How to manage your wardrobe when nothing fits

Throughout our lives, our bodies change for lots of different reasons. I don’t know of many people who have stayed at a consistent shape, size or weight their whole lives - pregnancy, post-pregnancy changes (sometimes our waists never quite go back), menopause, medication, illness, stress, hormones - can all make us gain or lose weight that we may or may not be happy with. As well as overeating, yo-yo dieting and exercise of course, but it’s not the only reason our weight changes. Suddenly we either can’t do our jeans up or they’re falling down as we walk.

If you have gained or lost over a stone (14lb or 6kg), which (depending on your height) could mean at least one dress size, then here’s how to tackle your wardrobe as you get back to a weight you are happy with. This is also a great way to look at your wardrobe if you are on a longer weight loss journey as you transition through the sizes - reassess your wardrobe for every stone you lose (or less, it will depend on your height).

  1. Firstly, accept your current size as it is TODAY. It may change, it may not - that is up to you. Just accept it and know that you are moving forward. I recently met Lucy Power, a Transformation Coach and she adds:

    “It is so important to accept and love our bodies just exactly as they are
    and to dress ourselves with care and attention so that we give our whole self the message that we are beautiful and good just exactly as we are right now. So many women who have been up and down in weight and size are in that place because they struggle to love themselves unashamedly, and from this place, to commit to appropriate nurture, asking for their needs and hungers to be met. That's the first step. After that, we can make commitments, from that same place of love and acceptance, to take care of ourselves differently if we want to.”

  2. Now you can tackle your wardrobe, one category at a time, which will make you feel more positive - a good de-clutter and sort is good for the soul, and it will help with the positive feelings associated with accepting where you are now and moving forward.

  3. Start with your trousers and jeans - they need to fit you properly, so head into your wardrobe and try them all on. Then take any out that don’t fit you and only put back in your wardrobe what fits.

  4. Take out anything that doesn’t fit and put them into three piles:

    • Doesn’t fit me right now

    • Charity shop

    • Bin

    • It fits - put it back in your wardrobe when finished

  5. Start a list of anything you need to buy or replace because you’re going to need to go shopping if you have very little left.

  6. Repeat the exercise for skirts, dresses and tops.

    • Skirts can be more forgiving as you can wear them slightly higher or lower on your body so as long as the length is still acceptable, keep them. If they aren’t going to work, box them up (or add to the charity pile).

      • Belting skirts that are too big can work but may bunch up - try tucking in as it may fill the gap.

      • Try styling differently if you’re conscious of a tummy - a front tuck can work well.

    • Dresses can definitely be your friend as they can still work at different sizes, depending on the cut.

      • You can belt a dress to make it work (more so than trousers or jeans, which needs to fit around the bottom to be flattering).

      • Floaty dresses kind of fit you at a few different sizes, they just look different. Make sure they’re not pulling at the shoulders.

    • Tops should fit you at the shoulders and not pull.

      • Tops that are too big can be front tucked - this make it look like you’re intentionally wearing something oversized.

  7. With the “Doesn’t fit me right now” pile, assess how much is there and decide whether you have the space to box it up or store it. if you have to put it back into your wardrobe, separate it from the things that do fit and put it somewhere you can ignore until it’s time to try on again.

  8. You may have just inadvertently created a “capsule wardrobe” so take a look at what you’ve got left and the list of things you wrote down that you need. Then think realistically about how long it is going to take you to get back into your “doesn’t fit me right now” pile - assume the 1lb per week theory and then add a little time on. If you can live with a small wardrobe, then you may not need to buy that much at all.

  9. When taking the bags to the charity shop, shop for things that are on your shopping list in the charity shop!

  10. Or head to somewhere like Primark or H&M and buy some short term fixes that you won’t mind donating to charity once they no longer fit in a few months time.

  11. Underwear - get new underwear that fits and flatters. In particular, get remeasured for a good bra (try an indpendent or a bra specialist shop - Debenhams is OK but M&S has a bad reputation when it comes to bra measuring). Sorry M&S, I love you but…

  12. ACCESSORISE!!! If you have a limited wardrobe, accessories will change up a plain outfit and are perfect for such times (and they always fit). Go on an accessories splurge, or Download my Free Guide to Accessorising with Confidence here.

If you’d like to find out more about Lucy, she runs a therapeutic coaching programme, 'Eating Our Feelings', which helps women to dig into the causes of their overeating, including examining the very early decisions made around our bodies, our right to love and care and how we will meet our needs. You can find details of her course here.