Self Image and Style - HELP

trekarenNovember 4, 2002

I need help. Has anyone else had trouble with their personal style?

I am losing weight, and am in 12's but almost in 10's. Ready to try and buy some new clothes.

Work nowadays is business casual, so I'm flexible there.

I have been overweight so long, I am no longer in touch with style, and it appears that the dreaded 1978 fashions I ditched years ago are all the rage. Cowl necks, flare legs, lowrider pants, peasant tops.

I just can't get into this 'new' (old?) look. And is it too 'young' of a look for a 38 year old?

I want to look stylish. I used to enjoy the clothes in the Chadwicks catalogs, and the like. But even those don't appeal to me.

Nothing in the store now grabs my attention. Just can't seem to be 'one' with any of the styles out there. It's either 1978 or classic prep. No in between.

Anyone else survive a self-image battle like this? At least I can go 'shopping' in my closet, and wear a lot of the clothes I haven't worn in years. But will I be a fashion don't in my straight leg jeans?


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Congrats on losing weight Karen! Yes, the fashions right now suck, 'scuse my French. I don't know what the fashion industry is thinking. Really, the biggest trend of the last 10-20 years has been the casualization of America. Especially in places like where I live in Southern California, it's easy to look overdressed.

What's your lifestyle? What do you like? Give us some idea what you look like and what style you think suits you. How 'bout a picture?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2002 at 8:52PM
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I sometimes look and see what other people are wearing. There are quite a number of women where I work that wear some very nice things that could easily be dressed down a little to make it a little more comfortable. Since I sew, I can usually make something that fits my price range. Look for deals at places like Marshall's and TJ MAxx if you don't want to spend a lot.

I even look through magazines - what clothing magazines do you prefer? For example, are you more a J Crew Girl (like me), LL Bean (which is a little more conservative) or Frederick's of Hollywood? (Not exactly business casual but you get the idea - just determine what styles you like first.) FOr the most part, I vest little interest into things like "big chested women shouldn't wear bold colored shirts," and stuff like that. If you like it, then go for it. (Unless you're pushing 40 and wearing a glitter tee that says "Flirt" with glitter eyeshadow - that might be pushing it. But I think you'll be fine in your straight leg Levis! LOL

I still have an envelope of clothing ideas I cut out like 5 years ago. It's funny, how either I have better taste than I thought, or my choices haven't changed, because those things are still in style. Look for classic lines, a few simple pieces with basic colors and go with an accent top underneath, for instance. That's what I'm working on right now - sewing a bunch of fun colored tops that go with basic navy, black, etc. suits.

Here is something interesting I found on the Internet. It opens as an Adobe Acrobat file but if you can open it, it does have some good pointers. Good luck!

If you put in this link, it should come up. (I can't post it to the box below because it's a strange web site address, since it automatically opens a PDF File.) Let me know if you have problems and I can email it to you.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2002 at 8:55PM
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Cool link Phyllis. I think I'll pass this along to my wife.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2002 at 9:30AM
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I might post a pic when I reach goal weight but not yet LOL

That's just it. I know what my look used to be, but nothing seems to make me feel stylish anymore.

Also the stores I used to like are now a bit too much into the 'in-vogue' look right now. Such as Express, Limited, Aeropostale and American Eagle.

Chadwicks used to have great looks, but now everything is just not me. Like the Bill Blass line they are touting so much now -- to me it's so ugly. A green sweater, green paisley skirt and suede boots to match, dyed in the same green. All adds up to an addition I would never make to my closet.

I also tend to be practical. For example, green suede boots may match THAT outfit, but can't really wear it with anything else.

Does that make sense?

I'll take a look at that PDF!!!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2002 at 9:54AM
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Congratulations on the weight loss. Have you checked out The stuff there are nice.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2002 at 11:27AM
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I find myself wanting to dress younger and sportier as I get older. (I'm 42). I shop at clothestime and the Gap and such and try not to "dress my age". I wear the stretch, low-rise, flared jeans. But I don't like the peasant stuff - it's not me and I already DID that years ago.

I work in a very casual office (with my DH) so I don't have to buy a separate "work" wardrobe anymore. I haven't worn stockings and pumps in years. But I have developed a "uniform" of jeans, boots or sneakers (I'm wearing Skechers bright blue chunky mule sneaks today), turtleneck sweaters, crew neck tops and funky handbags (today's is an indestructible silver plastic small backpack by Thermos!)
I'm trying to get "funkier", and would even like to get my nose pierced but DH won't let me, so I streak my hair instead.

One of my best friends is 50 and she wears her hair long, and keeps fit with tennis and bicycling, so she shows off her hard work with lots of mini skirts and tank top ensembles and keeps a tan year-round. Noone can believe how old she is.

A lot of this also has to do with your budget and career as well. Like you said, green suede boots aren't practical unless you've got gobs of money to spend on clothes you'll wear rarely.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2002 at 2:32PM
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trekaren looks a lot like Coldwater Creek, which I do enjoy browsing their catalog. But they are priced a bit out of reach. I think I will order a catalog from, though, because I definitely like the look, and I might get lucky and find something on sale!

They even have a model in their online catalog who is beautiful, but silver-maned, which shows you can dress young at any age and look fabulous!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2002 at 7:59AM
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My sister is also 38 and a size 12 verging on a 10. I think I can offer some insight: It sounds like you are looking for something inbetween totally traditional clothing and "junior" fashion. This is called "contemporary." You might also be interested in "updated classics" -- in other words, traditional fashions that have a little bit of "contemporary" styling.

I suggest you take a look at Theory and Club Monaco for inspiration, then try to find similar looks in whatever price and color you prefer. (Club Monaco is a chain-store boutique. Theory is a label carried by such department stores as Macy's, Saks, and Nieman Marcus. If you don't live near these stores, you can also find a limited selection of Theory at,, and Gap and J.C. Penny sometimes carry similar styles (the Gap has great sales), and you can find used, discounted Theory on eBay.

Here are three key looks that stylish, grown-up women are wearing to the office in New York:

*Pencil skirt and blouse
*Sheath dress
*Pinstripe trousers and plain cotton blouse, or cotton blouse with a tiny amount of ruffles or other feminine detailing

Please note that the trousers will be flat front, straight leg, and ever so slightly low waisted. High-waisted pants are also "in" but they flatter only people who are long-waisted and broad shouldered. In addition to pinstripes, you can also wear cotton or wooly fabric pants in a solid color with a print or striped blouse. Your blouse should be neither boxy and baggy nor too tight, but rather tastefully body skimming with a hint of a waist. Take care that the collar falls in a way that is flattering to your figure and face.

If your lifestyle is more casual, you can wear a pretty blouse or tshirt with straight-leg pants in cotton or cotton twill. They could be five-pocket (jeans) style instead of trouser style (avoid too-casual jeans styling such as rivets and topstitching). Dockers makes some very nice flat-front plain cotton trousers (no pockets) in a variety of colors that can be dressed up or down.

Be sure to try lots of stuff on. You can't always tell from looking at a garment on a hanger whether it will flatter you. Sometimes styles surprise you. Also, if something is unflattering, keep in mind that it is probably due to the poor cut and fit of the garment -- not anything wrong with your figure!

Also, take a look at the September issue of Lucky magazine for more ideas. Not everything in the magazine is tasteful, so just ignore what you don't like. But there is a lot of great stuff there that will give you good ideas for mixing and matching.

A few words on shopping strategy: You'll look better and save money if you stick to a few flattering colors. You don't necessarily have to buy a lot of items. For example, you can get away with a "basic" wardrobe of two pants and one skirt plus an assortment of coordinated blouses (repeat this formula for each seasonal climate change in your area). Your own coloring (hair, eyes, skin) should inspire you. Your hair tone is often a good neutral for bottoms, shoes, and bags.

For example, if you have brown hair, green eyes, and peachy skin, you might own one pair of pants in brown and one in black (because it's practical), and a variety of tops in cream, green, and peach, for example, which would coordinate with the bottoms.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2003 at 3:35PM
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Wow, that's an old post! Of course, now I'm no longer 38 LOL, but I have maintained my weight loss. That is eery because my last comment here was right before my DH had an accident (last Nov 10 he fell off a ladder, broke his back and both feet and I spent most of Nov, Dec, Jan and Feb dealing with that).

Fashion paled in comparison. But somehow, I maintained my weight loss, and have now kicked it in high gear again to lose the last 5 to put me solidly in size 10.

I spent the summer in capris, and slide sandals, with various stylish tops, and really enjoyed the look. Now that the cold weather came in (early it seems to me), I sit here in black jeans, and turquoise shell, with a turquoise moleskin shirt over the top for warmth. For the most part, I have settled into a traditional style, because it is apparent to me that the current "style" clothes of low waiste, flared bottoms, etc, are not going to last, and I don't want to invest in clothes that I can't keep.

Also since my last post, they opened a CasualCorner/Petite Sophisticate in my mall. I have sure missed those stores and am very glad they are back!

It's $$ but I find some awesome things on sale, and the style of most of their clothes is very classic. The outfit I wore yesterday came from there...turtleneck with grey, blue and beige stripes, with solid grey pants. I also wear that shirt with jeans, and the blues look great together.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2003 at 8:24AM
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trekaren, maintaining your weight loss is as much an accomplishment as the actual losing process; congratulations !!

I weigh myself 3 times a week to monitor my weight; I find that it keeps me honest, I don't panic if I go up a pound or two but it helps me resist that candy bar when I get the urge.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2003 at 6:48AM
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chinacat_sunflower is the only place I have shopped at in 5 years besides buying every sarong I can find (they will go out of style in another year, and I will have to make my own from then on)

    Bookmark   October 2, 2003 at 3:55PM
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