few examples.
If you want high quality pieces, but still want to shop preowned, there are a ton of great options. Poshmark, Thredup, Tradesy, and The Real Real are just a few examples of online marketplaces where you can find timeless, classic pieces.
I often get asked about the pieces that are worth investing in. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but a few of the timeless basics that I’d invest in are: a long khaki or navy trench coat, a classic leather belt, slip-on leather mules, and a chic, simple leather crossbody bag. These pieces won’t go out of style, and will last in your closet for years to come.
Add a few personality pieces that you love
When it feels like nothing fits, it’s easy to fall into a rut of wearing the same yoga pants and t-shirt every day. After a while, your sense of identity becomes muddled. You can honor your right-now body in your current season by adding in a few pieces that you love, that feel like “you.”
If you have no idea what “you” feels like, I love using Pinterest to create a mood board. Use search terms such as “polished mom style” or “boho style” or “athleisure mom style”. Pin with abandon, adding everything that catches your attention. After you have 20-30 pins or more, scroll through a look for themes. Are you pinning a lot of floral and ruffles? Is it classic white blouses and black cigarette pants? Is it easy-going jeans and band t-shirts? You don’t have to fit in any style boxes, but this can help you identify common themes.
Armed with this vision, go to Poshmark or your local consignment store or Buy Sell Trade store, and find a couple of pieces that you love.
Then wear them whenever you feel like it! Even if no one is going to see you today except for your toddler, put on the “real clothes” and show up as your confident, vibrant self.
My hope for you is that you can learn to dress your right-now body with confidence. When we honor our right-now body and treat it the way we’d treat our “ideal” body, it can help us step into a more vibrant, empowered version of ourselves.
Find more from Caroline on her website: https://thebluebirdcollective.com/ or Instagram: @thebluebirdcollective_.