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”. I don’t imagine women who choose reconstruction have their decision questioned so thoroughly. Saying that I didn’t want any type of breast form really threw them, even as I was being discharged the day after my surgery I was offered comfies “to wear in a bra while the wounds are healing”.
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 if you don’t go for reconstruction.”
I have never really been particularly bothered about clothes, but tell me I can’t do something and I will want to prove you wrong! There was scant attention to clothing that works when going without a prosthesis in the Breast Cancer Care leaflet ‘Breast prostheses, bras and clothing after surgery’ so I hit the Internet; someone will have addressed this ‘issue’ and will have ideas of what to look for and where to shop. But I struggled to find anything.
The BreastFree website is worth a look, but the emphasis still seems to be on finding lingerie and swimwear suitable for prostheses and buying stick on nipples. Their Going Flat page has tips on clothes that “draw attention away from the chest or conceal its shape” which was a good starting point for me but I still felt frustrated by this negative approach.
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. On the Basics page I have included the tips that I have found 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 and a real body!
If you have had a single mastectomy many of the flat shape tips should apply to you too, and there is also a dedicated page on Asymmetrical Designs.
Once a week I update with a Changing Room experience 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.
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 is something on these pages for your wardrobe. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment.
I also pin items I see online to my Pinterest ‘Flatter Fashion’ board at http://pinterest.com/sarahcoombes79/flatter-fashion/
There are also links to my other Pinterest boards including Dresses, Tops, Knitwear fabrics, Layers, Accessories and Lingerie on the relevant pages.