En español | It’s totally normal for women 50-plus to experience a little weight fluctuation of about five pounds, thanks to hormonal changes, sluggish digestion and water retention. But some of us are truly delinquent when it comes to diet and exercise. We lose and gain weight so often our closet is filled with clothes in three sizes! Here’s the catch: Not only is a multisize wardrobe expensive, it takes up a lot of space, is stressful to look at and is unnecessary. If this is you, maybe it’s time to create one flexible wardrobe that looks great without having to size up or down. Here are 10 body-positive solutions:
1. Give your body and psyche a size break
Instead of holding on to your old “I’m-not-skinny-enough-for-that” items and “I-might-gain-back-20-pounds-and-then-what?” clothes, aim for a single wardrobe with a little more built-in give-and-take. Opening your closet and getting dressed should not be a depressing part of your day.
2. Stick with your most consistent “middle” size
This will help you create a realistic wardrobe when choosing new pieces. Let go of squeezers and tents. Toss or donate anything extreme and any item that jams in or squashes your fleshy bits, sag and bloat (FYI we all have issues with these) or requires holding your breath and two body shapers to wear. Also, include in that pile any oversize items that have no body definition at all.
3. First focus on where you gain and lose
This means taking a cold hard look at your body and determining where your weight shifts the most. Are you a below-the-waist gainer whose belly, booty and thighs show extra pounds? Or does extra weight go straight to your top half — breasts, midriff and waist? Are you a true belly gainer whose major concern is the waist band? Or is your weight gain an allover thing — curves stretching to the max, top and bottom? Now start a closet of body boosters to get you through thick and thin.
5. If you’re a belly gainer, you need room at the waist and tummy
A bigger belly is a menopausal meddler. Shift dresses and tunics mean no worries about where your waist begins or whether it even exists! Stay away from belts, belted anything and tuck-in tops. Layer longer tanks under shorter wider tops for a fashionable solution. Keep pants slim but opt for those with total or partial elastic waistbands, or leggings (see tip No. 8).
6. If you’re a top gainer, you need shaping above the waist
Wrap-style shirts, blouses and dresses sculpt your body to an X for a more defined shape and balanced top and bottom proportions. Real wraps or their faux-wrap sisters deliver a strong V neckline that has a torso-lengthening, shoulder-strengthening visual effect. The tie waist (or in some cases an invisible elastic waist) is adjustable to expand and retract as your weight changes.
7. If you’re an all-over gainer you need one color head-to-toe
A monochromatic look is the simplest way to create the illusion of a sleeker silhouette. You can match black with black or white with white or do all red for that matter, but this keeps the eye moving vertically. Paring your wardrobe to a few colors rather than a random rainbow is a smart move. You get style bounce from combining textures and prints while keeping the color theme consistent. Look for knits and basics that have some structure and have a tailor add an elastic stretch panel to the waistband of pants or skirts when necessary.
8. Make leggings your new base
No matter where your weight goes, leggings make looser, longer tops and layering easy. Your legs will always be a relatively slim body part (even if they are muscular, full and curvy) so look for leggings in a thick opaque fabric. Now totally acceptable as “pants,” leggings look stylish with mid-thigh or longer-length tunics, crisp white shirts, jackets and sweaters. Add any boot style from bootie to knee-high toned to match your leggings and you have a “look.” Choose faux leather and faux suede leggings for a cool polished effect and, believe me, no one will mistake them for gym or workout wear. Best part? They stretch up and down with you.
9. Learn to love prints
There is nothing like an all-over print dress to keep the eyes moving and away from specific body zones. For those yo-yo dieters who love the easy fit, comfort and chic look of a cozy bathrobe this is another easy solution, no matter where you gain or lose. No pulling, creasing or struggles to wear it, since the dress adapts to fit you. Look for knee-length and midi versions in floral, artsy or tropical prints that make you smile at the scale.
10. Last word: Invest in bras
Yo-yo dieters do need bras in several sizes and a range of bras that deal with weight shifts — no way around it. Gain weight and you’ll have spillage, double boobs, tight bra bands and back fat. Lose pounds and you get sag, loose cups and bands that swivel even on the tightest hook. Bras make all the difference in your body shape and clothes fit, regardless of size. Just splurge when and as needed. You’ll thank me!