(Prefer to read rather than listen? Download the transcript right here!)
What to wear? What to wear? With humor and practical tips, Cheri and Amy, along with special guest Kim Nowlin, attack the bad rules of holiday fashion and body image. Dress yourself to match your inner sparkle this holiday season!
(This page contains affiliate links. Your clicks and purchases help support Grit 'n' Grace at no extra charge to you.)
- Kathi Lipp’s book, Get Yourself Organized for Christmas: Simple Steps to Enjoying the Season
- Amy’s book, Breaking Up with Perfect: Kiss Perfection Good-Bye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for You
- Kathi and Cheri’s book Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity
- What’s your favorite way to “wow” your holiday look?
- How does worrying about your appearance impact your holiday experience or the experience of others around you?
- How are you breaking (or planning to break) bad rules this holiday season?
Special Guest: Kim Nowlin
Kim Nowlin is a wife, mother, pastor, former personal stylist for Anthropologie, fashion coach, and speaker.
Visit Kim’s website: Fashioned: Embracing Your Story, Embracing Your Style
Take the Style Quiz: http://visual-therapy.com/blog/style-type-quiz/
Transcript — scroll to read here (or download above)
Grit ‘n’ Grace: Good Girls Breaking Bad Rules
Episode #23: How to Add Wow to Your Holiday Wardrobe
Aww, it sounds like you’ve had a rough go though.
Here’s how I’m spinning it, I’m thinking of myself as performing a public service to our
listeners to remind them that this is the time to stock up on anything they need for the
illnesses that are bound to crop up over Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Yes, yes, yes.
(Cough) And if I do that, I will sip some of my freshly heated tea.
OK. Have you got a throat coat?
Have you used that before? It’s really good stuff. It actually works.
I’m not sure Daniel wants me to be cured. I think this is like his favorite time of the year
is when I lose my voice.
Hey, this is Cheri Gregory, and you’re listening to Grit ‘n’ Grace: Good Girls Breaking Bad
Today, my deLIGHT-full co-host, Amy Carroll, and I are discussing dressing up and
dealing with body image issues during the holidays.
And we are thrilled to welcome Kim Nowlin, a fashion expert who has some fabulous
practical tips for you!
Well, for this episode we are talking about clothes and appearance and body image at
the holidays and the bad rule that we’re working with is the voice in our head that says,
“You can’t go out in public looking like that.”
Oh man, my husband has a very loved family member who her favorite saying used to
be, “You’re not going out in that rig, are you?” That’s the southern version!
I love it!
And every once in a while, I’ll kind of throw that out to them, “Well, ugh, you’re not
going out in that rig, are you?”
You know, Californians need more southern sayings. I need to come spend some time
and let the south rub off on me. It’s making me think though of my mother who was the
exact opposite of actually being that direct. She would hint. She’d look at what I was
wearing and say, ”Oh it’s time for you to change for church.” Knowing full well that
that’s what I was planning to wear for church and it was like oh that was code for, ”You
aren’t going to church in that.”
My favorite is the critical question when somebody says, ”Oh, is that what you’re
wearing?” That, yeah, that’s the way Southern girls do it a lot cause it sounds sweet
coming out of your mouth but, you know, it’s got a to barb attached to it.
You know as I was thinking about this topic, I realized that for me when the kids were
little I had so much fun sewing for them. I would just get so excited and I will plan
ahead. I was definitely a pre-crastinator in this area. I would plan ahead and buy the
fabric and patterns and I would have their matchy-matchy outfits sown well before
Thanksgiving and that was part of getting me into the mood for the holidays. And so
when they got…
…too old for that and they were like, “No mom we don’t want to match anymore,” you
know there like 20 and 22, no I’m kidding, but I realized that during that phase of
motherhood I put all of my energy, and time and money into them, I don’t remember
what I wore frankly during those years. I probably just pulled something out of the
closet that was clean and who knows if it was even ironed. My idea of an iron is a spray
bottle full of hot water and if I can mist it let it hang and the wrinkles come out, I’m
So that’s my level of fashion. But just in thinking back now that they’re older I realized
that I never replaced that enjoyment of dressing them up with anything, I never brought
the emphasis back onto me or anything. It was just like, “Oh they grew up and the fun is
gone” and with this whole idea of, “You’re not going out in that rig, are you?” How
about you? What’s your relationship with holiday dressing?
I have to say, I do love clothes and dressing, but it’s interesting to see my pictures over
the years. So one of the things, that delights my heart is funkiness. I love some funky
clothes, funky shoes, something a little different than everybody is wearing. I was kind
of known for it in high school. But I went through a time period where honestly, I’ve
been looking at a lot of pictures as I’ve been cleaning out recently, and I thought, “Who
is that woman?” I went through a time period where I was, I would use the word
I really faded into the background, wallflowerish. And I don’t mean that as uh, like an
indictment on any particular kind of dressing. It was just a time period where I realized
that I was not expressing my true self. It’s interesting in decorating and clothing, I think,
it’s an opportunity to express our true self. And it’s always worth it to take a look at our
closets and say, “Do I have a closet full of things that I love or do I have a closet full of
things I think other people will approve of?”
And at that point in my life I had a closet full of things that would gain other people’s
approval, I thought. And I’ve come back to really wanting to express my true self in the
way that I dress.
You know, it’s so funny that you use the word dowdy. I cannot imagine you ever looking
dowdy. I have to see some of these pictures. I won’t believe you otherwise.
It’s true, it is true.
I want to be really clear that I’m not such a fashionista. So one of the things that I’ve
always done is I always joke about having a champagne taste on a beer budget,
especially when the kids were little. So, one of the things that I’ve adopted is thrifting. If
you’re a listener who thinks, ”Well I would like to fill my closet was something else or
one or two things else” I highly advocate for thrifting because maybe you don’t have the
budget to do that, we’ve been talking about buying gifts and budgeting for that, there
are a lot of things that cost a lot of money this time of year. Dressing doesn’t have to be
one of them. Thrifting is a lot of fun. Let me give you an example of how it just thrills my
funky heart, I found a pair of, they look like Converse high tops…
But they have kitten heels…
Oh my goodness!
So, yes, I bought them. I know buying used shoes is kind of gross, but I did put them
through the washing machine twice before I wore them and now I just feel like the
cutest girl in these funky shoes.
OK, I definitely want a picture of those. I’m not visual, so I’m not visualizing, but they
Well let’s post it on the website.
We’ll put the picture. Yeah.
My problem is I tend to be so pragmatic that I wait until I need something desperately
and then I’m on a mission to find that one thing rather than just taking the time to go
out maybe with a girlfriend and just see what we can find. And if we don’t find anything
then we go find a mocha at Starbucks and call it a great day.
It’s a different kind of shopping, for sure.
Yeah, definitely. Well, and I also think that planning ahead now, starting ahead now, and
making sure everything that we might be wearing during the holidays, is it clean, is it
repaired does anything need to go to the, I don’t own anything that needs to go to the
dry cleaning, but I know some people do choose that. I noticed one of my favorite
jackets, the other day – I love to wear at Christmas, because it it’s red – it’s missing a
button. And I know what the button is and I own needle and thread, but if I don’t make
it a priority I’m not going to be able to wear that thing during December because in
December I’m too busy, way too busy. So, this is the time this weekend I will make sure
that I get that done.
Well there’s kind of a corollary to the bad rule that you can’t go out in public looking like
that and this one is more related to body image and this is one that those of us who
struggle with food might hear and that is, “you can’t eat that you’re already too fat.”
The holidays we end up around food a lot. More than any other time of year I think.
Well, this is a topic I could probably address personally. I have wrestled with fluffiness
ever since my first pregnancy.
You’re not fat. You’re fluffy.
I’m fluffy. I like that word much better. It has some positive connotations. And it’s so
funny, because I think about our interview with Kathy Lipp way back when, when she
talked about being a pocket perfectionist. I feel like I’m a pocket perfectionist in this
area and that I don’t think too much about it. I just don’t, I would like to do better, I
would like to be healthier. That is a goal. However I don’t worry about my weight too
much. And I just want to say to girls out there don’t worry about your weight too much.
And to those of you – oh I…I didn’t know whether to say this, and it might end up on the
cutting room floor and it’s okay. But for those of you who don’t wrestle with your
weight, I have something to say to you: Your friends who do wrestle with their weight –
they know. You don’t have to tell them. I have a much-loved relative who has decided
that it’s her job to tell me about my weight and let me just say it’s not helpful. It only
makes me want to avoid her. So…and this is somebody I love so dearly – I don’t really
want to avoid. So, it’s just an aside for those of you who don’t struggle.
One of the things that I have come to realize about food at the holidays for me –food
has still tended to be one of my coping mechanisms through the years. It’s not a fullblown
eating disorder, but it’s still a complicated relationship, like we say on Facebook.
What I realize at the holidays especially, is I tend to go to food to solve problems that
food can’t solve. Food is meant for nourishment. And hopefully to some degree for
enjoyment, but primarily it’s to fuel our bodies. During the holidays when we’re
traveling and I’m tired and I’m stressed and I’m encountering people…and you know,
more difficult relationships than usual, I’m asking food to solve my anxiety problems.
I’m asking food to solve my relational problems. And sometimes I’ll find myself, at a…oh
let’s say at a party where I don’t know too many people. And just because I’m a little
socially anxious, I’m sitting there shoveling appetizers into my mouth. Well – I’m not
hungry. And I’m going to end up with a very full stomach feeling gross. When the issue is
simply…I didn’t know how to ask a good question. Or, I couldn’t just sit and listen to
someone. So being a little bit more aware of what we’re trying to have food do for us –
for those of us who do – struggle with our relationship with food – and going in with a
bit of a plan. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a little bit of help from a friend. One
of the things I love that Brene Brown says, she says, “Shame thrives on secrecy.” And
…when our food struggles are completely secret and we’re the only ones trying to solve
them all by ourselves, that can just be so much stress. Whereas bringing in another
person or two – or even it could be a friend by text message – to just say, “Hey, I’m
struggling. Give me a question I could ask the person sitting next to me. Instead of
eating more,” could be really, really helpful.
That’s really insightful. And it’s such a problem over the holidays because you said it was
relational and social. Well that’s all amped up – over the holidays. Food becomes a part
There’s also obligatory eating. You go to a family member and they’ve made this huge
meal for you. What if you’re not hungry at that moment? In some families it’s a huge
insult not to eat. Maybe you’ve had your first serving and they want you to have
seconds and thirds? One of the best things I ever heard from a counselor – she said,
“Would you over-feed a child?” Just think of a five-year-old who says, “I’m not hungry
anymore.” Would you force her to keep on eating until she was stuffed and miserable?
Well of course not. We wouldn’t do that to a child. We don’t need to do that to
We can take good, careful care of ourselves and set those boundaries.
That’s great insight. Well one of my goals this year is too – is to treat treats like treats.
Instead of…”Oh! I need to treat myself three times a day.” No treat, by definition, is
something that happens on occasion. And I have treated treats like food. I’m one of
these people who if you tell me what I cannot have, that that just really works against
me. Or even if I’m telling myself, “I cannot have any sugar over Christmas.” That would
torpedo me. So what I have to say is, “I can have something twice a week over
Christmas, instead.” So, that’s how I’m trying to substitute and eat a little healthier. I
have a doctor’s appointment in January.
Good for you!
It’s a motivating factor, let’s just say!
So let’s read through Mathew 11:28-30 one more time, and just really listen, you guys
and absorb and feel the grace in this: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me. Recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of
grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me. You’ll
learn how to live freely and lightly.”
The thing that jumped off the page at me this time –every week it’s something different –
is the walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. For me, when I have my eyes
on Jesus – so I’m trying to watch him, walk with him, learn how he does it, then I’m in
alignment in so many areas of my life that can quickly get out of alignment – food is just
one of them. If I’m watching other people or trying to gain approval, alignment never comes.
It’s always one extreme or the other.
I’ve just really been enjoying immersing in these verses and returning to them over and
over again. That just is wonderful. The grit aspect to all of this, I think is planning ahead.
Which is why we’re doing the holiday break now. Because if we plan ahead whether its
to ‘you know go, do that thrifting spree and look for a few fun accessories to make sure
that this holiday season when we show up at events or even just in our own home that
we are expressing who we are and then when it comes to the food, to be listening to
our bodies needs and as necessary, reaching out for help and accountability. All of that
takes a certain amount of grit. Of course, the natural thing to do is just go pell-mell into
the holidays and just you know let things happen as they may. It takes grit to say,
“We’re going to plan now. We’re going to think about it ahead of time.” How about the
Well, for me, it’s loving the body we have instead of just always longing for the body
that we want. Hey – I’m not at my goal weight this Christmas – maybe next Christmas –
that’d be great! But I’m not. But still giving myself permission…I think the dressing and
the weight thing go hand in hand because when my weight is up, when I see the
pictures I’ve tended to try to blend in – not stand out, so I’m going to try to embrace
what Anita Renfroe says, which I totally love…
I saw her doing a show one evening and she kind of waved her hand over her belly area,
which might be my issue too, and she said, “If you can’t lose it, DECORATE IT!”
I love it!
And so she had some blingy necklaces hanging over the problem area! I’m embracing
that this Christmas.
Well you had a great truth that we could focus on instead of the bad rule. What was
To dress and feed your outer self to reflect your inner self.
This is permission to love yourself this holiday season. To take care of yourself. To
express yourself, to realize, ‘yes, you deserve to have some fun, you deserve to wear
something that makes you feel good, and you deserve to take care of yourself. Yes! By
all means, enjoy the food. By all means stop eating if you’re not enjoying it anymore.
But yeah – permission to take care of yourself and that who you are is worth expressing.
That’s terrific. I always think about when Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Embedded in that scripture is the – really the command to also love ourselves. So, I love
Kim, thank you so much for agreeing to come with such short notice. Feel free to just go
at it with the topic of decorating what you have. Especially for the holiday season.
You like that one Amy, yes?
Yes, I do. I’m quite ready to hear about this.
I love this idea of decorating what you have. I am very passionate about women
dressing the bodies that they have. It’s about being confident in who you are. Our
confidence doesn’t come from our clothes, or from our outer appearance. It comes from
who we are in Christ. What I like to help women is to have that confidence be seen on
the outside. So that women are dressing for their day, or in this case, they’re dressing
for the holidays. I worked for Weight Watchers for eight years and I really did see a
difference in the women that took care of themselves at every stage of their journey.
That they were dressing and proud of the body that they had. I feel like it also motivated
them to move forward in their journey because they were always looking put together.
Yeah. There’s really something to that. For the holidays everybody wants to look fun and
festive at the holidays. I think it’s very simple. I think we complicate things too much or
we think we have to go buy a Christmas sweater or a Thanksgiving sweater or… It’s not
my thing. I know for some people it is a thing and that’s fine, but you don’t have to do
that. I think it depends on the … How you dress for your holidays. My holidays are pretty
casual so I just am looking for pieces to elevate my everyday wardrobe. You can do that
for any body, right? If I’m adding a cool statement necklace, that’s pretty much my go
to. I wear jeans and t-shirts. I’m a in the car Mom, not a stay at home Mom. We’re never
at home I’m in the car.
I love that.
My wardrobe is mainly jeans and t-shirts. What I’m looking for are what I call completer
pieces like a cardigan or a blazer that are unique. Especially for the holidays. Finding a
unique piece, not just a plain cardigan but maybe something that has some embroidery
on it or something that has a little bedazzled to elevate just your everyday look. Because
on Thanksgiving day, we’re not dressing up as a family but I do like to wear something a
little bit nicer on that day. It’s just going to be going with my standard wardrobe.
Same thing I think with a statement necklace or statement earrings. It’s an easy way to
elevate an outfit for a holiday look and that doesn’t involve clothing if you’re worried
about the body. Decorating what you have, which I love that Anita says that, decorating
what you have. It’s about being proud of what you are at any stage. Whether you’re
trying to reshape your body or not. This is where you’re at and how can I show my best
with where I’m at.
I love your suggestions because it freaks me out. I’ll go through these magazines and
they have holiday outfits and they say, “Everything under fifty dollars.” Well what they
mean is every piece is under fifty dollars and so they have a two thousand dollar outfit
when you add it all together. I know very few people who can do that so I love the idea
of just taking one thing and elevating your everyday outfit.
There are pieces out there right now. Some things that are really on trend right now, is
just a bomber jacket, if you guys are familiar with the leather bomber. They’ve made
rayon but it still has the knit band around the waist and around the neck. It’s black and it
has this really pretty embroidery on it. That piece I can wear with, again with my jeans
and t-shirts and a necklace and that is an elevated outfit without having to spend so
much money on a whole new outfit. And velvet is, velvet’s pretty much always in.
The suggestions you made too aren’t holiday specific so its not like you can only pull
them out one time a year like some of our favorite Christmas sweaters.
That’s how I do my speaker wardrobe or any kind of wardrobe where … I think most
women have that kind of wardrobe where you have a primary wardrobe of what you’re
wearing a majority of the time and then a secondary wardrobe that is hand in hand with
your primary. So certain pieces that I’m going to add but they all work together.
Kim, I love this idea of elevating. You’ve got me actually excited about going upstairs and
looking at my closet. Which I’m not buying anything major new, but I’m starting to
suspect there are a few things I could elevate by doing some of Amy’s thrifting. So,
I also know that on your website, you’ve got a self assessment that our listeners can
take to figure out what their particular fashion style is?
By answering just a few questions that can let you know what your primary style is so
you know what to look for. Actually, you’re probably already shopping that way, you just
don’t know it. A lot of women just aren’t aware that there’s a certain style they gravitate
towards. That’s why we end up going to the department store looking like deer in the
headlights. It’s so overwhelming when you step off that escalator at Nordstrom and it’s
like, “Okay, which department do I go to?” Once you know the style that you gravitate
to, it makes it much simpler just to pass everything else and go for the things that you
know that you want. I think dressing for your … I don’t have this on my website, I should
put it on. Dressing for your body type, that’s kind of what we’re talking about here, is
really important too. Maybe some women don’t know what their body type is.
The word you keep using over and over again, that I’m sure Amy and I both are loving, is
the word simple. Simple. That you are speaking our language.
Something I thought about, because we were talking about dressing the body you have,
is fit. An outfit always looks the best when it fits you correctly. I know that involves
trying on clothes and that could be frustrating. It’s not so much even about how much
the item is. I know that you’ve mentioned that Amy is our thrifter. It’s not that you have
to spend a lot of money. You can buy a very expensive piece of clothing and if it doesn’t
fit you right, it’s not going to look good. So making sure that things fit. That may mean, it
does mean you should have a good tailor, because sometimes, it’s not you, it’s the
garment. If it doesn’t fit, it’s not you it’s the garment.
I know women get really frustrated when they’re trying things on especially if they’re
trying to reshape their body. Just know it’s not you, it’s the garment and that can be
tailored. Then you have a very lovely piece of clothing that fits you and fits you well. Fit
Now that’s quotable. Kim, thank you so much.
Don’t you just LOVE Kim’s emphasis on simplicity and elevating what you already have?
Head on over to the web page for today’s episode at GritNGrace.info — that’s Grit the
letter N Grace dot info — and you’ll find some great resources from Kim, including a
You’ll also find several free downloadables, including this week’s “permission slip.”
Print it out and post it as a reminder that you don’t HAVE to obey the bad rules that
say, “You can’t go out in public looking like THAT!” and “You can’t eat that — you’re already
Instead, you can give yourself permission to dress and feed your outer self to reflect your inner self.
We hope you’ve enjoyed Episode 23 of Grit ‘n’ Grace: Good Girls Breaking Bad Rules.
Join Amy and me for next week’s HOLIDAY BREAK, when we’ll be discussing things we
can do when we feel alone during the holidays.
For today, grow your grit … embrace God’s grace … and when you run across a bad rule,
you know what to do! Go right on ahead and BREAK IT!