(Photo by AllGo - An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash)
Have you put on weight during the coronavirus lockdown?
If you have put on a few pounds, please do not beat yourself up about it.
I know that I have already gained about half a stone during lockdown. I am needing the comfort of well- loved foods, and these, as well as the results of my long-dormant baking skills, have found their way to my waistline!
Remember: lockdown did not happen for us to set up big changes in our lives; it is happening to keep us safe. We might have had great plans to start exercising, eating healthily, or drinking less alcohol, but we are in the middle of a huge change where nothing is normal in comparison to the past.
During this period of imposed change, we are dealing with our lives as we have never known them before. We have to develop ‘a new normal’. (As an aside: Is that phrase beginning to grate on you, as much as it is on me?!) Adding further changes, when our whole life is changed, is a big ask for anyone; which is why I say, don’t beat yourself up.
To get a great insight on this topic – especially around the science of why we put on weight - listen to Wendy Hill Nutrition and Wellness’s ‘Are you really going to eat that?’ podcast from 7th May on weight gain during lockdown.
Other people look good when they are overweight; why don’t I?
Regardless of what we weigh, we need our clothes to fit us, and above all, to give us confidence and make us feel good. When we gain weight, we are preoccupied with the fat areas of our body, and often cease to look at our overall body shape.
Many women tend to drape themselves in baggy clothes, in dark colours, to hide the fat. But this often has the opposite effect and makes them look fatter than they really are. Their weight gain maybe makes them feel guilty, which makes them feel awful; the way they look in their clothes only adds to that feeling.
They are continually thinking: ‘When I can get into that dress/skirt/pair of trousers again, I will…’ which takes the focus away from the present and into the future. The too-small items in their wardrobes mock them with the fact that they can no longer wear them. Whenever any of us do this, we look back to the past and bemoan the present, which perpetuates the cycle.
To answer the question at the top of this section: the reason why overweight, even extremely fat, people can look good while carrying excess weight, is that they dress themselves as well as they possibly can AS THEY ARE NOW. They look to the present and make sure that what they have fits them.
What action should I take? First things first
First, try everything on. This period of lockdown is a perfect opportunity to take everything out of your wardrobe and try it all on in front of a mirror, so you can see how it looks now. Be honest! Divide the clothes into piles: what still fits, what may fit again someday, and what may never fit again.
Be realistic about what no longer fits you. It you find clothes that are never going to fit you again, there should be no guilt in removing them. Sizes are just a number, so try not to get too fixated on: ‘But I used to be able to wear size x’.
Please don’t hang on to these too-small items, otherwise your wardrobe will be full of clothes that no longer work for you. Donate, recycle, sell, repurpose them: please don't send them to landfill.
If you have smaller-sized clothes that represent your weight goal, keep those, but be realistic! Don’t hold onto size 8 clothes if you are now a size 20; aim for a size 14, say. You can work towards the bigger goal (or should that be smaller?!) further down the line. Take baby steps, then your goal will come into sight more easily.
I always say to clients, you must love your clothes. If any piece is only okay, then it is not good enough.
What about clothes that I'm really attached to?
Many of us have an emotional attachment to our clothes which an impartial observer, looking at the same set of clothing, would not have. That makes you hang on to pieces that you still care about, even though - if you are honest - you recognise that you’ll never wear them again. So be very firm with yourself and take on that role of the disinterested observer in front of your own wardrobe! This is the perfect opportunity to remove the clothes that no longer work for your lifestyle.
If there are items which have a real sentimental value such as: a particular gift, a family heirloom, or your wedding dress, then take them out of your wardrobe, pack them carefully and store them in vacuum bags in the loft or under the bed. You won’t regret having parted with them, but equally, they won’t be in your eye line every time you open your wardrobe door.
Take stock of what is left.
Out of what is left, you'll have some clothes which fit better than others. Some items may be tighter than you’d like, but that’s okay, as you can keep them on the back burner for when your routine returns to normal and you can start shedding those pounds. Make sure that you have some great choices that are wearable right now – make especially sure that they fit you on your shoulder line.
Sort your wardrobe by splitting your clothes into your looser and tighter outfits; then any time that you are a few pounds heavier, you can live in your looser clothes. The key point, which I am repeating because it is important, is: dress for the size that you are. Please make sure that you have comfy clothes in your wardrobe that do fit you well, now. You may only have a limited selection, but I shall talk shortly about what you can do to enhance your options.
Here are a few tips
Accentuate your assets, focus on your best bits - those parts of your body that you like best – and draw attention away from the other parts that you are not happy with. This will go a long way to making you feel better when you see yourself in the mirror.
Choose clothes in jersey knits (they don’t have to be thick or warm in this summer heat) as they are more stretchy, and therefore more forgiving. You can still wear them when you reduce your weight.
Keep away from too tight a waistband or you will be conscious of it digging into your middle when you are working at your desk, or sitting at home. However, periodically, it might be good to wear trousers or a skirt with a waistband that you feel, to remind yourself to rein back in when you are tempted indulge in unhealthy behaviours.
Wrap dresses are often a great choice for most women because the waist helps to create a flattering hourglass shape. You can wear these as your weight shifts up or down, and if they gape at the bust, just add a camisole (for an additional pop of colour, too)!
Get the foundation right!
Remember your underwear! You need it to fit properly so that your clothes sit well: most importantly make sure that you have a properly fitted bra that is supportive, Check that your knickers are not leaving tell-tale lines and bumps.
Update your makeup routine – especially if you carry weight in your face. You might want to experiment with contouring, or bronzer, which is a fab way of ensuring that your bone structure is visible under your weight. I can run online makeup refreshers if you'd like to book one.
Use a pop of colour to add interest and to draw away from areas you are concerned about. Scarves, accessories, or belts can be fabulous for this, as they will help you to look put together. They will add contrast, especially if you are using a single colour to give your silhouette more length. In addition, they will draw the eyes up to the scarf and away from your extra weight.
Don’t gravitate to black or dark colours, pick a brighter colour to lift your mood.
These are just a few pointers to dressing well, but I cover this and more during a personal style class. During this pandemic, i am carrying out style classes online.
If you’d like a virtual style class, or an update to give yourself a boost, please do get in touch. Ring or message me on 07790 653669.
I want to acknowledge and thank Marla Tomalin from the website The Three Tomatoes, and Claire Bannister and Jane Brook's podcast 'Strong women need friends', both House of Colour consultants, for some of the content used in this blog post.
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