Remember back in January when you seemed like just one more person making the same promises to the world and yourself? You looked in the mirror and told yourself that this would be the year you’d get in shape. This would be the year you got your whole family up and moving, this would be the year you took back your confidence and put your personal anxieties about your appearance to rest. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, it may well have been a bumpy ride thus far. But though you may have puffed and panted and sweated and ached and felt like giving up, while the majority of people have abandoned their New Years’ fitness plans by mid-February, you’re going stronger than ever as we reach the halfway point of March… And if all is going to plan, you’re probably starting to see the benefits.

It’s unlikely that your whole body will be completely transformed. That would be unrealistic and unsustainable. Those who lose dramatic amounts of weight in a short space of time often do so because they’ve made a dramatic change, like drastically reducing their caloric intake or abandoning an entire food group. Unfortunately, this kind of weight loss is all too often short-lived. On the other hand, losing weight slowly but consistently (a pound a week is a healthy and sustainable degree of weight loss) is the surest way to guarantee that your lost weight stays off.

By now your significant other, your friends and your family are likely dropping you compliments about your weight loss left, right and center as they start to notice the change in you. As edifying as this can be, you likely don’t see this change in yourself. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, each of us is our own worst critic, and we have a tendency to gloss over our achievements and most flattering features and head straight for the stuff we’re still not happy with. The second is because we see our own bodies every day and as such are less well placed to identify our areas of progress as well as friends or family members. Thirdly, because you may well be dressing for your old shape. A key component of acknowledging and celebrating your weight loss achievements is by giving your wardrobe a much-needed makeover.

You can’t feel better about your body if you’re wearing the same clothes

Forget all the excuses you’re already making in your head. That it’s too soon to start thinking about new clothes, the family budget can’t take the strain or that you need time to feel ready to wear your changing shape with confidence. Nobody’s suggesting that you max out the household credit card on expensive dresses and ostentatious gowns. Nobody’s suggesting that you force yourself into a revealing crop top, or develop a penchant for miniskirts. If you think you’d feel more confident in those things, then have it, but if it’s not you, that’s cool too.

Just like with your weight loss, it’s all about slowly amassing items that will make you feel more comfortable in your own skin and help those around you to see the real you that’s been hiding away. Here we’ll offer some practical suggestions for ways in which you can dress your newfound shape in a way that makes you feel confident and empowered, but comfortable. The specifics, however, are entirely up to you. Every single woman is different and hopefully you’ll cherry pick the right tips that will help you to gradually reinvent yourself to be the person you’ve always wanted to be. Even if your weight loss goals are still a ways off yet, you’ll hopefully find some ways to help you rebuild your look (and your self esteem) from the ground up. Just remember…

Confidence is your strongest accessory

You can wear your most dazzling set of diamond earrings, or you can paint yourself with makeup until your face is a genuine work of art. You can wear the sexiest shoes Jimmy Choo ever made or the most comfortable shoes that the Alegria Shoe Shop has to offer, and accessorize till you’re dripping with sparkles. But it all amounts to nothing unless you’re wearing the most important accessory of all… Confidence! Whether you’re tall or petite, black or white, hourglass or apple or pear shaped, confidence is something that every woman should have in abundance in her wardrobe. Unfortunately, the society we live in seems strangely reticent to give women the confidence they need. It likes to play on their insecurities so that it can sell her more products. It likes to tantalize her with airbrushed images of youthful perfection that will always be just out of her reach.

Of course nobody can make you confident. Nor can they tell you how to be confident. Confidence isn’t something that can be bottled and sold. Confidence is always a work in progress and sometimes it eludes even the most gorgeous women on the planet. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and sometimes we need to recalibrate our brains to notice the beauty within ourselves. This doesn’t come overnight but there are strategies that can help us to do this.

Discover your new body type

While no woman can change her fundamental body shape regardless of her weight (if you’re apple shaped or hourglass shaped, this will be dictated by your bone structure and will remain unchanged regardless of your weight), our body shape does change subtly or become more noticeable when we lose weight. As such, knowing your new body type and how to dress for it is a useful first step. Take measurements of your bust, waist, shoulders and hips and put them into a body type calculator. This will help you to find the most flattering way to dress your new, more defined shape.

Don’t be afraid to go back to basics

You can’t feel confident if you’re uncomfortable. As such, it’s okay to reach for the old faithfuls every once in a while. Just try to resist the urge to hide behind them. Often taking a piece of clothing with which we’re familiar and finding a fun new way to wear it is a great way to walk the line between confidence and comfort. Some of the “old faithfuls” that many women swear by (and that will look great whether you lose or gain a few pounds) include…

  • The jersey dress– Great for most occasions and flattering for any body shape. Just throw it on and go.
  • The pencil skirt- You may think that a pencil skirt gives you nowhere to hide but nothing could be further from the truth. You can wear it higher on the waist if you’re up a few pounds and drop it down a little if you’re down a few.
  • Leggings– There isn’t a body shape under the sun that isn’t flattered by a thick fabric, seamed legging.
  • The shirt dress- Whatever your size or weight, the dress size flatters by giving you one continuous line. You can add extra shape by defining the waist with a belt as you lose more.
  • Blazers- If you have a man in your life, he likely knows that a good blazer will flatter and enhance his shape even if his weight fluctuates. The exact same goes for girls, too!

But don’t be afraid of the odd wild card either

As important as the fundamentals are, it’s also good to take risks every now and then, as these can sometimes result in a real fashion slam dunk. Every time you go out shopping you should try on something that scares you a little. Something that’s completely outside of your comfort zone. It can be something in a bolder than usual color, something a little more daring and revealing than you’d usually wear or just something that’s outside of the parameters of your own style. Believe it or not, it’s these pieces that you’ll end up feeling the most confident in.

Dress for now

Even if your weight loss goals are still a way away, don’t put off buying yourself something new to acknowledge your achievements. Dress for now, with the caveat that a few pounds may come off in the future. Stretchy fabrics are useful for this, as they will give you a sense of confidence and comfort, with the knowledge that you won’t need to throw them away as your weight decreases.  

Get your colors done

Every woman swears by her little black dress but she shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with color either. Many of us buy colors based upon our person preferences as opposed to how the colors interact with our own coloring. If you haven’t gotten your colors done before, do so as soon as possible. For those not in the know, getting your colors done involves sitting in front of a mirror while stylists hold up various colored fabrics to your skin to ascertain which colors work best with your hair, skin and eye color. The right colors can really make your eyes, your skin tone and your smile pop, bringing you a feeling of beauty and confidence, whatever your size.