Your wardrobe, your rules and learning how to get rid of your ED clothes

"My Mum understood completely that in order for me to gain weight I needed to abolish all the clothes that would become too small for me, so that I would have no clothes to pull me back. However she also understood how much I loved this dress and how genuinely happy the pattern made me feel. So we cut it and kept it, but no not to wear, but to decorate my room. That same dress that once held me back from gaining weight now lies across my bedroom desk-chair on which I now place my very healthy weight restored bottom wearing my new weight restored wardrobe."

A big part of finding myself during my recovery was developing a personal style. I had always liked clothing, but had never really pegged down how I liked to dress. I knew I loved to wear colour but I never knew where to shop for it and often the odd things I did like to wear I was always too scared to wear from my fear of judgment... oh how times have changed. Now I dress for me and only me and I love every single item I own.

Saying that, funnily my wardrobe isn't very large, I don't have lots of shoes and I only keep jewellery that often holds a sentimental value and as I can only wear real silver or gold (I always get irritated or inflamed with other metal) I tend to wear the same special pieces regularly. I care about quality and not in the slightest about quantity, however, I did in the past care an awful lot about 'size'. When I built my wardrobe to what it is today, this was a hurdle I had to face in my recovery. A hurdle that we all must face in recovery.

Every recovery warrior who has gone through (or is going through) weight restoration knows that letting go of 'ill' clothes is an extremely difficult and emotional task. 'Ill' clothes represent a huge part of our disease, and getting rid of them means coming to terms with the fact that your body is not meant to be so thin and unhealthy, and that those clothes should never fit again... that's a hard thought to initially swallow.

However... I have some steps, tips and advice that can help make the swallow more pleasant.

Bye bye 'ill' clothes part one: Your wardrobe, your rules.

There is no right and wrong with what you choose to wear, both your style and your clothing are unique to you. Okay perhaps there is a limit like wearing a bikini in minus temperatures and wearing a prom dress to the gym, so dressing appropriately is a given but what's not a given is finding what style sets you apart and most importantly what style you like wearing. In order to wave goodbye to your 'ill clothes' you must first begin walking in the direction of your 'you clothes'. 

The colours, the shape, the edginess, softness or brightness of your wardrobe. The time period you are inspired by and the fashion of that time genre. The current season and weather will play a vital role in your outfits too. Not to forget your job and your passions are both very major underlying factors of your wardrobe. Plus obviously where you live and the places you like to shop.

For example take my wardrobe: I'm a dancer so you'll find that a large bulk of my wardrobe is leotards, tights, sports bras, hot pants, warm ups, joggers and dance 'branded' jumpers plus the obvious ballet, pointe, jazz and tap shoes. This part of my wardrobe has been created from my thriving passion for dancing and performing.

I'm a lover of art, patterns, embroidery, detailed designs and colour so while you may struggle to find lots of black or 'plain' patterned clothing you will definitely find some really beautiful tops and funky trousers with oriental hints, hand stitched patches on jeans, some really vibrant coloured clothing and lots of handmade silk ties and dip dyed pieces. I also am a sucker for vintage clothing and Chinese patterns. I guess this part of my wardrobe is my style that sets me apart. 

I also believe myself to be quite a strong character with a powerful personality and a 'minx' edge, which comes across in my abundance of mesh, velvet, lace, lycra and fish-net clothing.

If I lived by the sea you'd probably find a large bulk of wetsuits and flip flops too, so location is probably an element of my wardrobe as another large section of my clothing is walking boots, wellies, warm jumpers and puffer coats for the walks in the woods rather than dips in the sea. (Although really I'd love to have both). 

What I love to wear depends often on the day and the time of year, I love dressing in my active wear which I guess is a good thing as I am often dancing and need to be in it! However if you find me on a cosy autumnal evening I'll be in my casual-comfy house wear with knee high fluffy rainbow socks and a blanket wrapped round my waist like a sarong. Catch me on a mid-summers day though and I'll be in bare legs and a crazy-cool vest top..

As for an 'era' or time period I like to dress from I don't think I have a particular one, although like I have mentioned I love vintage shops and even more so charity shops and you can find anything in those. There are so many hidden gems to stumble upon when you venture back in time or to recycle and recover others clothes.

The point is that you can never wear 'wrong' and you can never wear 'right' you can only wear 'cloned', 'branded' or 'unique'. So try to pick the last as much as possible, don't be afraid to be different. Dress like you, and use your own rules, it's your wardrobe after all.

Bye bye 'ill' clothes part two: Cut but don't necessarily chuck. 

When I was very ill and underweight my favourite piece of clothing was a stunning Indian pattered dress, but it was tiny and I knew it would only fit me in my current skeletal frame at the time. Oh as much as it annoyed me I knew it would never fit me if I was to restore my weight. It was odd because when I wore that dress I felt sexy, confident, and cool, no matter how bad and boneyard-like I looked it made me feel that little glimpse of pretty.

I almost felt like that dress and the feeling the dress gave me was 'good enough' a reason to stay ill and skinny for. Don't make me laugh! Most definitely not! So part two of getting rid of your ill clothes can work by not actually 'getting rid of them'... completely. The majority of the reason I loved that dress so much was because of the beautiful embroiled Indian patterning, so my Mum said to me pre-recovery preparation:

"How about instead of getting rid of it we cut it instead and make it into something else?". 

I know, I know, my Mum is a genius. My Mum understood completely that in order for me to gain weight I needed to abolish all the clothes that would become too small for me, so that I would have no clothes to pull me back. However she also understood how much I loved this dress and how genuinely happy the pattern made me feel. So we cut it and kept it, but no not to wear, but to decorate my room. That same dress that once held me back from gaining weight now lies across my bedroom desk-chair on which I now place my very healthy weight restored bottom wearing my new weight restored wardrobe.

This is a great tip and trick for when you are trying to get rid of your ill clothes yet find it hard for the particular pieces of clothing that you either really love the design of, or love to wear or what clothes hold sentimental value. Clothes that you don't want to rid yourself of but that you know aren't going to fit you in your healthy future. 

Another piece of clothing we ended up cutting up was a pair of bright pink cotton tie-dyed trousers which were age 8, obviously they weren't going to fit me in the slightest after recovery but they were a gift from my Mum and I had held onto them as they were since I was 8, so for about 10 years! I found it too hard to put them into the charity bag as they reminded me of my Mum and also my young cheeky self so instead we cut them up and made them into a small pointe shoe bag for me to slide my pointe shoes into. We cut the fabric up and sewed it up on the edges to make it as practical as possible and hey-presto recycling and keeping yet still 'ridding' myself of my 'ill clothes' at the same time.

Bye bye 'ill' clothes part three: Let the clothes express you but not hide you. 

Learn to dress to express and not to hide, cover or coat yourself up. Dress for the day you want... make it joyful, make it colourful and make it themed with accessories and quirky differences that make your happiness pop. It's a little bit like make up. You can use make up as a wall, a 'face' and a mask to hide behind or you can use make up to express yourself and your creativity or to enhance your unique features. 

You can wear what you like but always make sure that you are wearing what you like for the right reasons. If you love wearing your boyfriends jumper, or baggy t-shirts make sure you like wearing them because you generally like it, don't just wear them because they 'cover the tops of your thighs' or your 'bloated waist' because that's called hiding not expressing. Don't be scared to wear what you like. Don't feel the need to hide. 

This is the same for wearing corsets and tight fitted clothing. Make sure you wear them because you damn well love them and not because you are trying to hide behind a mask, false identity or 'society ideal'. Wear it, wear it proud but only if it's for you. Don't be scared to wear what you like. Don't feel the need to hide inside clothes you are not. 

Become a true original in your wardrobe. Why blend in when you can be extraordinarily different? Why not try stealing the show! Be a tricky act to follow and each day push the boat out to please your spirits style that little bit more. Your wardrobe wish can be granted at the flick of a switch. Turn on expression and turn off fear. Ta-da! It's the clothes your true spirit has been waiting for!

Bye bye 'ill' clothes part four: F*** sizes. 

You are not your size, so don't stand there 'wearing your size'. No instead stand there proud wearing nothing but your confidence. Buy clothes that are made to make you feel amazing and don't worry about the size tag. No one is going to look at you and think 'I wonder what size clothing that dress is' all they are going to think is 'wow, she is owning that dress'. Honestly who actually walks down the street trying to guess people's clothing size? You see... it doesn't matter! No one cares, and you shouldn't care either!

Another thing about sizes is that shops play a big role in 'mind messing'. You see two shops could both stock a size 10 yet in one shop that size 10 jean could be completely different to another shops size 10 jean. Each shop has a different style, size guide and fitting. Each pair of jeans from a handful of stores will fit your body differently even though they will all saying the same bloody size. So don't panic, to be honest, don't even look at the size as there is no need- all you have to do is feel and you'll find your perfect jean. 

Just a little tester. What advert is more appealing to you?:

A): "Frill seeker! Wanted: confident woman rocking clothes full of frills." Or B): "Frill seeker! Wanted: woman size 'X' wearing frilled clothes." 

If you were to create an advert what one would you send out? Which woman would you search for? For myself, 'A' all the way. Confidence is key to beauty, size is meaningless. 

Be the new heel on the block that struts down the street with confidence and not the same shoe that hides away in the corner wearing their 'size' in their eyes. Like I said, no one cares what size tag you wear so don't be afraid of letting go of the tag itself. Go on, you've earned your new, shoe-sole of confidence.

Bye bye 'ill' clothes part five: No clothes, no problem. 

Hey you! Step right up! You seem to be a mind that has been waiting to show your body some true loving and confidence for a long time now!

While this blog has been all about 'the clothes' and feeling confident and in love with your wardrobe... real confidence and 'the love of self strut' actually comes down to what's underneath your clothing and about how you feel about your true skin. If you can manage the love of self strut when you proudly walk down the street not caring about what the world thinks of what you are wearing then I'm not going to say, 'okay now do it naked' - don't worry. But what I am going to suggest to you is to try the love of 'self shower strut' in spare time too! The bonus word is shower and it is just what it sounds like. 

Practice strutting from the bathroom door into the shower and after your showers over, dry off and strut from the shower to the bathroom door. Oh and naked. Now as bonkers as this sounds and while you may only fit in 4 or 5 steps as bathrooms are always tight for space, I still assure you that this will help you embrace all the 'you' are and all that you are in your most natural, honest, bare self. Although you may be doing this alone without others glazing eyes, that's completely fine as it is love of 'self'. 

Which ending do you want to finish with? Woman meets dress... and inevitably falls head over heels for it. Or: Woman meets self... and inevitably falls infinitely heart over head for herself.

Your choice? Ding ding ding, we have a winner. 

Photography by: Ansa Gohar

Photography by: Ansa Gohar