I took the advice that many of you gave and called up my local Nordstrom for a personal shopper appointment. I emailed the main man and tried to explain, a bit, what I was looking for - I'm a big believer in getting it all out in the open and not sugar coating things - it's important to know what you are working with and I didn't want him to think I was some kind of super model going in - here's what I wrote in my email:
Five years ago, I lost 80 pounds. I've gained back 30 of them - almost all in my boobs and butt. I'm having a tough time finding clothes that will make me look age appropriate (I'm 42) - not like my mother's age or my daughter's - and not overly emphasize the following body flaws:
Big boobs, heavy legs, lots of varicose veins/spider veins, a big butt, a broad back, long torso, short legs, and heavy arms. I'm also a little, shall we say, ripply - need to wear an undergarment to smooth out the body before putting the dresses on. I love to wear heels, but don't all that often - I work at home and have no need.
I'm looking for a really good pair of jeans - have no idea what to look for. I'm looking for a couple of nice dresses to wear with boots (both regular knee height and casual cowboy boots) that are knee length. I'm looking for a couple of jewel tone (as well as a white) 3/4 or full length button down tailored fit oxford shirt that doesn't scream "Please, here are my breasts, let's all admire them" but isn't so boxy that I have no shape. I struggle to accessorize correctly. I have six kids, work from home 60 hours a week and need items that will work without killing my budget - with 6 kids, you've got to imagine that the money is tight. I'm fine with spending a bit, but am super tired of buying stuff that I ultimately never wear.
I work out four - five times a week. I'm muscular but dense. I have dark hair, pale skin, green eyes.
So, you've gotta imagine that he freaked out a bit. That's probably why I was assigned to a young, college aged girl.
I kind of really wanted an older gay man - I firmly believe that we all need a little "Will" (from Will and Grace) in our lives.
What I wanted was someone to say to me: You should wear A line skirts. You should wear pencil skirts. Stay away from prints, look for x,y or z to emphasize this area and detract from this other. Green looks great on you, as does purple - but stay far away from lavender and for God's Sake - never wear yellow.
Basically, I wanted to be dressed - and not have to think at all. I wanted someone to tell me what to wear, what would look good, so that I don't have to THINK about it, worry about it - just walk out with confidence. Something that's been missing for me for a little while now.
Instead, I worked with someone who walked me around the store and let me pull anything that looked like I might like it - and then she added several things that I would not, in a million years, wear - and then she stuck me in a dressing room to try it all on. And I took a deep breath and said to myself,
Listen up, here. You will NOT freak out. You will try EVERYTHING on. You will be open minded and non judgmental and above all, you will most certainly NOT get upset when sizes don't work or dresses look weird or you have to size up. If you can't do that, let's leave and go get coffee.
I treat myself like one of my kids.
I tried everything that I liked, and much of it did not work. I learned that I really do know what looks good on me, to a degree. I look better in pencil skirts and A line skirts than dresses. Button up the front shirts are not my friend, no matter how much I like them, simply because in order to get them not to gap at the bustline I've got to size way, way up - and that means the rest of the shirt is too big - and I've worn enough maternity shirts in my life that I don't need to wear any more. I really don't need to wear dresses with overall prints, no matter how much I like the color or pattern, and cowl necks, drape necks and scarves are not flattering on me - unless I want to use my bust as a shelf.
And I CAN wear jeggings, they don't look horrific on me.Thanks for that, Nordstrom's personal shopper - and for telling me that I don't always need to wear a large shirt - I can wear a medium. That right there was golden.
Part of what I struggle with, I think, is not so much knowing what to wear as having the confidence to do so. I would never in a million years have picked up a pair of jeggings - I've got a butt and heavy thighs and those just don't go with jeggings, at least to me. There's a hair stylist at the salon I frequent who is a bigger gal - she's got boobs and a butt and she's much taller than I am - and she wears whatever she damned well pleases. Strapless bandeaus with mini skirts and high heels? Sure - if that's what she wants.
And I need to get me some more of that. Some more confidence, some bravado, some Hold your head up, have some pride in what you look like - I've lost that and I don't have any idea how or where it went.
I did have the confidence to know that this dress didn't fit me well AT ALL. The more I moved, the more it clung to the butt and then flared out. SO NOT COOL.
I went back and forth with this sweater and the resultant jeggings choice.
Also, maybe, I should learn how to take self portraits.
I ended up with 3 pair of jeggings - the above reddish color as well as purple and teal - a black shirt and the above raspberry sweater - which is a color that I wouldn't pick by myself. I learned that maybe, winter dresses aren't my friend - and skirts with sweaters are more my style.
SO I consider it a good experience, even if it wasn't what I thought might happen, and I learned that I'm not nearly as fashion inept as I thought - and that I really , really , REALLY need to find some confidence. I learned to reflect that, maybe, when something doesn't look good on me - it's maybe NOT me, it might be the material, the cut or the drape of the outfit - and not to take it all personally and fall into an Oh, my gosh, I am a horrifically gross human being slump.
And to keep trying, over and over, different clothes - because there is stuff out there.