Deciding one’s outfit everyday is inevitable. When I was engulfed in my eating disorder lifestyle, this was a dread every morning. I oftentimes gravitated toward workout clothes and sweats. When I had to look presentable, it was a big ordeal. I hated shopping because it meant having to deal with my self-esteem issues every time I went into a changing room. Most of my clothes were either hand-me-ups from my younger sister or clothes that I held onto for years. It was a big ordeal because I didn’t like how my jeans or pants fit, or I felt uncomfortable wearing a fitted top. I loved everything baggy. Baggy allowed me to hide, it allowed me to stay trapped in a life of low self-esteem. The last thing I wanted was attention.
For more details on my eating disorder struggle, please visit this post.
During my outpatient eating disorder recovery program, I was forbidden, yes forbidden from wearing anything baggy or workout clothes related. This forced me to start trying to look presentable. Honestly, at first I just shopped my sister’s closet. I wasn’t ready for the big, crazy world of shopping, yet. Slowly, but surely, I enjoyed getting ready in the morning. Slowly, I learned my outfit choices were related to my inner confidence level. Eventually, I started enjoying shopping….well online shopping.
While I don’t have this figured out by any means and I would never call myself a style expert – I found that I really enjoy researching styles and creating different outfit combinations. I learned style is whatever I want it to be, it was my opportunity to be creative and express myself.
Here’s How I Build My Wardrobe for Confidence:
- I don’t own a scale. I struggled with weighing myself constantly during my eating disorder phase. It hindered my confidence. Our bodies naturally fluctuate in weight – now I just allow my body to do its thing. I don’t feel the need to keep track of the numbers.
- My mentality: Clothes should fit me, I don’t fit into clothes. If my usual size doesn’t fit then that’s the clothes’ fault, not mine. So I find a different size that works.
- Shopping online. I get to try clothes on in the comfort of my home. Sometimes clothing store mirrors are distorted or the lighting is way too harsh. Shopping online gives me the freedom to try the clothes on longer to see if I truly enjoy them. As an added bonus, being an introvert I get to avoid crowds with online shopping.
- Be picky. If I don’t love it, I return it. I always check the stores’ return policy. Nordstrom is great because they have free shipping both ways and provide a return label. They are quick and efficient with crediting your account in a timely manner.
- Focusing on a remixable wardrobe, less one-hit wonders. Yes, I have had to purchase some one-hit wonders for certain events. But overall, when I do my research I picture how I can wear this item multiple ways or to multiple functions. Can I dress it up for an event? Can I dress it down for a casual day of errands?
- Clothes that are modest, yet feminine and figure-flattering. I use the church test. If I can’t wear it to church, then I don’t purchase it. I focus on clothes with bootie coverage and no cleavage. I make sure my tops don’t show midriff when I lift my hands. I also ensure my pants don’t show any plumber’s crack when I bend down.
- Make a wish list. Be specific. Everything used to seem overwhelming when I shopped. When I have a list it narrows my focus. For example, for my college graduation I was looking for a knee-length, floral, fit-and-flare dress. I like dresses with a thick, sleeveless strap that remains modest when I sit down. I was leaning toward a pink, white, or navy floral dress. My price range was less than $100. Therefore, I went through my favorite online shops and narrowed my search to this criteria. It makes it a fun experience, not overwhelming, and I feel like I accomplished something. And I found my dress! (the one in the picture above)
- More planning, less impulse. I am a planner by nature. I keep my wish list in mind as I peruse the web – but it usually takes me a month or two to finally decide and make my purchase. Maybe that’s a little extreme for some. But, this process usually allows me to explore all my options, and then I feel content with my final purchase. It prevents me from wishing I had a different version or brand, etc.
- I purchase clothes that I get excited to wear multiple times. I gravitate towards clothes that make me feel comfortable, aren’t too restrictive, and are figure-flattering.
- I like to explore all my options and then settle on one. I usually know when I really like a certain clothing item – meaning it fits my criteria and my price range. But, I will go and look through a lot more options before I settle on it. It drives Ben crazy! His mindset is, “if you like it, then get it.” I make sure I love it, look at all the other options, and then choose it. This way, I know that it’s my favorite and I can feel confident in it.
- Quality not quantity. My closet is not that big, but I love each item. On some level I like name brands – the reason being is when I make a purchase I want it to last. I prefer a few higher quality purchases versus many lower quality purchases.
- All that to say…I don’t necessarily like paying a lot of money for higher quality items. I prefer clothes that don’t break the bank. I keep track of items I have an eye on and wait for sales. I do this by signing up for the marketing/sales emails of my favorite brands.
- However, just because a sale is happening doesn’t mean I buy something. Spending money is still spending money whether you “saved” money on the item or not. I learned this the hard way. Now I use the sales to purchase the item that I love, if the item originally was not within my budget. This enables me to eventually obtain the item, but I get to purchase it at a lower price. It takes patience and time, but it’s always been worth it in the end.
- Take yourself out of the comparison game. ANYONE can look good in clothes. You don’t have to be “model thin” to build your wardrobe. Instead, it’s all about learning how to dress your body shape.
- Along those lines, dress yourself for the body you have, not the body you want. I struggled with this a lot. I was always afraid I would gain a lot of weight when I finally recovered. Therefore, I bought clothes that were bigger and baggier to accommodate what I expected the future “me” would look like. Turns out I did not gain this weight, instead I normalized to my healthy body weight. Now, I just dress the body I have. Later, if I get bigger or smaller, then I will dress that body. It really is that simple!
- Don’t give up – if you don’t like how something looks on you then make a mental note – maybe that cut or style isn’t the most flattering. Give a different look a try!
- It all starts with inner confidence. Clothes don’t give you confidence. Instead, clothes reveal your inner level of confidence. Invest in your self first and the wardrobe with confidence will develop over time. If it can work for me, it can work for you!