In the late 1990s I lived in this nation’s capital – which is actually Canberra, for those of you overseas who were thinking… ‘Sydney’, ‘Melbourne’ etcetera. And I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know that even back then I was quite overweight. I’d recently come back from living overseas, during which time I gained about 30kg (which is quite ridiculous given I was living in developing countries). My additional weight was quite depressing at the time as I had to completely overhaul my wardrobe – obviously the Doc Martens, baggy pants and t-shirts I lived in while in Mozambique and Cambodia, didn’t quite cut it in the federal public service. (Although I did continue to wear my Docs with my ‘suits’.)
Fortunately I found a store in the centre of the city (bizarrely known as Civic – the centre of the city – not the store that is) which catered for sizes 14+ (in Australian sizes; US size 10+; UK size 12+). And… the clothing wasn’t tragic granny-dresses and the like. It was funky and fun. I frequented this store with frightening regularity until I secured an overseas posting and drifted back to South East Asia for a couple of years. The store in question was called Taking Shape. And it seems – in retrospect – that I was in fact, a bit of a trailblazer. (And is that a snigger I hear?)
Fast forward several years and I stumble across a brand of clothing in one of our major department stores called TS14+. And I realised… it was the same brand. Just abbreviated to freshen up its image. I assume.
And then it really took off. I could barely walk down the street without seeing another ‘larger’ woman or girl in oblique-cut shirts, skirts or pants. I could almost ‘pick’ a TS outfit from a mile. That’s not to say I didn’t (and don’t) love the clothing… more that future purchases were all in black or block colours so I didn’t see myself everywhere I went.
TS14+, the clothing label, donated a voucher as a door prize for the blogging workshop I attended on Sunday. I didn’t win it (and am quite happy with the lovely necklace I won), but wouldn’t have minded the voucher as I’m basically due for a few new pieces as winter approaches. To tempt (the chubbier among) us further, we received the latest catalogue in our take-home packs from the workshop.
Naturally I perused mine while in the bathtub with some champagne several hours later. And as I chose the items that I might well buy, I pondered a little on the clothes and the models.
I’ve talked before (in my Drop Dead Diva redacted post) about dressing for my size, about covering up and feeling self-conscious about my shape. Every less-than-perfect woman thinks about this. Shit, I’m sure even perfectly-shaped women think about it. But… when bigger, I tend to wear the baggiest, shapelessest gear I can find. I hide my scary curves under loose layers, vaguely conscious that I’m doing myself no favours, but unable to bring myself to allow my clothes to cling to my body in any way.
Each time I’ve lost weight, I’ve dressed a bit differently. This time is no exception. Sure, I’m not wearing short shirts, or tucking things in, but I no longer feel compelled to wear shirts that almost come to my knees. I don’t wear anything clingy, but wear things with a few pleats or darts to taper them in some way.
I guess I’ve always known that showing off your curves – even when they’re bigger than they should be – is more complimentary than burying them under layers.
And as I flicked through the TS14+ catalogue, the whole ‘dressing for your shape’ thing became clearer. Even the attractive models looked better in some outfits than others. The funky shapeless drapes or layers did little to enhance the women’s shapes. Although… I barely noticed this until I came across the picture (to the right) of a model in a shorter and figure-hugging shirt and trousers. I flicked back then to the other pages and realised how much better she looked when she showed off her figure a little.
There’s a lesson for me there.
I’ve still got a way to go in the weight-loss arena. Although I’m proud of my accomplishments to date (albeit frustrated I’m at a standstill) I still feel self-conscious in anything too figure-hugging or fitting. My shirts ARE a bit shorter than they once were, but I would NOT dream of wearing a belt, for example, or something which clinched in at my waist. In fact, I still wear some of the shirts and pants I wore 20+kg ago. Occasionally I get comments about how loose they are. And when I wear something more fitting, I’ll get queries about whether I’ve lost more weight. I sigh and say “No alas,” but perhaps I need to consider WHY they think that.
Obviously covering up isn’t always the right thing to do so I’m going to make an attempt to wear some of the smaller clothes I own and STOP dressing in my fat clothes. And… when next shopping I might take someone with me so they can slap some sense into me when I cringe at curve-hugging options.
* Photographs from TS14+ catalogue and Facebook page and I’ve hopefully caused no offence by using their clothes in this post to further my point.