Over the past year and a half, I’ve lost about 45 pounds. Hooray! While this is great in a lot of ways (healthier! more confident!), it has made figuring out what to wear a bit tricky for someone as enamored with fashion as myself. And since I’m still working to get more fit (and ideally lose some more lbs.), this has been something that I continue to debate, especially since I am striving to buy more natural, eco-friendly products.
In an ideal world, most everything in my wardrobe would be made in an ethical and sustainable manner by people being paid a living wage and working in humane conditions. All of the fibers and materials that went into my clothing would be organic, recycled, and/or sustainable and high quality, lasting many years before needing replacement. It might also contain a few conventionally-made items that are extremely well-made and didn’t have a more earth-friendly substitute.
The criteria I outlined above, unfortunately, tends to equal a much higher price tag.
And, when you’re losing weight, paying a premium for items that you’ll only have around for a few weeks or months isn’t realistic. At least when you’re living on a tight budget.
While I certainly don’t have all the answers to this conundrum, here are a few strategies that have worked well for me over the course of this journey:
1) Befriend a Tailor
Since using items that already exist is more eco-friendly than investing in an entirely new piece of clothing, getting clothes taken in whenever possible is definitely a good route. I found this to be easiest with dress pants and blazers and am planning to bring in some pencil skirts and possibly a more structured dress in the near future. While this isn’t totally inexpensive, I think the strategy works well for a) items that were totally dirt cheap to begin with (hello, $6 pants from Target) so that the total price still isn’t all that high or b) are classic and timeless pieces that you totally love. I paid about $70 to get three pairs of pants and a blazer taken in and they’ve all now lasted me an additional 6+ months that they wouldn’t have otherwise. A good tailor should also be able to tell you whether it will be possible (or even worth it) to take something in, so if you’re waffling, go ahead and bring it to see whether alterations can be made.
2) Shop the Sales Racks
In case you hadn’t seen my ‘purchased’ posts (which, considering that they’re the majority of this blog so far, seems kind of impossible), you know I love me a good bargain. For pieces that aren’t going to stick around for a long time while losing weight (jeans, jersey-knit skirts or dresses, cotton t-shirts, exercise clothes), I’ve been trying to get them on the cheap. While I definitely have some ethical qualms about where they come from and how they’re made, getting things that literally cover my @$$ that fit in our budget take priority until I start building my ‘forever’ wardrobe.
3) Go the Distance
Although it’s certainly gratifying to get rid of an item as soon as it’s a bit big, this isn’t necessarily the best strategy to keep money in your wallet. I’ve been trying to buy items that still look good when they’re loose or baggy. Though I’m firmly against wearing exclusively oversized clothes (since they make me feel gross and not confident or proud of my body), if I can find a way to still feel cute in an item that’s a bit big, I’m all for it. I keep an eye out for things that can be belted (dresses, cardigans, button-downs), tucked in or layered (some t-shirts or tops) to keep me stylish without buying a new item.
4) Thrift It Up
While this is definitely a GREAT strategy for folks losing weight (and looking to buy new-to-them items in general), I have not had any luck in the thrifting department. This is due in large part to my own laziness. While I’ve browsed a few thrift stores since moving to the Triangle nearly four (!) years ago, I haven’t found any to be a gold mine of second-hand goodies. Clearly I just need to do some more research, pay more frequent visits, and spend some more time looking, but all of that hasn’t happened yet. I donate to our local thrift store like crazy, but haven’t bought a single piece of clothing from there. Crazy! If you have any tips for places to go in NC, I’m all ears!
So those are my tips on staying clothed and stylish while losing weight. Anything that I missed? What are your strategies for building a more eco-friendly wardrobe?