“Who you were, you no longer are.”
These were the words that were ringing in my ears as I stood in my closet a few months ago, clutching a firetruck-red bodycon dress in my hand. The dress no longer fit me; physically it hung off the frame it once hugged. But even more than that? It no longer fit… me.
“Who you were, you no longer are.” This one quote from this badass spiritual teacher I followed, Jordan Bach, it was all I could think of.
I was surrounded by a closet FULL of clothes. Stuff I had acquired over the years. The perfect date dress that showed off my uber-curvy bod (I had a lot of those, which I put to use on the many first dates I had racked up.) and a few quintessential boho-chic maxi dresses. Sequins and leather. Piles and piles of stuff. Beautiful things that just didn’t seem to speak to me anymore.
I started to panic as I pulled things off the hangers. Dress after dress after dress, laying in a billowy heap on the floor. Hangers swaying and clanking into each other on the rack. The pile got bigger and bigger. Each item of clothes had a memory. A failed relationship, a burst expectation, a Statement about Sarah I had tried to make. One at a time I grabbed them… till I was staring at an empty closet.
And then I started to cry.
All these clothes. All these things about myself I thought I knew, they no longer fit me on the inside or outside. They felt mismatched. Unfamiliar. But if they weren’t me…who was I? It was time to find out.
Have you ever stopped to really wonder if you are dressing your SOUL alive? Sure, we see people wearing trends; many of us make our decisions based on what our friends wear, or what we see bloggers sport online, or what brands are pushing on us each season. But do you really LOVE that? Do those styles really speak to you? Do you know what you love?
If you are anything like me, as a plus size woman, you may have had a bumpy road with style. As a larger plus size woman most of my adult life, my style philosophy seemed to be more Tim Gunn “make it work” than based on my true taste. It was always such a struggle to find things that really spoke to me, so I’ve always just made do with what I could find.
True story: I went through sorority rush my freshman year of college wearing a men’s tee shirt, sweater vest, and jeans from J.Crew.
True story: I wore ponchos with my bootcut jeans in my mid-20’s working in Las Vegas because there were no “cute shirts” for me to wear out.
True story: I convinced myself that coordinating sweater twinsets were “my thing” because I could find some that fit. I don’t like twinsets. At all.
In short, style always seemed a little… beyond me. And in full disclosure, I still don’t see myself as being a real fashionista. I mean, I know women who LIVE for fashion. Me? I just like clothes that make me feel great! These days, I’m learning more about WHO I am and WHAT I like as a woman. What I want my life to be like. How I want to FEEL in my life. And as I learn about these things, I honor them. I honor myself. One way I do that, is by discovering my personal style and trying new plus size clothing till I find what works for me. (More on that later…)
Style always seemed like a luxury I didn’t have. Not a financial one, but an emotional one. If you don’t really know who you are, how do you know what you like? And, if you do figure out who you are, and you can’t find things that DO speak to you, how do you find your style? You get scrappy. And then there’s just a legit fact – I’m on a budget. So I don’t have tons of disposable income laying around to shop. I know I can’t be alone here…
These days, I’m learning more about WHO I am and WHAT I like as a woman. What I want my life to be like. How I want to FEEL in my life. And as I learn about these things, I honor them. I honor myself. One way I do that, is by discovering my personal style and trying new plus size clothing till I find what works for me.Here’s the thing, and I’m going to get wicked honest now.
When it came to my past, I never shopped for things casually. I shopped for them desperately. I would see something online and then imagined my entire life happiness would be wrapped up in that single garment. The dress that would make me beautiful and find me a great guy. The top that would tell the world I was creative and funky. The plus size style that would make statements about me that I wasn’t quite sure I could make on my own.
So I collected clothes. I remember growing up, making trips to the Gap with my mom, hauling bags of white turtlenecks. She would say to me “Sarah, if you find something you like buy one and then a second and a third because you NEVER know when you’ll find something again.”
I lived this my entire life. I collected clothes, afraid if I didn’t get them they would go away and I’d never find anything like it again. Except when I was collecting clothes, I wasn’t collecting actual stuff – what I was really searching for was the feeling that the clothes would give me. Sexy. Powerful. Creative. I relied on clothes to tell the world this was who I was because I don’t really think I actually knew who I wanted to be.
I collected clothes, afraid if I didn’t get them they would go away and I’d never find anything like it again. Except when I was collecting clothes, I wasn’t collecting actual stuff – what I was really searching for was the feeling that the clothes would give me.
I started my wellness journey in April of 2016. I’ve always thought I had a pretty strong sense of self. And, though I may have stumbled a bit in the past, I’ve always tried to live as fully as I could. But when I realized that my reality was falling short of what I wanted my life to be, I took a step back to reevaluate. And that’s when I started to work on creating a healthier and happier life from the inside out.
One of the biggest lessons I learned? Stuff doesn’t make a statement about you. YOU make your own statements. How you hold yourself. The energy you create. The feelings you give others. The things you are passionate about. THESE are the things that tell the world who you are.
Clothes? Are the beautiful icing on the cake.
As I have moved through my journey, my dress size has dropped. And with this process of really evaluating how I can create my happiest life, has also come a bit of (ok, a major) recalibration as I learn more about who I believe Sarah really is. What is she passionate about? What kind of energy does she really want to create? How can she LIVE that in her life?
You know how some people say, “I want to make XXX money and then I will be happy!” Or “I want to lose 50 lbs and then I will look great!” I don’t believe in that kind of stuff. Nope. I don’t do numerical and quantitative goals. To me? That’s setting myself up to fail, based on this narrowly defined definition of “success” when, really, life unfolds itself in ways we can’t even imagine!
Instead, in my life, I aim to create FEELINGS and states of being. Ways that I want to feel in my life. When I identify how I want to feel, I know that the actions that help me to create that feeling are things that I should do, and the things that take detract from it are things I should avoid.
Let’s also get real here. Clothes can be expensive. And sometimes it just isn’t practical to throw down a bunch of money to “try things” that you may or may not like. So how do you uncover your personal style with a changing body, or as you experience changes in life? DING DING DING!
WELCOME THE AMAZING WORLD OF PLUS SIZE CLOTHING SUBSCRIPTION BOXES!
I’m actually a little bit in love with Gwynnie Bee for two big reasons.
First, a subscription service lets me experiment with style as I uncover what I really like. No commitments and no risk. Which means I don’t have to buy things and live through buyer’s remorse. I don’t have to collect random clothes that I’ll never wear. Instead, I literally get to try things again and again and again and again… “Yes, this is me” or “Nope, I THOUGHT this polka dot dress would do it but wearing it feels so weird.” I get the luxury of changing my mind and playing with styles till I find what truly feels like me.
Second, and this is just being really straight here… my body is changing all the time. Like, every few months clothes fit me differently. If your body is experiencing changes of any kind (gaining weight, losing weight, anything in between and whatever!) a Gwynnie Bee allows you to always have stuff that fits you without the stress. For example, when I first created my online profile with Gwynnie Bee, I was wearing a size 24. But, by the time I shot some of these pics? I needed to size down. And I could do that without collecting clutter or spending unnecessary money on things. (I’m on a budget, I will admit!)
So when I connected to Gwynnie Bee, I was (literally) so excited it hurt. I would get to…
- Try things on in different style profiles and see what felt like “me” and what didn’t,
- Try different sizes without accruing armloads of clothes that fit or don’t fit, and
- Literally, PLAY with fashion without commitment or spending boatloads of money? AGGGHHHH!!!!!
Curious as to what I grabbed? Well, let’s start with my original concept of dressing for how you want to FEEL in your life. I decide how I want to feel in my own life, and then do things that support me feeling that way. Actions that create feelings! (Quick note, if you need more info here, check out this old blog post where I take you through my 2017 vision board.)
Here are four “states of being” from my vision board, and the outfits I chose to go with them!
The feeling of gratitude is such a big part of how I pro-actively work to create a happier life. Gratitude is a choice. I try to make it as many times a day as a can! If you are alive, you have something to be grateful for. Your heart is beating for you! Your lungs are giving you breath!
I chose this outfit because, through and through, it simply is me. I’m a “sundress and cowboy boots” kind of girl. Easy dressing. Comfortable and a bit bohemian. Is there anything more simple to throw on than a great dress and your favorite worn-in boots?
This is a dress from American Rag. I am wearing it in a 3X because American Rag is a junior cut and runs a bit small.
If I had to wear one outfit forever, it would be some variation of this one right here.
Gratitude is the basis for joy! It’s a key feeling I work to practice every day.
Bold is such a beautiful word to me! It’s a bit more daring than “fearless” and a whole lot more outspoken. I long to feel bold in my life! Sometimes it’s a challenge for me (hello, Virgo here) but I try to step up and play big when I can! Be decisive and strong. Make choices with guts and gumption! To me, bold is badass.
Simple can be bold! The sweater-like fabric (you can’t feel it in the pic), as well as the cool ruffle and netted neckline make this piece edgy but very wearable.
When I go bold, I also like to keep things very simple. Sharp, almost. A colored, strappy sandals and a few gold bangles with a lip in a vivid shade lets this dress speak for itself. And that’s what feeling bold is all about! Letting your actions speak for you!
Can you imagine what it would feel like to truly feel comfortable in your body and in your life? The idea of being “at-home” in my life is so deeply important to me! I want to feel as if I am one with my body and my choices. As if they belong to me and I belong to them. A sense of ease. A sense of comfort. A sense of home.
Things that are soft and swingy and feminine are always some of my favorite. I had no idea what this top from Melissa McCarthy was going to look like on, but I literally fell in love with it. Like, I just might buy it! The jersey was insanely comfortable and the draped front is so so flattering. Like. Literally. I feel SO at-home in this outfit! Pair it was my fav ripped skinny jeans and some animal print tiny-wedge shoes.
I want to feel energized! I want to feel empowered and spirited. I want my body to feel free and vibrant! I want to laugh and dance and love and feel joy and radiate positive energy! Living an energized life means I come to the table physically and emotionally with a full heart and strong body!
Olive and poppy red? YES, I THINK SO! This dress has a cool netted overlay, but keeping it paired with colored flats makes it super-fun for daily wear. I’d pop a denim jacket on this in a heartbeat or even do it with some cool sneaks. In the winter you could do it with a black tight and bootie as well.
Also… no arm shame here. Seriously! Your energy and life don’t care if your arms are big! Just show up as you fully!
Sensuous is a feeling deep in your bones. It’s a quiet knowledge in who you are as a woman. It’s earthy and powerful. And, I’ve learned, that it’s an entirely different feeling than sexy. As I work to better understand myself, I find I am changing my approach to how I want to carry my feminity. These days… sensuality is something I long for. That comes with knowing and accepting your body, the things you are passionate about, the things that make you uniquely you.
You may have seen me talk about this dress on Instagram a few weeks ago. I put it on and it blew me away. When I wore it I felt so feminine and so powerful in my own body. And yet, it’s relatively conservative! It’s not flashy or tight, or even very short. But, damn, does it make me feel like a woman! (Cue Shaina Twain music.) It is as if this dress in this fiery color was made for me.
I love showing off my legs, and just enough cleavage without showing sooo much. The color. The lace. The swirl of fabric. I wanted to keep this dress forever! But… I am not. Even though Gwynnie Bee offers you the option to buy a style you love, I opted not to. Because this dress doesn’t MAKE ME sensuous, I make this dress sensuous. That feeling lives in my heart and in the way I carry myself!
Remember how I said I used to show by acquiring things? As if the clothes were proof of the person I was? No more. Clothes are a reflection of how I feel about myself. They don’t make Sarah who she is; instead, Sarah can choose clothes that mirror her feelings about who she is inside.
Confession. I’m not buying this dress. I can, but I won’t. Because feeling sensuous isn’t tied to a single style. It has to live inside my soul. Like I stood in the closet that one day, clutching my old red bodycon dress, knowing it was time to let go? Now I can let go with ease. I don’t collect clothes. They are not the evidence of who I am. They are the beautiful icing on the cake. And cake is pretty damn good with or without the icing. I can let this dress go and not panic. There will be another dress that will make me feel as beautiful. Heck, I’ve already seen about five more on Gwynnie Bee that I can’t WAIT to try! Different kinds of sensuous. Different colors. Different shapes. And, in letting go of this, maybe I’ll find something I like even more! <3
Life is a beautiful journey. Part of that journey means learning more about who I am. This is going to change over time. Growth is life, and life is growth! But for the first time in my life, I’m focussed on how I FEEL. I feel free in my wardrobe and free in my body. Able to choose without loaded pressure. Able to experiment. Able to be confident in saying “THIS is what I want in my life!”
I’ve been using Gwynnie Bee for the last two months. I’ve had a few pieces that looked great, but when I got them, didn’t quite feel right… but then I send it back and wish it well! No hassle. No regret. Just the freedom to say, “nope, this isn’t for me” and know I deserve to be honored by what I wear.
Are you interested in dressing YOUR soul and experimenting with fashion? Click here to start your free 30-day Gwynnie Bee trial!
Note: This post was sponsored by Gwynnie Bee, but the opinions expressed are solely my own. This post does contain affiliate links. I ONLY work with brands who I genuinely believe in and who support my mission to empower and encourage women of all shapes, sizes, and colors! As a woman on a wellness journey, GB 100% is helpful to me as I work to remain on budget and find fun ways to dress my ever-changing body. Thank you!