**Disclaimer: Eddie Bauer did not sponsor this post. All opinions expressed are my own. I did work for Eddie Bauer for two weeks as a sales associate. Due to our busy schedule of moving, I no longer work as a sales associate or for Eddie Bauer. I do not sell Eddie Bauer clothes.**
One September, Sunday morning last year, I was miserably attempting to fit myself into a pair of black pants. I always hated wearing pants or even jeans. They never fit like I wanted them to and I dreaded feeling uncomfortable all day wearing them. Sweatpants were wonderful, sweatpants were my friend. They were forgiving and baggy, just my cup of tea. But today we had church, and sweatpants weren’t going to cut it. So black pants it was. Getting into these pants was never an easy feat, so I don’t know why this particular morning my confidence was shattered. I started crying. Ben, poor guy, was a little stunned. Not quite understanding why his wife was on the ground crying and a pair of black pants were chucked across the room. I explained logically that I was fat. That recovering from the eating disorder made me fat. I couldn’t fit into my pants anymore, therefore I was invaluable, useless, and fat. Doing his best to keep that grin off his face, he asked, “How long have you had these pants?” I responded, “Since freshman year in high school.” Now, he couldn’t help it. A smile had creeped up on his face. “And you are how old?” “Twenty-two almost twenty-three” I added. “So you expect yourself to fit into clothes that you wore when you were fourteen??” Now, I saw where this was going. “Of course,” I said sarcastically with tear-stained eyes. He said, “After church, we are going shopping and getting you a real pair of black pants. No arguing.” I cringed. I hated shopping.
During church, I dreaded the thought of shopping. I had homework to do, I wanted my Sunday afternoon nap. I didn’t want to spend my day shoving my thick thighs into multiple pairs of black pants. I secretly hoped he would forget about his shopping threat. But he remembered. Against my loudly-voiced wishes he drove us to our local mall as I pouted in the passenger’s seat. We hit JCPenney, no luck, Old Navy, no luck, American Eagle, definitely no luck. Then we walked by Eddie Bauer. My friend, Jess, had mentioned how much she loves Eddie Bauer. I told Ben we would give it a try and if it didn’t work out, then we were going home. I had enough today. I walked in, told them exactly what I wanted, and a few moments later I was trying on my favorite pair of black pants. I was astonished that they were form-flattering, easy to put on, and comfortable. Naturally, I wanted to buy every pair in my size so that I would never have to go shopping again. I came out with a few extra items. I even lost Ben at one point, he happened to be trying on some clothes as well. We both walked out of there saying, “Well, we found our store!” I came home excited to model my outfits.
Click here for the link to my favorite pair of black pants. Eddie Bauer Women’s Passenger Ponte Skinny Pants. I have a size 6 in black.
I was so excited to wear them to class the next day. Can you believe it? I was EXCITED to put on black pants! How strange. I was excited because they made me feel comfortable and confident. I was a real woman recovering from a lifetime of eating disorder behaviors. It was time to start dressing like it. I went through my closet and got rid of close to everything. If it was uncomfortable, if it took an entire dance to get my body into it, it was gone. (I donated to Goodwill). My closet was very bare at this point, but I wanted a clean slate. Something fresh. I was twenty-two (almost twenty-three) and I was letting go of the expectation to fit into my old clothes. Those were eating disorder Megan clothes, those were clothes that fit when Megan didn’t have hips or a bootie. It was so freeing donating those clothes. I loved staring at my bare closet, I imagined all the creativity I could put in to make this my new wardrobe. The new, healthy, real Megan wardrobe.
Being that I was in nursing school and we were solely living off of Ben’s income, I couldn’t necessarily drop a few hundred to rebuild my wardrobe right then and there. So I started by keeping my eye on Eddie Bauer sales by signing up for the Eddie Bauer email list. Each week we would put money aside to rebuild my wardrobe. Ben was very supportive, he had seen tremendous growth in me that past year. But, despite my personal, internal growth, I didn’t dress like I thought I was beautiful, I dressed like I still had something to hide. This new excitement for outward appearance growth was a reflection of my internal growth. My excitement for clothes and putting new outfits together showed my husband that I was learning to love myself.
As a side note: Dressing rooms were always a struggle for me, sometimes the lighting isn’t the most forgiving or the mirrors seem distorted. And when things don’t fit just right it can be defeating. When I changed my mindset from, “I must fit into this specific size or I’m not beautiful” to “Clothes should fit me, I don’t have to fit into clothes,” I was a lot more forgiving of myself. In some clothes I may be a certain size and in others I may have to go up or down based on the material and how they were made. Now, I just take it on a case by case basis. I start with my usual size and work from there. If it doesn’t fit, oh well, then I try a different size. It’s that simple.
The nice thing is that Eddie Bauer is meant for real women. It accommodates for the fact that women have hips and curves and lumps and bumps. They account for the fact that women have to move. Eddie Bauer’s tops are generally longer in the back to provide some bootie coverage. In addition, most of the material is wrinkle-free and doesn’t require any crazy specific washing and drying instructions. The material is meant to last long, they definitely produce high-quality products, hence the price. But I would rather have a smaller closet with high-quality items than a full closet packed full of lesser quality items that only last a season. Best part, they have a 100% guarantee, if you don’t like it whether that’s two weeks or two months after you bought it, you may return it (with a receipt) and receive a full return. When I first told people of my love for Eddie Bauer, I got the eye-roll and “Aren’t they really expensive?” I respond with “Yes and No,” if you are smart about it. Like I mentioned before, I signed up for the email list and wait until I see sales. Even when I see sales, I don’t pounce right away. I always have a working list going on my computer with items to complete my comprehensive wardrobe.
After Eddie Bauer, I started exploring other stores. Being that my options were limited at our local mall, I found I enjoyed online shopping. I could read reviews and shop from the comfort of my home. During our trip to the Mall of America, I was able to check out these stores in person. I was very impressed with Loft. It’s more of a young adult version of Ann Taylor. Very modest, yet classy clothing. I tried on a bunch of stuff just to get my sizing down so I can do online shopping with them in the future. I also enjoy shopping with Nordstrom online as they have free shipping and free returns. So if you don’t like it or if it’s not the right size, then you can just put the item back in the bag, stick the label they provide on the outside, and mail it off for no extra expense. If the item didn’t fit you and you indicated you wanted a different size, they will simply exchange it and send you a new one. If you simply didn’t want the item, then they provide a full reimbursement, the reimbursement usually takes about two weeks from mailing out the item to seeing it in your bank account. I also know of many mothers doing Stitch Fix. I have never personally tried it, but from my research it looks like you have a personal stylist who picks out 5 items and sends them to your door at your own delivery rate. You have three days to try them on and decide what you like. It requires a $20 styling fee per shipment. If you choose to keep any items in your shipment, then the $20 credits toward your purchase. Whatever items you keep, you pay for. The usual price point is $55 per item, however if you purchase all 5 items then you receive a 25% discount. Note that the items are high-quality, usually coming from brands that Nordstrom carries. Then you send the rest of the items back using their free return label. This sounds great for busy mothers who want to stay stylish, but don’t have the time or energy to go shopping. They also recently announced that they cater to pregnant women through all trimesters and post-pregnancy.
I’m not here to tell you to go to Eddie Bauer and buy clothes (and I’m definitely not telling you to donate your entire wardrobe). This is my story and Eddie Bauer clothes came into my life when I was on the verge of full recovery. They helped me develop an interest in dressing like a real, healthy woman. It’s been about a year since my “crying-on-the-floor-black-pants” incident. Now that I’m twenty-three (almost twenty-four), I have enjoyed the process of exploring new brands and building my comprehensive wardrobe. I hope I gave you some helpful tips and inspiration to build your own comprehensive wardrobe for the body you have now, not the body you think you should have!