I got this question last week from reader John. He asks:

“I’m working out a lot and watching what I eat.  How do I stay stylish while my body is fluctuating and losing weight?”

Great question. Hitting fitness goals while trying to stay stylish can be tricky. You don’t want to have to keep buying clothes, but also, you don’t want to resort to living 24/7 in your gym clothes. So what do you do?

Luckily, there are a few principles you can follow to ensure you look good with your clothes on, while you’re working hard to look good without them.

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1. RELAX ON THE FIT RULES (FOR NOW)

This is one of the rare times where I’ll give you a pass on getting the best fits possible.

Clothes are replaceable, that body you got isn’t. I’d rather you focus on getting in the best shape of your life, then worrying about your clothes, than being bogged down juggling multiple goals.

Pants a little too loose and falling off your butt cause you lost 5lbs of pure fat? Awesome job! Wear a belt and enjoy the results of your hard work.

There is a point and time when you’ll need to replace your clothes that are too big, however. And here’s when:

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2. THE 10LB RULE

What is “The 10lb Rule” you might ask?

For every 10lbs of bodyweight you drop, you drop roughly ONE FULL clothing size.

Now, this rule isn’t 100% perfect. Some of us carry more weight in our legs (like me), while others might gain more weight in their gut. Still, this is a good rule of thumb to go by based on my personal experience with my weight loss and styling men hitting fitness goals.

How to use this rule: 

If you’re doing a smart weight cut, 1-2lbs of bodyfat a week, you can guestimate that you’ll need to buy some new clothes every 5-10 weeks.

This means:

  • Clothes in your closet right now will likely be one size too big for you after you drop 10lbs.
  • You probably shouldn’t buy anything new until you’ve dropped at least 10lbs (assuming your goal is at least 10lbs or more)
  • It’s better to get something tailored the closer you get to each 10lb milestone versus, say, after you only lose 4lbs. More on tailoring later.
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PHOTO VIA DENIM HUNTERS

3. SPEND LESS (BUT DON’T BE CHEAP)

For the most part, you’ll be working with clothes you already have in your closet.

When you need to pick up something new, It really doesn’t make sense to spend hundreds on something like jeans if you’re going to need to replace them in a couple of months. And that’s why I recommend spending less, but not being cheap.

What’s the difference?

Spending less is remembering that quality and fit comes before price.

Being cheap is putting price before quality and fit.

You go to a store you know has $30 jeans and buy them, even though you hate how they feel on. They might even be a little too baggy on your ass, but you tell yourself it doesn’t matter. You’re getting rid of them in a month anyway.

I’m guilty of doing the latter myself! I would pick up clothes at H&M and Topshop, only to have them pile up next to my wardrobe because I never wore them. The jeans felt like they were made from construction paper, and the sweaters itched like hell.

There are instances when both low price and good (enough) quality line up.

I’m a big fan of Uniqlo for t-shirts, socks and casual dress shirts. They’re excellent quality for their price. But producing things that are excellent quality at a low price is really hard, and most brands are cheap for a reason.

Feeling good in your clothes is just as important as looking good in your clothes. Enjoy the work you’re putting in at the gym and in the kitchen by shopping smarter.

One more thing: 

Don’t buy clothes in your “aspirational” or “goal” size as motivation.

It’s often hard to predict how your body will look, and in every case I’ve seen it always ended up in clothes that don’t fit (either too small or often too big).

If you want a goal, set aside some money and schedule a shopping trip when you hit your ideal weight.

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MY TAILOR OF NEARLY 10 YEARS, JOSEPH TING OF DYNASTY TAILORS

4. HAVE A TAILOR ADJUST YOUR CLOTHES (BUT NO MORE THAN 3 TIMES)

Say you spend $70 on a button-up shirt at J.Crew.

You’re shooting for a 30lb weight cut. Using the “10lb Rule” you figure you need to replace the shirt about 3 times, which would cost you $210. Say the cost to slim the body and sleeves is $30. For less than half the cost of 1 shirt, you:

  1. Didn’t waste perfectly fine clothes.
  2. Didn’t need to visit the store every month and spend $70 each time.
  3. Assuming it was a shirt you really liked, you don’t have to worry about it no longer being in stock.
  4. At the end of it, you’re left with a shirt YOU CAN STILL WEAR!

In my experience, a great tailor can adjust your clothes 2-3 sizes before it starts looking a bit strange. 

TO SUM IT UP

  1. Relax, put your style on the backburner while you focus on your fitness.
  2. Cut back on spending on high quality clothes for now, since they’re going to be replaced a few times.
  3. Use a whole new wardrobe/nicer clothes as motivation, but don’t buy clothes in your “goal” size yet. Save that for the end.
  4. Keep in mind the 10lb rule: For every 10lbs you lose, you can expect to go roughly down 1 size in clothes.
  5. You can have a tailor adjust your clothes to fit 2-3 times before it starts throwing off the proportions. This is a great cheaper and less wasteful option than buying a new pair of jeans 3 times.

WANT TO KNOW MY PERSONAL FAVORITE BRAND TO BUY WHILE WORKING ON MY FITNESS GOALS?

I’m actually working on a big fitness goal of my own this year (to drop 40lbs of body fat!). I’ve put together a free bonus for this post, “My Favorite Brands (and Pieces) to Buy to Look Stylish While Losing Weight” It also includes an additional bonus guide on how to find a tailor!

Enter your info below and I’ll send it to you.

peter@theessentialman.com'
Author

Hi, I'm Peter. I spent 11 years as a menswear designer here in NYC. Now, I help some of the most successful men look really good as a Private Personal Stylist and writer of The Essential Man. You can learn more about what I do by clicking here