Losing weight in style on a tight budget

HOUSTON But, rather than spending money on sizes that you hope you'll never have to wear again, there are specific clothes that will shrink along with you.

As the numbers on the scale come down, wardrobes and wallets can hardly keep up!

But instead of wasting money on a bunch of sizes you may never wear again, why not invest in a few pieces you can wear at any weight?

There are six items you can purchase that will flatter your figure and even adjust as your body changes.

The first is a classic wrap dress. It looks good on everyone, and it will never go out of style.

"You can tie it in different places depending on what size you are," image coach Sarah Shah explained.

Here's a tip: if you're on a diet or exercise kick, go ahead and buy the size you plan to be.

"My advice is to buy it a little smaller if you're planning on losing weight and just wear a camisole underneath it, and then as you lose weight just tie it tighter and tighter," Shah said.

The second item is a camisole. It may look simple, but that little top can make a big difference. By giving you less exposure, it visually slims you down.

"If you're layering something on top that doesn't cover you completely, the camisole will fill up that extra space," Shah explained.

A camisole is also a great way to wear snugger-fitting jackets or cardigans -- just slip one on underneath and leave as many buttons open as you like.

Believe it or not, as you shrink your clothes can, too. Another recommended great wardrobe staple is a so-called "shrinky dink" top.

You can find these almost anywhere -- just look for stretchy sections of pleats, like those on an accordion, right across the middle.

As you expand, so does the top, so there's none of that pulling, or unflattering tightness on top that we all dread.

"It will still stretch and it will still contract," Shah said. "All you're looking for with your 'shrinky dink' top is something that will expand and contract and still always look good."

If you do slim down, so does the shirt, because those little pleats contract or shrink along with you.

Another good buy is a wrap cardigan.

"The thing that's so great about the wrap cardigan for losing weight is that you can wrap it certain ways when you're bigger and wrap it totally different ways when you're smaller," Shah explained.

And, at any weight you can show off your creativity because this top gives you dozens of styles.

"You could wear that cardigan as a top every single day for a couple of weeks and never repeat the style that you wear it in," Shah said.

A classic pair of trousers is also a "must-have."

"Trousers and pants can be really tricky when you're losing weight," Shah explained, "so it's really important to get a pair of pants that have room for your legs to grow and shrink and that is easy to tailor in the waist."

You should choose a simple trouser with a wide leg. And, depending on the top you pair them with, you can wear them to work or to social events, so no more wasting money on a dress you'll never wear again.

And the final item is a dress/skirt combo, so you get two outfits for the price of one.

"You can find them for $20 or you can find them for $200," Shah said.

The stretchy top part makes it an easy-fitting piece. It's easy to care for, too -- just throw it in the wash, no dry cleaning required.

So, if your budget is tight and your clothes are getting looser, nix that pricey problem with versatile pieces that will save you money! Note: The items featured in this story items came from Dillard's, but are available at most department and discount stores.

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