I searched the internet for articles on dressing classy when you’re obese.
I couldn’t find one.
I couldn’t even find an article about any clothing styles if you’re above a 2x (2x is still considered “standard” sizing and not specialty which is why many stores carry up to 1x or 2x.)
So, I decided to write such an article myself.
If you’ve read this blog, you’ll likely see references to my illness.
I’m chronically ill with over 20 diagnoses, which combined to make weightloss nearly impossible (for now). At one point, I was exercising almost every days for a year and still gaining weight. There’s not much you can do when your body turns against you (except try to heal the illnesses which are hindering weightloss).
While we’re, Lord willing, getting those illnesses under control, I have struggled to find a way to dress classy, decently, and with dignity.
It’s hard to dress with dignity when you’re over 300 pounds. These illnesses can quickly strip my sense of dignity if I let them.
I’m determined not to let them.
The world’s approach to being overweight is if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
In other words, pick your best feature and show that off: cleavage, legs, tush, and so forth. I can not endorse such exhibitionism with a clear conscience.
I’m not comfortable dressing like that as a believer. I think that my clothes should draw attention to my face and my character so that I can tell others about Jesus, not drawing people‘s eyes to my body and away from my testimony.
(It’s important to mention here that I wear skirts for health reasons and because I prefer them not because I believe wearing pants is a sin; I do not believe that.)
The goal isn’t to try to look thin but just to try to be dignified.
To me, “with dignity” means clothing that’s not so tight that it shows off every bump and love handle.
In my little town, the only store that carries clothing is our little Wal-Mart which technically has up to 5x (but their 5x is so small it fits like a 2x), their clothes are reasonably priced, but I’m not interested in wearing leggings or sweatpants with a short shirt that doesn’t even cover my derriere.
This seems to be the norm in clothing produced for obese women: tight everything.
I needed something better.
Not only because of my desire to dress dignified, but also because my health condition prevents me from wearing tight clothing.
Just because I am overweight doesn’t mean I shouldn’t dress respectably.
I went looking for a way to dress that was both feminine and dignifying and came up with my own style. It wasn’t until recently that, via Pinterest, I learned that this style has a name: lagenlook.
Lagenlook may not represent perfectly the way I dress –I can’t say for 100% sure since I’m not an expert on the European clothing styles– but it’s pretty close.
What the clothing style did was normalized in my mind the style of not showing off one’s curves and bumps which is exactly how I felt that I could maintain my dignity.
Lagenlook, Mori Girl, and similar international clothing styles, don’t care if the lower half of your body is wide, because that’s how it’s supposed to look.
I’m not really into trends. I never have been. So, Lagenlook isn’t just to make me feel like I fit in. I don’t really care about fitting it. It’s mostly giving me ideas of what to wear and how to achieve a relaxed and yet dignified look.
Lagenlook fits in with my sense of modestly. The word modest doesn’t really mean “having your body completely covered.” That’s the American Christian definition, but that’s not in any dictionary I could find. Modest means “moderately and not extreme, unpretentiousness.” It also means “purity of mind and manners” (Websters 1829) which is far more than just covering your body from neck to ankle.
Unpretentious and unassuming would define this style of dressing. As to purity of mind and manners, that will depend on the woman inside the clothes.
In an effort to be unpretentious, I’ve decided to try to avoid extremes in dressing. Even plain clothes dressing would be considered extreme and therefore not fit the dictionary definition of modest (moderate and not extreme). Although anything I choose to wear that doesn’t show off my body will seem extreme to some people.
Lagenlook also includes pants styles, although I’ve yet to find one of the pants styles that works well with my health problems.
Once I familiarized myself with the style, I realized I’ve seen the style worn by various people over the years, including the mother of a friend in high school.
Lagenlook means “layered-look” in German, so truly any style that involves layering could be called Lagenlook, but let’s take a look at how I dress, how I’m using the word.
I usually layer two or three shirts: a tank top and either an asymmetrical shirt (online) and/or long cardigan (Goodwill/ Catherine’s) over the whole ensemble. I like wool wraps and ponchos for jackets. They’re much easier to find in my size and cheaper than a standard wool coat. I like flowy skirts and lacy, but this style doesn’t have to be lacy. Long skirts are hard to come by, but they are available online. I find them in thrift stores, remove the elastic in the waistband, and add a drawstring (provided there’s enough fabric for my girth).
Here is a sample of one of my recent outfits. I don’t claim that it is terribly stylish and only offer it because there is simply nothing at all that I could find online for dressing when you’re obese.
Hopefully, these ideas will be helpful to others.
P.S. Please do not infer from this article that I believe you are dressing inappropriately if you wear pants or tight clothing. Scripture is not specific about how we should dress in the Age of Grace, and this falls into your Christian stewardship. This post is just a reflection of what works best for me given my health issues and personal preferences.