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Why I'm choosing bariatric surgery: How to rebuild your wardrobe after surgery

Posted on Sep. 21, 2016 ( comments)
Jennifer Yahne by Krista Roose Photography
Photo courtesy Krista Roose Photography.

MultiCare's director of general surgery, Jennifer Yahne, is choosing to undergo bariatric surgery. 

Heading into surgery, I was down 30 pounds but hadn’t purchased any new clothes. So by the time I went back to work after surgery, I was swimming in already loose clothes.

Have you ever wanted to throw the contents of your closet away and buy an entirely new wardrobe? Well, it turns out that bariatric surgery provides such an opportunity — over and over again.

I should start off by saying that I am by no means a fashion expert, but I do try to look my best. No matter my size, it has always been important to me to dress professionally for my job and in a way that helped me feel good. As many of us who have struggled with obesity know, that is quite challenging.

I’m glad to see more and more clothing manufacturers offering plus sizes, but for years they have ignored the fact that many women require a size above 14. And though I haven’t experienced it firsthand, I’m sure the same goes for men.

Learn more about MultiCare’s Bariatric Surgery program

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An increasingly expensive proposition

Within a month of surgery, I found myself at a local mall in a store whose styles I had admired from afar but could never fit into. I felt very conspicuous entering, as if all eyes were on me, questioning my very presence in the store.

With hesitation I chose several extra-large sizes to try on, thinking that at any moment a salesperson would surely catch on to the fact that I didn’t belong. Instead, they offered me a fitting room.

I left the mall that day with newfound confidence and great clothes in misses sizes that actually fit. But within about two weeks, I noticed they were loose.

Dressing myself every day was becoming an increasingly expensive proposition.

Because this is a common challenge for those losing weight, I want to share the strategies I have explored while building a new wardrobe (again and again) — without breaking the bank.

Tips for rebuilding your wardrobe on a budget after bariatric surgery

  • Know what looks best on you. A stylist once told me the fashion rules for dressing my pear shape would be the same no matter my size. My overall frame may get smaller, but my proportions would still be similar. Knowing this, I can safely continue building a wardrobe with empire waists, A-line skirts, and wide-leg and boot-cut pants.
  • Embrace the capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of staple pieces in coordinating colors that can form the basis for a variety of outfits. After I first wiped out my wardrobe, I spent countless hours exploring this concept on Pinterest. I now keep a list of key pieces I need to add to my wardrobe so I can make the most of my money rather than getting distracted by trendy or statement pieces that cannot easily be combined into an outfit.
  • Buy good quality clothing but get it used. There is no reason to spend top dollar on clothes that you’ll wear for only a month or two. At the same time, I always feel better in brands that are at least middle of the road in terms of quality and price. Buying name-brand clothing that is gently used offers a good middle ground. Options include consignment shops, thrift stores and online at places like ThredUp. I find the online options convenient and low risk, since it’s free to return items if you choose to receive store credit rather than a refund.
  • Use clothing rental services. Services such as Gwynnie Bee allow you to borrow clothes you select and prioritize for a flat rate each month. You can choose from several different plans, based on the number of garments you have at home at a given time, and you can keep pieces for an unlimited time period. You can also purchase items you love for a discounted rate.
  • Find clothes that will shrink with you. I ran across a skirt in a stretchy material with an elastic waist recently, and even though the price tag was a little higher than what I would normally like to spend, I purchased it knowing those features would enable it to fit me for a longer period of time. I also focus more on dresses, which can grow a little looser on me without falling down the way skirts or pants might. Finally, I do not hesitate to purchase pieces that are a little tighter than I would like, because in a couple more weeks they will fit perfectly.
  • Shop the sales. When out shopping, I found a pair of pants that fit me perfectly — but they were full price and quite expensive. I monitored my emails from that store, and within a week there was a coupon offering me 50 percent off. My self-restraint saved me quite a bit of money.

Self-restraint is probably my biggest challenge. It is thrilling to discover that you fit in a smaller size, and tempting to purchase a lot of new clothes. Everybody seems to notice when you wear a new outfit that actually fits.

Using the strategies above, I’ve been reasonably successful in embracing my smaller size without blowing my budget.

Learn more about MultiCare’s Bariatric Surgery program

Find a free seminar near you

About The Author

Jennifer Yahne author photo Jennifer Yahne

Jennifer Yahne and her husband of 17 years, Jeramy, are lifelong residents of South King County. They have two daughters, Jillian and Hayden. Jennifer has worked in health care administration for the past decade, most recently as the director for the general surgery careline at MultiCare Health System. In her limited free time, she enjoys knitting, sewing, reading and baking.

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