How to Shop for Clothes When Your Size Is Changing

Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN

Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.

So, you’ve had weight loss surgery and things are moving in the right direction on the scale. Finally! This is exactly what you’ve been waiting for and so desperately wanting for months, years, or even decades. You're doing well meeting your nutrition goals, you’re on point with your exercise, and you’re feeling great! All kinds of things are ever changing — including your size! So much so that you can’t keep up with a consistent clothing size in your closet. One day you fit into those old jeans you thought you’d never wear again and a week later, maybe they’re a bit on the loose side.

How you look and feel in your clothing can make or break your confidence. If it’s too tight, you feel uncomfortable. If it’s too loose, you may feel sloppy. There may be many pieces of clothing, particular styles, or trends you’ve been wanting to try to wear for years, and you finally feel good enough in your own skin to give them a shot. But at the same time, you know you won’t be in this size for very long so you don’t want to spend too much money on things you won’t be able to wear in a few weeks. This journey can be both exciting and frustrating at the same time. But there are tips and tricks you can use to help you to feel confident while not breaking the bank:

1) Hit up your local consignment shops. Odds are there are a few consignment shops around you. I’ve been to some pretty amazing Goodwill shops before and shopped there for many things, often finding more than what I was looking for. Most clothing items can be found for under $10 and many under $5. Soon, you’ll be donating your own clothing!

2) Create or join clothing swap groups. Many bariatric programs have online or in-person support groups. Ask if there is a support group offered for clothing swaps. This would involve people of all shapes and sizes donating clothing to the group so that you can shop previously loved clothing. Think about organizing your own group locally if your surgery center does not offer this or if they are not willing to organize one. It could be hosted in someone’s home, a local church, or an available space offered by anyone participating. Be sure to have tables available for setting up non-hanging items and accessories as well as portable rolling or hanging racks for organizing hanging clothes.

3) Shop for basics and staple items. Basics can go a long way while you are in a particular size. Solid colors and simple designs can be very versatile giving you the opportunity to wear them on multiple occasions. All you need to do is accessorize to change up the look. Try different jewelry, belts, and third pieces like cardigans or jackets to make it feel like a completely different outfit.

4) Get alterations when appropriate. There will be certain pieces of clothing, perhaps your more expensive ones you love, that you don’t necessarily want to donate just yet. A good option could be having them altered as this is typically an inexpensive option compared to a whole new dress or fancy piece of clothing. Dig through your closet and determine what could be worth keeping, take it to your local tailor, and ask what they can do for you. It’s likely this tip will only get you through a couple of different sizes as you continue to lose weight, but you can try to hold on to them as long as possible, right!?

5) Purchase items that have stretch. This tip is more for the ladies out there... Purchasing pieces of clothing that have a little bit of stretch can be optimal as you go down to the next size. You can buy them when they are a little on the fitted side and when you are ready to go down, it will still look somewhat fitting. These pieces can last the longest between size changes.

One motivating thing you can do when you’re out shopping is to buy something you really want to fit into. Be realistic though! This item can serve as a physical vision board piece that can keep you going when you might start to lose steam. Stay true to your nutrition and exercise goals, and work harder than you ever have. Before you know it, you’ll be saying adios to those bigger sizes once and for all!

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