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    What Should I Buy?

    Sharon Haver, founder and style director of, advises dieters to concentrate on flattering, well-fitting basics. "A shirt, a pair of pants; things with a bit of stretch -- meaning some Lycra or an elastic waist."

    Pants without a set-in waistband are easier to take in. A-line skirts show the "you" underneath, and, when they get a little loose, won't look as baggy as a too-large pencil skirt would, she says.

    "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."

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