What to Wear While You Lose Weight (cont.)

"Buying smaller reminds you of feeling tight," he says. "Let your new physique come naturally. You don't need a big old potato sack, though. You need to see your shape change. It's very motivational."

Although Fernstrom doesn't advise buying clothes in your target size, Goglia says it's all right to buy one piece that might have really "spoken" to you and gotten you inspired to lose, be it a swimsuit, special dress, or whatever.

Put the garment on a hanger, he says, and put it in the kitchen or someplace else where you'll see it first thing in the morning. Attach a note to it, saying, "This is me. This is my dress."

Several experts suggested buying a new belt to cinch in your loosening pants and let your shrinking waist show without a lot of hand-punched holes. Or get a slide-ring belt -- no holes at all!

Some other suggestions:

  • Start wearing colors you may have shied away from before. The bottoms may need to be black or brown, but go a little wild with tops. Fernstrom says white is "the new black," but confine it to your top -- few people can really get away with white pants.
  • Knits go the distance. Susie Galvez, owner of Face Works Day Spa in Richmond, Va., says knits adapt to changing sizes better and can look nice longer.
  • Take a look at clothing lines that offer comfortable, basic pieces designed to mix and match. Just make sure they skim over your new frame and don't envelop you.
  • Wear long with short. Galvez recommends pairing longer blouses with shorter skirts. Long skirts, meanwhile, look better with shorter blouses. The idea is to avoid cutting the torso in half.
  • Invest in some good shoes. Depending on how much weight you lose, your shoe size may change. And you may want to ditch your sneakers for something a little sexier: Fernstrom notes that even an inch of heel does wonders for your calves, while Haver points out that you may be comfortable in thinner-soled shoes now.
  • Get a new handbag that compliments you, advises Galvez. A tiny purse carried by a large woman is not in proportion, she says. Adjust the straps so the purse rides higher than your hip line.
  • Buy bathing suit tops and bottoms separately to ensure the best fit. Some retailers, like J. Crew and Lands End, allow you to mix and match, including in the tummy-cinching tankini styles. Buy a suit in a basic color like black or navy, and splurge on the pareo or cover-up. "That's the place for hot pink," Fernstrom says.
  • Wear nice hosiery and gorgeous lingerie. Successful dieter Judy L. says she used to think Victoria's "Secret" was that Victoria hated people with a weight problem. "I hit the jackpot when I could wear that underwear!" she exclaims. She recommends buying good lingerie as a reward.
  • When you're considering buying an item, ask a trusted friend how it looks on you. "Don't buy it just because you can get into it," advises Judy L.
  • Get a manicure, pedicure, or facial. Melinda T. lightened her hair and dove into her new life as a blonde.

Size Insanity

You don't have to be a dieter to know that sizes are wacky these days. One manufacturer's 16 may be another's 18 or 14. Some retailers want it this way -- their "proprietary fits" create brand loyalty. And then there's "vanity sizing," where a garment that once would have been labeled a size 10 is now a 6.

That's why Fernstrom does not recommend people set a target size. Go by fit, and not size, which means trying everything on!

And what about those "fat" clothes that -- hallelujah! -- are now swallowing you?

The experts agree. Toss the larger clothes! Better yet, light a bonfire.

Goglia works with a lot of celebrities. "They are not unlike Joe Civilian," he says. "They have a fear of gaining the weight back, so they hold onto all their old clothes. When they look in their closet and see the 'fat clothes,' it means they haven't said good-bye to 'Fat Mary' or 'Fat Paul.'"

Besides, who needs a bunch of baggy clothes taking up closet space that you could devote to slimmer-fitting fashions?

"I now feel like I have the right to dress tight," exults Judy L. What did she do? Bought some Versace jeans. In turquoise.

Originally Published July 24, 2005.
Medically updated July 28, 2006.

SOURCES: Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, director, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Weight Management Center, Pittsburgh, Penn. Philip L. Goglia, PhD, founder, Performance Fitness Concepts, Santa Monica, Calif. Susie Galvez, owner, Face Works Day Spa, Richmond, Va. Sharon Haver, founder and style director, FocusOnStyle.com. WebMD Weight Loss Clinic Feature: " Finding Clothes That Fit and Flatter."

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