The Power of the Wardrobe

Published March 1, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve noticed something.  A lot of my clothes don’t fit me any more.  Oh they still physically fit me, just like most people who give up dieting and learn to listen to their body and give it what it asks for, rather than telling it what it should need, my weight has settled into a setpoint that stays pretty much the same, give or take a few kilos.

What doesn’t fit about the clothes isn’t the size.  It’s the message they send to the world.  It’s the message I was sending when I bought them.

I’ve been going through my wardrobe over the past couple of months, and making room for lots of new clothes.  Not only have I been lucky enough to be sent some for reviewing by Autograph Fashion (more reviews to come there) and No Exceptions (a glowing review to come for them by the end of this week I hope), but I’ve done a lot of shopping lately.  Up until about 4 or 5 months ago, had been a long time since my wardrobe had got any serious refreshing.  The last time I had bought any clothes other than the odd super sale piece or something I really needed for work, was when I was in the US in late ’07/early 08, where I went a bit nuts because everything was so very, very cheap compared to here.

So I’m going through my wardobe over the past few months, and I’m finding clothes from before I  moved into this apartment, which was 13 years ago!  There are clothes that I bought when I had starved myself into a size 16-18 (I’m now a size 26 Australian).  There are clothes that I bought because they were on super sale and have never worn them.  There were clothes that I used to wear, but nowdays I find depressing, because they are black and shapeless and bought out of self loathing.  I got to thinking about all of these clothes that I no longer wear, or have never worn in some cases, and realised that I needed to just let go of them all and re-think what I’m doing with my clothing.

First of all, any of the clothes in good condition need to go back out into the world for some other fatty to wear and love.  Just because they’re not suitable for me, doesn’t mean they won’t make some other fatty delightfully happy.  Not to mention that the bulk of them will be donated to charity, so either someone who needs them will get them or they’ll be sold to raise money for a good cause.  Either way, it’s so hard to find good pre-loved plus-sized clothing anywhere, and the small mountain I have here will be well appreciated I’m sure.  Plus I’ll pop the never worn items up on eBay and someone will get a bargain out of those, plus I’ll get a few bucks back.

But most importantly, I’m building a wardrobe that makes me happy, makes me feel good about myself and accurately represents who I am.  I’m lucky, I’m in a place in my life where I can afford to do so, I live in a capital city with some stores that stock plus-sized clothing (though not many, and the options are somewhat limited),  I have access to the internet and the tools needed to do internet shopping, and lots of contacts and resources to find clothes that fit who I am.

For the first time in my life, I am not dressing to please others.  I am not dressing to hide myself, to disappear.  I am not dressing to apologise for the size and/or shape of my body.  I am not dressing to fit someone else’s idea of what is appropriate.

It is incredibly, unbelievably liberating.

As a super fat woman, for so long I have bought clothes simply because they were the one item that fit.  When I did find an item that I liked, I either wore it to rags, or held on to it, even after I stopped wearing it, forever, because I may never find something like that again.

It feels good to let go.  To say goodbye to those garments that have served me well, and good riddance to those that made me feel bad about myself, because I was using them to hide or disguise myself.

When I open my wardrobe, and choose my outfit for the day, it is a positive experience.  Even if I’m having a dodgy self esteem day, the minute I open my wardrobe, I take a step towards improving my self esteem.  Sometimes several steps.  Invariably, I put on the chosen outfit, and up goes the self esteem a little more.  Then I leave my house, and because my outfit feels good on me, it shows in the way I carry myself, in the face I present to the world.  And invariably, at some point during the day, someone will compliment me on something about my outfit.  Which adds even more to my self esteem.  It is a cumulative effect that always seems to go up, rather than down.

How do you feel about the clothes in your wardrobe?  Do they make you feel good about yourself when you look at them, and when you wear them?  Do they accurately reflect who you are and how you feel?  How do you approach shopping for clothes for yourself?

30 comments on “The Power of the Wardrobe

  • I’m almost at this stage at the moment. Now I have access to clothing that more accurately represents who I am I know I need to go through all the stuff I have and get rid of what I don’t wear.

    It’s hard though. Even though I know I am almost always able to find something I like when I shop now, there’s something that holds me back from getting rid of clothing. There’s a part of me that thinks ‘but clothes your size that you like are so scarce, what if you need these later down the track?’. Logically I know I don’t need them all, but I can’t seem to let go. Just in case.

    I have a similar problem when I find something out at the shops that I love, but can’t quite afford. Experience has taught me that, as a fat, if you find something you like buy it then, because who knows if you’ll find anything as good again. Now though, I actually am finding it easier to find clothes and so my wardrobe grows as my wallet shrinks. And it leads back to having to get rid of my old stuff.

    I think in a few months when I have to seriously shop for a winter wardrobe I’ll put some more thought into archiving my old clothes, but for now they’re a security blanket I can’t let go of.

    • Oh don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t just pop up one day in your life and you’re able to just cull. It certainly didn’t for me. I had a little cull. Then another one. Then a bigger one. Then back to a little one. And so on. I am still clinging to a few things that I shouldn’t.

      Ok a lot of things!

  • I just did the same thing a couple of weeks ago. I have been buying a lot more clothes lately for three reasons: First, finding this community has made me rethink a lot of fashion that I always thought I hated (belts, short skirts, etc.) Second, because I actually have a bit of disposable income these days (yay!) And third because I work at Old Navy and have an AWESOME discount to clothes I love. So I started running out of hangers and I decided that I’d better start chucking some things.

    First I got rid of everything that I was waiting to wear when I lost weight. Then I got rid of anything I didn’t like anymore. For me, I still had a lot of clothes which I wore in high school (I’m only 23 now so it’s not THAT old but I feel like I’m a very different person than I was in high school and it was time to start getting rid of those reminders.) It was so totally liberating, I agree. I saw this huge pile of stuff I’d moved here in August that I thought for sure I would wear, that I knew all along I hated and I bagged it up and took it to a clothing drop. The end. No more, “well maybe if I do this or that.” Just this doesn’t work, someone else can use it. It was pretty amazing.

    F— You Fashion Police!

    • Yay for hitting a disposable income run! I’m experiencing my first real run of disposable income in my 38 years.

      It’s cathartic to just let go of that stuff you’re NEVER going to wear again, isn’t it?

  • We’re moving in June and I’ll be sorting through my wardrobe and getting rid of everything that doesn’t fit or make me happy in the next months. It makes me kind of nervous–but also excited.

  • Another awesome inspiring post. 🙂

    I did feel 10 million times better about myself once I stopped constantly apologizing for my size and having things in my closet that I knew might never fit into and having that there to depress the living shit out of me on purpose. I also had the shapeless baggy clothes I wore to hide my body because I felt I didn’t deserve better clothing.

    Now that I have these kickass resources to find the type of clothes I like (alt-fash or alt-fash friendly…seriously, the person/label who consistently makes awesome plus size punk/goth clothing is going to make a fuck ton of money!) and can afford, plus an ever-increasing eBay score, I love my wardrobe and what it says about me. I feel like a Master of the Fucking Universe when I wear these clothes. 😀

    • Thanks Rachel.

      I really think that it’s good to aim towards most, if not all your clothes making you feel like that. It’s certainly what I’m aiming for. I want to put things on and just feel AWESOME.

  • I’m slowly getting that way. Still have an awful lot of unwearables in my cupboard, but it’s getting better (and my size still hasn’t stabilised, so it’s harder to convince myself to chuck the other sizes). I love that I have clothes that are shapeless, but still cool and interesting for days when I don’t feel like showing the world my shape, but that I have other stuff which fits my curves for days when I do feel like putting it all out there. There is a lot of colour, but with a core of black, because I genuinely love black. Today is a shapeless day, but with a turquoise skirt and a black embroidered top. Yesterday was a black print dress showing off the rack. 🙂

    • Mood dressing is important too. I have different stuff for different moods. And since I can be anything between a 22 and a 32 depending on the brand, cut and fabric, I’ve got to the point of not even looking at the label once I’ve bought it and know it fits.

  • I’m getting there. I’m a size 16, so I have more options available to me, but I still have a lot of clothes bought because I ‘should’ wear them.

    Workwear is a classic example of this. When I first started fulltime work, I bought all the stuff I thought I should wear – white shirts, black pencil skirts, black ballet flats. I still occasionally find myself buying something because it fits, rather than because it’s something that is me.

    Blogs were the key to me working out what I really want from fashion. I had never heard of Asos until I read about it on a fatshion blog. Plus and straight size blogs show me new ways to wear things.

    I now have a rule – no more black. I want as little black in my wardrobe as humanly possible.

    • You and colour just work so well together Frances. I think of you every time I see something bright yellow.

      I allow black but only if it’s something that is really WOW in it’s style, or something to go with a piece that’s really WOW. I have a couple of plain black skirts, some black leggings, some black tops – just for the purpose of highlighting WOW pieces. I will not wear any of them together.

  • I got dressed yesterday, had a look in the mirror, went “What……..the…………..FUCK?!” because I didn’t look anything like how I feel as a person. Jeans, grey singlet, black shirt with pinstripes over the top. I looked about 15 years older than I am and I felt blah. It was horrible. I got changed into a shirt that made me feel much better but still, frightening.
    My wardrobe needs a revamp in the worst way. I have some pieces I love, I do love my black, it’s a favourite colour of mine, but a lot of my stuff is too big or just doesnt fit the shape my body has decided it wants to be. Boobs, waist goes in, booty and a bit of a tummy out the front. I take a 16-18 as a rule, but I have absolute boobs of doom, a G cup, so NOTHING ever fits me properly, so it’s a case of trying to make things work. Button down shirts I have to buy about 3 sizes bigger to get my boobs into them, but they are then too big elsewhere so they look ridiculous.
    I think it’s time I gave in to what my heart has been telling me for a long time and start buying the clothes I love rather than pretending to fit in. It feels like I’m wearing a costume.

    • It’s interesting you mention that it feels like you’re wearing a costume Amber. A friend of mine recently commented on how much more costume-like my clothes had got recently and I had to admit that I actually felt like I was in a costume, or a disguise, all those years I wore the “flattering” black/navy/burgundy shapeless blah clothes that I thought I was supposed to wear. The clothes I wear now, feel very much natural to me.

  • Never in a million years did I think my wardrobe was contributing to my lower self esteem- until I stumbled upon fatshionista on livejournal. All the sudden, I realized that part of the reason I felt so uncomfortable with my body was because I didn’t give a seconds thought to dressing in a way I wanted- shit, I didn’t even think that was *available* for bodies my size! I was always a jeans and tee-shirt kinda girl, but not because I wanted to wear those things, but because I felt some stupid obligation to keep my rolls under wraps. I cant even begin to tell you how different my self esteem is from making deliberate fashion choices- everyday I get up, and I’m excited to play around in my closet!

    I think you make an amazing and fabulous point- sometimes it isn’t about the fit in its relationship to our size, but rather if we agree with what are cloths are saying to the world!

  • I buy clothes because they fit. And I hate most of them! I live in a small country town, about 25 kms away either side from two bigger country towns. One of them has an Autograph, plus a few of the big outlet stores with a plus size clothing range.

    Because I am a difficult fat shape (bigger bottom half all the way down, by about 2 sizes), finding pants that fit my arse but also my waist, and tops that fit my top, but also my hips is a nightmare. So when something fits, I sing hallelujah and automatically add it to my small pile of crappy, ‘not me’ clothes.

    • I remember those days Katie – I spent far too much time in small country towns with NO shops that had plus-size options.

      Can we help you with internet shopping? Many of us have shopped from some great online stores and I’m sure we can help you find things, guide you through sizing and let you know when the best sales and stuff are on.

  • Great post! I’m in the middle of wardrobe weeding. I’m selling some stuff on ebay, which takes a lot of time and effort, but I’m so happy when those clothes go out the door and my wardrobe looks emptier every week. I’ve bought just a few good pieces that flatter me.

    I spent the best years of my life – my 30s – avoiding clothes shops and dressing drably because I didn’t want to look at myself. What a terrible and stupid mistake. It’s the other way round – good clothes are like a suit of armour. And I realised other people weren’t snubbing me because I was fat, it was because I was snubbing myself. Everything about me said “I’m not important! Don’t take me seriously!” Once I bought some good clothes and spent more time on hair and makeup, it was like I suddenly became visible. It made a difference to me professionally, as well.

    And no more black!

    • I have to pull my finger out and list some things on eBay. I have a box here of brand new stuff, most of it with tags, that I just need to send out into the world.

  • @sleepydun Thanks so much for your offer! I have recently gotten a few things online, like pants and bras. Think I’m sussing it out and working out whos good and which of their sizes are right.

    • That’s what community is for Katie – sharing the stuff we’ve learned and the resources we’ve gathered.

      Hit us up with questions about online plus-size retailers, I’m sure we’ll have some info for you.

  • Oh wow… I had never heard of No Exceptions before. I wish I had last week when I was clothes shopping, because it would have saved me a whole lot of grief. Thank you so much for sharing

    • My pleasure Rebecca – I’m hoping to put up my review of the dress they sent me next week, and I’ve just bought the leopard print skirt from them too.

      Bookmark them, because I think they’re only going to get bigger and better.

  • “For the first time in my life, I am not dressing to please others. I am not dressing to hide myself, to disappear. I am not dressing to apologise for the size and/or shape of my body. I am not dressing to fit someone else’s idea of what is appropriate.

    It is incredibly, unbelievably liberating.”

    I am starting to do this, too, and I agree — it is AMAZINGLY freeing. Here’s to dressing for ourselves!!

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