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Using Fashion to Help You Feel Comfortable and Confident in Your Own Skin with Nicole Garfunkel

3 Things We Dive Into In This Episode:

  1. Tools for/the process of cultivating body neutrality and acceptance and the freedom that comes when you find acceptance for your body.

  2. Plastic surgery as a trend and the effect it has on mental and physical health.

  3. Tips on how to make your shopping experience more empowering and enjoyable.


📌Episode Highlights

[07:18] Nicole is…

  • Nicole is always searching for more in life. She won’t settle for what others expect of her.

  • Nicole’s focus is on helping women transform their lives using fashion. Fashion can unlock the inner confidence everyone has inside.

  • At the age of 16, Nicole was diagnosed with PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome. The side effects that impacted her the most were weight gain, acne, and hair growing in random places like on her chin.

  • Weight gain was the hardest thing for her to come to terms with and deal with.

[09:42] Nicole’s Experience Post-Diagnosis

  • Nicole used her love of fashion to hide her body rather than celebrate it.

  • She compared herself even more to her mom and sister who are both very thin.

  • Masking her body with fashion didn’t make her feel any better – it instead did quite the opposite.

  • Nicole tried to stay “unseen”.

Nicole: “During that time I started to rely on my love of fashion in a way that was really detrimental to my mental health. So instead of using it as a way to express myself and to show who I am, I used it as a way to conceal not only my physical body but like the true essence of my being.”

[13:56] The Mindset Shift

  • During the covid pandemic, Nicole loved lounging around in her workout clothes… until she realized it was making her too ‘chill’ in all aspects of life, including work.

  • After she became aware that being in workout clothes all the time was making her less motivated, she decided to start getting dressed even though she wasn’t going anywhere.

Nicole: “If I'm wearing jeans I just feel like it changes my brain chemistry a little and it's like, okay, you're switching from comfort into work mode.”

  • Part of the treatment for PCOS is dieting, and this part of Nicole’s journey was agonizing. She hated worrying about what she was eating or eating something different than everyone else.

  • Nicole finally said “f*ck this” to dieting.

  • This is the moment she finally felt free.

Nicole: “It doesn't matter what my body looks like anymore because I don't care. I accept the way that I look now and that is such a powerful thing.”

[19:15] Reclaiming Her Love of Fashion

  • Accepting her body as-is allowed Nicole to rekindle her love of fashion.

  • Nicole started to find clothes that fit her body properly.

Nicole: “When you have things that fit you, you feel like you can take on the world and it's such a little thing but it can be life-changing.”

[21:40] Shopping Advice

  • No one likes to hear this, but it takes a lot of trial and error. Brands have different sizing so it’s all about finding what fits.

  • After many, many tears shed in fitting rooms, Nicole has found the best way for her to shop is online. She orders a few sizes and then is able to try things on in her ideal environment.

  • You find the best environment for yourself to try on clothes.

  • Surround yourself with supportive people, or no one at all.

  • Through trial and error you’ll figure out what styles and brands you and your body like best.

  • Tailoring is another option. It can be an investment, but it is also a way to get clothes that fit your body. Order one size bigger and then have it altered.

  • If you’re going to the mall, eat before you go so you don’t get hangry. Map out the stores you want to visit. Give yourself a little self-care before you go by brushing and styling your hair, or putting on a little makeup.

  • In all, do whatever you need before your trip to look at yourself in a more positive light – that will give you the best experience possible.

Caitie: “It is so important to have clothes that fit your here-and-now body, not the body that you want to have, not the body that you used to have, but finding clothing that fits your here-and-now body is such an important part of body acceptance and letting go of body avoidance and really feeling at peace with yourself.”

Nicole: “Get it tailored. You can't even imagine how much better you'll feel just like knowing that you have that thing that is literally custom to your body.”

[27:08] Eating and PCOS

  • When Caitie and Nicole were living in the East Village, Nicole decided to say “f*ck it” to all the diets and different ways of eating that were recommended for women living with PCOS.

  • She started following Caitie’s intuitive eating framework which became the best healthy decision she’s ever made.

  • When you restrict what you eat, you’re stressing out your body and probably doing more harm than good.

Nicole: “I started to incorporate the intuitive eating framework that Caitie talks about all the time, which is such a powerful thing. And I still go by that today and it was the best decision I ever made for my health ever.”

[29:41] The Fashion World is Moving Backward

  • Caitie and Nicole discuss an article recently published in the New York Post about the latest trend for bodies and body image.

  • Even though fashion has recently begun to include larger and curvy bodies, it’s not exactly what it appears to be.

  • Big fashion houses custom create a skirt or an outfit for a larger model and a photo shoot. However, Nicole shares, “they have zero intention of making it for the average consumer.”

  • Plastic surgery has taken the place of dieting drugs from back in the day. This is now the new beauty standard.

[41:15] Plastic Surgery

  • Everyone sees the “after” of plastic surgery, but very rarely do we get an inside look at the impacts it has on your mental and physical health.

  • Nicole chose to have plastic surgery to reduce her breast size. Choosing to do this for yourself (as opposed to doing it because everyone else is) can be a very powerful experience.

  • Having this surgery gave her first-hand experience of what recovery truly looks and feels like. You go into fight or flight mode because your body is healing from being cut open.

  • Nicole contributes a lot of her healing to her therapist. If your body isn’t functioning as it normally does, your nervous system is under stress and you can fall into a dark place.

Caitie: “It really does wreak havoc on your nervous system and your ability to communicate with your body and hear what your body is saying.”

[42:30] Fashion as a Tool

  • First and foremost, dress for yourself and not for other people. Figure out what you like to wear regardless of what is trendy or what other people like.

  • Create a bit of an embodiment routine around choosing what you want to wear and getting dressed. This bridges the gap between fashion and wellness.

  • Fashion is so much about how you want to feel and the vibe you want to give off to others.

  • Nicole supports repeating outfits and they should cater to your lifestyle.

  • Fashion is intuitive.

[47:52] Nicole’s (not morning) Routine

  • Nicole is not a morning person at all, so it is very down-to-business at that time of day.

  • The first thing she does in the morning is make her bed - win! She also has coffee and gets dressed.

  • Every day is different, but when she does have time, Nicole will light a candle or put on some music while she gets dressed.

  • The evening is when she feels into her feminine energy. These days, it’s by wearing sexy matching pajama sets.

  • Depending on her mood, sometimes she calls a friend, and other times she blasts music and dances around her place.

  • To wind down, she lights candles and turns on her galaxy light.

[53:34] This Week’s Processing Prompt

  • Ask yourself: what is my relationship with fashion? Am I using it to avoid my body? Do I use fashion to embody myself? Do I use it to set the tone for how I want to be seen by others?

  • Actionable experiment: create a routine or practice around getting dressed. Lean into how you want to feel and what you’re expressing as you move through your routine of getting dressed and ready for your day.

  • This can add just one minute to your routine. Let it be intuitive and flow as a form of self-care.

About Nicole

Nicole Garfunkel is a stylist, image consultant, and the creator of Styling Confidential, a space for women to step into their power, using personal style as a tool to heal body image and insecurity.

Visit her website Styling Confidential and Instagram for inspiration and empowerment.

Connect with Nicole: Website | Instagram

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Nicole Garfunkel: I stopped doing all these crazy diets that doctors would prescribe, but I stopped really like leaning on diets to try to like change my body and really just like was like, okay, this is what it is, and that's okay.

Caitie Corradino: Welcome to Whole, Full, & Alive, a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story, and with who you truly are underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. I'm Caitie Corradino, a registered dietician nutritionist, certified fitness and yoga instructor, eating disorder recovery coach, Reiki healer, and founder of Full Soul Nutrition. But underneath my titles and resume, I'm a big fan of kitchen dance breaks, early mornings, all things topped with truffles, world, traveling, and serendipity. I'm here to share no bullsh!t stories and actionable tools to help you feel unshakably worthy. You have everything you need within you to feel whole, full, and alive right here, right now. Let's get into it.

Caitie: Hey, welcome back to another episode of Whole, Full, & Alive. If things are going as planned, this is the first episode of 2023. If things are going a little off schedule, this is probably only the second episode of 2023. Either way, we are freshly in the new year and I wanna invite you to check in with yourself. How are you feeling at the start of this new year and how do you want to feel as we continue into this new year? I am big on trading in resolutions for intentions. I don't like this concept of the resolution because I think it promotes this idea that you’re a problem to be resolved or that your body's a problem to be resolved or your life is a problem to be resolved. You need a resolution. And I think what we actually can all benefit from is intention.

Caitie: And I've said this on the pod before, but I always try to choose one word that I want to embody or kind of like make the theme of my year, something that I wanna like call in for the year ahead and if that resonates with you, I invite you to maybe sit with that. What is one word that you wanna make your theme for this year? So with that, let's take a deep breath. If you can try to take it in through your nose and if you can exhale through your nose too. Do that one more time and make the exhale a little bit longer this time to really promote that regulating effect. So nice deep breath in and exhale.

Caitie: Okay, so let's dive into today's episode. It's an incredibly special episode. On today's episode, I will be interviewing Nicole Garfunkel. She is one of the most special humans in my life, but before I tell you about my personal relationship with her, let me tell you that she is a stylist and an image consultant. She is an expert in all things fashion and creating your personal style. She also is pretty d@mn good at designing and styling websites and branding and things like that. And Nicole is also a former client in my group coaching program and she's one of the people who has been a part of my group coaching cohorts and has provided a beautiful testimonial on it. And after she finished the group coaching program, she actually became a guest coach for the Whole, Full, & Alive Toolkit, which you can buy now at It's a great accompaniment to this podcast and Nicole is one of the guest coaches on there and she provides an amazing module related to using fashion as a personal empowerment tool.

Caitie: So Nicole today is going to talk openly about how she has navigated her own relationship with fashion and with her body and how she has learned to use clothing and fashion as a way to feel more confident, more empowered, and more like herself. Nicole also opens up really beautifully about her experience with her body changing after a diagnosis of P C O S when she was in high school and how she navigated those changes in her body and how that kind of altered and shifted her relationship with fashion. And also, Nicole talks about her experience with plastic surgery, which I'm really grateful for. She opens up about this in such a candid way and we're able to have a conversation about bodies in the media. And all of this, as you can see, really just relates to fashion and bodies and body image as a whole.

Caitie: This is a really great episode. We go in so many different directions, but ultimately come back to this main theme of how you can feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin using fashion as a tool and you can heal your relationship with your body through a sense of gentle, compassionate body acceptance. And like I said, in addition to Nicole being a personal stylist and image consultant, a designer, and a guest coach in the Whole, Full, & Alive Toolkit, she is one of the greatest friends I have ever had. And as I'm talking right now, I'm like, I need to do an episode just on like friendship. She is truly one of those friends that has just been such a constant in my life. Sometimes my anxious mind takes off like a racehorse and tells me that I have no constants in my life because I am a single 20-something living on my own out in Denver, Colorado. And I'm like, everything's always changed and whatever and but Nicole is a constant, she has been such a constant in my life since we were 12 and I'm so grateful for her, and I'm so grateful for you to hear her voice today. So let's get into it.

Caitie: Nicole, thank you so much for being here today. This is a long-anticipated interview and I'm very excited about it.

Nicole: Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here, especially as a loyal podcast listener.

Caitie: So to kick us off, can you please tell everyone who are you, which is different from what you do, who are you in the world?

Nicole: Yeah, so I've thought about this because like I said, I am a loyal listener and I, know you always ask this question. So I am someone who is just like searching for more in life. I feel like especially in the past few years of my life, I have decided not to like settle and not to do things that are maybe more conventional and what people have expected of me. So in the past few years, I've left the relationship that was quote unquote good. I have decided that I am moving across the country and I am flipping my career on its head. So a lot of big changes happening and I think that it's really important, at least for me, just like one of my values is to like not settle for like what is expected of me. So that's the like ethereal version of who I am. But in terms of like what I do, I am a stylist, an image consultant, who's really focused on really helping women transform their lives by using fashion as a way to unlock their inner confidence that I know that they all have.

Caitie: So good, so good. Searching for more and flipping everything upside down. These are the things that we are all about on the Whole, Full, & Alive podcast. So can you share a little bit about a challenge that you've overcome in your life that brought you to this place in your life where you're not only searching for more but also are providing styling services and image consulting for people? How did you get there? What did you have to go through?

Nicole: Yeah, so I guess I should really start by saying that fashion has always been like a huge part of my life and I've always known that I've wanted to work in the fashion industry like from the time I was like age five, which is kind of crazy. But the thing is my relationship with fashion has changed a lot throughout my life and honestly it's still changing every single day, but it changed the most for me in high school when I was 16. I was diagnosed with P C O S, which for people who are not familiar is polycystic ovarian syndrome. And there's a lot of different side effects that come along with this and everyone kind of experiences like a different amount of these side effects. But the ones that impacted me pretty severely were like weight gain, acne, like hair growing in like random places on your body, like on your chin for example.

And the weight gain was really a very challenging part of my adolescence. And it's not that I wasn't like big before, I'm a tall person, I'm like five 10. So I've always been like the tall person in the room, especially like among women and like growing up, like being the tall person is something that people always comment on and I was like always very insecure about that, especially like around boys too, because when you're like a young girl, like you don't wanna be larger than boys. Like it really just like changes the way that you feel about yourself and the way that you walk through the world. So there was that. And also my mom and my sister are very thin. Like they're both size zero and I am not size zero. So comparing myself to them too has always kind of impacted the way that I see my body.

But it really came to a head when I started gaining like an excessive amount of weight. And during that time I started to rely on my love of fashion in a way that was really detrimental to my mental health. So instead of using it as a way to express myself and to show who I am, I used it as a way to conceal not only my physical body but like the true essence of my being. And at the time I really thought that by doing this I was gonna make myself feel better. Like I thought this was it, like this is gonna change the way I feel about myself and everything's gonna be fine even though I'm not super comfortable in my body, like this is gonna fix it. And boy was I wrong. It really didn't do anything to help me. It really made it worse.

It made me feel extra bad about myself and it, the reason I was doing it was to just stay unseen and that's just like a horrible feeling to have, right? So once I like kind of started to grapple with like my body size and I will say my body size has changed, it changes all the time. You know this, you'd preach us to your clients too. Like your body's just changing all the time, right? So my body was not the same as it was when I was 16 once I was like in college. And at that time I was just starting to, you know, like accept where I was at with my body. I stopped doing all these crazy diets that doctors would prescribe as a treatment for P C O S, which is a whole other conversation that I could go on a tangent about, but I won't.