Help for the Fashionably Clueless?

Adopting a healthier (mostly) lifestyle helped me lose weight, and as a result, I’ve seen big benefits:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Stronger muscles
  • Greater self-confidence
  • More energy for things I want to do

Surprisingly (or not), I didn’t see any real progress in these areas:

  • Meeting and, absent any silly pre-nup, marrying George Clooney
  • Developing any sense of fashion or style

The former was slightly outside my control (although I did drive all the way to Los Angeles last year), so I’m not surprised it hasn’t worked out well. Nor especially disappointed. He’s already been cheating on me with some Italian woman, so it’s not likely our relationship would have lasted anyway.

I was, however, bewildered by the lack of improvement in fashionistic intelligence. During my 20+ years of plus-size shopping, I was convinced that if I could somehow lose my excess weight, cute outfits would magically appear to me, everything would fit properly, and I would be even more adorable.

Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Oh, I’m still adorable, but it’s mostly on the inside. And I’m okay with that (thrilled, even.) So what if my wardrobe consists mostly of jeans, t-shirts, and workout wear? Who cares if I have four pairs of running shoes and five pairs of flip-flops in my closet, but not one single pair of spiky heels? Not me!

Well, not much. Every now and then, I wish I could match up my adorable inside with my Über-casual exterior, so when I saw this book at the library, I grabbed it like the proverbial drowning woman grabs at a straw.

dressthinThe rose should have been a clue. I didn’t notice it when I picked up the book, and I don’t like the message (real or imagined) that it sends. No WAY do I want to look that thin!

But since I ‘d already checked out the book, I decided to flip through it for some helpful tips. Surely, out of 330 tips, I’d find something useful!

Results were mixed, but entertaining. For a few minutes, anyway.

Potentially useful tips:
#38: “Never repeat a shape you want to disguise. If your face is round, avoid a round hat. If your face is large and square, avoid a large, square collar or pin.”
This is also true of eyeglass frames, and possibly more useful since I don’t wear hats (other than baseball-style caps) or large pins of any sort.

#73: “The V-neck pullover sweater can look great on every figure type! Wear it long, of course, but not wide or sloppy.”
They had me until that ‘sloppy’ part. Plus, this tip doesn’t do me much good with a) Spring, and b) stores that carry a full line of scoop- or boatneck style sweaters, but I’ll keep it in mind for next year.

#131: “If you are tugging and pulling at clothes–they don’t fit! You shouldn’t even be aware that an article of clothing is on your body.”
I’m guilty of excessive clothes-tugging. Sometimes I’m just hell-bent on wearing something, even when it doesn’t fit well.

#155: “Do not always wear drab colors. You may look a bit thinner, but you’ll feel drab as well.”
As someone who owned almost 40 pairs of black pants at one time, I can attest to some truth in this tip.

Dubious tips:
#20: “A large, bulky label can create an unwelcome bulge behind the neckline.”
Maybe it’s just me, but of all the bulges I’m concerned about camoflauging, the back of the neck really isn’t a priority.

#27: “Stirrup pants are a great addition to your wardrobe.”

That one had me flipping back to the copyright page. Nope, it was published in 2002. Didn’t stirrup pants go out in the 80s? Never mind that I wore them well into the 90s, I just thought we were done with them. (Juicy Couture says no.)

#35: “Know the widest part of your body and don’t wear tops that end there.”
Not a problem. My shoulders are the widest part of my body.

#42: “Fabrics such as velvet, velour and corduroy actually reflect light–and are therefore not recommended.”
So if you’ve been wearing your velour running suit over your stirrup pants, you can’t say you haven’t been warned.

#3:  “Clothes should fit loose and easy at your trouble spots. Do not wear clothes that are too tight!”
#71: “[The] Lycra/stretch Coolmax fabric will stretch practically forever without losing its shape.”

It’s a self-published book. I’m sure a professional editor would have noticed the contradiction. An amateur bulgy person (even yours truly) knows that one should not be stretching one’s clothes “practically forever” if one expects to look good.

Confusing tips:
#50: “Wear coats a bit on the long side. This is important.”
They don’t say why, and I’m afraid I’m going to inadvertently unleash Armageddon by wearing my hip-length coat.


Unfortunately, I can’t share any tips beyond #176: A brightly colored purse or leather bag can be fun and take attention away from a heavy figure.”
This is when I threw the book across the room. (Note to librarian: It wasn’t damaged.) I may not know fashion, but I do know that my ginormous handbags never, ever hid the fact that I was 100 pounds overweight.

I’m sure the authors of the book meant well, but their best advice was contained in a single tip: #28: “A smile is the fastest, most efficient, most inexpensive way to improve your appearance.
I do this one a lot, and I do look better. Feel better too! (Oddly enough, the people around me seem to feel better as well, making this one a definite fashion-forward tip!)

Those times when I’m able to put together a marginally stylish outfits are nice, but I’ve come to realize that I’m much happier in my jeans and t-shirts than I am worrying about finding the latest trendy clothes in a size/style/color that flatter me.  I’m looking at it as acceptance, rather than surrender. What’s most important to me is that I feel comfortable and confident and healthy.

Besides, I’m still adorable, no matter what I’m wearing. (Tip not in the book: So are you!)

But only if a smile is the brightest accessory!



24 thoughts on “Help for the Fashionably Clueless?

  1. Thank you, no one has told me that I am adorable in awhile! I love these tips, so funny…stirrup pants :0)

  2. I am a first time visitor coming from Sunny Days. I enjoyed reading your post, It made me smile several times.Thanks a lot. connie from Texas

  3. I am a fashion don't, even at my thinnest. I keep waiting for someone to turn me in to What not to Wear. I am all about comfort and really need to try to dress a bit nicer. Because I do believe you can impact your mood, to some extent, with what you wear. But I sure do love my sweatpants.

  4. Cammy, I got a chuckle out of this post. :) Especially the purse tip… But my oh my have I related to the drab colors. I mean at one point I think everything I owned was in black. Why I thought black was slimming is beyond me. Wearing black was not eliminating the size of my stomach or backside. There's no mystery involved there! :)

  5. Well lock me away NOW!! I am a virtual compendium of what not to do. That said, I'm really kinda ok with it. I must say, I found the information wildly amusing, but not necessarily enlightening. I shall now go forth in blissful ignorance, and continue on my merry way. AND, I think you're adorable in writing as well.

  6. Gee, I was all set to track down a copy of this book, but my enthusiasm tanked the further along I read in your post. Drat! When and if you stumble upon any useful fashion advice, please do pass it along, for I too, am in need of it!

  7. Heh.

    I don't know what to tell ya. It happened for me. I went from wearing baggy pants and the same t-shirt dress over and over again, losing 85 pounds and getting the chance to start a wardrobe…

    And my wardrobe is pretty fashionable – I definitely have the sexy librarian look down pat. And shoes, omg, shoes! I used to have like 2 pairs of shoes max, and now I have more like 16, which is not tons compared to some women, but I've only been at it for like a year… heels and wedges and boots and sandals…

    It's fun! I even have a complete matching spring set – tank tops and 3/4 length sleeve cardigans, dresses, skirts and shoes that all match and can be used to make up 7 or 8 different outfits.

  8. I used to be utterly clueless about anything clothes-related; I went through a year of building an awesome wardrobe which I now never wear because a) half of it doesn't fit anymore and b) I'm always at work or at school!

    If you really are interested in learning about it, I'd say the simplest route is to pay attention to What Not To Wear! :) Just because they're great for basics–not trendy stuff, but things like patterns and shapes. Plus S & C are hilarious, or at least I think so. :)

  9. This post is AWESOME, particularly the tips about stirrup pants, velour, and carrying a honkin' huge handbag to camouflage my stomach. Wow, I've been going about this thing alllll wrong.

  10. Stacey and Clinton have the best tips and one-liners.

    Oh, the fun they would have mocking that book!

  11. I'm snorting with laughter at both the tips from the book and your comments. The fact that it's self-published makes SO MUCH SENSE.

    Also I always thought that when I lost the extra poundage, I'd be more fashionable, too. I really need to go out shopping. Oooh let's go on a shopping trip Cammy!

  12. Ha, ha. Quote "A brightly colored purse or leather bag can be fun and take attention away from a heavy figure."

    Now I know why I don't have any fun and get the wrong kind of attention. I don't own a lovely,(or any other kind), brightly coloured clunky handbag. LOL

  13. I mostly buy black purses, but recently bought an orange one. Not even realizing that it was making me thinner!! :) Very entertaining post!

  14. I agree with watching What Not to Wear. They correct a lot of the mistakes made by most of us. And they've had some great shows on people who have lost weight and didn't know how to dress when they got thinner. My favorite place to shop as I was losing weight was with my consultant from Weekenders, a direct sales company. I was devastated when they went bankrupt and closed up shop. I was down to medium in their clothes and they were so flattering. Comfortable stuff that travels well. Haven't found anything comparable. Each season had a lot of mix and match stuff.

    I agree with everyone else – you ARE adorable. :-)

  15. I know the feeling. At 226 I would have given anything to shop at a non plus size store but when I finally could, I didnt know what to wear or what my style was. it had been defined by me because I basically had to wear whatever a store had in a plus size. suddenly I could choose but I had no idea what was me. It was really difficult and I still struggle sometimes with finding the best clothes for my shape (even after losing 70 pounds I cant wear anything I want) but its a learning process and with time Ill get it right.

  16. I had reached the point in my life of having to make all my clothes. So after I lost weight I did have a hard time figuring out what worked for me. Maybe that book would have helped a bit – but I am confused by the coat length thing!

  17. Hey, I'm Alyssa and I'm a brand new blogger. Omg, this post had me laughing the entire time. Stirrup pants? Velour? What are these people ON and where can I get some?! LOL. So silly. Perhaps instead of telling people to wear oversized handbags and stirrup pants, they should focus on being comfortable with your shape? Just, you know, a tiny suggestion lol.

  18. I too am guilty of excessive clothes-tugging. Need to stop wearing things too small.
    Funny post! Made me laugh!

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