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What to Wear While You Lose Weight

On your way to a smaller size? Here's how to deal with wardrobe woes

What Should I Buy? continued...

"Why would you want to feel frumpy at any stage of your journey?" Haver asks. "You want people to notice every pound you lose and say, 'You look fantastic!'"

If you don't want to break the bank for clothes that will be discarded 10 pounds down the road, shop online auctions, thrift shops, discount malls, or simply buy less expensive brands of clothes than you normally would, Haver says.

Melinda T. has lost 57 pounds in 67 weeks. At first, she winged it, borrowing smaller duds from friends.

"I waited until I had lost two sizes to get clothes," says Melinda, who also asked that her last name not be used.

"They tell you not to buy elastic waists because you can't tell if your pants are getting tight on you again, but I like elastic in back. I shop everywhere -- Wal-Mart, a hosiery store that has some clothes, thrift shops."

Melinda bought dark bottoms and mix-and-match tops. "Very basic," she says.

Though experts advise showing off your slimmer body with proper-fitting clothes, stay away from overly tight ones. Philip L. Goglia, PhD, founder of Performance Fitness Concepts in Santa Monica, Calif., advises clients to buy a slightly larger size than they need while they're actively losing.

"Buying smaller reminds you of feeling tight," he says. "Let your new physique come naturally. You don't need a big old potato sack, though. You need to see your shape change. It's very motivational."

Although Fernstrom doesn't advise buying clothes in your target size, Goglia says it's all right to buy one piece that might have really "spoken" to you and gotten you inspired to lose, be it a swimsuit, special dress, or whatever.

Put the garment on a hanger, he says, and put it in the kitchen or someplace else where you'll see it first thing in the morning. Attach a note to it, saying, "This is me. This is my dress."

More Tips for Looking Good While You Lose

Several experts suggested buying a new belt to cinch in your loosening pants and let your shrinking waist show without a lot of hand-punched holes. Or get a slide-ring belt -- no holes at all!

Some other suggestions:

  • Start wearing colors you may have shied away from before. The bottoms may need to be black or brown, but go a little wild with tops. Fernstrom says white is "the new black," but confine it to your top -- few people can really get away with white pants.
  • Knits go the distance. Susie Galvez, owner of Face Works Day Spa in Richmond, Va., says knits adapt to changing sizes better and can look nice longer.
  • Take a look at clothing lines that offer comfortable, basic pieces designed to mix and match. Just make sure they skim over your new frame and don't envelop you.
  • Wear long with short. Galvez recommends pairing longer blouses with shorter skirts. Long skirts, meanwhile, look better with shorter blouses. The idea is to avoid cutting the torso in half.
  • Invest in some good shoes. Depending on how much weight you lose, your shoe size may change. And you may want to ditch your sneakers for something a little sexier: Fernstrom notes that even an inch of heel does wonders for your calves, while Haver points out that you may be comfortable in thinner-soled shoes now.
  • Get a new handbag that compliments you, advises Galvez. A tiny purse carried by a large woman is not in proportion, she says. Adjust the straps so the purse rides higher than your hip line.
  • Buy bathing suit tops and bottoms separately to ensure the best fit. Some retailers, like J. Crew and Lands End, allow you to mix and match, including in the tummy-cinching tankini styles. Buy a suit in a basic color like black or navy, and splurge on the pareo or cover-up. "That's the place for hot pink," Fernstrom says.
  • Wear nice hosiery and gorgeous lingerie. Successful dieter Judy L. says she used to think Victoria's "Secret" was that Victoria hated people with a weight problem. "I hit the jackpot when I could wear that underwear!" she exclaims. She recommends buying good lingerie as a reward.
  • When you're considering buying an item, ask a trusted friend how it looks on you. "Don't buy it just because you can get into it," advises Judy L.
  • Get a manicure, pedicure, or facial. Melinda T. lightened her hair and dove into her new life as a blonde.

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