Dressing My Changing Size and Shape

by Cate Linden (Kentucky)

After gaining a significant amount of weight in the past 8 months – easily the most dramatic weight shift I’ve undergone aside from pregnancy – I was forced back to the drawing board with my closet.

Practically speaking, I outgrew a tremendous number of things at once, including all of my pants, all of my bras and underwear, and the majority of my skirts and dresses.

I lost plenty of basics, and sadly can no longer fit into some of my very favorite statement pieces…including a cocktail dress I was saving for a “special occasion” and never wore. Learn from my mistake: wear your special stuff!

Constructing outfits with such a limited wardrobe was tricky. I wasn’t comfortable replacing everything right away lest I continued to gain weight (which I did, and am still doing), so I wore the same couple dresses all summer long.

I was desperately bored.

When autumn arrived and my weight gain slowed, I relied on my thrifting skills for some much-needed closet infusions.

My physical archetype and corresponding dressing strategies haven’t changed, but my shape has become an exaggerated version of itself.

I’m now much more pear-shaped, which I adore, but I was surprised to find that many of my old outfit formulas no longer resonate with me.

For example:

  • Belts used to be the perfect finishing touch for blouse and skirt combos, but now that my waist is wider and my hip shelf is even higher, I hardly wear them.

  • Give me all the bodycon silhouettes! I have so much hip and thigh volume that I don’t necessarily need to add more with a flared skirt, even though I still like them. Clingier shapes play up my curves more than they did XX lbs ago, so I’m having a lot of fun with them.

  • I’ve found myself drifting toward a more simple sensuality in detailing, rather than the more calculated aesthetic I once strove for. Light draping, relaxed florals, and simple jewelry are the sweet spot for me right now.

My style is still my style, and recognizable as such, but there’s been a very real shift in how I dress and what appeals to me.

I love my body’s new fullness and curves, and most importantly I cherish the happiness that spurred my weight gain in the first place. If embracing that happiness means making changes to the way I dress, that’s okay with me. And while living with a leaner wardrobe as I seek out quality replacements for outgrown pieces is sometimes dull, I’m ultimately fine with it, because at the end of the day, I know that personal style is an ongoing project.

What worked for you five years or fifty pounds ago might not work for you now, and that’s okay.

Don’t Wait Until You’ve Lost the Weight

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to honor your body as it is right now.

That means giving up on the fantasy that your 30s body, your pre-baby body, or the body you think you should have had is your “real” body, waiting to whisk you away into a life of always feeling beautiful and pulled together.

Why are we so willing to look for awesome new clothes when we’ve gotten a new job or lost weight or our tastes have simply changed…but we drag our heels when we need new clothes because of weight gain?

Sometimes we just don’t know what we should be looking for. The styles we used to love no longer work (or we’re worried they don’t) and we don’t know where to start. Sometimes we don’t want to accept that our bodies have changed, possibly forever.

We all deserve to feel good in our clothes, moving through our days without body hatred or discomfort. If you’re suffering through too-tight jeans or bras that pinch, how is that going to help you love your body? How are you going to feel good in your style if its only real focus is distracting people from the perceived flaws of your body?

I should have bumper stickers made: “Your clothes are the problem, not your body.” I can feel like Aphrodite herself in one outfit, and a troll who lives under the bridge in another – all within five minutes. The danger of clothing that fits poorly or betrays your style is that it’s all too easy to believe you are the problem, and I can promise you – you never are.


Weight loss or gain is one of the primary reasons women seek my help with their wardrobes. If you’re not sure how to dress your new shape or you just want some help fine-tuning your look, click on the buttons below to contact me.

Cate Linden is located in Kentucky. In addition to in-person Color Analysis, Cate also offers an on-line service of personalized Image and Style Analysis. Please click the link buttons below for more information.
Cate Linden