One topic that has been coming up a lot this month is (naturally) New Year's resolutions - and how to juggle them around so that they don't get in each others' way. Specifically, it can sometimes be hard to reconcile the desire to improve the body and the desire to improve the wardrobe. You want to get a strong start out of the gate, and you don't want to wait all year before you can look fabulous, but at the same time you have a real-world budget and don't want to throw down all your clams dressing a body that you're actively working to alter. Managing this tension takes patience and planning.
Analyze your goals
In order to plan your route, you first have to decide on a destination. Are you climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro? Or are you running up the big hill in the park down the street? More dramatic changes will take longer, require a wider distribution of resources, and hold the potential for much more unexpected results. If you want to make a dramatic change to your bod - whether that means slimming down, bulking up, or coming off medication - it will logically require a more dramatic change in your wardrobe. Be ready for things to change. Have a shopping budget ready, and set aside time on your calendar to shop.
Delay your expectations - don't buy "motivational" clothes!
It's simply impossible to make a 100% accurate prediction about what will fit and flatter you once you've achieved your physical goal. Every fitness trainer I've spoken with agrees that you can't predict your future shape based on your previous shape, because there are too many factors at play. You may have been reed thin and willowy as a fit and active teen, but you may be curvy and muscular as a fit and active adult mother of three because of variances in diet, training style, etc. You also are unlikely to have the same sense of style and personality... by the time you fit into those super expensive inspirational jeans, they're both the wrong cut for your bod and the wrong fit for your soul. Save the time and money for now.
Budget (all resources) for the long haul
I completely stand behind the concept of always dressing for the body you have; it makes absolutely no sense to dress for a body you don't have. But sometimes you have to budget for a lot of different bodies that you might have over a long period of change. If you pause to rest halfway up Mt. Kilimanjaro, for example, you aren't going to build a castle there - you're going to pitch a tent. And although you're "just pitching a tent," you aren't going to throw a blanket over a stick and call it a day - you're going to pull out an awesome tent that fits your needs in the context of your long-term plan of reaching the summit alive. Take a look at your clothing budget and remember to save some cash/free time/mental energy for all the stops along the way.
Notice, Name, and Celebrate!
"Notice and Name" is a habit I picked up from the online fitness group Precision Nutrition (a fabulous coaching program that helps people build healthy habits) - and it's a fabulous strategy to deal with any kind of change. As your body changes, you may feel suddenly dissatisfied with cuts, colors, and shapes you used to love. It can be easy be discouraged by these dissatisfied feelings. After all your hard work, isn't everything supposed to look and fit better?
But remember that change is great! Change is what you wanted!
When you feel dissatisfaction, take a minute to really sit with the feeling and think about the reasons behind it - this will help you feel confident and comfortable at every stage of your journey. Look at your figure analytically and not critically. Are your shoulders stronger? Are you a pear shape when you used to be an apple shape? Has your coloring changed now that you always run outside? Or has your inner perspective changed - do you suddenly hate soft florals and love sporty stripes? Don't assume that all you need is a different size - take this opportunity to open your mind to new looks to go along with your new lifestyle.
All of my travel analogies aside, the best thing about resolving to make yourself happy with your wardrobe is that you are never "finished." As long as you are alive, you will continue to evolve, absorb, and interact - and your closet should do the same, because it's a reflection of you. If you made a wardrobe resolution this year, my most important advice (and challenge?) is to make that optimistic attitude toward clothes a permanent fixture in your life... and move on to a new New Year's resolution next year. :)