I’ve been undertaking a bit of therapy this week – retail therapy. Joy of joys, shopping for clothes is becoming a pleasure again.
Back last summer, before I began my new healthy lifestyle, I would have to fight my way into my wardrobe. I wish I had a picture to show you, but trust me, you couldn’t slide a piece of tissue paper between the hangers, so tightly packed were they.
Even though my jam-packed wardrobe contained a full complement of work and leisurewear across four sizes, I still never had a thing to wear. Ever the optimist, I held on to many, many clothes which no longer fitted me. Some went into a storage bag in the spare room, but those clothes which felt only a little out of reach (oh, how I could delude myself!) remained on hangers, taunting me every time I levered my way in between them, on the hunt for the few items which actually fitted, and which I could bear to wear.
As I’ve lost weight, I’ve worked my way through this wardrobe. Week by week, more garments have made themselves available to me. Buttons that actually did up, zips that didn’t burst, jersey that no longer became translucent as I challenged its tensile strength across my boobs or my bottom. A few ‘old favourites’ – much smaller clothes which I never discarded – re-entered the wardrobe; a cause for much joy and celebration.
Gradually the larger clothes have had to be extracted; first to go was size 26-28 (when you’re that big, you’re not supposed to mind that things aren’t properly cut for you); then size 24… (for my USA readers, these are UK sizes, which are 1 size up from USA versions)… onward and downward, to size 22. The garments I always hated have gone on Ebay (and recently rewarded me with enough profit for a couple of amazing massages and a few other treats at Ragdale Hall). Others have been consigned to storage. Yes, friends, whilst I’m generally positive about my healthy lifestyle, I’m not cocky about my ability to stay with the programme for the rest of my life. I’m taking the AA approach – one day at a time. I hope I don’t (and I’ll do all I can to avoid it) but if I need my fat-clothes again, the last thing I want is to be going shopping – that would be too depressing. I have this idea that I’ll keep them for a couple of years, then chuck them out, if by then I feel I’ve properly got a grip on my weight management.
So my wardrobe, like my bod, is shrinking. Shoulders droop (the clothes, not mine) and sleeves seem to get longer. I can’t bend over in this tunic or that shirt without gaping at the neckline in a very unladylike way. Jackets wrap around and flap about. Trousers with too-baggy bottoms sit lower and I’m tripping on the hems. Every week, one or two more garments have to go. Even some of the ‘old favourites’ are already loose on me. I can’t be disappointed; this is, after all, the whole point of this healthy/weight-loss thing.
But… it does mean that as summer approaches, I need to go shopping.
[Hurrah… Jools gets to the point at last!]
As my body has expanded over the last 15 years or so, the pleasure I got from shopping for clothes has diminished in inverse proportion. Hardly surprising, eh? Apart from my favourite fat-girl shop, which was always fun to visit, most clothes shopping was characterised by resignation. My mentality was a desperate, that’ll do. I would buy things simply because they fitted, not because they looked good, or more importantly, made me feel good. I’ve always tried to be well turned-out, but you do lose heart when you look in the changing room mirror and see a massive lump staring back at you.
But this week, I’ve been back in the shops. I’m now firmly in the middle of size 20 (that’s USA 18). I’ve still got quite a way to go (I’m aiming for size 12-14, sometime next year), but size 20 means I’m back in most of the mainstream shops (not including the teen-shopper emporia, but that’s as it should be, I guess). UK bastion of mid-market outfitting, Marks & Spencer, does almost everything in a size 20 these days, and I haven’t shopped there for years. Now, I find I’m spoilt for choice. I don’t quite know how to control myself!
I picked up new lingerie that didn’t require a mortgage to purchase (heavyweight scaffolding comes at a price). I bought nightwear that doesn’t resemble a tent (nope, I’m not going to be any more specific than that). I found a t-shirt dress – yes, a t-shirt dress – that only skims my emerging hourglass curves. I bought palazzo pants with a pattern on, for the first time in over a decade; a loose-knitted shrug (clothes that finish above the waist!), a sleeveless (sleeveless!) top and a pair of ultra-flat strappy sandals (the sort my once puffy and swollen summer feet could never have been squeezed into).
That’s not all. My wrists have shrunk, and bracelets no longer dig in, so I bought a few of those too. Yes. I went a bit mad this week. But with the summer coming, I needed a few things, m’lud.
My hope is that by next summer, I’ll be a couple more sizes smaller. That’ll mean consigning these new purchases to the storage bag. So I didn’t spend pot-loads on my ‘transition’ summer wardrobe – just a few necessaries. Of course, that’s another thing – when you’re shopping on the high street again, you don’t spend anything like as much as you have to spend in the high-end fat-girl shops.
So… a few days of retail therapy, and I have some nice pieces to see me through the summer. I’m actually looking forward to those warmer days, knowing that I won’t be spending them in a sweat-funk, but will instead be cool, comfortable and relaxed in my new, less ample, attire.
I hope this doesn’t all sound insufferably smug. For me, it’s a little outburst of joy. It’s fun being a size smaller, and another size smaller, and another. And in the world of retail therapy, there is no better or more life-affirming feeling than poking your head out from between the changing room curtains, summoning a sales assistant, and saying, loud and proud, “could you find me one of these in a size smaller please”.