You have spent most of your life a certain shape. As a teenager, you began experimenting with clothes; finding styles that suited you, following trends, and reflecting your personality through what you wore. Now you suddenly have fewer breasts, and possibly a new outlook on life. You are faced with a wardrobe of clothes accumulated over many seasons, even years, which no longer feel like they belong to you.
Shopping for a single or double flat chest is not that difficult; but, it is daunting to suddenly not know who you are, or what to wear. As you develop your style focus on finding clothes that make you feel confident and comfortable in your own skin. Be true to your own taste, but try experimenting with styles you would not have worn pre-mastectomy. Be creative with different patterns, textures, styles, and accessories until you find the look that reflects your personality, celebrates who you are now and expresses who you want to be. And finally, be prepared to try things on that do not suit you or that you don’t like, this is something everyone experiences, whether they have breasts or not and is what makes finding the perfect item so special!
One woman who has a mastectomy will have a different body shape to the next, and some may find that their body shape has not changed post-mastectomy. Body shape is about your proportions, rather than your dress size; someone who is a size 10 can have an ‘apple’ shape and someone who is a size 18 can have a ‘banana’ shape. Be ready to take a few sizes in to the changing rooms as you get used to what size you need in different style tops and dresses.
If your waist appears wider than your shoulder and hips, then you have an Apple body shape. Show off your shoulders and legs, and add volume across your chest to balance your tummy. Try:
- Halterneck, strapless and cold-shoulder styles
- A-line tops and maxi dresses
- Swing dresses and tunics
If your shoulders, waist, and hips are around the same size, then you have a Banana body shape (also known as rectangle, athletic, and straight). Highlight your waist, and add movement.
- Layering colours, patterns, and textures.
- Gathered waistbands on tops and dresses.
- Waterfall jackets and cardigans.
If your hips appear wider than your shoulders then you have a Pear body shape. Show off your narrow top half by drawing attention to your waist, and balance your figure by adding decoration and volume across your chest and shoulder.
- Bright or patterned tops with plain bottoms.
- Wide neck, off the shoulder, and cowl necklines.
- Ruffles and frilly tops.
If your shoulders appear wider than your waist and hips then you have a strawberry body shape (also known as inverted triangle, and wedge). Highlight your waist, and add decoration down your centre and to your legs.
- Patterns or bright colours on your bottom half or down the centre of your body.
- Eye catching waistband or belt.
- High-waisted, A-line, or tulip skirts
Basic tips on how to flatter and decorate single flat and double flat chests:
To add movement and volume look for:
- A-Line tops and swing dresses which flare gently from the chest
- Bubble hem tops, or dresses with elasticated waistbands
- Off-the-shoulder, halter-necks and boat-necks can all add width across the chest
- Avoid darts and princess seams where you are flat as they may not hang properly.
Floaty fabrics such as crepe, chiffon and light cotton create movement; jersey drapes and gathers to create shape; lace and embroidered layers add interest, and textured knits add depth. Layer contrasting textures and colours to add depth and shape.
Extra features which suit a flat chest include:
- Double breast pockets (or single on your flat side)
- Gathered or cowl necklines
- Frills and pussy bows
- Pleats and pin tucks
- Contrasting sleeves
Be proud of your chest: Decorate it! Look for:
- Patterns to draw the eye around your outfit
- Contrasting patterns on the bib or yoke
- Appliquéd designs such as sequins, gems and beading
- Statement necklaces or long pendants
If you have had a single mastectomy also look out for:
- Pleats, draping or frills from one shoulder
- Contrasting panels or bold patterns to decorate your flat side
Scarves worn in various ways are also a quick way to do all the above. So, if you do not feel ready to splash out on a bold gingham cold shoulder blouse, or bright floral maxi dress, then build your confidence with your new style by decorating plainer outfits with bold accessories! Try patterned scarves, statement necklaces, and bold jackets instead.
Now you know how to flatter a flat chest, and what styles suit your body shape, it’s time to think about how your clothes can reflect your personality. Find your style icons in magazines and on television. Use Pinterest to search your favourite celebrities and designers, and save the looks that you like on your own boards (you can set these to private so only you can see what you are saving).
Most of all, have fun, experiment, and be confident. If you are in the UK please join the closed Flat Friends UK Facebook group and share your successes with women like you!