Saturday, 8 September 2018

Weekly Discussion Summary ~ Fashion Tips

In this week's discussion, we shared the different ways we've learned to dress in a style that makes us feel comfortable and confident and our fashion tips.

Treatment for breast cancer results in many physical changes which are outside our control and force us to reassess the way we dress and what suits our changed physical appearance. One of the most obvious physical changes we experience is a result of breast surgery, although our discussion highlighted the very different surgeries we have experienced: some of us have one reconstruction, others two reconstructions, we might be one-breasted, lopsided or flat, with scars and lumps and bumps in odd places.

Weight gain caused by treatments impacted on our confidence and relationship with our bodies and is an added challenge.

Chemotherapy leaves us without hair, eyebrows and eyelashes.

Lymphoedema causes swelling in the arms (and sometimes torso) and means we need clothes which will accommodate a swollen arm.

Peripheral neuropathy may lead to painful feet that can no longer tolerate strappy sandals or high heels.

Whether we have primary or secondary breast cancer, being able to dress comfortably in a style that suits us is still important to us. Many of us also want to know how to dress fashionably, as this helps us to feel feminine, sexy, normal.

Lingerie was highlighted as a huge source of frustration for many of us: where once we used to wear pretty bras, we may now be restricted to post-surgery bras which are often sturdy and frumpy. Why the manufacturers of mastectomy bras think we no longer enjoy wearing lace or silk is beyond us! Yes, we want practical garments with pockets for our prosethesis and/or padding, but we don’t need bras like our grannies used to wear!

Swimwear is another challenge for us, as we want to cover up our imperfections but we still want something that looks attractive and is flattering.

Low cut tops may be a thing of the past as we strive to cover up scars and lack of cleavage. Although loose fitting, well cut patterned or striped tops may be our friend, we don’t want to end up looking like ‘a barrel in a tablecloth.'

One suggestion was to have a colour/style makeover and visiting a specialist lingerie shop for a fitting. Other tips to look good include wearing make-up (Look Good Feel Better offer special sessions for women with a cancer diagnosis, where they are shown how to apply make-up) and also jewellery, including ear-rings, necklaces, bracelets. Careful colour and co-ordination of jewellery can draw the eye of an onlooker to the face.

A good hair cut and colour, for those whose hair has grown back or for those who didn’t lose it, can also work wonders for confidence and again draws the eye.

A number of us found wearing more colourful clothes can be a lift. Natural fibres such as cotton, wool and silk are more comfortable particularly for those of us who suffer with hot flushes. Layers make sense here too, as we may be boiling hot one minute and shivery cold the next.

Scarves can be really useful as cover ups for the neck and chest area, and also they are good for adding a splash of colour. Natural light fabrics won’t aggravate hot flushes.

For lymphoedema sufferers, wide sleeves, silky and loose, are good for accommodating swollen limbs and disguising a compression sleeve, with a cuff bracelet at the wrist.

Interesting sleeve detail is easy to find in the current fashion trends, and Kimono style jackets are a great option. Ruffle front tops and bardot styles are fabulous for disguising imbalances.

At the end of the day, we want to relax in our PJs just as much as anyone else. We seek comfort on a day to day basis, but on special occasions we want to look glamorous too. Finding styles that we feel good in helps us to feel better about how we look, which in turn helps our confidence and self-esteem.

Here are a couple of links which offer excellent advice:

If you are a woman living in the UK with a breast cancer diagnosis and you would like to join our private group please send us a private message via


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