ETA. I just hit the one year mark on this journey. Update at bottom of thread.
On other threads I have shared a bit about my weight loss journey and I am participating in the 30x30 challenge (which has been really helpful to this journey). There's been some interest in how I've been developing my transitional wardrobes during weight loss and I have been asked to give a bit more insight into my process of developing my transitional capsules, such as how I knew when to remove something from my wardrobe and what I chose to buy along the way.
First, I am not a stylist nor an expert in developing capsule wardrobes. All of Angie's expertise to building a wardrobe pertains to this, and she and others will have additional ideas and suggestions or may choose to disagree. I have read and re-read her wardrobe building posts in the archives, as well as other bloggers posts about capsule wardrobes to help me along the way. Perhaps my process might be of use to others. In a way, you can call this my set of 'rules' for my wardrobe during this period. I hope others chime in with their suggestions to help others, too!
Second, my guiding principal was this, which I stated in another post: "It is very important to me to wear excellent fitting clothing even in the midst of body changes. I am working too hard on weight loss to have poor fitting clothes add visual weight and I receive a very big confidence boost from perfect fitting clothing."
Third, I did not attempt to change my style persona over this time in any major way. Small changes occurred organically, but I've put this off until closer to my goal weight. I also kept my color palette the same: Burgundy, rust, navy/dark denim, cream, and a touch of purple or teal (in tops).
Fourth, it differs somewhat from building a wardrobe because you want to maximize use of what you already have and new purchases will be worn for likely only a short period (on a large weight journey such as mine), so this is not when you want to invest.
Background: I have lost 58 pounds over 9 months on my goal towards losing >75 pounds. I have lost ~10 inches in both the waist and hips.I have dropped 3-4 sizes along the way and multiple bra sizes. I expect to lose 1-2 more sizes.
The good news -- it is amazing how robust a clothing piece can be across a variety of weights, so I held on to pieces longer than I sometimes thought I would be able to. The bad news -- this has not been an inexpensive journey, but I used full use of sales and outlet stores. Others might find thrifting helpful, but needing petite fits made this less plausible for me. You can also consider tailoring pieces.
1. Ruthlessly cull pieces that do not fit. I assessed the fit of every piece of clothing every time I put it on. I paid attention to the shoulder seams (is it dropping too far off the shoulders?), the depth of neckline (some tops became immodest!), the fit of the waist and hips of bottoms, and how the rear of pants fit (is it saggy?). Many times in this evaluation I said, "this will be the last time I wear this" or "this is no longer wearable". Sometimes a piece would not fit perfectly, but other elements of an outfit would mask the problem, such as waist too big, but covered by a bigger top. This piece would be earmarked for donation on next washing. Every season I did a big preseason edit removing all clothes that did not fit in a single session.
2. Identify my wardrobe needs in the next 4 weeks. I looked at my work, travel, and social schedule to see what events I had coming up. For instance, before Thanksgiving I thought about all the holiday parties and what type of clothing I might need. I used this as a starting point for planning my needs. I did this in part because I had to order pieces online that I couldn't find in the stores.
3. Identify core essentials and a core color palette. This is where I heavily relied on minimal capsule wardrobe templates, such as the 10 piece wardrobe or travel wardrobe posts. For me, my base was one dress pant, one straight jean, one bootcut jean, one skirt, one-two dresses, two cardigans, and several tops. In a way, I was building a series of very small capsules over and over again. Keeping to my same style persona made this possible.
4. No duplicates! and do laundry frequently. A minor exception for tops. One dress pant, one straight jean, one boot cut jean, one every day bra, one sport bra, etc... I washed my limited exercise wear twice a week rather than buy another set.
5. Replace sparingly and only with a piece you love. Replacements occurred only when all the existing items in a category didn't fit or were near not fitting. Doing #1 above helped me identify the timing of this. I replaced at a much slower rate than clothes left my wardrobe. I replaced only within existing color palette. Make use of sales, thrifting, etc... It was when I wore new clothes that were down a size that others would notice the weight loss. I shopped more frequently but bought much less because I was buying as needed and only what was needed. I tried a lot of clothes on and in stores that were new to me to get a sense of my current size (for better online ordering).
6. Make do without. Some pieces are investment pieces, such as tall boots or outerwear. When my tall boots were no longer wearable (too big in calves) I chose not to replace because of the cost and because they would be too big next year. I love new footwear, but I choose not to add new shoes sparingly in this period so that I can afford clothes. I also did not extend my jewelry capsule during this period because it was sufficiently complete. I chose not to replace my blazers because I had no events that they were an essential piece. Many times I was like, "it would be nice to have ...." but if I had a suitable replacement for the event, I did not fill that gap. I was also willing to wear some things a bit too big, such as a coat, if it would be used for a short time and wasn't a key aspect of my outfit (e.g., only to commute).
7. Prioritize bras! Weight loss can change your band and cup size, so check fit and replace as soon as needed. I have gone through 4 size changes over 9 months. So, one sport bra, one every day bra, and one bralette (lounge bra).
8. Patience. Don't look ahead too far, and don't pre-buy for the fantasy you. Many, many times I had to stop myself from buying more variety and building a whole wardrobe around a new size. Having my essentials list and evaluating fit frequently helped keep me on my roadmap. I am trying not to go beyond my essentials list until my goal weight.
9. Enjoy your weight loss and your improved health. Appreciate your strength and persistence.
These were my personal decisions and your essentials may vary.