That evening, I met another friend, whom I'll call "Colette". Rachel and Colette do not know one another, but share wild, irreverent senses of humour, love of art and music, and eclectic, avid reading habits.
They also share, temporarily, another characteristic neither wants, unintended weight gain. Due to a medication side effect (being addressed), Colette is much heavier than she wants to be. But there you are, these things happen.
Greeting her, alluring as ever, in the bar of a posh hotel, I didn't notice till she lifted her chic silk blue-grey tunic to reveal a roundness that has furloughed her usual wardrobe.
Among other things, we discussed the Clothes Problem (which had happened to me, too).
1. If you gain weight, do not lose your mojo, girls! Buy a few good-quality pieces that shimmer with drama and wit, and wear the mess out of them.
2. Order from specialty-size merchants on the Internet unless you have an exceptional local shop that understands that voluptuous women do not want rectangular, boring clothes.
3. Don't save your bucks for the day when the old number bobs up in the scale's window; you will hate the clothes you have relegated yourself to wearing, and then hate yourself. But at the same time, buy what can be altered, if you are on a mission to shed the extra weight. (Some health conditions can cause a permanent gain, but not Colette's.) Pants can be cut down one or at most two sizes, but skirts are much more flexible, and some sweater styles will magically fit you over multiple size drops.
I found some gorgeous examples for my friend, who dresses with expressive and original style. Colette loves skirts and dresses, so I've favoured them over pants, and besides, they show off her pretty legs, which betray no evidence of this medication weight.
A top in the rich hues of an abstract botanical:
Anna Scholz Ciara top; price, £125.
A sophisticated woman needs a dress like this; size is irrelevant.
dress, £70 at Via Moda.
A finely-pleated skirt would move gracefully from work to theatre. Colette could wear this rich burgundy, a more novel neutral than black:
Persona by Marina Rinaldi semi-gloss pleated skirt, $US 251 at Navabi.
Cashmere is a necessity in our winters; this long poncho will fit no matter what. You can also wear it as a scarf, or, thanks to its length, belted. Rich grey is a Colette colour.
long poncho; price, €246—my friend will spring for a luxe item if it makes her heart race, but I might wait for the January sale.
Finally, a coat, among the biggest-ticket items. But you need one, and it does not work to wear your old size unbuttoned. (I know from experience.)
C. is known for colourful coats. If she's reading, she will either tell me I got it right or horribly wrong, so I'm showing two.
I'd put her in this deep green faux fur: it's warm, audacious, and would either alter down or be desirable on the resale market. It's breathable and dries quickly. Anyway, I like it!
Persona by Marina Rinaldi faux fur coat; price $US 500 at Navabi.
A lower-priced plum model could be tarted up with a muffler, a good option when the size situation is not going to last long:
LL Bean Winter Warmer coat; price $US 129; free shipping to USA and Canada.
Isn't it strange? The very moment your natural reasoning says to cut back and wait until you are size whatever again, it is wisest to spend within reason on a special item, or several if you can. You are affirming your self-assurance. The hunt takes effort, and price points rise, but that means choice is more considered than the time when nearly everything was a possibility.
There are many of us who are coping with a circumstantial body shift. Or, for other reasons, a gain has settled in for a longer stay. Rather than berate or bemoan, let's be, period, and look as deeply ourselves as ever.