Fashion is ridiculous. I love it, but it is ridiculous.
Back when I was anorexic, the amount that I would obsess over the numbers in tags (not to mention numbers on scales) was truly mind-boggling. A size 6 was the ultimate success to my naturally size 8-10-12 self, until I became a size 4 and then 6 seemed beastly. Then 2 became the new norm and so downward it spiraled. Then recovery began, and up, up, up went the sizes. Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9 and I was eating everything in sight. I had a therapist tell me that numbers meant nothing, it was how you felt in your skin and in your clothes that mattered. I had a very slim friend tell me she had pants in her closet that ranged from size 6 to a size 14, and they all fit her. Still, it has taken me years, and now to be 34 weeks pregnant with twins, to understand what that means and just precisely how batshit insane it is to expect yourself to fit into a neat little labeled package dictated by some random clothing company.
To wit: right now, I have over 9 lbs 2 oz of baby taking up residence in my body. This is what I look like:
And yet! You wouldn’t believe the things I’m still able to wear – and the things I can’t even get up over my swollen legs anymore. When I first started showing, I picked up a few maternity dresses. Big, blousy creations as well as flattering drapey frocks I would be just as happy to wear not pregnant too. I got sizes to fit the moment and sizes to fit later, ie: now.
Only now? I’ve outgrown them all except for this one. It comes from the Pea in the Pod Heidi Klum collection. I love it because it makes me feel regal and queen-like, even matriarchal!
As for everything else, however, the bellies are too tight, the butts pull and pucker, the chests balloon. So aside from my Klum muumuu (Klummuu?) my wardrobe now consists of 5 staples that are on permanent rotation for the next few hours/days/weeks until the twins arrive – and the wonder of it all is that these are regular clothes I’ve had in my closet for years, not maternity wear. They aren’t even size L clothes. And it’s not because I’m small, either – I am 5’6 and teetering towards 200 pounds these days – it’s because sizes really and honestly mean nothing. It’s just so absurdly arbitrary that I can’t believe I ever cared about it in the first place.
Exhibit A: I got this sundress in 2008 at a street market in Santorini. It was cute and summery and I loved how it just kind of flowed over my body. Who knew it would one day accommodate a belly full of babies?
Exhibit B: I wore this dress almost every day last summer because it was just so comfy and versatile. At the time, I was complaining of celiac-related bloat. It hid that beautifully. It also flatters twins! It was found in a box of clothes my bratty Wharton neighbor was throwing away (not donating, throwing away) two apartments ago. Free and chic!
Exhibit C: This little number was found in my little sister’s closet about 4 years ago. I can’t remember if I was visiting home and ran out of appropriate clothes, if she was giving a bunch of stuff away, or if I went in there without her knowledge (sorry!), but it’s a size Medium from Jones New York. The belt is extra, extra long, so the non-pregnant me just wraps it around a few extra times to show that I actually have a waist. Now that I don’t have a waist, it’s just as adorable.
Exhibit D: This one continues to blow my mind. It’s from J Crew, a place where I normally cry in the horrendously lit dressing rooms that put imaginary cellulite on my arms and go home with a tortoise shell headband or a bracelet because clothing looks terrible on me. But I found this a few years ago when they were designing all these gorgeous pieces from vintage Italian textiles. It’s the lightest, airiest silk, and the colors just sing. It’s also a size Small. Small! I even wore it to my baby shower because the large beaded maternity dress I had intended to wear showed every ripple in my thighs.
So that’s how I’m dressing myself lately! I realize this post could seem meaningless to you because the things that fit me might not work for you and vice versa and verse vice-a, tomato tomahto, stop showing us your stupid dresses lady. I also understand that part of the reason some of my clothes still fit is that I’ve always tended towards maxi dresses and empire waists as opposed to jeans or more body conscious pieces because that’s just my style. But beyond that, what I hope you will take away is that labels, numbers, and categories are just plain nonsense, and you never know what you may find where. There are probably treasures lurking in your closet right now that might someday fit and flatter in ways you never imagined. There could be plus sizes that look better on a size 6 frame than size 6s do, or a random size 6 from Ann Taylor that a plus-sized lady might rock . There could be vintage or Goodwill finds that look impossible on a hanger but that make you feel like a confident bombshell. The key is to lose the judgment, try it on, and then lose the judgment again – in that order.
So here are a few of the first lessons motherhood is teaching me, vis-à-vis fashion:
- You’re a human being, not a damned number!
- Embrace the unexpected
- An open mind is a happy mind
I wonder what else motherhood will teach me?