How to dress for your changing body

Tips to make the most of your existing wardrobe along the journey.
Published November 1, 2021 | Updated October 28, 2022

Dressing your changing body while on a weight-loss journey can be wrought with all sorts of emotions.

Lauren Messiah, a personal stylist, entrepreneur and author of Style Therapy: 30 Days to Your Signature Style, has some advice for how to make that experience a bit easier, without having to buy a bunch of new outfits.

But first, let’s step back and absorb her advice for how to love ourselves and our bodies throughout the journey, whatever changes come about.

  1. Gratitude: “Think about all the positive things that your body does for you,” says Messiah. “Has your body kept you healthy? Can you walk, run, and play with your kids? Do you have hands that high-five and cook a delicious meal? You get the idea. Sometimes we focus so much on what we don’t like about bodies, we forget about all of the things we love about our bodies. Get in gratitude and watch how quickly your relationship with your body changes.”
  2. Zoom out: “This is an exercise I have my clients do,” Messiah says. “Strip down, take a good long look in the mirror, and zoom out. Zooming out is the opposite of nitpicking at every roll, fold and wrinkle you see. Instead, observe the overall shape of your body and note all of the positive things you see and sensations you feel.”

With those mindset tips in place, here are Messiah’s tricks for making your current wardrobe fit as your body changes.

  • Go with stretchy fabrics: “Opt for fabrics with stretch and knits that will adjust with your changing body – and I’m not talking about a wardrobe filled with leggings, sweats, and T-shirts,” Messiah says. “Try faux leather leggings, stylish sweaters, knit bodysuits, and paper-bag waist pants are also great options.”
  • Belts are your friends: “Belts aren’t just for holding up your pants; they also are a great accessory to define your waist and cinch in baggier pieces.”
  • Keep your staples and get them tailored: “If you come across any amazing staple pieces during your weight loss journey (classic blazers, blouses or trousers), make sure you find an amazing tailor as well,” she says. “It’s important to remember that clothing can be altered at a reasonable price. Many women think they have to throw their entire wardrobe away after losing a few pounds, where it’s actually cheaper to alter the pieces you already have.”
  • Repurpose for the seasons: “As the temperatures cool down, you’d be surprised at how easily you can repurpose your summer wardrobe,” Messiah says. “Layer a tissue-weight turtleneck underneath a dress or a blouse, add tights to a skirt or a dress, and throwing on a fun jacket can change the entire vibe of your outfits.”

If you do buy new pieces, focus on accessories: “Your clothing may have to take a backseat during your weight loss journey,” says Messiah, “but that doesn’t mean your style has to suffer. Shop for jewellery, bags, shoes, and other accessories to punch up your look in the interim.”

Messiah’s final piece of advice is this: “Don’t wait to focus on your style until after you lose the weight.”

Improving our style increases our confidence, she explains, and when our confidence levels are high, we are more inclined to take care of ourselves.

“Treat yourself to a mini-makeover as part of your weight loss journey. Please don’t torture yourself by wearing clothes that don’t fit and don’t reflect the incredible person you are today.”