Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas Into Discoveries – Fashion & Finance

Goldie Hawn in Madrid, May 31, 2013. Credit: Getty Images

Frugal fashionista. Here, how to look good and not break the bank at the same time.

Q. My dilemma has to do with both fashion and finance. After years of carrying around quite a bit of extra weight I made a commitment when I turned 50 (this past November) to lose the extra 40 pounds I have slowly but steadily gained over the past 30 years. So far, I’ve lost 15 pounds and it feels great. The trouble is my old clothes no longer fit me. I’ve bought a few new pieces, like jeans, but I’m hesitant to spend a bundle knowing I’ll just have to repeat the process again in a few months once I’ve lost more weight. I’m hoping to get some advice on how to proceed. I want to look good and enjoy my re-found female form, but I don’t want to break the bank in the process. Your advice?
– Sheila, Ottawa

A. That is definitely a challenge, but one you can overcome with a bit of careful planning and commitment. And I think you know about commitment, given you’ve already lost 15 pounds. I contacted Toronto-based professional image consultant, Joan Cordoba, of Styled Closets, to discuss your dilemma and here’s what she suggests.

Start with a few key pieces that can carry you into the next phase of your weight loss. She recommends a long-sleeve, layering t-shirt you can wear underneath the longish cardigan she also suggests you buy. Then you’ll need a pair of pants with a stretchy waistband, not exactly leggings, but something similar, except in a richer, more structured fabric. An unfitted blazer would also be a great addition to your evolving wardrobe and it’s something you could possibly alter to cut down costs as you continue to lose weight, although Joan warns against trying to alter down more than one size – maximum two – since you’d then be compromising the style and cut of the piece. “Ideally, whenever you buy you should really be buying for the weight that you’re at now,” she advises.

Knowing your colour palette and the styles that are right for you also helps those key pieces achieve maximum impact and usability.  Joan recommends hiring a professional image consultant to help make those determinations, if you can afford to. “It’s an investment and one that can carry you a long way,” she says. “Even if you’re just buying the basics you want to look good and feel put together.”

But it’s also important to find the right image consultant – someone you can trust and feel comfortable with – and that’s not always easy. If you don’t want to go that route, she recommends making use of an experienced salesperson, someone you have faith in and who knows your style.

And remember, always buy the very best you can afford. “You can reinvent a good purchase three different ways,” says Joan. “Plus, the fabric is better, the piece will last longer and you’ll feel great wearing it.”

Looking the best you can is well within reach, even on a budget. “It’s really quite an easy science,” Joan insists. “Everybody enjoys looking good – that’s universal.”

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Send Diane a brief description of your dilemma, along with your first name and where you live, to [email protected]

A professional journalist for more than 25 years, Diane Sewell has written for some of the top newspapers and magazines in Canada and is a baby boomer herself. Her new blog “Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas into Discoveries” is interactive with readers and focuses on life issues – like aging, dating, second marriages, sex, death, family and fashion. Diane will use her expertise to find the right expert to help solve your predicament, unearthing kernels of truth and quickly getting to the heart of the issue.