Shopping for Clothes after Bariatric Surgery

“What to wear today…” Sound familiar? It’s an ongoing process… going through your closet trying to find just the right outfit. If you can’t find it in your closet, then you’re off to the mall on a quest for the perfect dress, blouse, jeans, etc. The problem is even worse when you’re severely overweight. You have fewer shopping options and, most likely, everything’s going to cost a few dollars more.

But wait, you’ve had weight loss surgery. Shouldn’t this clothing problem be a thing of the past? Not necessarily. You’re losing weight and nothing fits you anymore. Your clothes are too big! When was the last time that happened? Before running out to the store, let’s develop a wardrobe plan. If you’re like most people, you have a range of sizes in your closet. Start there – as long as the fashion remains to your taste. Try to wear some of your casual clothes for a while longer before you invest in a new wardrobe. Or buy just a few new items to keep your costs down. Remember, you’re going to be losing most of your excess weight in the first 12 to 18 months, so budget accordingly. Consider whether the outfit can be belted as you lose weight. Alternately, find a seamstress to have your dresses, suits, slacks, etc. altered. Typically, they can take them down a couple of sizes. Beyond that it’s more cost effective, and better looking, to get new clothes.

If you have to buy new items, pick clothes that stretch so they will fit you for a longer period of time as you continue to lose weight. You will be tempted to buy more than you may need. Remember to take it slow, unless you’re a year or more out from surgery and your weight loss has begun to stabilize. If you’ve reached that point, you may want to invest a bit more. And don’t forget lingerie – even your underwear will get too big. As a bonus, you may get to visit some stores at which you weren’t able to shop before your weight loss surgery.

How you choose to shop may also make or break your shopping experience. First, do remember that the tag does not necessarily reflect your dress size. Dress sizes can vary between manufacturers and are often wildly different from what you’d expect. If you’ve been wearing a size four, but all of a sudden are buying a size 6, don’t automatically think you’ve gained weight or inches. Further, remember that fabrics shrink and expand over time. It means that the clothes you buy today may be too big or too small soon in the future. This makes it all the more important to keep an objective record of both your weight and choice body measurements, if you want to be consistent.

When the time comes to say goodbye to those larger sizes, take advantage of resale shops.  Lastly, to remind yourself of how far you’ve come, you may want to keep one outfit from the “old you.” It might be even sweeter if you can associate it with a significant event in your weight loss journey – you might have been wearing it the day you attended your seminar, at your first consultation or on the way to surgery.

The bottom line? Enjoy the process (in moderation), go have fun and maybe even take a friend to enjoy it alongside you! You’ve earned it.