Style is the first thing that goes out the window when you are fighting for your life, but it is there when you are ready to pick back up and move toward a positive, confident sense of self during treatment and recovery. In that spirit, the following is a guide to this new component of the program.
Many women find that their skin tone changes during treatment. It may become ashy, extremely pale, turn yellow, or become quite ruddy. Colors you may have worn before (i.e., black or white) may not complement your skin tone now.
As a rule, jewel tones are universally flattering. They contrast enough with all skin tones to create visual balance, and they color-correct changes in skin tone from treatment. Try colors such as emerald green, amethyst purple, ruby red, sapphire blue, turquoise, or teal blue. Wear these jewel tones near your face for greatest impact (i.e., shirt, sweater, blouse, scarf, head covering).
Many women find their skin is very sensitive during treatment. Look for softer fabrics that don’t irritate your skin in clothing and accessories such as:
- Natural fabrics like silk, cotton, and cashmere, which allow the skin to breathe
- New micro-fleece fabrics, which are easy to wash and extremely comfortable
Avoid wool, mohair, etc., which can irritate the skin. You can always add a thin layer, like a soft T-shirt or camisole if you are concerned that the fabric might be irritating.
Many women gain or lose a significant amount of weight during treatment. Unless your weight changes more than 50 pounds, the shape of your body should remain the same. The exception here is if you wear something larger than a size 14, when weight is typically gained in the midsection. The five most typical body shapes are:
- Hourglass (or “proportional”) - The top and bottom are in proportion to each other with a smaller waist.
- Straight - The waist is in line with the hips and shoulders.
- Bigger on the top - This body is proportionally broader in the breast, shoulders or back.
- Bigger on the bottom - This body is proportionally broader around the hips, bottoms and thighs.
- Bigger in the middle - The waist is bigger than the hips and shoulders.
The Five Body Types
Once you have identified your body shape, the goal in all of styling is to create visual balance and proportion on your frame. Regardless of your actual shape, you can achieve this balance by drawing attention to the areas you want to emphasize and distracting the eye from areas you wish to camouflage. Add lighter, brighter colors; shine; texture; and prints to the areas you want to emphasize. For areas you would like to camouflage, use darker, neutral tones; matte textures; and muted prints.
If you have gained weight from treatment, look for structured but not bulky fabrics that create a shape on the body as opposed to flimsy fabrics that simply lay there. Try fitted jackets with a "nipped-in" waist or a slight shoulder pad to balance a heavier midsection. Straight-leg trousers or jeans will help give you a longer leg line. Look for tailored pieces that skim the body without being tight, and avoid oversized pieces because they will only add visual weight. Try darker matte colors, and keep the attention on your face with V-neck lines and thinner, less bulky scarves and jewelry.
If you have lost weight, stick to closer-fitting silhouettes and bulkier knits to add visual weight to your frame. Wear extra layers to fill out your shape. Wear bolder colors but not overly large prints, which can dwarf your frame completely. Look for pieces like pleated skirts and cable sweaters, which add volume to your frame without overwhelming it. Try long sleeves; turtlenecks; matte, opaque, or wool tights; and full-length pants to mask thin limbs.
Whether you have gained or lost weight, there are some universally flattering shapes that visually balance most body types by defining the waist or creating a longer body line. Short V-neck tops create a vertical line and keep the body looking longer (only with severe weight loss should these be avoided). A-line skirts can camouflage weight gain by creating a smaller waistline and camouflage weight loss by creating some volume. Trousers with a midrise waist and straight- or medium-wide leg make the legs look longer without being overwhelming or unflattering on any frame.
If you had a mastectomy with no reconstruction, wear ruffles and big pockets, to add emphasis to the chest area.
If you have a chest port, consider knit fabrics that stretch, which may help accommodate and camouflage the chest port. Or, you can buy clothing that deflects attention from the area, including shoulder pads or a large collar.
If you have an arm port, buy a sweater, shirt, or jacket that actually fits your arm and accommodates the port. Tailor the remainder of the piece to fit the rest of your body.
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