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5 Brilliant Wardrobe Hacks for When Your Weight Is Changing

Whether you’ve gained or lost a few pounds (or are planning to), these easy and inexpensive moves mean you’ll never need clothes in three sizes again.

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Do your clothes seem to fit differently lately? You’re not alone. Our routines have shifted. Some of us are exercising more since the pandemic began. Others are spending fewer active hours outdoors or binge-watching escapist shows and maybe stress eating. During a period of significant weight loss or gain, it can be tempting to purchase new clothes. Not only can that put a strain on your wallet, but it can also result in a closet full of clothes you might not wear. Instead, shopping selectively and taking inventory of your current wardrobe will save you time, money and a lot of hassle. These tips can help you look your best.

Embrace your shape
“Body shape is more important than size, and yes, there's a difference,” says Morgan A. Wider, author of The Worthy Wardrobe: Your Guide to Style, Shopping & Soul. Assessing your body type is key to finding the most flattering clothes, especially if you’ve experienced weight fluctuations. “Your body shape is about where you hold most of your weight, no matter how much you lose or gain. By knowing your body shape, you'll know what garments give you more flexibility,” says Wider.

If your weight gain is mostly in your hips and thighs, then you probably don’t have to worry about purchasing new tops. But you’ll get a lot of style mileage from a fit and flare dress or an A-line skirt, suggests AARP fashion expert Lois Joy Johnson. If your weight is evenly distributed, try a monochromatic look. Instead of a wardrobe overhaul, you can focus your attention and coins in the right direction and on the right silhouettes.

With the weather getting cooler, knits can play a starring role in your wardrobe all week long. From a basic T-shirt to a chunky sweater to a chic sweater dress, be sure to stretch your style options as you do your seasonal closet edit.

Shop for your happy size
If your weight tends to fluctuate, take into account how the clothes you buy fit. For example, if you typically gain weight in your arms, choosing a shirt that’s a tad too snug means it will be even tighter if your weight increases. Instead, opt for a shirt that gives you some wiggle room. And on the flip side, clothes that are extra roomy now will look even baggier, and possibly less flattering, if you lose weight.

Stretch your style options
Who doesn’t love the comfort of wearing leggings or sweats? Don’t limit yourself to only wearing fabrics that have more give to them after hours or on the weekend. “Fabrics that are blended with synthetic fibers or spandex move with your body and are ideal if your weight fluctuates,” says lifestyle and beauty expert Mercedes Sanchez.

With the weather getting cooler, knits can play a starring role in your wardrobe all week long. From a basic T-shirt to a chunky sweater to a chic sweater dress, be sure to stretch your style options as you do your seasonal closet edit. Wider also advises that you check labels for a figure-friendly fiber content. “Cotton is not a stretchy fabric, so the lower the percentage of cotton, the more likely the garment will be to stretch and mold to your body,” she notes. What materials are your most comfortable clothes made of? Look for similar items when refreshing your wardrobe.

Reach for fit-friendly silhouettes
How a garment is cut makes a difference in how forgiving the fit will be when you see shifts on the scale. Your favorite silhouette may be a classic sheath dress, for instance, but it might look baggy in the midsection, hips and arms if you lose weight. “Wrap dresses are a dream come true for women of any size,” says Sanchez of the wardrobe classic that can be tied tighter or more loosely should weight fluctuate. Wider is a fan of A-line dresses that skim the hips and move with your body. She also loves flowy tunics or kaftans, which she says can add flair when paired with neutral pieces.

Take stock of your accessories
Of course, whether you’ve gone up or down a size or two, most accessories will still fit. “Necklaces do an excellent job of drawing the attention to your face and neck,” says Wider. She’s a fan of bracelets too, noting that exposed wrists generally have a slimming effect. Try your outfit with a chunky statement necklace. If you prefer understated chic, a thin bangle (choose an adjustable or open style) may be the icing on your sartorial cake. Also, purchasing one or two accessories a season is way more affordable than dropping cash on a closetful of new clothes. Plus, it’s a lovely, calorie-free way to reward yourself for reaching healthy milestones along your wellness journey.