Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Truly, I Have NOTHING To Wear

Tip Of The Day: The most important tip you need to know to save money on your wardrobe. Warning – if you have delicate feelings that are easily crushed, you may not want to hear it.

Tip For Tomorrow: More tips on shopping. Plus, check out Derfwad Manor (see it over there on the right?). Mrs. G conducted my very first interview – next stop, People Magazine! Thank you for the shout out, Mrs. G.

Further Elucidation Of My Cheap Deal: Before I just blurt out the tip, I thought I’d give you a bit of background – the genesis of the tip, if you will. Also? I feel the need to SHARE MY PAIN.

Every year, in the spring, I take out all of my spring/summer/fall clothes (in MN, those three seasons make up about half the year… and winter makes up the rest. Sad, huh?), try them all on, and get rid of the stuff that no longer fits my body, or my lifestyle, or the current fashion.

Generally speaking, I dump about 4 pieces, which means I can buy 4 new pieces throughout the season(s). However, last year when I tried on everything? Two-thirds of my wardrobe did not fit. My body, that is. The clothes were all still fashionable and age-appropriate, but my entire self had gone up at least one size.

‘That’s fine,’ I thought, ‘it’s an excuse to go shopping.’ And shop I did, for an entire new wardrobe, in one to two sizes larger than last year’s. I took all the clothes I still loved and packed them away. I figured I’d lose weight during the summer, and would fit back in them toward the end of the season. Some clothes did fit again, and they were a welcome refresher to my wardrobe come late August.

‘That’s fine,’ I thought once more, ‘next year I’ll still have all these new clothes, and then I’ll lose even more weight, so I can fit into EVERYTHING.’ And then I skibbled off in my winter clothing, confident that I would eat right and exercise throughout the frigid months.

Can you guess what happened? I bet you can.

This spring, Easter Sunday to be exact, I pulled out my clothes, eager to see my old friends. And then disaster struck anew. Once again, two-thirds of my spring/summer/fall wardrobe did not fit – including the new stuff from last year, which already had been one to two sizes bigger than my clothes from the year before.

Do you sense a trend here? Every year, I’m going up a size, which means every year, I need a new wardrobe. Clearly, this is not cheap, and it certainly isn’t fabulous.

(Oddly enough, this doesn’t happen with my winter clothes. Probably because they are baggier and cover more of ALL THAT IS ME. And I can layer them. You can hide a multitude of sins in layered clothing. Even still, I had to buy three pairs of new pants last winter.)

That’s when it hit me – the NUMBER ONE TIP for saving money on your clothes – QUIT GAINING WEIGHT. Because when you gain weight, you can’t wear the clothes you currently have. Which means you have to go out and buy all new ones. Which means you are spending money that you wouldn’t have HAD to spend, if you had just maintained your current weight.

Before I go any further, bear in mind these Four Things:
First, by YOU I mean ME. I am not judging you, because you KNOW how I feel about being judgy.
Second, I know I am not fat, I am just gaining weight. Please don’t think I’m going to spiral into an eating disorder because my clothes don’t fit. Also? I don’t want YOU to spiral into one either.
Third, in NO WAY am I saying you are fat. YOU are FABULOUS.
Fourth, I am also not saying you shouldn’t shop for new spring clothes. If you want new spring clothes, then go out and get them! I’m saying it is better if the clothes are a WANT and not a NECESSITY.

Moving on.

Here is what I propose. I am going to try to follow the steps below, and you are welcome to follow along with me. If you have additional advice, please post it in the Comments section. Thanks!

Step One: Determine your resting weight. This is the weight you can maintain with little effort – you are eating fairly normally (with no holidays to mess you up), and you are moving your body around a bit (not sitting on your couch watching marathons of America’s Next Top Model).
Ooo, I can do this step! I know this one! My resting weight is 130. However, I am 5-6 pounds above that. Oops.

Step Two: If you are above your resting weight (like me), get back down to it. This will require a small amount of effort on your part.
For me that means cutting back to one sweet treat a day (not the 5 to 10 I’ve been cramming in), cutting out soda (I can’t drink diet, so it’s really all or nothing for me), eating three squares a day (not bingeing at lunch and dinner because I’ve gotten so hungry), and limiting my intake of fried/cheesy/beefy foods. And potatoes. Potatoes are my Waterloo.

Step Three: Once you have achieved your resting weight, try on all your clothes again. And I mean EVERYTHING, including your winter wardrobe. Then, pull out all the items you know will never fit again, and get rid of them.
Letting those clothes hang around will give you unrealistic expectations. And if you don’t meet those unrealistic expectations, you’ll become sad. And if you are sad, you might binge, or stop exercising, because you think, ‘why bother trying, I’m never going to be a size 2 again.’ So what? You are still FABULOUS, and have lots of other things to wear.
Do you sense that MAYBE this happened to me? You might be right.
This step is very painful for me, because there are certain clothes I DESPARATELY want to wear. Like my black leather pants. They are sooooo Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Unfortunately, they are also sized to fit Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Who, I believe, is a size 0. Which I am not, nor will likely to ever be again.

Step Four: Pull out the clothes you think you could actually fit into again. These items should only be a bit snug – like, you can zip them, but only just. Not things you can’t even get over your knees or your head.
In short, you should only have to lose NO MORE than five pounds to fit into them. 2 pounds would be better.

Step Five: If possible, lose those 2-5 pounds. If you lose 2-5 pounds, you can fit into the clothes that were snug before, plus all the stuff that fits you at your resting weight. More style options! Less need to shop for new!
For me, this means I need to go from 136 pounds to 128-125 pounds. UGH. However, if I do? Then I’ll actually weigh what it says I do on my driver’s license.

Step Six: Maintain your resting weight and try to only fluctuate downward, not up. Please remember! Most people lose and gain 2-5 pounds in a DAY, depending on water retention and bowel movements (yep, I worked in poop again). So don’t be freaked out if you drop 5 from your resting weight, only to put it back on by nightfall. That is completely normal. Seriously. I saw it on Oprah.

Parting Shot: I hope these steps are helpful to you. Notice I didn’t say you needed to lose a ton of weight. There’s no ‘stop eating’ or ‘work out daily’ in this post – I can’t maintain that, so why should I expect you to? All I’m saying is pick a weight. Buy clothes to fit that weight. Then, maintain that weight, so you won’t NEED to shop. Instead, you’ll GET to shop, which is BEST.


laRue said...

And we all know that shopping our own closets is cheaper than shopping somewhere else.

I am in need of following this advice. I kept thinking, "Oh, I'll be so much smaller by Feb.!" Then I wasn't. Then "Oh, I'll be so much smaller by March!" and then Easter happened. It is indeed a vicious cycle.

Consequently I am following the program set up by our fabulous trainer, and attempting to cut back on All Good Things. (Fried, chocolate and potatoes do indeed fall into this category.)

My goal is that when we all get together for our clothing swap again that I will not be the end of the line for clothing that does not fit. The BIG end of the line. But I will still feel fabulous, and my knees will thank me. And then we can shop more. And that is what really matters most. That and my C-Reactive Protein level.

Anonymous said...

Thank you your Holy Cheapness. This is exactly the post I needed for today. I need to do the same thing as you .. it's the blasted 10 pounds that just won't go away. But they must, because my resting weight WILL be between 130 and 133. That is a must.

Lou said...

I've come to the conclusion that no matter how much I exercise to 'maintain' I will always have 'areas' that will expand. Also, no way am I giving up salt and vinegar chips and cheeseburgers just to maintain. Then life would be oh so boring. And for the record...your resting weight is less than mine.

mia said...

I have jeans in four different waist sizes--both because I can't figure out jeans sizing and to account for all the crazy fluctuations in my own waist size.

Anna said...

Apt post. I have this problem every year, and I just started the "correction process." Feeling good, exercising moderately, and eating healthy. And honestly, doing all these things saves me money every day, instead of having that happy hour drink, I'm going to the gym with a friend.