Playing Dress Up

The hardest part of this whole liking my body thing was learning how to dress it. I spent way too many years hating clothes and fashion to all of a sudden enjoy it, so getting to that place took a couple of steps.

1. I very realistically float between a size 12 and a size 18 throughout the year, and I have to be ok with that if I ever want to wear pants again. I realized I like to eat food, there are times when I am less motivated to move around, and sometimes, the standard of sizing is so fucked up, it has no actual merit regarding the size of my body.

2. I have to go try stuff on…in real life. Online shopping was my crutch. I’d go into my closet, hate everything, probably cry, and then spend the next hour filling my invisible shopping cart with clothes that looked adorable online. Would I have a emotional breakdown in my bedroom 7-10 days later when they would arrive and not fit? Fuck yes I would, but that was a battle for another day.

Instead, I started going to the mall on Tuesday afternoons, by myself, to try stuff on. At first I kept trying on the stuff I saw other people wearing in commercials and magazines, and it would look horrible, if it even fit at all, and then I’d go do some cake related feeling-eating.

Eventually, I started trying on clothes I didn’t think looked great on the hanger, in sizes I didn’t want to admit to myself that I was, and it ended up looking great. I learned to see the shapes of my body, and the cuts I needed to flatter them. Don’t get me wrong, there was still cake eating, but it was more celebratory in fashion.

Now I can shop online, buying things I know should fit or flatter me, with way less returns and mail bomb planning.

The fact is, I didn’t have a hard to dress body, I had a hard to dress brain, so once I got passed that, shopping and fashion began to be less horrible and more fun, and I became even more motivated to change the beauty industry, because if there is anything I learned from the internet, it’s that Walt Disney’s head is for real frozen underground somewhere, and that I am also in the very gorgeous majority of women who look absolutely nothing like the women portrayed in mainstream fashion and beauty marketing and design.

And that’s a shame, because we have money and like wearing clothes that aren’t tents, so it seems like that would be motivation enough to design flattering things for us, like tops we can wear bras with or pants that have zippers that sit above our pubic hair.

Until that happens, I thought it’d be fun to do a quick fashion post, giving you a peek into my closet, some of my current favorite items, and new ways to pair the things you didn’t think would look good on you.

Let’s play dress up!

I found this shirt in the “Plus Size Section” of Target ($21.99 Scoop Neck Top), or as I like to call it, that one rack of not tiny stuff. First of all, this shirt looks really bad on the hanger, and it’s also a couple sizes too big, being a size 3, which I assume is a skinnier way of saying 3x? Either way, I was looking for a fun, over-sized date night shirt, so I tried it on.

Verdict, I loved it. I am really digging the whole smocked waist thing, because I feel like it helps hide the tummy pouch, but also makes a comfortable oversized shirt look fitted and sexy, so I can pair it with fitted flare jeans (Size 16, Old Navy Flare Jeggings) a fun turquoise necklace (Walmart on clearance) and black high heeled boots ($39, Shoedazzle).

This was another Target find, this time in the Juniors section. While I normally fit into exactly nothing in that area, this was an XL and looked roomy enough, so I decided to give it a go because I loved the idea of an empire waist shirt that didn’t look like Maternity.

I loved this shirt so much, as you may remember, I wore it for my TED talk, only this time, I decided to wear it with a thick brown leather belt, which I am totally loving these days. I used to think I couldn’t pull off the whole belt around the waist thing, but it turns out it’s all about proportion (I needed a thicker belt) and finding a good bra to lift my boobs up more so people could actually see said belt. I love this shirt because it gives me a waist, but also has drapey sleeves that hide my arms, which I am totally self conscious about.  I am wearing the top with fitted flare jeans (Size 18 I KNOW I DON’T UNDERSTAND FASHION MATH EITHER, Old Navy Skinny Mini Flare Jeans), a brown leather braided belt from Lane Bryant, and some mustard heels I found on clearance at Payless.

I got this shirt for $15 at Sam’s Club. Yes, that Sam’s Club. Seriously. This is a case of seeing potential in something that looks like crap balled up on a table next to gallons of Ranch Dressing. Again, it has the smocked waist, which I knew I loved, and a color that I wear well.

The shirt was kinda skimpy, so I bought it in a XXL, and it was also a bit plain, so I decided to try it with the belt and loved it. This is something Old Brittany would never attempt, but I’m glad I did. Also, my mom, who is taking these pictures, keeps asking me where I got this shirt, she totally doesn’t believe this is the same ugly yellow shirt I bought with her at Sam’s Club.

I have been on the hunt for a soft cardigan that I could toss over a fitted cami on chilly days. Something fun and comfy, reminiscent of borrowing your boyfriend’s sweatshirt in high school…unless your boyfriend was always skinnier than you and wore Star Wars hoodies…damn it, Andy. I found this oatmeal colored V-neck cardigan on sale (Size 1X, Lands’ End Cardigan, $34.99).

I was afraid this sweater would be boxy, but it wasn’t, and I loved that it was long enough to cover my waistline, and not skimpy. This is one of my everyday, go-to outfits. I can easily toss it over a nude cami, some flare jeans (Size 15, Mudd Jeans from Kohls $19.99) and some cute flats if I have to help out at school or run to the store.

These are my current favorite shoes ($12.99, Target Ballet Flats). They are cheetah print, but treat that as a neutral. They glam up almost any outfit, adore them!

I was at American Eagle buying some tshirts for Andy when I came across this tank top (XL, American Eagle Crochet Tank, $24.50). First of all, little known fact, American Eagle goes up to XXL and size 18 online. Second, sure, I haven’t been able to shop there for myself since 7th grade, but it looked loose fitting, and the straps were thick enough that my bra straps wouldn’t show.

I am so glad I sucked it up and tried this, because it gives me an adorable top to wear on vacation next week. It’s loose where I need it to be loose, in the tummy, and it sits above my boobs, so I don’t have that weird empire waist line my boobs often hang below.

This is yet another Target shirt (Size 1, Kimono Sleeve Top, $21.99) that looked atrocious and bag-like on the hanger. In fact, it took me a few minutes to verify it was not, in fact, a maternity shirt. But the pattern was interesting, and I didn’t have anything that color, so I wanted to try it on.

This shirt is perfect for date nights, or baby/bridal/whatever showers. It’s fun and feminine and a touch dressy, which I admittedly do not have a ton of in my closet. I tied the bow to the side, because it felt less matronly that way, and I paired it again with my MUDD flare jeans, and some frilly black wedges.

This sweater was on clearance for $14 in store (Size L, Old Navy Blanket Wrap Cardigan), and when I picked it up, my mom all but vomited. She hated this sweater, and refused to go anywhere with me if I wore it, but…it was a really good deal, and it felt kinda Big Lebowski to me.

What can I say, I can’t say no to The Dude. It’s super warm and comfortable, and I can throw it on over almost anything, so sorry, mom, I’m keeping the sweater.

White Russians for everyone!


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  1. Julie says

    Still having a VERY difficult time with my size/figure/shape….EVERYTHING! I feel uncomfortable in just about everything I put on, except my sweat pants, sweatshirts and oversized t-shirts, because I think they help to hide the “the curves”. I hate to go shopping and really hate trying things on. I blame how horrible things look on me on the fitting room mirrors. I always feel frumpy and chubby. I wish I had the confidence to wear half the outfits I have seen you in. You always seem to look GREAT!

    • Brittany says

      It’s a process. Period.

      I got so frustrated with the time that it took to get where I am today, but little by little I got there, just making myself try.

      Once I just accepted that this was how my body looked, and I could either find it clothes or not, it just became easier.

  2. Anna says

    I have that first Target top in a different pattern. Love it! And I also recently bought a shirt from Sam’s that I love! It’s Calvin Klein and cost $17!
    I adore that Kimono top – did you get it recently?

  3. says

    So when are you available to take me shopping?? I am in a rut that I seem to wear the same type of thing over and over again, never stepping out of my comfort zone. I see things on the hanger and like them but never can figure out how to pull the entire outfit together.

    You are looking awesome in all the outfits BTW!

    • Brittany says

      HAHAH you name the date!

      Online shopping does have a plus side in that, sometimes it’s good to see how they are putting outfits together, also Pinterest and Polyvore are great for this also, just to get your brain going in terms of imagining how things can come together.

  4. Ali says

    I need your help. I’m probably about to piss a bunch of people off, but here goes….
    I have a 10.5 month old baby and I am a size 2/4. Okay, there, I said it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have body issues like every other woman. I’ve been struggling with eating disorders since I was in 8th grade (now a 31 year old mommy!) and I can’t seem to break out of my “jeans and shapeless t-shirt” or “shorts and aforementioned shapeless t-shirt” rut. I admire and envy your confidence and self acceptance and, more than anything, I want to be able to love my body in whatever form it happens to be taking that day/week/month/year. You are my hero (heroine?) and I read everything you write – not like a creepy stalker but like a person who feels she can learn a lot from you. Hugs and white russians!

    • Brittany says

      Oh if there is anything I have learned on this journey is that we all have body issues.

      This whole thing takes time, and I still have a minute by minute love/hate relationship with my body. But, like everything else, it’s just a choice I made to stop punishing myself all the time. I felt like crap because I treated myself like crap.

      Pick a slow weekday, get a babysitter, and go to the mall to try stuff on. Lots and lots of stuff. ALL THE STUFF. You don’t even have to buy anything, but find out what looks good on your frame and what feels practical for your life.

      CHEERS!

  5. says

    I think you need to start your own “What Not To Wear” type show just for full-figured ladies! You are really great at this! AMAZING! I love the drapey flowy tops with dark denim. It’s very classy.

    • hdj says

      THIS is an awesome idea! Like what stores have pants for women with hips? I’ve found pants I love at Eddie Bauer & Banana Republic & Gap because they have a curvy fit pant and pants with waists smaller than the hips.
      Also, I hate shopping. Not the buying part, but the shopping part. So it’s really hard for me to want to go to the mall for any length of time for trying on clothes.
      Also – these outfits are all great, make you look even hotter (like that’s possible) and you look really great! Not that you didn’t before, but confidence and self-acceptance are sexy as hell!

  6. says

    I totally have that same yellow shirt from sams club when I was home visiting and I LOVE IT. My mom also thought it was hideous until she saw it on me!! Right now Im living in Brazil where everyone is gorgeous and all clothes are tiny…and skimpy. I am a formally fat girl (260 pounds y’all) and I’ve dropped down to 135. Of course I got all kinds of body issues not to mention all of the skin hanging around. My body is hard to dress despite the weight lost. I totally agreed with everything you said, you have to try all different shapes and sizes. Dont let it deter you because it looks weird on the rack…it looks totally different when you put it on!!!

  7. johannamaria says

    Thank you for doing this, you look AMAZING in every single picture! You have a great taste and an eye for outfits. Also, right before I saw this post I was reading InStyle magazine and was hugely irritated by their “new” rules for hiding/flaunting different body parts. The article made me so angry, because they had all this “if you don’t like your tummy / hips / if you’re plus size wear this and not that” -advice, yet all the pictures were of stick-thin size 0 models with nothing to hide and everything to flaunt! How about they have advice for making your hips look smaller and actually show us a model WITH HIPS? Gaaaaaaahhhh. Anyway, your post totally made my day, and I’m gonna do the belt thing also. Thanks for the tip!

    • Brittany says

      Nothing infuriates me more than the whole fashion rules/body shape thing.

      Mostly because I LOOK LIKE NONE OF THOSE FRUIT, HOW IS THIS HELPFUL?

  8. says

    I recently lost 65 pounds…I’ve gone from a 20 to a 12 and need to branch out in my fashions as well. Thanks for the encouragement. Your photos are really a huge help! I’m a jeans and tee shirt kinda gal. I have NEVER gone for the smocked waist..but I think I may give it a go. Thank Ya Ma’am!

    • Brittany says

      Great job!

      Definitely try it out, and if it doesn’t work, try another cut. The good thing is, despite the sudden need to bring back cropped shirts, is that there also some really cool shirt shapes out there right now, and they may look weird on the hanger, but still try them on!

  9. says

    My favorites are the tank and the sweater. Damn, I love that sweater. Land’s End rocks. I like their bathing suits because they are *less* likely to show your lady parts to the universe. I’m not saying it won’t happen. I’m just saying the risk is slightly mitigated by at least an ATTEMPT at providing fabric in the vicinity.

    • Brittany says

      LE does rock, I have never been so impressed with clothing, I bought 2 suits last year, which is a big deal because I usually NEVER buy swimsuits, but I did and I love them and I am 100% sure they will last forever!

  10. says

    I love cardigans, but can never get away with them looking decent because my boobs. Then I saw what you did with a cardigan and now I am inspired to try again.

    Boobs for the win!

  11. says

    Do you work on commission? Because I am totally ordering those flats from Target! I have been dying for cheetah print shoes and I can’t believe I didn’t look at my favorite store. I also LOVE the Big Lebowski sweater.

  12. Stacey says

    Just wanted to tell you how wonderful it is to hear you in this place of acceptance and being able to describe and explain it. Your story is my story to a “T”, all of it, same figure and all. From the years of hating yourself for being fat (now refered to as cuddly) to loathing the dressing rooms and that oh so wonderful lighting. I’ve never been skinny, but looking back, I’ve never been obese either. A pretty steady 14 with a few periods of slightly smaller. Now I fluctuate just like you, between 14 to 18 (more 18 if I’m being honest) and am in a different place. Something just…changed. I’ve had the hardest time explaining to anyone, but you’ve done it. I’m comfortable and so much less stressed, it wasn’t really my body that changed, it was me. I accepted myself and learned to love it, still working on “getting in shape” but it’s more for the feeling and health factor and not a determination to be skinny. I think the biggest change came when I stopped reading the fashion women’s magazines. They just repeat the same things over and over again and none of it was actually useful. You LOOK fabulous, LOVE the outfits. CURVES ROCK. I’m now going to go out and get a big ol brown belt. Thanks again.

  13. Nellie says

    Love it all and you must do this more often! Not only did I nod in absolute agreement to your post but I friggin’ loved your items and how you paired them together – you go girl!!

  14. Amy says

    I used to have great luck at Fashion Bug, but I haven’t been there in over a year (I no longer live hear one). Also New York and Company and The Loft (cheaper Ann Taylor) are great. Their clothes seem to fit well and last through more washes than anything from Old Navy.

    As a size 12 to a current (almost) size 6 with huge boobs (36G), I understand the frustration. But there is nothing like a good bra to make an outfit look so much better.

  15. Maureen says

    I love this! I never get to shop in person by myself, and, when I do, it’s almost always soul crushing. I totally would’ve passed up these clothes on the hanger, but they look so nice on you. Thanks for the motivation to get out there and find wearble, cute clothes I can actually bring myself to look at in the mirror.

  16. Deanna says

    I love all the shirts, and I would like to think that I have the cutest selection of shirts in my closet ever! The problem is that I have no pants that I love to go with them. How do you get jeans that do not create the horrible muffin top that makes those shirts go from cute to horrendous!? I just had my first baby 3 months ago, and while i was pregnant I had a love affair with jeans because those maternity jeans are AWESOME! I have now lost enough of my baby weight that I can’t pull off the maternity jeans anymore (they fall down) but I still have the muffin top issue. Any advice?

    BTW I am a long time reader, first time commenter and i think you are so wonderfully hilarious!

  17. Dawn says

    I have been wearing those flats for two months (hurray for a mild winter) and LOVE them! Agree wholeheartedly with the advice to go to Polyvore/Pinterest for inspiration as well. I think every woman should have at least ONE outfit that is a feel-good go to, mine is dark jeans, a medium pink cashmere sweater, dark flare jeans, leopard flats, leopard bag and a triple strand pearl necklace. All if which either came from Target under 20$ or Goodwill! It’s so much easier to spot a bargain once you already know what cuts work well on your body- it a huge time saver!! This is great advice and a wonderful post! Thanks so much!

  18. Robbie says

    I love all of them. I too love belts with top and dresses. I think they make all body types appear to have a teeny waste. Unfortunately, I have a but….I think you should try the yellow top without a belt. In my opinion, belts should only be worn over tops that don’t gather at the bottom. Does that make sense? You’ve paired the belt perfectly with outfits 2 and 5. I think if you remove the belt from the yellow top and add a bold necklace (in a competing neckline), you have a kick-ass outfit. I hope you do not take offense to my unsolicited advice. Happy shopping!

  19. CJ says

    You look rockin’ amazing. I’m loving the outfits, but even more, I’m loving the message you’re conveying in these posts about body image.

  20. Susan from PA says

    You are way thin enough to wear more fitted shirts :) You will look amazing when you tuck a shirt into those cute jeans! Your pictures are great, but I can’t wait to see what you think when you show off and tuck in! :)

  21. Kristin says

    Brittany I’ve never commented but I just wanted to say I LOVE your blog – and your style. You are beautiful and I’m proud of what you’re doing for women. You should be too. :) Also – that last sweater? I have the beige/cream colored version and I actually wear it like a wrap but belted. There’s so much fabric that it works really well. I fold one side under the other and belt it over the folds – the angles it creates are really cool. That’s by far the one look I get the most compliments on! And it’s another way to change up the look if you get bored with it. :)

  22. molly says

    THANKS for posting this WITH pictures. I actually bought that same kimono top with the black tie at target today and I love it…I NEVER would have picked it up, and I never would have thought to do a side tie…love it love it. You rock! Can you do this more regularly?! (Please, Andy-give the girl a reason to shop!!)

  23. LittleMissS says

    Awesome post, Brittany…as always! I have the same Sam’s top in black and love it. I’ve learned through the years that it’s not where you get clothes, or how much they cost, it’s how you wear them, what you wear them with and how you carry yourself! You look beautiful and confident in all those outfits!

  24. Leslie says

    I love all your pics. Your style is awesome. I fluctuate between an 8 and a 14 and going to the mall makes me want to cry. I hate shopping for pants. One month I’m an Anne Taylor 14 and the next month I’m a Gap 10. I started going to Goodwill because all the pants are in the same spot and it doesn’t take me 12 hours to find out what fits me. It pretty much changed my life.

  25. Lisa says

    Hi, I apologize if you’ve answered this before, however, I missed it. I am still dying to know if you are short (5’4 or below) or tall (5’5 or above). I really enjoyed this post, we are shaped similarly and I have this vision of what I MUST wear and I have a whole closet full of it, and evidently “THEY” don’t make it anymore and I am VERY sick of everything I {have} own{ed forever}. I have a similar sweater (except mine is a plain color) and I wear it like that and love it (although an old boyfriend who hadn’t seen me in 6 months saw me out, it didn’t go well and he facebooked me that I looked “way fatter”…it’s only 20 pounds for god’s sake but he’s way younger and kind of a douchebag…which makes me again wonder about short or tall…). So if you could email me (yeah I know you’re busy with kids and career and stuff) or maybe say so in a post I would just be so appreciative…

    • Brittany says

      I am about 5’8. I can wear regular length jeans until I wash them, so I order all my pants in tall.

      And your ex-boyfriend is an idiot, who Facebook’s somebody about their weight?!

  26. Mary says

    Lands End does rock. I buy a large majority of my clothes there and all of my swimwear there. It’s easy to spend $100 on a swimsuit if you know it is going to last forever. I have swimsuits that I bought over 8 years ago that I still wear – no piling, no fading. The best quality! I also love on their reviews that they have the option to review how the clothing is sized – runs true to size, runs big, etc.

    I love your idea of flipping the bird to whomever sized clothes – there is no rhyme or reason to it! Reading that you are smaller than me but bought a shirt at Target in a size 3 was really liberating to me. I have always had it in my head that I don’t want 2x or 24w clothes in my closet (I’m a 18-22 and its a slippery slope for me constantly!) and I have not bought clothes that I love because they are that size. It is an idea that I will have to mull over because it is so deeply ingrained in my head to not give myself permission to wear something sized bigger. I fear that I will just get bigger if I do.

  27. Megan S says

    Words can’t describe how thankful I am for this article. My mom has struggled with her weight and self-image for my entire life, and today the two of us went shopping for a wedding on Saturday. Keeping these tips in mind, I grabbed a bunch of stuff that my mom never would have tried on in a million years, and we were able to find some pieces she looked rockin’ in! I focused a lot on loose, flowy tops since she’s got a bit of a belly, and she looked so great I couldn’t stop complimenting her. She ended up getting a few fresh, interesting pieces and I think a confidence boost. Thanks for this article, Brittany; it really helped me help my mom branch out!

  28. Marise says

    You. Look.
    DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!!!!!
    I admit, that stuff looks pretty bad on hangers, but that’s just because hangers don’t fill them out! You look amazing in all of these! I ESPECIALLY loved the yellow top and the belt you added to it. Genius.
    I love the confidence you have in yourself and the way you’ve just accepted who you are. I admire it. Seriously. I do not meet many like that these days. Weirdly enough, it makes me happy to see you like this.
    And how do you find these things at Target? Am I the only one who cannot find a single article of clothing at Target?? Every time I go there’s nothing!
    Time to look again…..

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