So, I just got back from a trip to the beach. Yay! Although in reality there are limited opportunities for rest and relaxation when on vacation with a 3.5 year old, it was a great trip and wonderful for us to get away.

One evening as we were walking back from dinner, I was able to take a detour for some ice cream while my husband and son headed to the hotel. Although I was on a mission for butter pecan ice cream (yes, I know people either love or hate that flavor–I love it!) a shirt on a sale rack outside a store caught my eye. I was looking for something to wear to the dinner in lieu of a ropes-course-extravaganza, but realized I had little to wear. I thought a nice blouse with some black slacks would do the trick, but don’t really have many “going out” clothes so was on the hunt. Plus I’m attending a wedding in a few months and needed an appropriate dress. So, I meandered into the store and started picking up items to try on.

The store I went to was White House Black Market. This is not a store I’ve had much luck with previously, and I do find their prices a bit high. But I was really drawn to the clothes they were showing. Normally I would walk into a store like this, try on one or two things, shrug my shoulders thinking nothing fit, and leave feeling dejected. Something unusual happened though. A salesperson actually helped me!

Of course I realize she was fueled by the power of commission, but she pulled in all sorts of different clothes to try on, shoes to try on with the outfits, jewelry, the works… Usually this kind of attention, when not done with your best interest at heart, is annoying. Yet she was really good at what she was doing, seemed to be having fun, and appeared to be truly trying to help me. Amazing!

This is where it gets interesting. I tried on many things in my usual size. The cut of their dresses was flattering, but there were still parts that didn’t feel quite right. I fell in love with a particular dress in my usual size, but the salesperson insisted that I  try on a size smaller. I did just that and could see how it hugged my body better. I felt more “aware” of it in the smaller size, but it actually fit me instead of just sitting on top of me. When I questioned the fit, she said “that is how it is supposed to fit.” I realized she was right.

I am still prone to wear clothing that is too big. Self-conscious about my cleavage in high school and college, I practically lived in baggy t-shirts.  And then, with the ileostomy, my desire to hide behind clothes multiplied. It was only about five years ago that I really started to wear my correct size (or so I thought). But, as this experience showed me, I still veer towards wanting things to feel ‘loose.’ I really don’t want to be one of those women you look at and wonder how long the seams on an outfit will last! And I have the fear that my ileostomy will show. Yet, I clearly need to wear clothing that fits my body and is flattering.

I bought the dress, in the smaller size, and also bought the cute cranberry shrug to go with it. The awesome a-line skirt really works well and the belt on the dress hits just the top part of my ileostomy. I also bought this blouse for my “what-do-I-wear-to-dinner” mission. It looks great with the sleeves worn up on the shoulders, by the way, and I didn’t even realize it was supposed to be worn off the shoulders until I found this picture of it online.

A sidenote….at one point I wanted to show the salesperson that a particular skirt was too big. I must have been so comfortable with her that I totally forgot what would happen was I lifted the blouse up a bit to show her my waistline. Sure enough, I flashed her my ileostomy. Just the top part that was peaking above my waistband, but that is enough! I sort of froze for a moment, lowered my shirt, and then just continued on with what I was saying. She gave me a quizzical look, but that was that. It jolted me out of the feeling of playing dress up. Oh well.

At any rate, I ended up staying way too much time in that store and I never got that butter pecan ice cream that night. It was a great experience since it reminded me that I shouldn’t be shy about making sure the clothes fit my body. I guess sometimes it is good to get our your comfort zone to try to find what really works. It really helped to have an outside opinion to give me the proverbial wake-up slap on my cheek. Now I need to revisit my closet and see if I can identify the way-to-big clothes that I know are lurking in there.

Oh yeah…I got that butter pecan ice cream the next day. Yum!


7 responses to “Downsizing

  1. You always right about things that mean something to me– I feel like you’re almost reading my mind!! I have been guilty of wearing things too big for a while now, but even more so now I have an ileostomy. I had Ulcerative Colitis–gone now, because my colon is gone–and I’m always sure people can see or will notice it. Always. I need to get over that. *sighs*


    • Barbara, I wish I were a mind-reader. That would be a handy skill to have. 🙂 But alas, that’s not the case. I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one thinking about these things. Always nice to know you’re not alone. It’s hard to not be self-conscious about the ileostomy, but hopefully you know that only you are the one aware of it. People most likely have no idea that you have one. Congrats on the ulcerative colitis being gone thanks to surgery. That is a wonderful thing!!!


  2. What a beautiful dress! And another wonderful post. I’m so glad that you had such a positive, encouraging experience; I recently went dress shopping with my mum and was very pleasantly surprised that most of these 1950s style dresses work very well to both hide an ileostomy and give bags enough room to breathe properly.

    I used to love dresses like these, but had thought that I’d now have to avoid them, along with anything else that’s fitted around my waistline. It was only after encouragement from my mum that I tried this dress on: and found that, since the 1950s waistline is so much higher, they’re *perfect*!

    What’s butter pecan ice-cream? I fear this is something I can’t experience in England! 🙂


  3. Sara, Thanks for your encouragement and reading the post. That’s a great way to describe these dresses…..1950s style. I *love* them and you are right that the waistline is so much higher and they really work great. The dress you link to is gorgeous!! Where is that from? Probably a store not in the U.S. *sighs*

    As for butter pecan ice cream, it’s a flavor of ice cream I adore. It’s sort of like vanilla ice cream with caramelized pecans in it. Yum! Here’s a neat sounding recipe (, although I’ve never made it from scratch. 🙂


    • My dress was from Monsoon, which I think is a UK only store, but their website ships internationally. I was incredibly lucky with this dress, because it was actually in the sale (and they had my size, too… that almost _never_ happens!); Monsoon often has really beautiful dresses, but they’re normally out of my normal price range. This one was £50 in the sale (around $80), reduced from about twice that.

      That ice-cream sounds very yummy – not too sweet, but not boring, either. I’ll have to try and make some and let you know how it goes! At the moment, my favourite ice-cream is a honeycomb one from the New Forest. Mmm. 🙂


      • If I ever am in the UK, I’ll be visiting Monsoon!! Congrats on the great purchase. Isn’t that the best….when something fits like a dream AND is on sale!
        Honeycomb ice cream?! YUM.


  4. Pingback: One step forward, two steps back… | Ostomy Chic

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s