Friday, December 11, 2009

Dear Daddy Likey: Jerk Lost. Weight Gained. Fashion Help Wanted.

Dear Daddy Likey,

So you know that shiny happy, best time of your life that's supposed to be the last year of high school? It kind of destroyed me. I gained 25 pounds and dated a giant jerk and my self esteem is a little shattered, even six months post grad. Naturally, I'm hoping shopping will fix this! Well, not exactly, I'm actually fine with the way my body is now, I'm a size ten-ish and the whole weight gain thing gave me boobs, something I'd just accepted had puberty had skipped over entirely. But none of my clothing fits very well anymore and it's making me hate a body that's actually pretty great. In short, after that long droning tangent, I kind of have a new shape to dress. And that's exciting, but I have no idea what looks good and how to go about anything.


Finally Dumped Her Jerk Boyfriend and Would Like to Buy Pretty Things Now

Dear Finally,

Rock it out, sister! I'm so proud of you for dropping that jackass and being patient and positive with your body and yourself. Can I also just say that the best advice my mom ever gave me, besides "A good foundation is essential", was to tell me that high school is absolutely not the best time of your life, and in fact it is usually pretty unpleasant? For instance, just the other day a couple of girls I know were talking bad about people and being generally awful, and I thought, "Ugh, this reminds me of high school." I did not think, "Aww, this reminds me of that shiny, happy best time of my life!"

I swear that your life will get immeasurably better in the coming years. It sounds like it already has.

Now, onto the fashion advice! Rather than give you specific style tips, I focused on some broader ideas to help you shop for new clothes and feel better in the pieces you already have. Hope this helps, my dear:

Go to a store, and try on one of everything.

Do whatever you need to do to open your mind and get in a good mood, whether that means meditation or a brisk walk or a slice of food court pizza or psychedelic drugs (kidding!), but try to shed all your preconceived notions of what does or doesn't look good on you. Then, head to a store with flattering lighting and patient employees and force yourself to grab one of everything and take your haul into the dressing room. If you're shopping for denim, for example, grab bootcut jeans, wide-leg jeans, straight-leg jeans, skinny jeans, cuffed jeans, and cropped jeans. Grab dark denim, light denim, black denim, acid wash, tie-dye, destroyed, and pristine.

Vigoss patchwork stretch bootcut jeans, $39.90, Alloy

In the dressing room, forget every fashion rule you've ever learned (no small task, I know--at last count I had 14,376 fashion rules stored in my brain) and just look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? It's such a simple question, but we're often too distracted or confused or scared to give ourselves an honest answer. If you don't like something, think about the reasons why. If you love something, buy it (or take note of the style and find it cheaper somewhere else), even if it's something you thought would never, ever in a million years look good on you.

Who knows? You might end up falling in love with a pair of lime-green acid wash cropped skinny jeans. And that would be awesome.

Comfy is key.

When I'm feeling down and emotionally vulnerable, here are the top 3 things that make me feel better:

1. Bagel sandwiches
2. Ace of Base
3. Super-cozy shapeless blanket sweaters

While it's great to discover new clothing styles that flatter your shape and improve your outward appearance, it's also important to have a few pieces that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This could mean a grandpa cardigan or cashmere pants or a silk robe or all three at once, and who cares if you look silly?

Don't forget about that "good foundation" thing.

This is the most boring advice on the planet (sorry!), but definitely get a professional bra fitting if you haven't already. Most department store lingerie sections can measure you and help you find the right size. This will quite literally perk you (and your new boobs) right up.

Also don't forget about cute undies.

Set of 2 Panties, $15.50, GAP.

Throwing away a pair of old, rapidly deteriorating underwear and replacing them with a cute new pair = instant self-esteem boost. Honestly, some of my best therapeutic shopping trips have consisted of nothing more than driving to Marshalls and buying a pair of $3 pink polka-dot panties. It sounds trite, but wearing beautiful undergarments, especially if no one else is going to see them, is a reiteration that you--just you--are worth the effort.

Find fashion inspiration that makes you feel excited to carve out your own personal style.

This post might be a good place to start.

Readers, what advice do you have for this lovely young lass?


Kath said...

Not much else to add to this. Great post, Win!

tor (fabfrocks) said...

Great post, and its so nice to read a letter from someone who is positive about their body changes! My personal pick me up is shoes: sometimes I wear killer shoes with frog PJs and they still makes me feel great about myself!

Alli said...

Ack, I think I would cry myself to sleep every night if high school were the best time of my life! Trust me, Finally, every year of your life can be better than the last. It sounds like you are already starting to figure that out! I have just one thing to add to this (great) post - find a hairstylist that you like, get yourself a great cut, and keep it maintained. Instant style!

Sal said...

I adore this advice. Now is the PERFECT time for Ms. Finally to explore her style, and experiment with new cuts and combinations!

Amanda M. said...

You drown your sorrows in bagel sandwiches, too? BEST. COMFORT. FOOD. EVER.

Anywho, I went through something similar. Gained some weight due to stress, then learned that the new body is actually kind of WORTH. IT. God, being skinny is so overrated.

What's interesting is that, when I was skinny, I wore baggy clothes to cover up my body. Now that I'm not, I wear fitted clothing to show it off. Sort of the opposite of what the media tells us will happen.

Rock the weight, lady! Doctors agree: you need it to live. Fuck the media. ^_^

Anna said...

Best advice ever! My favorite is the nice underwear part. It just makes a girl feel good to have something nice, even if no one else can see it!

Sarah Von said...

1) excellent advice!
2) I love your swanky new header!

Diana said...

This is a really fantastic post,and I'm glad to learn that I'm not the only person who considers pretty new undies a pick-me-up.

WendyB said...

High school fucking sucks. No one should think that's the highlight of their life. What's there to look forward to then? Even college is not the highlight. I've had a lot more fun since then than I did in the 8 years of high school and college combined.

Rachael said...

I think you covered it all more than adequately.

BTW ~ Ace of Base makes me happy, too.

hope505 said...

A breakup is a great excuse to reinvent yourself! Try wearing things you wouldn't have thought to wear before losing all that weight (YOUR EX!! *hahaha!*)

Be gentle with yourself. Don't diet. Buy treats for yourself...a book or a new CD, jewelry, or anything that makes you feel more YOU!

tortuga said...

Great advice. Try everything on! Bring a friend for confidence (unless she or he will make you feel rushed). Nordstrom is great for help in the dressing room, though some places don't care how much you bring in the the dressing room, that can be good, too.

Ariel said...

nona you are such a genius. ilisten to your advice and end up with cute matching undies that i never though i could rock, and skinny jeans which according to the laws of fashion i should never be able to rock...but look cussing fnatastic on me. you are incredible. you deserve some sort of nobel prize for fashion.

Michelle said...

LOVE this post. You are so awesome, Winona.

And holy crap, everyone who tells teenagers that high school is the best time of their life should be slapped. I could not wait to get out of that hellhole.

meliasaurus said...

if you want to try on one of everything go to the buckle. it's really expensive but you dont have to buy anything.
but the sales people work on commission and they will give you anything you want. they'll help you find the right size jeans and then bring every style to your dressing room. they'll give you lots of shirts to try on there too.

i don't go in there often but if i do i kind of feel like julia roberts in pretty woman on the shopping spree. lol because everyone there wants to help you. granted it's just so they can make a sale, but either way it's pretty awesome.

SHOEGAL said...

Awesome advice as always.
And Ace of Base rocks!

Eliza said...

One of the most helpful things for me was shopping at a thrift store for months! It's a good way to figure out your body, because regular stores tend to carry variations of a few trendy styles. There's a lot more variety in cut at thrift stores, because they don't cater to the latest fashions. There's also more freedom to experimnent with different cuts, because you aren't spending that much if something doesn't work out.

Zoe said...

firstly yes high school is crap! all the worst people at uni act as if they are still there...bleugh. all bitching and "popularity"

I think the best thing to buy is a coat that makes you feel great, be it fake fur, tailored, a comfy parka with a brilliant furry hood...whatever. there aren't many better feelings than putting a brilliant coat over sweatpants or pjs. and good winter boots. everyone needs some good boots to feel powerful and stomp about in.

Bratty Duke said...

Great post, but I do have one thing to add that has to do with new boobs: buy tops that fit across the boobs and get the rest tailored to fit everywhere else. Xx

Kate said...

Winona, great advice as usual! I totally agree re: knickers and high school! My snippets of advice are:
dress up even if you don't need to! I used to wait around for an 'excuse' to look fabulous, until I realised I could do it whenever I wanted . If you feel like dressing badass for a confidence boost, it's fine to do that to go to the supermarket or to classes if you want.
Find out how colours affect your mood, and use them to dress for yourself, not for other people, and put you in the right state of mind for your day.

Whit said...

Rock on, Finally!

To add what Winona said about trying on everything, don't get stuck on a number. You said you're a 10-ish, and different brands can cut their sizes differently. I think they just try to eff with us. Take a friend with you - or go someplace with helpful staff, as mentioned - and have them grab sizes based on what fits.

kristophine said...

1. I'd suggest trying on a wide range of jeans sizes--nobody but you ever has to know what the label says, and jeans that fit well, no matter what size they are, are a prize beyond measure. I have to have a range of sizes anyway just because I naturally gain some weight in the winter (and, ahem, during finals week every quarter), and pants that fit nicely and don't show my butt crack when I bend over make me feel good. Thrift stores are good for accumulating large quantities of denim without bankruptcy.

2. High-school significant others are often total ninnies--emotionally illiterate--and, to be honest, a lot of people don't grow up until after undergrad. There's a good physiological explanation for that; the dopamine circuitry in the brain that's responsible for impulse control (the "No, don't drunk-dial that person" part of the brain) doesn't finish growing in most people until the early to mid 20s. So, if it feels like you know what the right thing to do is but can't always keep yourself from doing the wrong thing--that gets easier as you get older, which makes it easier to leave jerkfaces behind. And other people get less jerky.

3. Have fun. Play around with your style. This is not the best time in your life, but it is one of the freest, especially with respect to fashion. You can get away with things now that you might not be able to later, if you have a super-serious Real Job. So take advantage of that. Dye your hair outrageously. Wear things that are avant-garde or tattered or wildly inappropriate. The people you see on the street are, often as not, secretly rooting for the visible freaks.

4. Take the lessons you learned from Mr. Jerk to heart. Never let anybody screw with you. Life is too short, and you will have to deal with too many people in your professional life who are jerkfaces that you can't avoid; no sense in intentionally having jerkfaces in your personal life. There's unavoidable crap and avoidable crap. Men who treat you badly are avoidable crap.

Also, "closure" is a myth. It doesn't matter why somebody is a jerkface if they're a jerkface; all that matters is not giving them the chance to be a jerk to you all over again.

5. Three words: pretty stretchy skirts. They will stay with you through--would saying "thick and thin" here be too awful a pun? But I have taken great comfort in my pretty skirts with stretchy waistbands over the years.

Couture Carrie said...

Fabulous advice, darling! New undergarments are key to starting afresh!

Winona ~ just wanted to let you know that I read your book and loved it! Bravo!


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maureenmachine said...

That's some great advice! Only things I would add is never buy something that you don't love. You'll save money and leave more space in your new wardrobe for fun sexy clothes that you adore!

I am Cat said...

Loved this post!!

Gemstone Jewelry said...

I am so like you towards clothes and awful friends of high school!! Loved the post!! :)

Wanna feel good? Visit my website.. :)

Heidi Rose said...

That last bit about beautiful underwear reinforcing that you are worth it really touched base with me. If I won the lottery, or came into a large sum of money, I would go out and buy the best bras and panties I could find.
The fact is, my current money situation is so bad that I only have one decent bra that I am forced to wear every day.

"Finally" said...

so, I was Christmas shopping, and I had all this extra money because I didn't have to buy my stupid boyfriend a present this year cause I finally dumped him... And H&M was having this ginormous sale and they were selling bras and panties for 5$ and 7$ all over the place and I was like "What Would Daddy Likey Do?"
So I blew like 50 dollars. On myself. It felt amazing.

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