Sense of Style

As it turns out, I don’t have one.   😕

It’s a bit of an odd explanation as to why I do not have any fashion sense but probably a story that a few of you are familiar with.  As a person who has been overweight her whole adult life (and part of her teenaged one), the stores that I had to shop in and the caliber of that clothing was marginal.  In fact, the area that I live in has 2 decent plus-sized stores which are both wildly overpriced and both stock the exact same stuff.  If it doesn’t exist in either of those stores there is nowhere else to go.  So being somewhat limited in the choice of clothing does not breed a sense of style that readily. 

Add to that, that most of the time it wasn’t a question of whether or not the item looked nice it was whether or not the item fit.  If it fit, I bought it.  If it fit and looked alright, that was just a bonus.  If it fit and was ugly, I chose not to notice.

Now I’m not fat anymore (mostly) and it came to my attention today that my choice of clothing can be on the somewhat marginal side.  Since my head still has to catch up with my body, I was actually surprised that the reaction to today’s outfit was so negative (in a ‘your friend just wants the best for you’ kind of way). 

I left work early today and headed out to buy new jeans.  That’s all I was looking for.  New jeans.  At the time that I started shopping I still did not see anything particularly wrong about the jeans that I was wearing (besides the fact that they were a little too short and a lot too big).  But overall?  I really thought that they were alright.  And then I started trying on jeans.  What I discovered is that the jeans that I was wore to work today I was embarassed to put back on and walk around the store in.  I tried on about 5 pairs in Liz Claiborne and liked one.  I tried on about 8 pairs in Guess and liked one.  I tried on about 15 pairs in The Gap, liked lots and loved one.  The pair from Guess and the pair from Gap came home with me although one pair will be returned after I get the final opinion tomorrow. 

After the jeans shopping I decided to poke around and see what else I could come up with.  After all, I was already in the mall (yech!) so why waste the trip?  I got a couple of shirts from Jacob and a KILLER deal on a black trench coat.  Also, a couple of pairs of shoes.

A few things struck me during my outing.  First, I don’t actually hate it as much as I thought I did.  I suppose you tend to always hate something that you are not successful at and when you’re fat, the mall is like standing in a river and dieing of thirst!  Since most everything that I tried on actually fit, I felt wildly successful and didn’t get to ‘freak out’ stage.  Not the entire time…which was 5 hours

The second thing that struck me is that I have no concept of how big (actually, not big at all) I am.  I figured that the Guess jeans would be cut small so I grabbed a 12 and thought I could always go up a size if they didn’t fit.  Ha!  Down a size, missy!  Even after I figured out that I am a size 10 or 31 in jeans and medium to large (mostly large) in tops, every store I went in after that I still chose the 12 or the 34 or the XL.  Talk about not trusting yourself!  I also spent a great deal of time looking at myself in the mirror during this trip, in various states of undress.  I realized just how upset and frustrated and disgusted I used to get when shopping because I was being forced to acknowledge something that I spent a lot of time hiding from and trying to hide from other people.  Things aren’t perfect in naked-Shanny world, far from it.  But it is a hell of a lot easier to look in the mirror now that it ever has been.  In fact, it was brought to my attention by a couple of store clerks that I am very slow trying things on.  I don’t think it’s that I’m slow as much as that I’m actually looking at myself in the mirror.  I wonder how many women just take a cursory glance and then move on to the next item?

It also struck me just how hugely overweight I was before.  As of today I am officially down 12 sizes in jeans.  12 SIZES!!!!  I am now a 10 and in September of last year, when I started this, I was a 22 and they were on the snug side.  Do you understand now why my head is having such a hard time catching up?  I kept thinking during my shopping outing, “Just how fat WAS I???”. 

And last, it struck me that I am completely clueless about what I should and shouldn’t be wearing.  I know what looks outright bad but the rest just falls into grey area.  There are things I find that I love but I don’t know if they ‘go’ with anything that I already own and I’m not sure if they are completely off the deep end.  Safest is black pants and a top of some type but that gets boring after awhile.  I tend to pick the safest items and not take any risks as far as different types of clothing.  I’m also reticent to pay very much for the clothes right now because there is still weight to lose and that means that things will not fit properly forever.  The thing is, as my dear friend said, what I wear should be doing something to compliment all the hard work that I’ve done.  I do agree that the clothes that I wear should be flattering and lovely and not be the focus of any attention.  I agree that the clothes should get me noticed but then not be distracting.  How I go about that I haven’t the faintest idea!  I never believe the clerks in stores, they are not going to tell you that something looks terrible.  I can’t trust what I see in the mirror most of the time and the number on the tag is not indicative of whether the item looks decent on me.

I’m going to have to do some practicing because I have a USA trip planned for May and there will be some serious shopping going on.  I can reasonably expect to be mostly done with losing weight by then and anything else will really just be toning up and adjusting.  Anything after May shouldn’t really affect the fit of the clothes too much so I’m planning to spend some money.  This trip could go one of two ways:  I could amaze myself and find good stores and good clothes and good clerks and be very happy by the end.  Or I could buy all the wrong stuff, get it home and hate it or get it home and ‘someone else’ hates it and be out a bunch of money since I can’t really return the stuff.

OK, I have to stop dissecting this one now and get out and do my jog.  Please note that there will be no Ask Lady Shanny tomorrow because I’m zipping into the US with my sister first thing in the morning.  When I get home in the afternoon I have something to do and then hockey in the evening.  Sorry, that’ll be two weeks in a row that there has been no advice!  You guys seem to be doing alright though!


  1. Bev said,

    March 1, 2008 at 12:03 am

    FIVE hours?! Are you serious?
    I did the wrong size picking the other day too. I took a M and a L sweater into the change room. Put on the M and it fit, didn’t look too bad but I thought the L would probably be better. Tried it on and totally understood what they talk about on What Not to Wear (my favorite show…lots of great clothing ideas). The L lost its style, the shape was all wrong and I just felt schlumpy. Put the M back on and saw the sweater for what it was supposed to look like.
    When I’m overweight I’m trying to hide it all and really I should be working with my body shape because the ‘hide it under baggy clothes’ style does not work nor is it flattering. Not so overweight anymore but you are right, the mindset is still there.
    Maybe you need to take along an unbiased person whose opinion you respect and who will be totally honest.

  2. ladybeams said,

    March 1, 2008 at 7:17 am

    Isn’t this a great problem to have? Thin enough to have too many choices. Good for you, LadyShanny. Don’t forget, (almost) anything you buy, if you really like it, can be taken in for minimal cost as your size decreases.

  3. Tarable said,

    March 1, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Thist post get me thinking about a project that I very recently participated in called, “Letter to my body” which is put on my a website called Blogher. It was very cathartic and this post just made me think that maybe it’s something you might enjoy doing.

    You write the letter to your body on your blog and then go to the blogher website and use “Mr. Linky” to link it there. Blogher is read by millions of women so you would probably get some traffic from there. I think that this is a really interesting project.

    If you think you might want to do it and need more info, email me and I’ll give you more details.

    Here’s the link to the project. I’m sure you could find my letter with little poking around, it’s actually been linked to the homepage now. I had to write it on blog space from Blogher because my “other” site is invite only.

    I know we’re not crazy about linkys in the comments but here’s the Blogher link if you want to check it out…

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