Posts Categorized: style

The Value of Dressing Your Today Body

Hi again! Re-posting here in case you’d like to comment, leaving previous version because I’ve tried a dozen things and can’t get the comments open, but several folks have linked back already. Thanks for your understanding!

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A girlfriend of mine has been unhappy with her body for … well, for as long as I’ve known her. She is one of the most naturally beautiful women I’ve ever known, and her generous, open, loving personality just serves to amplify the startling physical beauty that shines out from her silky hair, and ladylike hands, and creamy skin, and perfect-pout lips, and dive-into-me eyes. But she battles her body, and loses.

Constantly.

She adjusts her food intake, and then adjusts it some more. She tries meal schedules and diets and avoidance of certain foods. She counts calories. She exercises twice as much as me and twice as hard. She varies her workout routine, and monitors her heart rate to optimize her efforts, and pushes herself to her physical limits. And she stays the same shape and size, and she stays unhappy.

And while it doesn’t matter a whit to me if she gains weight steadily for the rest of her natural days, it drives her wild with frustration. And seeing that hurts my heart.

My girl constantly compliments me on my taste and style while simultaneously lamenting her own unsatisfying wardrobe. I’ve offered to shop with her countless times, but she always declines, saying she doesn’t want to invest in new clothes until she’s in a better place with her body. And for a while, I understood that. I’ve been there. I’ve shopped for a transitional body and been frustrated when I had to cast off newish duds after just a few wearings because they no longer fit.

But recently, I began to push harder and encourage her to get some outfits into rotation that work for her right now, at this weight and in this shape. And here’s why: Even if she finally hits on the magic combination of diet and exercise that allows her to smallen, why should she feel uncomfortable, uninspired, and unhappy with her appearance in the meantime? Wouldn’t it be possible to bring in a few key pieces – just a few – to make the rest of her wardrobe more flattering, functional, and fun? And what if she doesn’t change her waist size for another year or more? For five years? For ten? Will it have been worth it to feel frumpy and grumpy that whole time?

My weight and body configuration have shifted more times than I can count. (Or anyway more times than I can recount without boring you all into a stupor.) And the most important lesson I’ve learned from all those body shifts is this: Dressing for your today-body is a positive, empowering, and beneficial practice. Buying too-small clothes that you plan to fit into “someday” is ill-advised and seldom serves as the motivator you hope it will be. Wearing shoddily made or ancient or stopgap clothes until you’ve reached a different/better physical place just makes you impatient and uneasy while you’re working toward your goal. Dressing for a body you no longer have or don’t yet have encourages you to live in the past or future, and prevents you from enjoying the present. If your clothes do not fit the woman you are right now, maybe you should get rid of them and get some different ones.

Note that I did not say “new” ones. I recognize that anyone in the throes of a physical transition won’t want to max out her credit card on items that might get worn a single time. Exploring thrift, vintage, swap, and hand-me-down options for these purposes is a fantastic way to keep yourself looking and feeling great – even in transition – on a budget. If you don’t want to get new, get different.

I believe that part of learning to love yourself is learning to see yourself. And that means seeing yourself as you are right now, not as you hope to be in six months or as you used to be six months ago. And that can be so hard: Facing down the numbers on the scale, or the sizes on a rack of skirts at the Gap, or even just the mirror. The emotional effort it takes to see ourselves in our today-bodies can be tremendously draining,

I know. But there is real benefit to be gleaned from dressing your transitional body well. Looking good now can get you hooked on looking good: It can establish a habitual desire to feel awesome when confronted with a mirror, and can even fuel style and body-related goals. Even if your body is changing shape, you are likely to maintain the same basic proportions: The process of learning to dress your transitional body will provide knowledge about your figure that will carry over even if you shift again someday. But more than any of that, dressing in a way that flatters your figure right now will make you feel good RIGHT NOW. And you deserve that.

So what are you waiting for? Why are you dressing for a body you don’t have, and neglecting the beautiful one you’ve already got? Start dressing for your today-body, and worry about your tomorrow body … well, tomorrow.

Image courtesy Sodanie Chea

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The Value of Dressing Your Today Body

7084758597_964c44cf6f_z

A girlfriend of mine has been unhappy with her body for … well, for as long as I’ve known her. She is one of the most naturally beautiful women I’ve ever known, and her generous, open, loving personality just serves to amplify the startling physical beauty that shines out from her silky hair, and ladylike hands, and creamy skin, and perfect-pout lips, and dive-into-me eyes. But she battles her body, and loses.

Constantly.

She adjusts her food intake, and then adjusts it some more. She tries meal schedules and diets and avoidance of certain foods. She counts calories. She exercises twice as much as me and twice as hard. She varies her workout routine, and monitors her heart rate to optimize her efforts, and pushes herself to her physical limits. And she stays the same shape and size, and she stays unhappy.

And while it doesn’t matter a whit to me if she gains weight steadily for the rest of her natural days, it drives her wild with frustration. And seeing that hurts my heart.

My girl constantly compliments me on my taste and style while simultaneously lamenting her own unsatisfying wardrobe. I’ve offered to shop with her countless times, but she always declines, saying she doesn’t want to invest in new clothes until she’s in a better place with her body. And for a while, I understood that. I’ve been there. I’ve shopped for a transitional body and been frustrated when I had to cast off newish duds after just a few wearings because they no longer fit.

But recently, I began to push harder and encourage her to get some outfits into rotation that work for her right now, at this weight and in this shape. And here’s why: Even if she finally hits on the magic combination of diet and exercise that allows her to smallen, why should she feel uncomfortable, uninspired, and unhappy with her appearance in the meantime? Wouldn’t it be possible to bring in a few key pieces – just a few – to make the rest of her wardrobe more flattering, functional, and fun? And what if she doesn’t change her waist size for another year or more? For five years? For ten? Will it have been worth it to feel frumpy and grumpy that whole time?

My weight and body configuration have shifted more times than I can count. (Or anyway more times than I can recount without boring you all into a stupor.) And the most important lesson I’ve learned from all those body shifts is this: Dressing for your today-body is a positive, empowering, and beneficial practice. Buying too-small clothes that you plan to fit into “someday” is ill-advised and seldom serves as the motivator you hope it will be. Wearing shoddily made or ancient or stopgap clothes until you’ve reached a different/better physical place just makes you impatient and uneasy while you’re working toward your goal. Dressing for a body you no longer have or don’t yet have encourages you to live in the past or future, and prevents you from enjoying the present. If your clothes do not fit the woman you are right now, maybe you should get rid of them and get some different ones.

Note that I did not say “new” ones. I recognize that anyone in the throes of a physical transition won’t want to max out her credit card on items that might get worn a single time. Exploring thrift, vintage, swap, and hand-me-down options for these purposes is a fantastic way to keep yourself looking and feeling great – even in transition – on a budget. If you don’t want to get new, get different.

I believe that part of learning to love yourself is learning to see yourself. And that means seeing yourself as you are right now, not as you hope to be in six months or as you used to be six months ago. And that can be so hard: Facing down the numbers on the scale, or the sizes on a rack of skirts at the Gap, or even just the mirror. The emotional effort it takes to see ourselves in our today-bodies can be tremendously draining,

I know. But there is real benefit to be gleaned from dressing your transitional body well. Looking good now can get you hooked on looking good: It can establish a habitual desire to feel awesome when confronted with a mirror, and can even fuel style and body-related goals. Even if your body is changing shape, you are likely to maintain the same basic proportions: The process of learning to dress your transitional body will provide knowledge about your figure that will carry over even if you shift again someday. But more than any of that, dressing in a way that flatters your figure right now will make you feel good RIGHT NOW. And you deserve that.

So what are you waiting for? Why are you dressing for a body you don’t have, and neglecting the beautiful one you’ve already got? Start dressing for your today-body, and worry about your tomorrow body … well, tomorrow.

Image courtesy Sodanie Chea

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Reader Request: Styling a Denim Jacket

how to style a denim jacket

Reader Laurel sent this request to me via e-mail:

I was wondering if you would be willing to do a post about how to style jean jackets. With Spring finally starting to thaw, the season of lightweight jackets is upon us, and with ’90s fashion being a big trend right now, I’ve been looking at my jean jacket again, but really don’t know what to do with it. Mine is your kind of typical jean jacket – medium wash, hits at the waist, a little boxy – definitely not high fashion. Any suggestions?

I remember including a denim jacket on my own personal wardrobe must-have list a couple of years ago and having several readers laugh at me. But I’ve stuck to my denim-y guns! My jean jacket doesn’t get loads of wear, but I’ve had the same one for several years and I end up reaching for it at least a couple of times per season. Here are my tips for making a denim jacket look chic and contemporary.

Make sure it fits

So Laurel may curse me for saying this, but that standard-issue 90s denim jacket in all it’s glorious boxiness? It’ll be harder to style than an updated version. Denim is stiff and thick, so few jackets will truly hug your figure, but the ones on the racks now will be a bit more fitted than many vintage styles. Boxy jackets are big for spring, of course, and there are ways to make them work … but if your jean jacket really swamps your figure or totally masks your curves and you’d rather show your body’s form a bit more, springing for an updated one might help. Even thrifting a jacket that was made in the past two to three years may help.

Consider proportion

Since even denim jackets with spandex and princess seams will fit a little loose and boxy on most folks, heeding the proportions of your outfit is key. In most cases, this means making sure your bottom half is relatively well defined, either by a slim pair of pants or a skirt that shows a little leg. Depending on how it fits and how you’re built, your jacket may work beautifully with flowy bottoms, too, like maxi skirts and wide-legged pants. But if you find that you look a little square and curve-free up top, consider balancing the boxy with a figure-highlighting bottom.

Play with juxtaposition

Denim jackets are quintessentially rugged and casual, which means they work wonderfully paired with items that are a bit dressy, frilly, or otherwise not-rugged and casual. Try your denim jacket with a floaty sundress or a sequined tee and miniskirt. Do a fluid blouse and tuxedo pants or a diaphanous tiered maxi dress. Anything that’s traditionally feminine or sparkly or the antithesis of utilitarian Americana.

Go West

Since warm weather is on its way, my inner cowgirl is clawing to get out and I do love seeing denim jackets in Western mixes. Think Sundance Catalog, with long necklaces, dusty boots, and piles of bracelets. Or go for a weathered graphic tee, chino skirt, and fun sandals. Anything that draws in a little bit of rugged ranch life and a little bit of sleek urban chic.

Embrace the unexpected

Looking back over some of my own outfits, I found that I’ve tended to pair my denim jacket with my weird pants. Case in point: The outfit above. I love those pants, but they are definitely cargo sweats with a REALLY tall ankle cuff. Denim jackets are classic and ever so American, so they can work really well with arty, funky, sculptural pieces. So long as the proportions work, that is.

Would love your input, too, of course! How do you style your denim jacket? Is this a classic piece in your opinion, or one you can live without? Other tips for making jean jackets look contemporary?

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