How to deal with a minimalist wardrobe…and changes in weight

I’ve been doing the Project 333 – an experiment in minimalist dressing – for over a year now. It’s been inspiring.

The Project 333 challenges us to keep to a 33 item – or less – wardrobe. That doesn’t include such items as wedding rings, eye glasses or underwear, but it does include jewelry and accessories.

You learn a lot – fast.

Dealing with a smaller wardrobe while managing big weight changes, like I have (I’ve lost more than 10 kilograms / 22 lbs since beginning the Project) is a real challenge.

Here are some things I learned along the way. No matter whether you choose to dress minimally or you have a large wardrobe, if you ever have to navigate large weight changes – up or down – hopefully these tips might help you.

Changing size with a minimalist wardrobe

1. Leggings are your friend. Jeans are NOT your friend.

Jeans, being generally quite fitted, really need to be sized correctly. If you’re changing weight rapidly, forego them in favour of stretch leggings. I wear good quality black leggings with all my shirts and t-shirts – they’re really comfortable and, with the right pair of shoes or boots, look very dressy.

2. Buy belts so you fit the middle hole.

A belt fits you if, when you try it on, you fit the middle hole, or close to it. However, if you find you’re too small for some of your belts, new holes can be added quite easily in most cases. Either DIY with a leather punch, and trim the end, or go to a small shop that does leatherwork etc. (such as “Mister Minute”).

If you gain weight, belts may or may not be alterable, depending on how much end space there is.

3. Your eyeglasses may need adjusting.

I found that my eyeglasses needed adjusting recently, as the width of my face has reduced. Check your glasses are still sitting correctly if you have lost or gained significant amounts of weight.

4. You may change shoe sizes.

One of my friends, who lost a LOT of weight, dropped three shoe sizes. Check your shoes still fit if you lose or gain a lot of weight, and don’t be afraid to buy new shoes if you need to, as incorrectly fitting shoes can cause back problems.

5. Your bra size (if you wear one) will almost certainly change.

Go get re-fitted. If you’re cheap like me, you’ll go to a specialist (i.e. EXPENSIVE) bra shop to get correctly fitted, then buy your bras at the outlet shop.

You can buy bra extenders for a very small cost. These may be a worthwhile investment if you need to go up a size in band width but not cup.

A bra extender. You can buy them in an assortment of colours and hook numbers (i.e. 2 hook, 3 hook, 4 hook) to suit the bras you own.
A bra extender. You can buy them in an assortment of colours and hook numbers (i.e. 2 hook, 3 hook, 4 hook) to suit the bras you own.

6. Long, loose tops are great for weight fluctuation. If your tops get too loose, use belt buckles, clips or belts to shape your look.

Long, loose tunics are great, especially if you’re changing shape. In my case, while I was losing fat I was also gaining muscle from returning to weight training, and my shape was changing completely. So tops were getting looser in places and tighter in others!

T shirt buckles were a hot fashion item in the 80s and 90s, and are great for styling a loose or oversized shirt or t-shirt. Just thread a portion of the garment through and voila!
T shirt buckles were a hot fashion item in the 80s and 90s, and are great for styling a loose or oversized shirt or t-shirt. Just thread a portion of the garment through and voila!

7. Riding boots with stretch side panels for the win.

I love me a good pair of riding boots. Luckily my riding boots have stretch panels on the sides which meant, even at my heaviest, they still fit well.

If you’re liable to change shape, even your shoes may be problematic – this is something to think about, especially for people contemplating pregnancy, where foot and leg edema can be a real issue.

8. Kimono jackets for summer are great.

They are oversized, and tend to look good on people of any size. Plus, no matter whether you gain or lose, they’re likely to fit you through your body changes.

9. Scarves are a great addition to any wardrobe.

The key to a great scarf is choosing a colour and style that suits you. I suit warm colours in matte fabrics – shiny, cool fabrics (imagine a Chinese blue silk) are death on me (I’m a “Clear Spring” in the Color Me Beautiful colour system). Get your colour and fabric right, and you’ll be on a winner.

10. Jewelry can be a great addition, no matter how much your weight has changed.

Bangles, necklaces, earrings and hair ornaments won’t be affected by your weight, but rings can and do stop fitting if you change weight by a lot. In my case, I just changed the finger I wear some of my rings on!

Jewelry can really spice up an outfit, at very low cost (check out secondhand sales!).

11. You won’t look good if you’re not comfortable.

If your trousers are too tight and your sleeves are too short, you won’t look great no matter how expensive your clothing. Make sure what you are wearing fits.

I found this hard. At one point I was up to size 20 (I’m normally a 10-12), and it really hurt me emotionally to buy clothing that big.

So I cut the tags out. Because once you’ve bought the garment, no-one will know what size it is, but everyone will cringe (including you) if you look like an uncomfortable sausage, stuffed into clothing that is too tight and small!

12. Make sure you’re well-groomed.

On my heaviest, most uncomfortable days, it really helped my emotional state to do my hair properly, put on some perfume and put on some makeup.

Likewise, if an item of clothing needs retiring because it no longer makes you feel good about yourself, retire it!

This is a personal thing, of course, but grooming can really make you feel better if you have body issues. My opinion is it doesn’t matter what you weigh, as long as you’re happy and confident, but if you do have emotional issues with your body (I do) taking care with your grooming can really help, especially when you feel at your lowest.


    1. I just bought cheap $9 jeans from a discount shop, but even then I found that I resented the fact that I only got a couple of months of wear out of them.

      It’s up to you, but leggings are a lot more forgiving. My journey was also a bit up-and-downy, and they really helped me deal with that, whereas the jeans didn’t.

      Whatever you do, just wear what makes you happy! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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