5 Tips for Redefining Your Style and Feeling Beautiful After Breast Cancer
Call me ridiculous, but one of the first things I mourned when I came to the realization I needed a double mastectomy, was my wardrobe. In hindsight, it was probably a coping mechanism, rather than dealing with the larger implications of what a mastectomy meant, but hey, I love my clothes! Breast cancer treatment undoubtedly does a number on your body, your psyche, and your self-confidence. Depending on your course of treatment, your body can change drastically in an overwhelmingly short period of time. After my reconstruction surgery, I discovered that suddenly, some of my favorite tops didn’t fit right. And finding new clothes that made me feel beautiful was a daunting task.
Redefining Style After Breast Cancer
Whether you have a double mastectomy, single mastectomy, reconstruction surgery or not—the aftermath of survival leaves you with a body you don’t entirely recognize. One of Erin’s subscriber’s, Veronica, offered us some insight into her challenges with a concave chest and scars from lymph node removal. Veronica—I feel you. The struggle is real.
Tips For Adapting Style
The most important thing to remember during the entire transformative process (and it is transformative) is to be open to adapt. As my body continued to change after reconstruction, my love for fashion was key. It became a way for me to reclaim my body by redefining my personal style. While there were challenges, I learned many lessons I’d like to share with you in hopes of helping you feel good about dressing your new body. Here are 5 tips for redefining your style and feeling beautiful after breast cancer. Be patient with yourself as you rebuild both your self-esteem and sense of style. I promise you, one day you’ll wake up with the entire experience in your rear-view mirror. While cancer will be a distant memory, your wardrobe will be an exciting new adventure!
Have you found some must-have additions to your wardrobe after treatment? Please share in the comments below.
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Try A High Neck Top
Some women, if they have not had reconstructive surgery, can no longer wear a regular camisole. Erin’s subscriber, Veronica, suggests the Valletta top by Amoena with molded cups and prosthesis pockets on both sides, as a solution. In general, finding camisoles with a higher neckline is ideal to cover a lack of cleavage. In my case, with reconstruction, I have cleavage, but I have dimples above each breast from the surgery, so I also need a higher neckline. Sleeveless tops are a little easier, especially if they have ruffled edges.
TIP: a more fitted armhole will cover scars.
Button-down tops or layering a fitted top with a blazer are always sure-fire winners. I find that loose-fitting tops are more comfortable, but not too oversized where you risk looking frumpy. Low v-necks are also out, but scoop and boat necks are great. Depending on your specific chest situation, a tastefully patterned top helps disguise imperfections or asymmetry.
Veronica laments that wrap dresses, beloved by so many women, do not work. Sadly, I agree. Since the style highlights the bust area, it’s best to avoid them. There are many beautiful dress styles that I’ve found, however, that don’t emphasize the bust but are still quite sexy.
I’ve found that I do best with either a tankini, a one-shoulder one piece that sits higher on the chest, or a cute rash guard top and bikini bottoms. Rash guards are the only option that hide the dimples and scars, but I’m at the point where I’m no longer self-conscious. Veronica suggests mastectomy bikinis if you’re hollow or have noticeable breast scarring. A twisted design or ruching disguises any unevenness. Adjustable straps can help compensate for the different size of each breast.
Since necklaces are designed to draw the eye, whether or not you have cleavage will determine how long a necklace you feel comfortable wearing. I personally love either a choker or one that falls right by the collar bone. Scarves are not only great for covering your head in the early stages of treatment, but long term, it’s a clever and stylish way to cover the chest area.
Amit is a loyal subscriber turned contributor from Miami, where she founded and edited an award-winning lifestyle magazine for over 20 years. The loves of her life are her husband and their two fiercely independent and creative kids. She has been known, however, to proclaim that her favorite child is their Shiba Inu, Zac.
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