Shopping for clothes can bring up unpleasant feelings, especially if you struggle with food and body distress. Everything from seeing pictures of models to not finding clothing options that fit comfortably to the harsh store lighting can be challenging. Even shopping online can be tricky. Finding ways to make clothing shopping less daunting is crucial when healing your relationship with your body. 


By Elizabeth Low 


Here are six tips for dealing with clothes shopping while in recovery.

Remember that Clothing Should Fit You and Your “Now” Body.

You do not need to alter your body to fit into clothing. If you do not fit into an item of clothing, find a different size or an item better suited to you. It is okay if the clothing does not look the same on you as on someone else. It may feel easier said than done, but if you try an item of clothing and do not feel comfortable in it, take it off and do your best not to think about it anymore.

Try and Shop Brands with Inclusive Sizes.

It can be upsetting if a store or brand does not carry the size you need. Although it might make you upset with your body, remember you are not the problem, the store’s sizing is. There is no need to beat yourself or your body up if you cannot fit into the limited sizing available in many stores. You can find two lists of inclusive brands of clothing here and here.

Shop By Yourself or with a Trusted Loved One.

If it feels better, you can take the space you need and shop alone. However, this may be daunting. If it feels overwhelming, try shopping with people who support your recovery. Shopping with someone else could help you feel more at ease in stressful situations while allowing you to process the emotions that shopping might bring up.

Buy Clothes that Make You Feel Comfortable.

You do not have to dress in the latest trends if you are uncomfortable with them. Experiment with different styles, fabrics, and fits, and see what makes you feel best. Do not compare yourself to the models, other people, or even your past body type. Try finding clothes that feel good on the body you have now. Prioritize your experience in the clothes over the appearance that you see.

Do Not Focus on the Sizes of the Clothing.

Clothing sizes vary based on brand, style, and more. They are arbitrary labels. Focus on how clothing feels instead of seeking out a particular size, whether bringing several sizes to the fitting room or ignoring sizes altogether.

Check-In With Yourself and Take Breaks if Needed.

Take a walk to get some fresh air or a drink of water. If shopping and trying on clothes become upsetting, take a break. You can always try again another day. Remember, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. Take it at whatever pace you need to.

It is not easy to shop for clothes, especially when you struggle with body image. Shopping for clothes sometimes means being bombarded by socially constructed beauty standards, confronting the mirror, or focusing on how your body looks. This task will become more neutral and less stressful with time and the skills mentioned above. Be compassionate with yourself. Try to remember some of these tips. Remember, you are not alone on your healing journey. Enlist the support of a treatment team or care provider. They can help you navigate clothing shopping, no matter where you are on your journey.


Redefine Wellness is excited for its coaches to begin working with clients looking to heal their relationship with food and their body. Our four levels of client services allow people to receive support that best fits their needs. Click here to learn more about the Redefine Wellness programs and what working with a Certified Redefine Wellness coach is like.

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Meet Elizabeth

This post was written by Redefine Wellness Blog Contributor, Elizabeth Low (she/her).

Elizabeth has graduated from San Jose State University with a sociology degree concentrating in social interaction and a minor in psychology. She understands firsthand the difficulties of having an eating disorder and body image issues. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in dietetics. She would love to help individuals have a healthy relationship with food and their body image. She hopes to actively counteract social messaging that is linked to disordered eating, overexercise, and body dissatisfaction.