About two and a half years ago, I started fertility treatments to try and get pregnant. This meant pumping my poor body full of hormones. Hormones can be marvelously effective when used as supplements to try and treat a medical issue: infertility, menopause, some cancers, dermatological needs, etc. But they can have terribly frustrating side effects.
As soon as I began the treatments, I saw my weight go up. After six months with no success, I took a break. My weight went back down. Soon we continued trying different medications, all of which were, of course, heavy on the hormones. In addition to the more grave emotional pain that goes along with being unable to get pregnant, I began to get frustrated at how difficult it was simply to get dressed in the morning. I had a mishmash of different sizes of clothing, of different qualities, and of different styles. Because some of the weight gained while on hormone treatments was water, my size varied even day-to-day. I never knew what was going to fit. Although this may seem like an insignificant bother in comparison to trying to have a baby, it was one more hassle, one more way that infertility affected my day-to-day life. When you feel like your body is already under siege, already defective, the last thing you want is to have to squeeze yourself into too-tight pants, and then get lost in a voluminous top that does nothing for your figure.
It doesn’t have to be that way if you’re also struggling with fluctuating weight, for whatever reason. Those of us who take pride and confidence from putting together a carefully curated outfit should still be able to feel good about the way we look, even if we’re ten pounds heavier this month. Here are some tips I’d like to share from my own personal experience of dealing with fluctuating weight:
Leggings and tunics are your friends
Thank you, thank you, thank you style gods, for bringing back leggings and tunics. This look has been a staple for me as I lose and gain weight. Leggings are stretchy. They’re also pretty cheap compared to other kinds of pants. Thus you can wear the same pair despite gaining or losing weight, and when you do have to finally go up or down a size, it won’t break the bank. I like American Apparel leggings best–they are really thick, durable, and high quality. I have about four black pairs in my closet and I wear them at least four times a week.
Also, tunics. Tunics tend to be forgiving and flowy, but are styled to look that way. This is an important point. You don’t want to start buying things two sizes too big to cover up the fact that you’ve gained weight. You won’t be fooling anyone and it won’t look good. Tunics are also wearable despite weight gain and loss–add a belt when you’re slimmer, remove it when you’re heavier. Bonus? Leggings + tunic + boots/sandals is a great look on everyone. Modcloth is my go-to for tunics (I’m wearing this one a lot right now)–make sure you look at the measurement for how long the tunic is–depending on how tall you are, a top may or may not qualify as a tunic for you.
Pay attention to fabric
Make sure everything you buy has a bit of stretch in it. This is much easier now than it would have been fifteen years ago. So many items have some amount of Lycra in them, which means you get extra mileage out of them. During my heavier months, I relied on the same tops, all of which were stretchy and still worked even though I was fifteen pounds heavier than I’d been when I bought them. I think H&M sells the best basic stretchy tops–they’re cheap and they don’t fade in the wash. Get the L.O.G.G. brand (which I don’t see on their website), which is 97% cotton and 3% elastane.
Dresses give more wiggle room
Over the years of writing about style I’ve found these two things to be true 1) everyone looks good in a dress 2) most people wear a smaller dress size than pant size. Number one is true because dresses are forgiving. They don’t show the size of your thigh, they can come styled with great ruching to hide softness at the tummy, they can be endlessly accessorized with belts and sweaters and scarves depending on your specific needs. And unless you’re wearing a bandage dress, they’ll also allow weight gain and loss in a way that skinny jeans won’t. Although I only own one wrap dress, I’ve been amazed that it fits through all my fluctuations. Make sure you’re buying a true wrap dress that can be adjusted around the middle, not one that just looks like a wrap dress.
Number two is significant simply for reasons of vanity. Most people’s confidence takes a hit when they gain weight. For better or worse, it’s how we’re socialized. Having a dress in a smaller size than your current pant size can be a small, small boost. Hey, look at that, I’m wearing a size 8 dress even though I’ve outgrown my size 10 pants! Small victories. It’s important for us to be kind and loving to ourselves during this time, so use any benefit available to you, which brings me to my last point…
Be kind and loving to yourself
Weight fluctuation really sucks. In addition to whatever issue is causing the fluctuation, you have to deal with your appearance. It’s not fair, it’s not fun. So avoid the self-abuse. No name-calling, no self-shaming. Remind yourself that this is likely just a season in your life. There are much more important facets to your character than what the scale says. Focus on those things and cut yourself some slack.