Welcome to Flatter Fashion, a blog which I started after having a double mastectomy without reconstruction, about finding clothes which suit a body shape chosen by lots of women who have had a mastectomy: Flat!
When my surgeon gave me my diagnosis of breast cancer she went through my treatment options: a lumpectomy, which would involve removing most of my right breast including the nipple, or a right mastectomy. I asked for a bilateral mastectomy with no reconstruction; I wanted to be healthy as soon as possible and I needed to know that if the cancer came back that I would be able to spot it. There was an assumption that as a young woman (I was 35) I would want reconstruction; I didn’t, but it became a recurring theme of my appointments…
“Are you sure you don’t want implants?” “We can offer implants to make you bigger” “Take some time to think about it” “You will be very flat”.
I don’t imagine women who choose reconstruction have their decision questioned so thoroughly. I have recently read of a lady who was forced to have a psychiatric assessment before her surgeon would agree to perform a mastectomy without reconstruction, and yet data shows that those of us who decide to ‘go flat’ are far from being in the minority. Saying that I did not want any type of breast form seemed to be a first for my Breast Care team; even as I was being discharged the day after my surgery with my cancer-free flat chest I was offered comfies “to wear in a bra while the wounds are healing” by the Lead Specialist Nurse.
But the comment that sparked my idea for this blog was “You’ll find it hard to find nice clothes, so you should use prostheses even if you don’t go for reconstruction.”
My view is that:
Your chest does not define your identity
Loss of your breast form does not mean you have to lose your personal style
Your favourite brands can still meet your retail therapy needs!
We just need to learn how to shop for our new shape and unfortunately there is not much information to help you get started. I was given four brochures when I was discharged without implants or comfies:
– ‘Breast prostheses, bras and clothes after surgery’ by Breast Cancer Care, which contains four sentences on what to wear if you choose not to have implants or wear prostheses.
– Nicola Jane Mastectomy Fashion Collection, which only offers lingerie and swimwear for women who want tops and bras with pocketed cups.
– Amoena Collection, a range of lingerie, swimwear and clothing which all come with pocketed cups or built in bras.
– Silima Breastcare and Fashion, lingerie for use with breast prosthesis.
So I have used the scant information which I found online in the first few weeks to get me started and to create the Basics page; I have included the tips on how to disguise a flat chest, as well as how to decorate it, with examples of different cuts, fabrics, patterns and embellishments to use these as a guide when looking out for styles that may work. This is all new to me, I start this blog just two weeks after undergoing my mastectomy, so no doubt there will lots of trial and error applying the Basics to real shopping!
Every couple of weeks I will add a new blog about my changing room experiences with photos and verdicts of my own shopping experiences in shops on my high street and from mail order catalogues. I aim to go to not only my usual haunts (New Look, Primark, Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins) but also other popular retailers (Marks and Spencer’s, Debenhams, Evans, Next, Matalan, Bon Marche, Monsoon, Top shop, River Island) as I want to prove that whatever your style, size, age (whether you are shopping for everyday, work or party clothes) there is something that will suit you. I am no fashionista, but hopefully this site will be a good starting point before your next shopping trip. There is also a Gallery of my ‘changing room’ experiences organised by shop.
I will tackle Dresses; these are often cut on an assumption that if you are a size 12 you have a 36.5cm bust, so the Basics for choosing Tops can become redundant as the look of a dress depends on the darts, not the decoration.
The Swimwear page will include sports swimming costumes as well as what to look for when shopping for your holidays.
And finally Lingerie, including practicalities such as what to wear under a see-through top, as well as the pleasures of ‘something special for the weekend’!
Thank you for visiting, I hope there are some ideas on these pages for your new wardrobe. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment.
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Clothes which I have tried on and would recommend are on my Tried and Tested board.