A Stranger’s Clothes

I went clothes shopping again, and I’m still not used to this newish size. My weight has stabilized at around 165 pounds, but clothes shopping for my current body is still something I’m learning how to do; a couple of months at being at this weight have yet to displace 10-plus years of knowing by sight what will fit a U.S. size 16-18 butt.

Oh, my sweaters. I’m 35ish pounds down, and most of the sweaters I bought when I weighed 200 pounds now look clownishly outsized. TJ Maxx yielded three long-sleeved shirts. I shopped in their size Large racks for the first time ever. I’ve never been down to a size Large since I was employed enough to have disposable income.

A red, black, and gray color-block sweater

A commanding sweater, suitable for warding off the frost of deep space. TJ Maxx, if this hadn’t been fifty American dollars, I would be wearing this right now. I don’t care if it’s still 90 degrees in Texas… it would be my number one.

I found some adorable, inexpensive t-shirts at Target while swimsuit shopping, so I bought a properly-fitting top that isn’t a solid color v-neck (this is progress). I was at Target to buy an end of season swimsuit, since the only suit I have is – surprise – condemned to the box with the rest of the charity clothes, guilty of the crime of looking like a deflated grape on my person.

A cartoon of an unhappy woman in a baggy one-piece swimsuit

My grape-colored swimsuit has seen better days and better fit. Let’s not talk about it any more than we have to.

My purchases got thrown into the washer and dryer with a small load of other stuff, and as I was folding some of the pants I hemmed a few weeks ago and adjusting a shirt on the drying rack, I found myself wondering, “Jeez. These go through the hot water wash by accident? Did these jeans shrink? What about this t-shirt? They don’t look big enough to fit me.” I brought the folded pile of clothing to my closet to put them away, then wound up trying a couple of items on just to check. Yeah, they’re fine. These aren’t a stranger’s clothes – this is just a stranger’s body I’m living in and shopping for.

I saw a photo progression linked from Reddit’s Loseit community: a woman’s photographic journey down 160 pounds. One of her quotes from the article struck me: “I remember the devastation of not recognizing the person reflected back to me in the mirror.” I see my unrecognizable reflection in the clothes I pick out to try on even now. I am still alarmed at how small they seem to my eyes, and I have yet to trust anything I’ve learned from my limited clothes shopping efforts since February.

Of the 5 items I brought into the dressing room at Target, I only held onto one of them – a pair of shorts that I could fit into, but that I wasn’t sure I’d still be able to wear next summer; a swimsuit top, which was a size 16 and underwired, but still too small for my boobs and in need of strap alteration before I can wear it in public; swimsuit bottoms that fit perfectly; and two t-shirts that I got in a size too large. I almost bought the tees, but they were just too big. I’ve got a policy of not buying clothes unless I love how they make me look, and they just didn’t cut it. I could only find the next size down in one of the t-shirt designs. I can order the other shirt online if I’m desperate.

I’m surprised at myself that I picked up the larger t-shirt sizes first, but when I saw them on display, looked at the cut of the smaller garments and compared them against the shirt I was wearing, I thought, “There’s no way in hell.” Especially after a week of ok eating except for the going-away-party cake and cupcakes I ate so much of during one of my last days at my old job.

A yellow and black Batman logo cake. Written on cake, "Good luck with your poisonints."

Holy baking pans, Batman! This misspelled cake could be a clue from the Riddler! Who cares, Robin, this thing is DELICIOUS.

But here I am, kind of rocking the new stripey t-shirt, ready to wear it to training for my new job. Added bonus: my old button-up shirts are no longer “wear over a tank top and don’t button” shirts, but “you can totally button* this!” shirts.

*still have to use a safety pin to avoid gapping, because that’s how life is.

Side by side photos of a woman modeling shirts

These are my super serious fashion blogger poses I whip out only for special occasions, like weeknights.

I’m not the perfect size, but I don’t think there is such a thing. I’m not my best me yet, but I’m working on it. I’ve got to get to know this new body’s sizing quickly, though, as I move toward a start date at my new job, where I’ll be required to dress like an adult in nice, well-fitting clothes. At least the selection will be larger and more flattering than the shapeless horrors of plus size business casual, but that’s a rant for another day.

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