So Your Body Changed During the Pandemic. Here’s How to Rebuild Your Wardrobe

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I’m just a girl, standing in front of my closet, pleading that a single pair of pants will fit, asking why nothing fits, knowing why nothing fits, and simultaneously trying to quell a panic attack about nothing fitting.

Unsurprisingly, after a year of rarely leaving my 800 square-foot apartment, my body has changed.

Amidst the joy of returning to some semblance of normal, I find myself experiencing pangs of anger, annoyance, and outright exhaustion at the looming back-to-office date with a wardrobe that no longer fits, and the reality that offices aren’t going to switch to a sweatpants only dress code when it’s finally safe to return to work. A change in size not only increases your to-do list and clothing expenses, but it also can cause a shift in how you see yourself. Clothing is an extension of ourselves and how we want the world to see us, so suddenly losing the comfort of a wardrobe that reflects your carefully curated identity is unsettling. And frankly, after last year, I don’t have the energy to muddle through that again.

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Whenever an article of clothing fails to fit me, it feels like a death; melodramatic yes, but emotionally I am still standing in a shop delighted to have found the exact right garment. So, if you are going through this now, take a minute, and allow yourself to grieve the unexpected loss of your wardrobe.

But now we have to pick ourselves up off the (metaphorical or literal) closet floor and reframe the nightmare of rebuilding your wardrobe into the opportunity to level up your closet from the last decade—because let’s be honest, there are absolutely pieces in there you wouldn’t be wearing even if they still fit. It’s time to let them go and create a wardrobe that reflects who you are today, both in body and spirit. In my early 20s I went through this exact experience—from a varsity athlete to a plus-size recent graduate—and I struggled to define both myself and my closet, a period that taught me how to rebuild a closet on a shoestring budget, without forcing my body to maintain a size it simply wasn’t anymore. So, if after a year of sweatpants, your weight gain is seemingly innocuous until you try on a pair of jeans (my own recent struggle), here is my advice for how to rebuild your wardrobe while honoring your body.

Where Do I Even Begin?

Looking at an entire wardrobe that doesn’t fit is an overwhelming feeling. The good news: You are probably not going to need to replace all of it within the next month. Exhale and instead focus on the places you are actually going to —your office, dinners out and running errands. Shift the question from “where do I begin” to “where am I going during the average week? What pieces do I need to get me through the next few months.”

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