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

There comes a time in every successful dieter's life when he or she stands befuddled in front of the closet, wondering what in the heck to wear.

The clothes that fit a few weeks ago now hang in loose and unflattering folds. But with goal weight still several pounds away, it's not time to invest in a whole new wardrobe.

It's a happy dilemma, but a dilemma all the same. So what's a soon-to-be-slimmer person to do?

What not to do, the experts say, is to keep reaching for those same old baggy duds -- at least not after a certain point. Clothes not only make the person, they can make the person feel and look slimmer. And some say that dressing to look your best, no matter where you are in your program, can inspire you and help propel you further downward.

That's the word from Judy L., a marketing consultant who lost 80 pounds in one year, going from a size 22 to a size 6 or 8.

"When I was eating, I used to go out of my way to get special foods,'' says Judy, who asked that her last name not be used. "Then I tried to get my mindset to change, and now I get my rewards in terms of clothes. A piece of layer cake may make you feel good, but looking in a mirror also feels good."

Clothes can be a barometer of how you feel, as well as how much you weigh, says Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Weight Management Center: "Some people say, 'I won't buy anything new until I have lost 15 pounds.'"

If that helps motivate you, that's OK. The rule of thumb, Fernstrom says, is that losing 8 to 10 pounds translates to going down one size. Still, if you lose "up to 15 pounds, you may be OK in your old size," she says.

But putting off buying new clothes until you really need them doesn't work for everyone.

"Before you start dieting, go right out and buy one or two outfits that fit and look great and then wear those to death until you need smaller ones," suggests Judy L. "Pretty soon they will be swimming on you, and you will look like a little kid in your mother's clothes."

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