When I was younger I defined my style by “it fit”. What I wanted to wear and liked was a secondary consideration. My parents were a frugal but also my own mother’s upbringing never centered around style, fashion, or caring about being “pretty”. This was pre-internet times, your influences were those around you(family, friends, neighbors). As I got older that circle would widen to cable TV and Seventeen magazine. The internet was starting to become more popular but my own access to it was limited to school based functionality including gossiping via instant messages. My clothing functioned around what fit. I remember when my family moved back to Nebraska in the 6th grade. Limited Too jean shorts were the popular trend among girls. At the mall armed with my money I was ready to buy myself a pair. Being the new girl was one thing but not being a properly dressed new girl would seal my doom. That day I learned I was too big for the Limited Too and I was able to purchase a pair of jean shorts from their adult store, in a size 12. I didn’t give it a lot of thought at the time, after all I got the popular jean shorts. I wore them with pride. I loved those shorts. That was the first time I realized I was bigger, I wasn’t small. My body was different and I had to dress it differently. Also, I never dressed girly, I enjoyed a tom boy fashion. I just thought of it less as I can’t wear that, that’s not my style, that’s for a different type of girl. I was never that little girl that wanted to be frilled in bows and ruffles. I want things that fit. Things that I could run around getting dirty in, riding my bike and not being limited to if it got ruined. I dressed like that throughout college. Every now and again I would attempt to dip into something stylish and feel defeated. I never thought it fit right. I never liked how it looked. I limited my clothing by what I thought was okay for me. The biggest challenge was I did know how to make clothing work for my body. It wasn’t that I couldn’t have dressed cute. Plenty of style bloggers have proven that your body type doesn’t limit your style.
My body changed. I was not suddenly a long limb gazelle that could wear anything and do it with an effortless envy. No, during college I started running. I still carried extra weight, I still ran. Through the internet and friends that I realized losing weight comes from a variety of places and started on that journey. While that journey is still in process it does bring a new question that is often left unanswered. How do I dress this body? This body is different. It isn’t limited by departments or what stores carry sizes that fit. The biggest challenge is learning to find what size you are and how to dress for these changes. Your body will change. That is okay, that is good, and that is expected. But how do you learn what it is that fits and fits well. You go from a limited form of clothing to unleashing endless possibilities.
The first thing to do is throw out the mentality of “I’ll buy it because it fits”. Guess what, a lot of things will fit now, but it doesn’t mean it’s the right fit or even a flattering fit. I made this mistake a lot with jeans. My body gains and loses weight on my hips, which means when my weight fluctuates so do my pant sizes and fits. Learn what styles fit you, this is going to take some leg work by shopping at stores and trying on their fits/styles in different sizes. This is also still the biggest struggle for me. It sounds silly, but I still have those “oh it fits” moments and then think I should buy it. Almost like I am worried that if I don’t, nothing else will ever be available to fit.
The second thing, know what your style is. This isn’t as easy at sounds but it’s not overly complicated either. This blog has a great post series about defining your wardrobe and building it. As you are going through your closet look for trends. Do you own a lot of button up shirts? Are you going to need a very specific work uniform? Or does your work allow you to have more freedom with what you wear? For instance when I worked at Target, I owned a lot of red shirts and khaki pants. I needed them for work, but I wouldn’t wear them outside of work. Now I work at a casual but corporate environment. I don’t even own khakis. Your work will influence your clothes but your style is not defined by it.
Finally, the internet is a wonderful place to find inspiration and information. If while browsing Pinterest, blogs or stores websites, you find yourself constantly drawn to the same items, pay attention to what those are. Do you love patterns and crazy prints? Do you always stick with black basics and funky jewelry? Whatever it is, it is your style. That is the beauty of style, it is yours. I often laugh at things my best friend loves. If it’s bright, sparkly or ruffled she wants it. I will look at the same thing and see “tacky”. She puts it on and owns it. She sees something I love and thinks that is plain and boring, put a bow on it. If I tried to dress her like me, it wouldn’t inspire her. Also, your friends are a great place to start if you are unsure of what style defines you. Ask, they may not comment regularly but they will be able to describe it to you. My friend often jokes that I am “gap style”, meaning clean, modern basics. It is true, that is how I dress.
Your style is only limited by the boundaries you give it. Once you no longer have those limits, options can be overwhelming but it will feel that way when you are first starting. It may have felt that way at other points in your life. It is a change. Change requires patience. You will make mistakes. You will learn. You go through several phases. The one constant, you, make it you.