Stacy and Clinton, Eat Your Hearts Out

23 Jan


I haven’t always been a fashion diva.  Sure, when I was little my mom stuffed me into the cutest dresses she could find and spent countless agonizing hours torturing me by blow-drying, ironing, and curling my hair to make me pretty.  I don’t think I wore pants until I went to middle school – partly because my mom always bought me dresses and partly because I didn’t like the way pants felt on my legs.  Some of that was probably due to the fact that my dad was the one who bought me my first pair of jeans, and he didn’t know exactly what size I was.  But having material rub all over me just bothered me to no end.

I didn’t really become interested in fashion until I graduated from Middlebury, started watching “What Not to Wear” and went to work at JC Penney as a sales representative in order to earn enough money to move to Switzerland and earn a Master’s in Translation at the University of Geneva.  I got rid of all my worn-out long underwear, flannel jeans, and oversized sweaters from Vermont and bought cute, knee-length skirts with coordinating tops and jackets, with 3-inch heels to complete the look.  I also had a great variety of work and casual pants and a nice, young, feminine work suit.

My favorite piece of all was a skirt I picked up at Promod in Geneva when I travelled there to take the entrance exams for the translation program.  It was white with sky blue cording around the waist and the hem, with an enormous embroidered flower on the front featuring every color in the rainbow.  I’d never seen anything like it before, and I haven’t seen anything like it since.  It was one of those signature pieces that I just couldn’t pass up having in my wardrobe.

Cancer totally changed the fashion game for me.  Because of all the medications, my weight underwent extreme fluctuations.  Fluctuations as in over 100 pounds in the course of a year.  And when you wake up one day and realize that you are so large that you hate the way you look in the mirror, you know you have to go out and find an attractive, affordable wardrobe (at your very temporary size, since you’re constantly gaining or losing weight depending on which medications you’re taking).

I managed to compile a winter wardrobe without breaking the bank.  My secret: figure out which is your favorite department store.  Open a credit card account with them.  They will send you TONS of extra promotions in the mail that are not available to the general public, and it makes for some mega savings.  If you don’t want to worry about a credit card bill, stores will allow you to pay off your bill right at the register with either cash or a check.  But with the economy in poor shape, stores are desperate to attract customers and are giving out a lot more perks to their loyal shoppers than they used to.

I get almost all of my clothing at JC Penney.  Since I used to work there, I am very familiar with the brands and styles of clothing that they have available.  I’m also very familiar with their sale and clearance patterns, so I know when a sale ad on TV is the real deal or just hype.  A lot of my clothing comes off the 70% off clearance rack, and I use additional coupons on top of that.

So, my bargain basement winter wardrobe in a nutshell:

  • 1 pair trouser jeans
  • 1 pair brown twill pants
  • 2 grey skirts
  • 1 pair black shoes
  • 1 pair burgundy shoes
  • 3 new sweaters (red, blue and teal)
  • 3 old sweaters from the previous year that I lost enough weight to fit back into (pink, teal and striped)
  • 6 shells/tees for layering (various colors and patterns)
  • 3 or 4 assorted pullovers (not the most fashion-forward, but they work for going to the grocery store)
  • 1 khaki jacket
  • 1 black jacket
  • 1 brown jacket
  • 1 maroon trench coat from the previous year that I lost enough weight to fit back into
  • 1 grey pea coat from the previous year that I lost enough weight to fit back into
  • 1 pair silver earrings
  • 1 pair golden earrings

Now, why do I say “Stacy and Clinton, eat your hearts out”?  Because they would absolutely go nuts over the look, and I didn’t go to New York or come anywhere near to spending $5000 on it.  In fact, it was all 50% to 90% off.  It’s a bright, colorful wardrobe that can handle anything that the San Antonio weather throws at us all winter long — warm weather, cool weather, the occasional cold snap — and it does not scream “I am a fat slob”.  It says, “I care about how I dress, even if I’m unhappy with my current size.  I’m pretty and feminine and confident.” And it is of the utmost importance to feel confident about your appearance when you are sick.


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