Saturday, September 20, 2014

when clothes aren't just clothes anymore.

Have you ever had one of those moments where clothes just bring you to tears?  Okay, okay, we've all had those times when we see something we love and then look at the price tag and - boom - we get a little misty-eyed, knowing we can never afford it.  But that's not the kind I'm talking about.  I'm talking about the moments that you see on Oprah, the dramatical kind where the music swells and it feels like everything is right with the world and unicorns should be frolicking about on cotton candy clouds.  Let me explain.

I love clothes.  Like most girls, I fawn over new styles and trends in magazines and online, make lists of my "gotta have it" items for each new season, browse the sales racks like a lion on the Serengeti, and have closet bars so full they're threatening to pull out of the plaster.  But even a little more than that, I have always kind of wished I could have some sort of career in the fashion industry.  I even briefly looked into it in college, before I realized I needed to get a job and out of the sinking debt ship I was sailing.  I love dreaming up different outfits and spending time in front of my closet, putting together unexpected combinations that look just so.  I try to never wear the same outfit twice, and pride myself on the fact that I have been told many times that I am the one person who could pull off a look nobody else could.  I never leave the house without all the finishing touches, making sure my outfit is fierce, and 100% on point.

When I got sick, all of that changed.  Suddenly there were days I could barely shower, let alone change into a fabulous outfit.  Hell, I still have those days.  My closet shifted from bursting with fashionable clothes for work, school, and going out with friends to being mostly made up of sweatshirts and yoga pants.  (I mean, they're still perfectly color-coordinated sweatshirts and yoga pants, but still.)  I kept reading my fashion magazines, but the excitement I once had was replaced by a pit of jealousy in my stomach as I gazed at the newest trends, knowing there was no point in buying them because I had no place to wear them anymore.  As I started my ever-growing list of medications, my weight almost immediately ballooned and shopping no longer became fun.  I would still dream up outfits in my head, only to find that the items I lusted after rarely came in my new, bigger size.

After almost three years of being sick, I have adjusted to my "new normal."  I have found the stores that offer my sizes in clothes that are both trendy and flattering, and stopped going into the stores I used to love, hoping that somehow I could still fit into those sizes even though I knew I couldn't.  I have adjusted my personal style a bit to include looser fitting items that are more comfortable for me without looking sloppy. (Thanks, bohemian trends!)  Honestly, I am okay with it now.  I have found the things that I love, and despite a few times that I have desperately wished for an item of clothing I know I can't rock anymore, I am happy with the clothes I have, what I can wear, and the style I have culminated for myself.

But there has been one holy grail clothing site that I just find myself not able to get over -- Golden Tote.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, Golden Tote is a subscription box-type clothing service.  Each month, they release a new clothing collection to their website with two options for purchase.  There is the $49 tote, where you pick 1 item from a selection of their clothes, and they send you that item, plus 1-2 additional surprise items, with a total value of up to $200.  There is also the $149 tote, where you pick 2 items from a larger selection of their clothes, and they send you that item, plus an additional 4-6 items, with a total value of up to $600.  You can also buy the items directly from their boutique, but they are usually quite pricey on their own, so the value is definitely in buying the tote.

each month their collection gets sent out in a reusable tote bag with a brand new adorable design.

Let me just say, I LOVE their clothes.  They are all my style.  However, they only offer up to a size large, and a size 31 bottom, which is juuuuust under my sizing.  It's almost like they're holding an apple to a pony just an inch above where it can reach.  Jerks.  So needless to say,  I made it my quest, my mission in life, to find Golden Tote items that fit me.  Let me tell you -- it's been a rocky road.  I have tried two $49 totes with little success, tried trading items for ones that read "loose" or "boxy" in the description, only to not have them even fit over my head (let alone my giant hoohas).  Every time I tried to pull one on, it reminded me of how inadequate my body was, how I was stuck in a body that didn't feel like me -- one that was bloated and jiggly and not the body I was used to being in for the first 25 years of my life.

It was so disappointing and upsetting that I had pretty much given up... until this month.  In the preview of this month's collection, I saw a few tops that looked promising, and like they could work for me.  I had been saving up for a few months, so I figured, why not?  I ordered my tote at 12:02 pm on "Tote Day" -- the maniacal rush of people like me that flock to their site and order their clothes like rabid fangirls so intensely that items are usually sold out within the first 15 minutes.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I didn't allow myself to get excited, sure that I would be sending back either my entire tote, or keeping only one item and trading the rest.  My box arrived yesterday, and I put off trying everything on until right before bed last night, not wanting to face the disappointment of having nothing fit.  But, I was pleasantly surprised.

This is where "the moment" comes in.  (Cue the swelling violin music.)  I started trying my clothes on.  First one piece fit.  And not just fit, but fit perfectly.  Hit in all the right places, and covered the wrong ones.  Then the next piece fit the same.  And the next, and the next.  The entire tote fit perfectly.  I'm not even going to lie, when I was done trying everything on, I sat down and cried.  (It's really too bad Oprah isn't still on the air, I would totally be a candidate for one of her crazy people episodes.)  Because for the first time in a really long time, despite my illness and everything else, I felt pretty.  I felt like I fit in with all the cool girls who post on the Golden Tote Trading Group, who are beautiful skinny girls who looking absolutely stunning in their clothes every month, who I look at and think, "that used to be me," wishing I could look that good in my clothes again.  For once, I felt like one of those girls.  And it felt so damn good.  It was definitely the confidence booster I needed, and I went to bed with a huge smile on my face.

So anyway, a huge (teary) thank you to Golden Tote for making this girls day, for making me feel pretty again, and for making amazing clothes.  Here are pictures of the items that were in my tote.  All items are a size large.

My first chosen item was this Skies Are Blue Plaid Button Down Shirt ($42).  They send you a styling card for each of your chosen items, which is a nice touch.  I wanted to wear the shirt open without buttoning it, so it fits perfectly for me.  The material is cotton and slightly stretchy, with button tab rolled sleeves and a longer length, which is great for someone tall like me.  I am so glad that plaid is trendy this fall because I love it!

My second pick for the tote was this Skies Are Blue Knit Sweater Jacket ($68).  I was lucky to get this jacket this month, because it sold out super fast!  This jacket is extremely soft and cozy, and you can see it's made out of sweater material, like the name says.  I prefer to wear it open, but it also does zip up asymmetrically, which is quite fashionable.  It's more of a dark grey than a black, and the trim  is a greige color that is very unique.  Even though I live in the frigid armpit of the Northeast, I hate wearing coats, so I know that I will get a lot of use using this jacket as a layering piece this winter!

Every time you order a tote, you have the option of adding on additional items from that month's collection for an additional discounted price (usually $35).  I fell in love with this Skies Are Blue Striped Floral Blouse ($35), so I added it on to my tote, hoping that it would fit well, as the description says it has a 'boxy' fit.  Luckily for me, it fits perfectly!  I think it is very flattering on me, which I was worried about because sometimes horizontal stripes can make you look wider.  It is made of polyester and feels very expensive and nice to the touch.  I am obsessed with anything that has a striped and floral combination pattern, and the colors are gorgeous.

My first surprise item is this Skies Are Blue 3/4 length sleeve cream colored top with beautiful embroidery on the front.  It has button tab rolled sleeves and is also very soft and comfortable.  I will be wearing this under cardigans a lot this fall and winter -- it's a great color to match with brown boots and a rich, deep colored sweater!  It flatters my figure without being too tight.  This is when my Oprah moment started kicking in....

This long-sleeved Jolie dolman top is pretty much the most comfortable non sweatshirt top I have ever encountered.  It's a grey/black marled top that is ruched on the bottom and nicely draped on top to be slightly oversized without losing its shape.  It's made of a lightweight material that is still warm and cozy, and it is soooo soft.  I would wear this top every day if I could -- it's that great.  I saw people raving about it on the Trading Group website but I was all okay, okay, people, calm your tits.  And they were all -- 

Now I know why.  They were right!  It's just that fabulous.

I literally squealed when I saw that this Le Lis top was in my tote.  I had seen it on Liz's review on her blog and loved it because of its side paneling, and was really hoping to get it in my tote!  Must be the Golden Tote god(esses) heard me, because here it is!  It's quite oversized and not necessarily the most figure flattering top (see sideways picture), but it will be great for those days when I'm not feeling so great.  Plus, paired with some leggings, they will balance out the oversized proportions of the top.  The best part of this oatmeal-colored top is the side paneling and part of the sleeves, which you can see in the third picture.  It's this shiny mermaid-like material that has gold thread in it and is gorgeous in person.  So stunning!

eww, dirty mirror. 

My last surprise item is this Promesa knit maxi skirt.  I have never worn a maxi skirt in the fall/winter and at first I wasn't really sure about it.  But I tried it on and again (yeah, I know, I sound like a stuck record) it's so comfortable!  It's made out of a fleece-type sweatshirt material and has a drawstring at the top.  I have to wear it almost to my bellybutton so that it doesn't drag the ground, but that's okay with me.  After rummaging through my closet, I found a shirt and beanie that I thought would look cute with it, and I also paired it with some black chunky ankle motorcycle boots.  What do you think?  Good styling?  This is the only item I am iffy on, but even then... I am just so damn happy that it fit me well and makes me feel so sassy and beautiful like my old self that I don't care if I look stupid!

Can you see the huge grins in all of my photos, especially in the last skirt one?  Those are real, genuine smiles.  I was just that happy.  Thrilled, even.  I felt so beautiful trying these clothes on.. Not like the usual blob that I feel like I am as I struggle to pull my jeans on.  I felt like my old self again, confident and sassy, and like I could go out and do anything.  Just looking at these pictures again gave me the warm fuzzies.  (We all know it can't be alcohol related, since that's not on the IC diet!)  So what's the point of all this?  Don't give up, friends.  I know what it feels like when you're sick and clothes become more of a nuisance than the fun they once used to be.  But don't give up.  Keep pushing through, and keep looking for your Golden Tote.  One day you will find it, and it will make you feel amazing.  Until then, just know that I find you all absolutely beautiful, no matter what you're wearing!

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