Last week Universal Standard, a clothing company focused on making basic staples available to women sizes 10-30, launched an ingenious promotion offering their popular Tee Rex t-shirt free of charge. The shirt retails for $50 and, after receiving mine, I can see why. This shirt is cut in a flattering way and contains a bit of stretch while keeping it’s shape throughout the day. It is the softest piece of clothing I have ever owned and, this is big, it practically repels cat hair. It is the perfect black shirt.
For the past few years I have been obsessed with the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I tend to buy things I like with no real vision and end up pairing everything with jeans or black pants. Universal Standard offers kits containing some of their most popular pieces that would serve as the starting point for any capsule wardrobe. They offer a kit exclusively for active wear, a best seller kit and a few different options for work wear kits.
Universal Standard’s goal is to “making sizing irrelevant.” Next month they’ll be offering all their closing in sizes 6-30. Right now, the Tee Rex is already being offered in these extended sizes. Inclusivity is important and simplicity is underrated. My quest for a regular white button up shirt has ended.
Perhaps the best part of Universal Standard, and what ultimately justifies the price for me, is that they will replace your clothing free of charge if you change sizes (within a year of purchase). As someone currently rapidly losing weight, I don’t want to spend a lot of money on expensive clothes that won’t fit in a month’s time. I can’t stress how important this is for everyone woman. As we get older, become moms, live healthier lifestyles, our bodies change. Things that were once in one place have shifted to another and some parts might just vanish without warning. Universal Standard understands that. They support these changes in women without just trying to cater to women that have always been considered “the other” when it comes to fashion.
So, shut up and take my money.
I can’t dress myself anymore.
That’s not to say that when I was at my heaviest I was doing a great job of it then, but it was easier. Before I was limited to a handful of stores. I could just grab the largest size and bring it home, hope it fit and return it when it didn’t. Now, I actually have to try it on which is a chore I’ve become grateful for. I have no idea how clothes will fit me from one store to the next, sizes are all wonky and inconsistent. Having the flexibility now to go in to different stores and shop for different cuts of things has been a boost to my self esteem. Being fashionable has always been important to me, but it was one of the things I lost entirely when I was at my heaviest.
Over the weekend I read this article on the KonMari way of cleaning out your closet. The idea is to go through your closet and keep the items that “spark joy.” Toss everything else. The creator, Maria Kondo, believes clothing carries energy. And while something may be coated with nostalgia – is it functional? Would you feel confident wearing it now or has it literally worn out it’s welcome? How do you feel in it? Does it attract a generous amount of cat hair? (If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try applying to KonMari technique to other facets of your life).
This process is harder than it seems, so I tested it out when I went shopping this weekend at Buffalo Exchange. I fell in love with two sweaters, but didn’t feel like throwing down the cash when I knew I had things at home I could bring there for trade. Getting rid of things I never wore, didn’t fit and just generally hated felt like an emotional purge. I would no longer come across them in my closet, be tempted to try them on and then be disappointed with the result. No longer will I waste time trying to make it work. Plus, I have some cool ass sweaters now.
Gone are the days where I just get excited that a t-shirt from Old Navy fits. In fact, I don’t even buy t-shirts or wide leg jeans. I have a shape that I need to flatter. Cardigans, which were an outfit staple for my entire life, haven’t graced my body in two years. These days I actually spend money on fairly expensive pieces of clothing because I am worth the hand wash, dry clean only and line dry. I am worth the complicated instructions that now come with seemingly every piece of clothing I buy that doesn’t lose its shape after one wash and comes with extra buttons. I realize now that I’ve always been worth it.
The amount of effort I have to put into washing some of my clothes makes it seem like I am spending even more time enjoying them. That I love them so much that the process of washing them in my sink while my hands freeze in the water is a good use of my time. That probably sounds a little crazy to you, but I am doing all this work taking care of my body so I might as well care for the things that go on it appropriately.
Maybe my change can partly be contributed to maturing into an early 30’s butterfly. I actually used the word “career” the other day in reference to my job and freaked myself out forever. My now enormous wrestling shirts are no longer in my drawers, but instead packed away with my action figures and not replaced with smaller wrestling shirts. I only own two pairs of jeans. I take risks and wear button down shirts, tights, short(er) skirts. It feels like I am becoming a new person in so many ways. Treating myself with the respect and kindness that I’ve always deserved. (You deserve it to, by the way.) Maybe I’m getting a little too confident…
Wearing clothing I love has shifted how I present myself in other ways. I wear make up now. Maybe too much at times. I paint my nails. My entire collection of shoes only consists of a handful of Crocs – the fancy ones, not the Mario Batali ones. “Secret Crocs,” as I say. I’ve begun working accessories back into my wardrobe. And belts! Belts can be friends! I never knew that!
Shopping is no longer as anxiety inducing as it once was for me. I enjoy this and, for a really long time, I didn’t enjoy much of anything. You’re thinking this is a pretty dramatic response to something that seems so basic. When you get back the ability to do something you love, no matter how small, it’s an amazing personal victory. Being able to develop a sense of style is something that I will never take for granted no matter my body type. Wear whatever you want, but just make sure you feel like the most beautiful when you do. Otherwise, get back in the fitting room and spark some joy.