Re-learning how to dress myself, coming to terms with what’s ‘normal’ again

Posted on 04.10.2014

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As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I lost a lot of weight over the past year. This has led me to be confused about how to dress myself, since my curves are mostly gone and I’m used to buying clothes for a curvy figure. I’m not a rail, but my hips and waist are a lot closer in size than they used to be.

I’m also coming off of living in Baltimore, when certain aspects of my appearance (like a round, large ass) would often be commented on by strangers. Here in Japan, my ass MAY eventually come into contact with the hand of a train groper. It hasn’t yet. I’m waiting for it, though.

To me, tight clothing, or clothing that FELT tighter, often meant that I was gaining weight. It also meant my clothes didn’t fit as well as they should. I’m not talking about form-fitting dresses that one might wear out to go dancing, but rather work pants that used to drape well that suddenly hugged my thighs. This was a common issue of mine, and one I grew used to.

IMG_8079I went out last week to buy my first ‘real’ suit. As in, not a suit from H+M or a store that sells other types of clothes, but rather one from a store ONLY for suiting, that cost more than I generally prefer to spend on a month’s worth of clothing. I went on my own, since it was in the middle of a work day and I had a long break. My boyfriend was ready at his phone for photos and discussion, which is something he’s REALLY great at, considering I may not take the best photos while standing in a fitting room.

I went to a nearby suit shop that a friend had recommended, and a nice lady who spoke *enough* English helped me. I chose two suits whose fabric I liked, tried them on, got proper sizes, and then started taking photos.

Interestingly enough, The suit sizes I ended up with were ALL Japanese 36. I was expecting the pants to go one size up (as they normally do), but nope. Those were huge on me.

Regarding the images I sent, we both agreed on the fit of the trousers and the jackets, but started to disagree a bit on the skirts. I’d chosen 2 suits that had the exact same pattern, and both skirts were bias-cut. So, not exactly form-fitting, but I thought they looked good enough. Mark was immediately complaining that both of them looked too big, or something.

I’d been ok with the skirts because I’d seen hundreds of women wearing them, walking the halls of Otemachi where I work. Sure, they were a bit conservative, but I just thought that might be a good thing, because they effectively ‘hid the goods’ to a point where they might not entice some pervert to grab my ass and end up with a broken hand.

I didn’t even think about it at the time, but I was doing what a lot of victim-blamers suggest rape victims should have done: I was considering my clothing in order to NOT appear attractive. I was also considering a body I don’t have anymore.

I’m not cocky, and don’t find myself super attractive. However, based on my past experiences with simply walking down the street in Baltimore, I know that my ass tends (tended) to get a lot of attention. So by choosing (or being ok with) these skirts that didn’t show my curves (what was left of them, at least), I was being a bit proactive in my hopes of NOT having to deal with perverts.

fitting room photos between the boyfriend and I. I couldn't buy this suit in spring because its color was 'too light' for my job.

fitting room photos between the boyfriend and I. I couldn’t buy this suit in spring because its color was ‘too light’ for my job.

We went to buy the suit a few days later. I’d put them both on hold, and I wanted Mark to see them to discuss the fit of the trousers. As I said before, I ended up in a size 36 (which btw, is NOT the same as a Euro 36, no matter what anyone says). I was concerned that they were a bit tight and were the wrong size, but the 38s were too big and would have to be altered down. They would allow for some ass room in the back, but to still fit my waist and hips, they’d have to be taken in.

Mark isn’t exactly one to enjoy shopping for women’s clothes, or even for clothes for himself. What he IS really good at is telling me why something looks great on me, or doesn’t. He immediately told me to stop worrying about the 36s being too tight, because they fit like normal suit trousers on a woman who has an ass (even if it’s smaller than it was). I’d spent the past few months looking at all of the women in Otemachi, forgetting that most Japanese ladies don’t actually have larger asses OR chests. LEGS are the thing here, and for good reason: they all have amazing legs, it seems, sitting under their mom-butts or nonexistent butts. So OF COURSE I thought they looked tight on me, I was actually filling them out.

Then we moved on to the skirts, and his first question was ‘why aren’t you wearing a pencil skirt?’. He followed that by ‘these skirts do nothing for you’. And he was right. I explained that it seemed to be what most women wore and got a shaking head. I hadn’t even thought to ask for a pencil skirt, because I chose the suits based on the fabric I liked. He wasn’t being mean, but he said I looked like a schoolmarm and that I shouldn’t be dressing so conservatively so young. It was a bit critical, but I needed it. He was absolutely right.

So I asked the nice lady for a suit that had a pencil skirt, and she brought me back the perfect suit that I ended up buying that day, rather than the two she’d put on hold for me. The pencil skirt was amazing and flattering, and actually fit my normal clothing personality so much better. She chose a perfect fabric as well: dark grey houndstooth stripe, pretty much EXACTLY the same as the 36 suit from Germany that still doesn’t fit me (proof that EU 36 does NOT equal JA 36). She was really good.

I’m writing this because I always tell my students that it’s normal to be self-critical. I’m amazingly critical of how my clothes fit, and after years of weight fluctuations, I’d actually somehow trained myself to see clothes that fit properly as ‘too tight’. It didn’t help that for the past year, I’ve been getting out of the clothes I brought with me that are now WAY too big. I forgot how suits are supposed to fit.

It’s important to have friends or loved ones who will be honest with you. So many women go shopping with ‘friends’ who don’t have their best interests in mind. Mark was a little harsh in what he said, but he was totally right and convinced me, even when I wasn’t sure myself, that I looked just fine. Sometimes we need to step out of how WE see ourselves and see how others see us.

I don’t mean that just about buying clothes, either. I mean that for all aspects of our lives. Either way, I’m glad he was there to tell me to stop being hard on myself and that I looked completely normal.

It also helped that today on my way to work, I walked behind not one, but TWO ladies in pantsuits who had behinds like  mine, and their trousers fit exactly the same way. I’m not alone. Even if it feels that way sometimes.

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Posted in: fashion, life, shopping