If you are seeking recovery from an eating disorder, struggle with your body image, or find it emotionally activating to try on clothes, the next time you order clothes consider following these 6 tips for online shopping for clothes in eating disorder recovery.

1. Choose the store/website wisely:

Order from a place that has a straightforward return policy and a wide range of sizes for their models so the chances are higher that you will find images of the clothing on bodies with similar proportions to yours. This will set you up for success in ordering clothes that you like that will hopefully fit, and if they don’t fit the returns will be relatively painless. 

2. Be intentional with what to buy

Consider what items you wear most often and what items are comfortable and bring you joy. It’s possible that your body will continue to change throughout your recovery journey and your life in general, so be mindful of not buying too many items at one time.

3. Select items that you are excited about

Clothing is functional and can also be an opportunity to express your personal style. Recovery can be tough sometimes and clothing can be a small escape to provide an opportunity to put colors and patterns together and be creative. Try not to settle for clothing that you don’t actually like, no matter what your body shape and size, it is deserving of being dressed in desirable clothing. 

4. Order 2-3 sizes 

Sizes can vary a great deal depending on the brand so having a few sizes available to try on can make the experience more tolerable. If tight clothing is something you have struggled with, consider trying on the largest size first, then going down from there if needed. This requires paying more money upfront and then returning the items you do not want to keep, so budgeting ahead of time may be required depending on your financial standing. 

5. When the clothes arrive, choose the right time to try them on

Choose a moment where you can feel present and have the time you need to try on the clothes you purchased. Focus on a moment when you are feeling stable and neutral emotionally and set intentions or affirmations for the experience. Examples include:

“I will focus on how the clothes fit rather than focusing on my body”

“The clothes are the variable that can be changed, my body is not the problem”

“I am worthy of being comfortable in clothes that I like”

Additionally, consider if trying them on alone would be effective, or if you would prefer to try the clothes on with a supportive friend or family member. Another person can provide perspective, support, or levity in a challenging situation, but if you don’t have access to a person you trust in this capacity, then relying on yourself for support would be the best option.

6. Try new items on with clothes you already own and love 

Once you have narrowed down the items to the ones you are considering keeping, try them on with pieces in your wardrobe that make you feel confident to see how they will work together as an outfit. This strategy helps to ensure that your clothing works with each other, which creates less stress when it is time to choose an outfit. 

The goal of these tips is to add mindfulness into the experience of shopping online and then trying on the items at home and reduce the level of distress associated with these experiences.

Article by Nicole Bentley, LCSW

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