It seems that a popular question I've been receiving is, "how do I dress my transitioning body?" We've been having such a great, open dialogue in our Luxe Style Tribe Group that you ladies have inspired me to write this post. Thank you for your vulnerability and candidness.
A woman's body is forever changing! We've come to learn to adjust to our new bodies after puberty but once we've got the hang of it, we tend to get comfortable. We manage the minor monthly fluctuation that comes with being bloated during our cycle but the bigger changes are harder to face. Whether your body has gone though a drastic change due to hormonal imbalances, health challenges, breast reductions or augmentations, child birth, emotional health or what have you, YOU'RE NOT ALONE.
I am literally writing while feeling mild contractions, waiting to give birth this week and can't imagine what my body's going to look like after my baby comes out. I am sure it's going to be a process, so join me in these 17 tips to dressing our transitioning bodies, while saving time energy and money.
1. Be Honest With Yourself
Take a good look at yourself in the mirror, as you are. What size are you? I know, I know, you used to be a size [insert previous size] and now you can't fit into the clothes in your closet. That just means that you're a new size now and have to learn your new body. So let's stand up straight, grab the measuring tape, embrace our new bodies and work with them.
The next time you go shopping, avoid trying to squeeze into the smallest size possible. Remember, the first rule of style is a right fit. It doesn't matter what size you are, if it doesn't fit properly, you'll look sloppy. So own it ladies!
2. Go For A Bra Fitting
Many of us ignore the importance of undergarments, particularly the support of good bras. Think of your bra as an investment piece. After all, we wear bras everyday for majority of the day, so I wouldn't recommend buying cheaply constructed ones. If "the girls" aren't properly supported, your entire look will be out of wack. I'm sure you've seen a lovely lady in a great outfit but her bust support (or lack thereof) had you looking at her sideways like a confused puppy.
Take 15 minutes out of your day to stop by your local Victoria's Secret, lingerie store or the bra section of your nearest department store (Lord & Taylor, Macy's, etc) and ask them to measure your bust size. You'd be surprised how many women are wearing the wrong cup size. Be sure to try on a few different types of bras (t-shirt bra, full coverage, demi, push-up, etc) in that same size to assure you're comfortable and look good. You'll thank yourself later, I promise
3. Shop Shape Wear
Buying shape wear can be very intimidating. It reminds me of Victorian times when women needed another person's foot on their backs to tuck that sucker in, crushing their lungs in the name of beauty. Beauty DOES NOT mean pain and I am so glad we've graduated from Victorian times.
A simple solution to smooth out your tummy, waist and back on the daily is a shaping camisole like this one from Nordstrom. There are control tops for new moms too that allow easy access to your breasts for nursing, like this one by Playtex from Target. See the slide of shape wear that I've put together for you above. There are options for thighs and other problem areas.
4. Be Vibrant in V-necks
Now that we've gotten our minds right and the foundational pieces in place, dressing our new bodies just got a little easier. Whether busty or petite, think LONG AND LEAN, that's the goal when choosing what to wear. V-necks elongate your upper body because the neckline of your top gives the illusion of extending your neck. That being said, the opposite is done when wearing higher necklines like crew and boat necks. If your struggle is with looking wide, look at the direction that the neckline draws attention. A boat neck or off the shoulder pulls the eye horizontally, making you look wider. Vertical cuts are your new best friend! Take a look at the options above in the form of tops, dresses and even jumpsuits.
5. Chuck the Sweats
Okay, so... I have a beautiful friend who looks amazing and stylish when she dresses up for a meeting or event but spends her days in sweats. I honestly would love to sneak into her drawers and burn her sweats! (Mwa-ha-ha!... LOL). Wearing sweat pants and sweat shirts makes us look 10+ pounds heavier. I get it, they're comfortable and easy but there are alternatives.
Swap in your sweats for leggings if you hate wearing jeans or structured/restrictive clothing while on the go. Then add some tunics, camisoles, silky tees, cardigans and easy accessories to your wardrobe and of course some comfy footwear. It's not as hard as it seems, I promise. I've pulled a variety of easy bottoms in the slide above. Take your pick!
6. Accessorize Appropriately
Remember, long and lean is key so think long scarves or a lariat on top of your blouse or t-shirt. I know that chokers are in this season but they don't compliment everyone because they tend to cut the neck off. People with long necks benefit most from this style. If you do choose to wear a choker, opt for one that's paired with longer, layered necklaces to draw the eye vertically, like this gorgeous Panacea set from Nordstrom. See more in slide above.
7. Stick to Smaller Prints
Have you ever passed a graffitied wall or mural that caught your attention from your periphery? Think of that when you are purchasing printed clothing. If that pattern says, "hey you! Look at my problem area!" do not buy it.
On the flip side, if you find that you have a smaller area that needs to appear bigger, larger print is welcomed. This selection above is a collection of smaller print options that I've pulled to help compliment your larger areas. Take note especially with the horizontal striped top. Again, it's not that you should never wear them, it's how you wear them. Finer lines will do the trick.
8. Wear Black or Navy
I am a big advocate for wearing color and showing your personality but if you're feeling low key and not your greatest, wearing darker colors like black or navy because they are slimming. Take a look at this model wearing a colorful dress and a simple black shift dress. Yes, the dresses are two different cuts (one is flare and the other straight) but even the bust area looks fuller in color. If either pieces are your cup of tea, I found them on Fashion to Figure. Just click on your preferred picture and it'll take you straight there.
9. Avoid Widening Trends
Trends are so easy to get sucked into when everyone is doing it but keep in mind "long and lean" when deciding whether to dabble in or not. Remember to do the opposite. If you want your mid section to look smaller, don't wear big patterns, bright colors, large horizontal stripes or any other trend that will point directly to that spot.
If you're looking to thin out your bottom half, don't accentuate them with skinny jeans but rather create a balance with a boot cut. If you do opt for a skinny jean, wear a longer top and add a belt at your natural waist to make your legs appear longer and slimmer.
If you ask me, the midi skirt/dress trend is most certainly dragging out. They look great if you'd like to accentuate your curves with the right undergarments but don't forget about a-line or pencil skirts. You will very likely look better than the trendy looking girl next to you because your clothes fit better for your body shape than hers do. No shade, just sayin'. Do what's best for you!
10. Lower the Volume
I don't know about you but back in my toddler days, my mom used to ruffle me up every chance she got! I'm talking puffed up sleeves, layers of lace, ruffles on my dress and socks, itchy crinoline to add volume under my skirts, ribbons in the hair and all. Questionably cute when I look back LOL but not very helpful when dressing a transitioning body as an adult. Wearing garments with ruffles only adds volume so shop for sleek and clean finds.
Remember, only add volume in areas you'd like to accentuate.
11. Keep Metallics to a Minimum
Do you guys remember when I wore these metallic joggers to NYFW. Truth be told, I was so self conscious because I knew that my bottom and hips were larger than my upper body. I loved the joggers so much because I hadn't seen anyone else in them so I layered on top to create a balance and heels to elongate my legs so that I wouldn't look stumpy.
I wore them once while pregnant and the first comment I heard was "Oh wow, so you REALLY want us to know that you're pregnant huh?" That's when I realized, it was time to put these puppies away. Point is, be careful with massive amounts of metallics. They'll surely shine light on whatever body part they're on.
12. Elevate and Point
Living in NYC, many of us do not travel in heels. A more comfortable option are wedges, and they don't have to be that high either. Look at the difference in your stance when you have a little bit of elevation versus wearing flats or sneakers. We naturally tend to stand taller when elevated and that makes us look leaner.
Also, a pointed toes, creates a continuous line from the leg making us look lean and long so swap your round toed shoes in for a narrower shoe. I found flats, sneakers and even rain boots with these features! Take a look above.
13. Focus on Fabrics
Avoid stiff, clingy or chunky materials. Instead, think flowy fabric blends. Remember, we're not hiding, we're working with our bodies. See examples above.
For those of us who hate ironing (me!) or just don't seem to have the time, jersey material, soft knits, cotton blends with stretch and cashmere are some great options. I have also found some great tips here for a wrinkle-less wardrobe. I hope it helps.
14. Wrap It Up
I think I've touched on this before in a previous post but if not, I LOVE wrap dresses. They are magical. Diane von Furstenberg is a genius to have a continuous line of wrap dresses because they work on almost every body type. They are usually made of a flow jersey-like material that drapes well, they tie at your natural waist giving you an hour glass figure and have a v-neck to lengthen your neck. Sounds like everything we're been talking about! See the tops and dresses I've pulled for you above.
15. Talk to Your Tailor
Do you have some pieces in your wardrobe that can be taken in or adjusted to fit you better? Talk to your tailor. Have your pant legs and skirts hemmed. Have that baggy suit jacket taken in and remove the shoulder pads. Take your favorite items to the tailor and see what they can do for you. It makes all the difference.
16. Find Your Balance
Getting dressed doesn't have to be difficult. Once you've done away with the bad choices, accept your body where it's at and add clothes that you won't question (using the tips above), you won't feel so stuck. Tap into how you're feeling before you get dressed. Looking good will always release endorphins and push you confidently into your day. Don't worry about making mistakes. It's a process and that's what I'm here for, your stylist, just a click away.
17. Get Thrifty
Last but not least, visit your local thrift store. Remember that you're in transition, so before you go make any expensive purchases, check out the thrift store. Some stores are super picky and only accept quality items and brands so you'll definitely get a bang for your buck while experimenting and figuring out what's best for you.