smock and awe

dresscardigan, & tights: Target // boots: old Steve Madden (similar) // necklace: gift Forever 21 (similar)

trigger warning: body image, disordered eating

Isn't this dress fab? I walked right up to it in Target during an impulse trip with Dago, and I knew she'd be coming home with me (what, I have a deep connection to my clothes, okay!?). I love the floral print on the black dress, which makes for a perfect transition piece from winter to spring, into summer, and even back to fall again. But the best thing about this dress is the shape. 

Recently, I've gained what feels like a considerable amount of weight. I know I'm a slender gal, and a few pounds here or there aren't that obvious in a blog photo or Instagram, but I feel different. I'm not quite/always a whole size or so bigger, but my clothes fit differently in a way that I'm not totally comfortable with. To be honest, I haven't been totally comfortable in my body for a while. I mean, when have I ever, but now in a...different way? I've always envied girls with curves because they can put anything on and look slammin'. But I wasn't sure that's something I could ever do. Am I slammin'? Certainly not. 

Growing up, I was everyone's skinny friend, so I felt I had to keep that up. I wanted to be frail and fragile so that people would both worry about me just enough, and so they would admire how strong and bold I was on the inside. I wanted to be vibrant, but not take up any space. I guess that's really what most women want to be; it's the image we're sold in movies and magazines anyway.

Throughout college, I worked two or three jobs and went to school full-time, so it was really easy to skip meals. I was always rushing from one place to another, so I didn't really have the time, or make the time, to sit and eat. Plus, I lived alone, and going from place to place all the time meant that no one could monitor my eating. I've lived most of my adult life eating one meal a day, if even.

Since landing a full-time gig, I not only have a regular schedule, but I have time to eat meals. I have people whom I see on a daily basis who expect me to eat something at some point in my eight hour shift, and I have someone at home who makes sure I eat something there too. This whole eating thing--the concept of meals--is really pretty foreign to me. I think I'm actually realizing this more now as I write this, which isn't a comfortable feeling, but is probably an important one. Coming to terms with negative parts of yourself is rarely comfortable, and part of healing is wading through the discomfort into a healthier lifestyle, whether mentally, physically, spiritually, or otherwise.

So I've been eating lunch every day at work, and then dinner when I get home. I don't cook, so I've always eaten out a lot, but I've been making a conscious effort to prepare my dinner at home. Eating more meals, and meals with more calories, has inevitably caused weight gain. Probably a healthy weight gain, at that. I am aware that I'm closer to the weight I'm "supposed" to be now that I'm eating more like I'm "supposed" to, which is why I'm not really fighting the gain. 

When I say I'm not comfortable in my body, I no longer mean that I hate it. Not all the time, anyway. It's just that I, by definition, am not comfortable. It's an unknown. How do I dress these hips? How do I make room for my fed belly? How do I balance out my now-noticeably smaller upper-half and short torso to my long and ever-gaining bottom-half?

Enter the smock dress. To be clear, hiding in baggy clothes definitely isn't something I promote for anyone who isn't feeling themselves in their bodies, because that idea stems from shame. It's not about covering, it's about adjusting and refocusing. Someday, I want to be slammin' in a tight, short dress and accentuate the curves that are natural to my figure, rather than sliding off my starving frame. But for now, I'm digging showing off other parts of my body that I love until I'm ready to wear something that shows off what I'm more familiar with.

What I love about a smock dress is that it accentuates both my long legs and petite chest without having such a disproportionate imbalance of my bottom half. I can twirl, I can breathe, and I can eat comfortably in this dress, and still feel fabulous. In fact, I ordered this one too, and I'm so excited for its bold color and endless layering possibilities!

I never want my body to inhibit me from dressing in a way that I love or a way that makes me feel awesome. Fashion is something that brings me so much joy, and through it, comfort in my physical self. Clothes aren't for hiding, but rather to style yourself in a way that feels good.

How do you dress your body when you aren't quite feeling yourself in it?


  1. I have a similar body type even though you are much slimmer than me. I don't consider smock dresses hiding either. I just think they are flattering on long legs and a smaller chest. Rock it! I think you look great and good luck with your journey to acceptance. I'm still on that road too :)

  2. My body is in a constant state of motion-- not because I'm constantly moving, but because I'm constantly growing and shrinking. I have pants, shirts, bras & belts that are for my typical "smaller" frame and my "larger" frame. I hate it, and I actually feel like it takes up way too much space. I've noticed a big change in my body type (not my weight) since starting yoga and I've consistently fit into my "smaller" clothes over the last two months. I want to say "Yes! Yoga is now my thing! I will donate all my bigger clothes!" but I can't help holding onto them, afraid that tomorrow things will change.
    Did you watch that slam poetry video about women being taught not to take up space? I think I linked to it on one of my posts... or my fb.... either way- I love it. This reminded me of it.

  3. I know exactly how you feel. It's so easy to pretend to have normal eating habits when you are the only one judging. To this dayi dread stepping on the scale and seeing something over 115 on it. My fiance has helped me so much inthis regard, and i too have begun eating regular meals. I still can'tbring myselfto eat breakfast or anything before noon really, but i'm getting there. The plus side is that now my boobs are bigger!

  4. Since rejoining the retail world and once again having a budget for clothing (yay discount!), I'm realizing how much my body has changed and keeps changing. Before the wedding, I had gained quite a lot of weight from stress and never being able to find the time to exercise regularly. Throughout grad school, exercise kept me sane and I incorporated it into my daily life: I was either doing yoga, dancing ballet, or playing soccer. Post-wedding, I'm forcing myself to get back into my exercise habits because physical exertion helps me fight stress & anxiety, but sometimes I'll pull something out of my closet, try it on, and think, "Who does this fit? It's not me."
    I also realized while moving in with Husband that I had clothes from high school and undergrad... and while some of them still fit me, technically, they were misshapen from so much wear. Or some of them didn't fit me at all. I honestly threw out almost my entire closet, lucky I could start fresh with my retail discount.
    And on the note of being the "skinny friend," I relate to that and also hate relating to that. I hate the misconception that skinny girls don't feel body conscious, or that if we do, it's wrong because we're "skinny" and somehow that must be ideal. Working in retail again, and being a stylist, I talk to a lot of women about dressing their body type and encouraging them to wear the pieces that make them feel the best, not what they think they should wear based on their size or their body type. I know a lot of skinny girls who are comfortable in shorter dresses and shorts, but I never will be because I carry all of my height in my legs and my legs are muscular from athletics; short-anything always looks indecent on me (to me).

  5. Yeah, it's weird. No matter what size you are, girls are taught to think differently about their body image. Too skinny, too fat, too tall, too short, too flat, too busty. We all hear something along these lines. What matters is if you feel good, if you feel healthy.

  6. ooo girl. I feel this post. Since I have stopped working at Disney I feel like my pear shape has gotten even more bottom heavy. I feel like my less than 6 months old jeans don't fit, which is a horrible feeling since I had to size up when I got those. I go into my closet and wish I had more dresses, but sadly have only 3. I had a networking event to go to last night and I felt like I had nothing to wear. Turns out I had more than I thought and found a great outfit. I guess you have to take the body conscious thing one day at a time.


    2) All of the changes to my body that I've experienced over the years since I became aware of it have been difficult to adjust to, even the ones that other people didn't notice at all. One thing that has helped me accept myself, and become more accepting of others, as well, has been to look at body positive blogs that show photos of diverse body types. And I mean really look at them, not just scroll through them quickly, and to do it nearly every day. Seeing women who were bigger than me - or who otherwise had bodies that were not as close to the accepted "norm" as mine was - wearing clothes I forbade myself to wear was shocking at first, then impressive, then wonderful, then empowering. I wear so many clothes now (shorts, bodycon skirts, horizontal stripes, etc.) that a younger (and in fact skinnier) Isabella was afraid to wear, and it feels awesome!

    3) Thanks for sharing this :) 

  8. first of all i think just about anyone can appreciate a good smock dress, especially from target.

    second, i've been in rather similar situations. growing up i was extremely petite (we are talking i was 30 pounds in kindergarten tiny) come high school, still rail thin, and then nothing else but my boobs came (i know i could have worse problems) but it was weird to me, chicken legs and boobs. this led me to be mocked all of high school by the girls, telling me i was anorexic when in all reality i worked out a lot, i played volleyball year round, and you can bet that if you threw a whole pizza in front of me i'd eat the whole thing and ask for seconds. growing up i was all about oversized clothes mainly because that's all there was. then come college i hit puberty, real puberty (a bit late i know) and i started gaining weight. i was what was considered "healthy" for my body but i felt obese. my boobs were overwhelming i had thighs, i had hips and i didn't know what to do. i then resorted to oversized tshirts again. a few years later i lost all the weight and then some for my wedding, i was happy with my rail thin body, i felt good, i would wear whatever i want. but now i'm in a phase, i've got a little extra weight, not a lot, but when you are 5'3 five pounds makes a worlds difference. i don't know how to dress my body, so i don't. haha. i've actually stopped leaving the house and when i do i'm wearing long sweaters wrapped around my body. i'm in a weird spot and i've yet to figure it out. i'm hoping i can figure things out, maybe we can help each other? i feel like i just rambled for days, but i just feel like we are in a slightly similar crossroads and i constantly find myself not knowing how to dress my new body parts. i guess what i'm saying is i'm right there with ya girl.

  9. I have definitely found that the type of clothes I gravitate toward or seem to wear the most out of my closet changes as my body changes. I think that naturally happens for most people. I wear different jeans than I used to, I wear dresses and skirts a lot more--I find that most dresses are very forgiving as size fluctuates, which is great because my dresses are the one section of my closet where I rarely worry that something will no longer fit. I also find that the size of my dresses vary significantly by brand and style, so I never feel bad in any size dress because they vary so much.

    I can imagine that in some ways, gaining weight, even healthy weight, when you're thin is probably harder than when you're average sized or curvy, because so many people are jealous of you or are striving to be your size that they aren't as sympathetic or encouraging. I'm sure I've said things to thin people in the past that I would never say now, and I've been told similar things by fatter friends. Without knowing all of the particulars, I would say that if you know that you were eating an amount that was too little before and are eating a "normal" amount now, the size you're becoming is probably closer to the size you're "supposed" to be than the size you've been, which is tough. It may be helpful to focus on how healthy what you're putting into your body is, and I know you've talked before here about getting into exercise, which is sure to help you lean up and tone up.

    I'm at my heaviest weight I've ever been, by a lot--in fact, for the past three years I've been at the heaviest weight I've ever been, and it gets bigger every year. The disappointing thing is not the weight gain particularly, but how out of shape I am. I've started working out recently and I have no definition on my body, no muscle strength, no breathing stamina, and it's rough to recognize that I've left myself go this far. My stomach, in particular, is bothersome to me, because when I was younger even though I didn't do a ton of cardio, I would always do crunches, so my stomach was always the thing that bothered me least. I honestly can't wait to see it shrink.

    This is a weird comment. It's partly about you and mostly about me. I've been in a weird state of mind lately. Forgive me! If you want to join a health-focused group, I'm part of one on Facebook and I'm sure the other ladies would be happy to have you. We tell each other what we eat every day, and that might be helpful for you while you're trying to figure out how much you should and feel good eating every day. Let me know if you think that would be helpful for you!


  10. Thank you for sharing such an honest post, Nicole. This stuff can be really hard, but I think it's great that you're making healthy choices like eating enough food each day! Having weighed a good 50 pounds less than I currently do when I was a teenager, I completely understand how strange it is to have your body transform over the years. It was hard for me to understand when I was younger, but I'm now so comfortable in my own skin. Sure, I'd love to lose the 5 pounds I gained over the holidays, but that'll happen in time. Embrace the fact that you're making healthy decisions and have a healthy body and that will help you feel at home.

    Also, girl, you've always been slammin' and always will be. You're one of the most amazing people I've met in recent times and I'm so proud of you for being so open about this and for making some good healthy choices.

    If you ever want to talk, you know where to find me! I've got a body type that's not exactly standard (but that is pretty awesome, turns out, after years of feeling crummy about it), so I know how tough body image can be!

    Becca | Ladyface Blog

  11. I appreciate you being so honest! I also appreciate all the compliments that you just shouted out to us curvy girls, we're not used to the attention of envy to be honest. While I have always been comfortable in my own skin, I know that it's not an easy process for most women, of all sizes. What you're doing now is healthier for you - I hope that you really do realize that. You're right that as women we are told so many things about being small and fragile, but since when have you let stereotypes of what women "should be" hold you back? You are a strong young women with a big voice and the power to (quite obviously) make a difference, so that our daughters won't ever feel like they have to be or look a certain way to be acceptable in society. You've helped make these changes.

    You are worthy of all the space you occupy, Nicole. And you are worth more than just that space.


  12. one // you're adorable. two // i'm stealing your style. (is that possible?!) three // this is wonderfully written and open. so, thank you for the inspiration dear. xoxo

  13. you are amazeballs...i so appreciate your vulnerability in this space :) thanks for sharing! p.s. you are SLAMMING HOT!

  14. Great blog, Nicole! As an older woman, I have been threw it all on body image.....from the '70's with Twiggy AND Mama Cass to seeing Kate Moss and thinking, "OMG, here we go again"..... I have seen larger women who are SLAMMIN' and thin women who worry me (for their health). Society can do a number on us, young and old. I think you are doing a great job helping women (and maybe some men) be proud of what they are and the way they look!

    Rock on, little sister! :)

  15. Nicole,
    What a brave post. As a bigger gal, I find myself often envious of small girls like yourself and make assumptions about how you must feel about your body. Reading your post was a great reminder that people of all sizes, small and large, have insecurities. We're all fed the media garbage that tells us women how we should look and act. It influences how we feel about ourselves.
    While in graduate school (~3 years ago) I gained about 50 pounds. Pre-grad school I thought I was super fat and horrible looking, so you can only imagine what happened to my self esteem when I gained even more weight. It's hard to cope with weight gain when society tells you that it's bad. It's taken me a long time to get used to my new body and not to hate it. I have to remind myself each day that I am lucky to have the body I have (a body that is able to do all of the things I need it to do in order to live a healthy, productive life) and that I have people in my life who love/like me for much more than what I look like. I do have goals to lose weight, but remind myself that I am "whole" as I am and that losing weight isn't what will make me a better, more fulfilled person.
    Thank you for your vulnerability. You are beautiful inside and out.

  16. Your honesty and vulerability is so inspiring, Nicole. I find myself coming back to your blog each day because you're just so real and so beautiful. You're always relatable to so many people and you put your own feelings and emotions out there.
    I also have a small chest and large bottom and I just choose to embrace it. So many large breasted women would kill to just be able to throw on a little tank top without having a wear a bra with thick straps and a cami. And girls with the flat booties and no hips would kill for that sexiness of a booty and hips! We just have to be happy with what God has blessed us with and show it off (in the right ways of course ;).

    <3 danielle

    1. vulnerability** I can't spell/type to save my life!

  17. I wanted to be vibrant, but not take up any space.
    This makes me sigh in solidarity. It's a really perfect way of describing how women are often expected to exist in the world. Thanks for such an honest post.

  18. Nicole, this post emphasizes all the reasons why I love you. You are vulnerable, honest, open, raw, thoughtful...and you never apologize through the process. Thank you for talking about the challenges you've faced in the past and for talking about how your changing body is affecting you now. As someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder but still very much feels uncomfortable in her body (in the negative way right now), your words are inspiring. I hope that I can get to the place you are at...respecting my body and nourishing it and not tearing it down constantly because I don't fit into society's narrow definition of bodily beauty.

    Also, you have the most beautiful, long legs I have ever seen. Seriously, rock those short skirts and skinny jeans - you can pull them off so gracefully!! (and I mean that in the least creepy way possible)


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