You'll only wear them for a short while, so don't spend a lot on new weight clothes!

Cheap Ways to Update Your Wardrobe as You Lose Weight

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Cheap Ways to Update Your Wardrobe as You Lose Weight

I have recently lost a lot of weight (and still have a lot to go!) and most of my clothes are noticeably big on me now. Sure, it is flattering when friends and family notice the loose-fitting clothes, but to everyone else, I must be starting to look like the woman who has no concept of clothing sizes. I would love some advice on what a frugal dieter such as myself can do to update my wardrobe inexpensively as I (hopefully!) get smaller. I don't like the thought of buying clothes I will not wear more than a handful of months, especially if I have to change sizes a few more times. But I do need and like to be able to dress appropriately. I need both casual and business casual clothing options as well as workout attire, so any tips from others who have been through this would be most helpful and super appreciated. I am also struggling with getting rid of my bigger sized clothing. Part of me wants to toss it because I never want to need it again, but my frugal side is saying "keep it in case you need it again." What should this frugal girl do?

Alter Your Too Big Clothing

If you sew, do as I did when I lost a large amount of weight. You should simply sew down the outside seams of your night clothes, slacks, and skirts to make them fit better. Remove bulk when necessary by opening the old seams and/or cutting away excess fabric. The only downside to this method is that pockets will be smaller, but the process is fast and easy. If nothing is cut away, it's also reversible.

If you don't sew, it's probably not worth the money to pay someone for alterations. Instead become friendly with the clearance racks at your favorite stores. I have generally saved more money on clearance clothing that is new than on consigned clothing that is used. You can consign these clothes later as your size becomes smaller and recoup your investment (but be aware that some consignment shops don't take all brands). You can also consign the clothing that is too large for you now.
Barbara in CT

Do a Clothing Swap

I made the mistake of getting rid of all my clothes the first time I lost a lot of weight, and within five years, I gained it all back and had to buy new clothes. The second time I lost weight, I packed up all my clothes and lent them to someone who needed larger clothes and I borrowed her smaller clothes. We had an agreement to swap back at any time if necessary but thankfully we didn't need to swap back. I also went to church clothing sales as well as garage sales and this allowed me to get nice clothes at really low prices or even free at times. If you don't have someone to swap with, then I recommend you pack them up and just store away for a time at your home but set a time limit on it because those clothes could really benefit someone else as well.

Create a Mini Capsule Wardrobe

Congratulations on taking care of your health. For your interim wardrobe, I would suggest creating a mini capsule wardrobe. Start by deciding on two to three colors you love and which could preferably be worn together (look in your closet now for clues to what you wear most) and then pick one or two neutrals. Once you know these are the colors you want, go to a good thrift store in or near the best area of town and look for key pieces in your neutral colors. Take your time and look for quality pieces as they are going to be the core pieces you wear until you drop another size or two. These might be a skirt, pants, and possibly a jacket. Look for a nice pair of jeans while you are there as well.

Then using your color guide, pick up some tops in both the neutrals and the colors and maybe a fashion scarf or two and a cardigan. You might find some of these at the thrift store in good shape, but if not, discount stores are usually not too expensive and offer a range of options that won't break the bank. The tops can be trendy or classic depending on the styles you like to wear. These pieces can be mixed and matched with the jeans and neutral pants/skirt to make many different looks for the short term without having to buy a lot of stuff. Throwing on a cardigan or a scarf changes the look. The tops may last through a size or two, depending on the style of them and you won't have spent a fortune on those key neutral pieces that need to fit right.

As for your old stuff, if you are really struggling with letting go, maybe you could use the same concept as above to shop your own closet and put together a "just in case" temporary wardrobe. Then it might be mentally easier to get rid of the rest because you know that you have things to wear if you should need them. Put that "just in case" wardrobe in a tote and store it until you are comfortable letting go of it. It might also help to remind yourself that if you ever do need larger sizes again, it's unlikely to be the sizes you currently have and they will most likely be out of style anyway. Donate them to a worthy cause, so you know they are doing somebody else some good.

Stick to Basics

I would do what I had to do at my first job with no money for new clothes. I had one black skirt and three solid colored tops in white, beige, and black. I bought different colored printed remnants of fabrics for large colorful scarfs to use as a distraction. Many fabrics need not be sewed, just frayed around the edges. Just buy the fewest solid colored items of clothing needed and use remnants of fabric as scarfs.
Dee Bee in FL

Shop at Secondhand Store for Interim Clothing

Try Goodwill, Salvation Army, and garage sales for the interim clothing while losing weight.

Also give your "fat clothes" to Goodwill or Salvation Army. You don't have to risk gaining back into them, and you'll feel good by doing good.
Beth in Wheeling, IL

Get Alteration Help Online

Make some alterations to the clothes you have. If you don't know how, take a look at YouTube. Search clothing alterations for a lot of helpful options. If the budget allows, most dry cleaners have a seamstress on staff, or you might know someone who sews that you can barter with. If you really don't want to use them anymore, maybe a local consignment shop would be helpful. They can sell your old clothes and you can use the money for "new" ones at the store.

Make Belts Your Best Friends

First of all, if you have some larger-sized shirts, make belts your best friends. Belting things can make it look as if you have clothes that fit again until you lose so much that even the shoulders don't work. If you wear a slimmer skirt, leggings, or skinny jeans underneath, it will look like a deliberate outfit.

Secondly, you should shop consignment stores. If you take your over-sized clothes there and make money, and buy what you need from there as well, you basically break even as you go from size to size.

Lastly, learn to sew. There are many outfits that if you learn a little bit about how they're constructed, you can take in enough to wear for several more sizes down.

I don't recommend keeping your "fat" clothes simply because doing so tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and why sabotage all that hard work?

Get the Best Alteration Deals

I do alterations and I get a lot of customers who bring me clothing that they want taken in because they have lost weight. If you decide to do this, make sure you are not taking it in too much. One or two sizes are usually okay, but if you do more than that, you lose the look of most garments. Also, some items may be too much work and cost more than it is worth to take in. You will probably get the best alteration deals if you ask at fabric shops for business cards that people have left there. If you take it to a tailor who has a shop, you pay much more since they usually have people working for them and a lot more overhead. You should also try to pick someone who has been in business a fairly long time.

Refresh Wardrobe at Each Step of Weight Loss Journey

Congratulations for losing weight! You are to be commended for your efforts to get healthier. I have been down this road several times in my life. The first time I lost a significant amount of weight, I gave away all of my large clothes. Then I experienced a physical issue that kept me from being able to exercise for over a year, and most of the weight came back due to inactivity. I had to repurchase larger sized clothing, which really miffed my frugal side. However, I kept the smaller sized clothing in boxes, trusting I would wear them again someday. As I regained my ability to be active, I again lost a significant amount of weight. This time, I went to secondhand clothing stores, such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, and thrift stores. If you haven't shopped in such places, give them a try. There is variety of items and many of the items are in excellent used condition. Sometimes I found brand new items that fit me with the tags still on at a small fraction of their original price. To remain frugal, I only purchased a small number of items to get me through a couple of months until I again needed the next size down. Then I laundered and re-donated the items, taking a tax credit at the end of the year, and picked up a few more items. I continued this cycle each time I dropped a size. I also have been able to get back into the smaller sized items I had saved in boxes. I understand your hesitation to get rid of all of your larger sized clothing. What I have done this time around is save just a small number of items in the larger sizes, only the things I loved best. If I find I don't need these within the next year or two, I will re-donate them too for the tax deduction. At each step of this weight loss journey, I have refreshed my wardrobe inexpensively and more wisely than in the past. Best of success to you in your journey!
Marie in Greendale, WI

Trade with Friends

One suggestion for a new wardrobe is to get together with several lady friends and spend the afternoon trading clothes. You can try them on and get feedback before you take them with you.

Another idea is to take your older clothes to a thrift store or charity of your choice. You'll get a tax break and more room in your closet for new stuff.

If you haven't tried secondhand stores, you're in for a treat. Go to the wealthier cities for the best bargains. People often get gifts that they don't want or they don't fit and you can pick them up cheaply.

Most importantly, have fun with your weight loss. Go you!
Mel S.

Check Out Facebook Groups

I'm losing weight as well and have been updating my wardrobe slowly. There are plus-size groups on Facebook that either trade or sell clothing. I've had success with the two groups that are in my area. It is worth it to seek out yard sale and plus-size groups. You make new friends and trade off your clothing at the same time.

Reviewed May 2017

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