Thursday, August 6, 2009

Healthy Living: What do to for clothing while you lose weight

We're back to my regularly scheduled blog programming, scroll down if you want to see my angry letter to Nigel Lythgoe, producer of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance."

Today I'm going to discuss what to do for clothing while you lose weight. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, like I do, this can definitely be a challenge especially because as you lose, you want to look cute and celebrate your "new" body. Back in March, I went to a
Stein Mart and bought a couple of t-shirts for our trip to Disney World. They were only $12 each and they fit really nicely but... by the middle of April when we went to Disney, they were almost too big and I didn't really get any wear out of them. $24 wasted.

That's when I decided to check out one of our local Goodwill shops.
I love to shop and I'm pretty particular about my clothing, I never would have thought twice about buying second hand clothing until I realized what nice things you can find there. Money is tight for just about everyone right now and I am certainly not immune to that. I cannot afford to buy clothing that is only going to fit me for six weeks or so. I asked around and was told about one of the Goodwills that was supposed to be one of the "better" ones. I scored big time on my first visit.

1- Levi's jeans, tags still attached $5

2- TWO Ralph Lauren tops, tags still attached $3.50 each
3- Seven brand jeans, (not new but looking great) $5
4- Gymboree top and Cherokee top for The Son $2 each
5- Jones New York top, tags still attached $3.50

I went home having spent just over the $24 I spent for the new tops at Stein Mart (which don't get me wrong, is an awesome store,) threw it all in the wash and had a bunch of cute new outfits to enjoy, until I shrunk out of them again...

Now, I am an addict, I troll the local thrift stores and Goodwill shops to see what I can find. Oftentimes, I don't find much, but if I find one good item, I'm happy. I also find lots of good home items for decorating/refinishing as well as some great games, books and toys for me or The Son. I took a few pictures of items I've recently found, I don't think they came out that great but it gives you an idea of what is out there if you really look. Yes, it all needs ironing...

Pink and white gingham Gap blouse = $3.50
Jones New York top = $3.50
Boden... Yes! BODEN! (this one still doesn't fit but I couldn't pass it up, = 3.50
J. Jill top = $3.50 (do you see a pricing trend here?)

I've also scored an Ann Taylor khaki mini-skirt for $5, a Talbot's blouse for $3, an adorable "Diane Von Furstenburg-ish" dress for $5 and many, many excellent brands and items to keep my shrinking body clothed. It's fun and especially exciting when I find something with the tags still attached, who are these people that give away perfectly good Ralph Lauren items to the Goodwill? I still have over 40 pounds to lose and so I'll keep shopping at thrift stores until I reach my goal weight... probably after too, these bargains are too good to give up on completely.

So, this is what works for me when thrift shopping for clothing:

-Know your brands.
Personally, I won't buy Wal*Mart (or other bargain store) clothes from the thrift store unless it's something really super cute. Familiarize yourself with the more upscale brands if you don't already know them. Not to sound bad, but many people who shop at Goodwill don't know an "Ann Taylor" item from a "Faded Glory" item so there's plenty of hidden gems on the racks. There's nothing wrong with buying anything you like but I want to feel like I got a real score and I can afford to buy a $6 Wal*Mart t-shirt at Wal*Mart that's never been worn by anyone else, but can't really afford to buy a $40 skirt at Ann Taylor if it's only going to fit me for a month or so. Make sense? I definitely shop at the discount stores for me and my family but if I'm shopping at Goodwill, I want real bargains. I can pretty much pick the higher end clothing right out of a slew of more inexpensive items just by looking at the fabric quality as it hangs on the rack. Look for: Ralph Lauren, Ann Taylor, Talbots, Gap, Limited, Express, BCBG, J. Jill, Boden, etc. Once in a while I'll find a cute Target or Old Navy item and buy that too.

-Examine the item. Obviously most things at thrift store items have been worn before, you need to check for rips and stains very carefully. I'll buy an item if it's got a little rip on the seam, as long as I can sew it but if it's got a stain, more than likely, I'm not going to take a chance that it will come out so that item goes right back on the rack.

-Allow yourself time to look.
Goodwill isn't like your favorite department store, it's not usually very well organized and there are no outfits put together. You need to have plenty of time to browse. If your child is not a good shopper, don't take them when you go. The Son is a great shopper and gets a big kick out of looking through the racks for some of the more shockingly hideous items. I also bribe him with a visit to the "toy" section when I'm done looking at clothing and for under $3 I can usually find him something totally thrilling that just makes his day.

-Be open-minded and try things on.
Can I say that all the items I've found in Goodwill are things I'd pick out in a department store? Probably not, BUT once I try them on, I find I can make some really cute outfits out of them. I get a lot of compliments on my clothing these days and people are shocked when I tell them I got it for $3.00 at Goodwill.

-If you are still losing, like I am, buy smaller-sized items if you really like them. The J.Jill and Boden tops I found still don't fit me but they will... they will!

-Search for Goodwill stores in or near the more "upscale" neighborhoods. I definitely have better luck in the stores near the more affluent people and school districts, (I guess THOSE are the people who get rid of perfectly good Ralph Lauren items with tags still attached.) I've found things in all kinds of neighborhoods but have definitly had the most success in the "nicer" areas.

I'll leave you with a final picture of myself, this is on a bulletin board at our Y for "Success Stories in Progress." I realize I still have a lot of weight to go but I'm feeling so much better these days and this outfit is one of the pairs of jeans I got for $5 at Goodwill as well as a top I got from a neighbor whose sister lost a lot of weight and gave her old clothing to me... I was thrilled, I'm taking the stuff I didn't need to... you guessed it, Goodwill!

Have a great Thursday everyone, today is my weigh in day and I'm feeling nervous... it was a good week but, we'll see how good very soon!


Darlene said...

That is a fabulous way to shop for "new" clothes while you are still losing your weight! You look FABULOUS, by the way!!!

Running Jen said...

Caren, you look great!! In that picture, you don't even look like you have much, if any weight left to lose! You're doing amazing!

Chrissy Cuz said...

I love that picture of you. You look hot. :o) Plus you had an awesome photographer. LOL!!