Fashion Tips for Looking Your Best While Losing Weight

Fashion tips for weight loss

I’m not a style maven or Stacy from What Not to Wear, but I have learned a thing or two about fashion while losing weight, fashion while pregnancy, and even fashion in weight maintenance.

After all, I lost weight, I had seven full-term pregnancies, and have been in weight maintenance since 1998. For this post, I’m just going to focus on looking your best while losing weight and save the other tips for another day.

I think it is important to pay attention to what you wear when losing weight. Not because you have to be a fashion icon or dress up all the time, but because how you look often affects the choices you make.

Case in point. This picture below was taken on Easter morning at my mother-in-law’s house. Easter morning. We had gone to church and everything and this is how I looked. I didn’t do anything with my hair, I didn’t put my contacts in, I didn’t even wear a flattering outfit. I had hit rock bottom when it came to my weight and my appearance reflected that feeling.

Diane Carbonell Ugly Shirt Before Pictures

One of the things a lot of people look forward to when losing weight is getting new clothes, or at least fitting back into clothes that used to fit. That was one of my goals and I’ve never met a single person who didn’t want to get out of the plus sized department and be able to have more shopping options.

I’ve put together a list of 10 tips to help you look your best when losing weight. We’ve never had a lot of extra money so I did a lot of my shopping during my weight loss experience at Goodwill, garage sales, and clearance racks. (In fact, I still do. :) )

10 Fashion Tips for Weight Loss

1.  Wear the Right Undergarments

I’m not going to put up a picture for this tip, but let’s face it. The right undergarments can make a difference in how you look and feel. A properly fitted bra makes your clothes lay properly and lifts everything up. (Men can skip this step.) Studies show that the vast majority of women wear the incorrect bra size. Here’s a post I found on Women’s Health that explains how to measure yourself for a bra if you are not comfortable asking for help in a store.

2. Pay Attention to Your Waistband Placement

Low waisted pants are popular, but they can be a challenge if you have a muffin top. I recommend finding pants and skirts that come up a bit higher and help hold everything in while you are toning up and losing weight. Because of excess skin that I have after losing 150 pounds, I still look for pants/skirts whose waistband is not super low.

3. Get a Great Fitting Pair of Jeans

I know jeans are expensive but it was the one item that I bought as soon as I outgrew a particular size. I’d start at Goodwill and often times find a pair I loved. If I couldn’t, I moved up the cost ladder and sometimes bought a pair at an actual retail store! Having a pair of jeans that fit me properly whether I was wearing a size 20 or a size 12 made me happy, went with almost everything, and could be dressed up or dressed down.

4. Don’t Wear Your Skirts too Short

Just because they make it in your size doesn’t mean you should wear it. At least that’s what my grandmother often said. Seriously though, we’ve all seen women who might be in the weight loss process wearing skirts that are too short. I think that a skirt that is right above the knee is flattering on many women because it hides the upper thigh area and helps to elongate the leg, which makes you look good even while losing weight.

5. Get a Few Belts

I loved wearing belts as I dropped pounds because it was something I had not worn in years. Here’s a picture of me wearing a belt when I was about midway through the weight loss process.

A belt!

A belt!

Not only do belts draw you in at the waist, they also can help your pants from falling down, hide a seam if you have taken in a skirt or pants, and allow you to wear a too-big shirt for a bit longer. Plus, they are not elastic and help you feel it if you eat too much at a meal.

6. Wear Tights

Tights are flattering, smooth out varicose veins, and allow you to wear a shorter skirt if that’s your style. Also, tights have a natural ability to flatten areas around your body and give you a smoother look. Spanx are in my wardrobe when I wear tighter dresses because of the skin issues. When I was losing weight, I wore regular or plus size tights that were control top and it boosted my self-esteem because I could visualize what I would look like as I continued to workout and get more toned.

7. Watch Your Sleeve Length

This may not matter to you, but I am self conscious about the skin under my upper arms that refuses to shrink no matter how much exercise I do. If that doesn’t bother you, feel free to skip this step! A short cap sleeve can draw attention to your upper arm, especially if the sleeve has elastic or binds your upper arm. Make sure the sleeve band doesn’t pull too tightly or hit you in a place that is not flattering.

8. Make Friends with a Tailor or Someone Who Sews

Not every piece of clothing in your closet is worth tailoring, but there may be some pieces that are worth the investment. A good tailor can alter pants, jackets, and fitted shirts to fit your changing body. If you have some investment pieces that you bought at your highest weight, have those taken in as you lose weight to extend their life. At some point; however, they may get too big to alter.

9. Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize

A nice purse can make you feel better, a pretty scarf brightens up your face and hides that fact the shoulders of your blouse are too big, and nice jewelry is a great reward for losing weight. The nice thing about accessories as you are losing weight is they fit no matter the size!

10. Ask for Help

Like I said, I’m no fashion maven, so I asked sales clerks or friends for help as I lost weight. I felt like I did not know what was in fashion, what clothes would look good on my new changing frame, and often felt overwhelmed when I did move into the “regular” sized clothing area. People are always willing to give an opinion though, so be sure to ask someone whose fashion sense you admire and someone who is encouraging.

I hope these tips help you feel great as you are losing weight. Feel free to email me with your own tips or add them in the comments below! Diane

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About Diane Carbonell

Diane Carbonell is passionate about weight loss. Subscribe to regular blog updates and receive the latest information on weight loss, weight maintenance, and healthy living. Keep up with Diane by following her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.


  1. Chloe Baker says:

    These are really good tips! Especially with the accessories and the belts. They do have an effect on how you look and I feel. I agree with having a tailor or someone that can sew! Luckily for me I can do it myself! It takes some time but if you have clothing you wear very often it’s best to have them fit at all times!

    Thanks for posting!

  2. Very good and wise suggestions! I mean really, we could all use this advice.
    Joi recently posted…Premier Jewelry: Every Woman, Every Age, Every Style + GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  3. Hi Diane,
    Great tips! I would also suggest that as those pants with elastic waists get too big and sloppy feeling, toss them – or donate them. It’s way too easy to fall off the wagon when you know you have bigger clothes hanging around in your closets. I think it’s easy to eat an entire bag of Doritos while wearing sweat pants, sitting in front of the TV. Not so easy in jeans (comfortable ones).
    It feels great to have moved past elastic waisted pants!

    And I LOVE wearing belts now! When I made it through all the smaller clothes I had packed away and finally “had” to go shopping ;), I spent 3 hours just trying on all the possibilities in the “regular” sized clothes section! I knew I’d been in the store too long when I started hearing the same songs play over again! :)

    Thanks again for a great post!
    Tracy recently posted…A taste of maintenanceMy Profile

    • Great suggestion on avoiding elastic waistbands. I always suggest that people reserve elastic waistbands for pajamas and workout clothes!

      I do have a few skirts that have elastic waistbands but I typically belt them.

  4. I recently found a great pair of jeans at Savers for less than $3. I was so happy to find them and love wearing them. Agree with Tracy on the elastic waist bands. That used to be all I wore, but no more. :)
    Caron recently posted…Chilly Morning in ArizonaMy Profile

    • No more elastic waist bands for me either. Those things are dangerous for the weight challenged individual!

      Also, I have to watch out for pants with stretch because they can hide potential weight gain.

  5. All very true. I would like to point out something else too. A nicely dressed heavier woman is way more pleasing to the eye then one who looks sloppy and unkempt. That goes for any size really. When you dress flattering at any size you feel better about yourself. If you feel better about yourself you want to do nice things for yourself- like eat right. Dress the part and you become the part. A lot of it is attitude. Right?

    • That is a good point Lori. We don’t have to spend a lot of money to look put together no matter what size we are.

      My first boss told me one time: “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” I think that helped me advance because not only did I look like the manager I wanted to be but the clothes also boosted my self confidence.

  6. Interesting suggestions!

    I went with the “wear black” trick for a long time. Then I got over that and started wearing more color. :)
    Lisa recently posted…Warrior RoomMy Profile

  7. I wish someone could tell me where to find jeans and pants that come up to the waist! I have just two pairs of pants to wear. You can’t even find anything suitable in a consignment shop any more. If you’re pear-shaped (even after you’ve lost weight), low-rise just does not work. Will this fashion trend ever reverse?!? I’d love to wear pants belted at the waist with my shirt tucked in again!

    After I lost weight, I hired a personal shopper to take me on a shopping trip to a high-end department store. She chose clothes for me that I never would have thought right for me. But she had a good eye and suggested a few current looks that work and don’t make me feel like I’m trying too hard to be trendy. Her advice is something I can replicate on my own shopping trips now.

    • Try Talbots

    • Have you tried JCPenney’s? I’ve had good luck finding jeans whose waistband is a bit higher but still doesn’t look like those terrible “mom” jeans some women wear.

      Good for you on the personal shopper experience. I think I would benefit from that because I tend to pick out the same styles and colors. (Mainly black!)

      • I found some great ones at TJ Maxx! I bought a pair of mid-rise flared jeans that actually made my waistline look smaller. An associate there steered me away from skinny crop jeans because they put too much emphasis on my hips

  8. I am just not sure I’ll EVER be comfortable wearing a belt.

    I did a lot of thrift store shopping when I lost weight. So many people struggle with changing weights, so much stuff is donated as people move one direction or another. It is a great way to find a variety of things (often from stores I wouldn’t shop on my own). Cheaper too!

    But you are right, no matter what size you are, you can look stylish … or frumpy. I’m in the latter category most of the time :)
    JenB recently posted…Working Out While Under the WeatherMy Profile

    • Thrift stores can be a gold mine because people are quick to donate clothes when they no longer like them or fit into them. We take huge amounts of clothes to Goodwill as the boys grow out of them or my older girls change their style!

  9. This tips are really good and the belt one is my absolute favourite! I love wearing belts for all the reasons you mentioned, but also because I love the feeling I get when I run out of holes on the belt and have to drop a belt size! It’s a great way to realise I’ve lose weight since I don’t weigh myself all that often :D
    GiselleR recently posted…Circuit Workout for Partners & Elf4Health KindnessMy Profile

    • That is a wonderful feeling isn’t it! My husband is losing weight right now and that’s been one of his favorite non-scale victories to date.

      Congratulations on seeing those belt sizes drop – that is awesome!

  10. I sure couldn’t write anything this useful no matter how hard I tried!!

    Perhaps you could do one on wearing makeup or hair styling in the future?
    Dr. J recently posted…Everyday Evidence of Fast Food Dominance: Tennis, Tantalizing and Tiny TimMy Profile

  11. Such a great post Diane!!!! I used to watch What Not To Wear all the time & loved how they made fuller figured ladies look awesome & change how they viewed themselves!!!
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted…Giveaway Winner, Upcoming Fun & Random Other StuffMy Profile

  12. Proper fitting for a bra is vital. Stacy (TLC’s What Not to Wear) suggests getting refitted every 5-10 lbs. For most of us loosing a lot of weight, that was not going to happen, because that would be a lot of bras. But it is REALLY important to get refitted at least sometimes during our process and most importantly when we get to our final weight.

    I just recently had the excess skin removed from my upper back and arm pit area in addition to breast lift. I am very curious to see what happens with my bras. It will be many weeks before I am back in a bra. My breasts were lifted, but not dramatically changed (size wise). He said I might still be in some of my same bras with the straps adjusted. Will be interesting to see.

    The other one (hint) I found most recently is fitted panties. These help hold my excess tummy skin very well. Huge difference in clothes. The ones I love are made by BALI, come two to a hanger, and are called “firm control for every day smoothing”.

    My 15 year old just went, by herself, for a bra fitting at a local shop. She bought two strapless bras. One was a corset fit with a low back, the other for sundresses. If she can do it, all of us can do it.

    • You are so right Vickie! I finally sought help from a fitting specialist and it made a world of difference. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable asking for help there are websites that really explain how a bra should fit.

      I hope your surgery was successful and you are healing nicely.

  13. I love these tips and actually followed many as I was losing weight. One that I also follow to this day is “if you wore it when it was in style the first time around, don’t wear it now!”
    I saved many clothes hoping to fit in to them again and by the time I did some were just totally out of date.
    New to your blog and love it. Have lost 70+ pounds and maintained that since April. I see this as a lifestyle change that is forever.

    • Congratulations on your 70+ pound loss! Looking at it as a lifestyle change is one of the keys to lifelong maintenance.

      I like your tip. I had saved some clothes as well and when they finally fit again they were so out of style that John and I had a good laugh about how ridiculous they looked.

  14. Great topic and suggestions :). I also things it’s important to find the right material for your body. I personally can not wear silk or sheer it cling in all the wrong places. Plus having fitted clothes makes people look so much better no matter what size! Take advantage of your best feature when dressing it could be your hair, waist, long neck or legs. Show it off!

  15. Sharing this on my FB page today. Great advice!