Huge thanks to Flat Friend Jo for writing the first section of this season’s blog on her first experiences of shopping post mastectomy…
Finding my look following a mastectomy in August has been quite an adventure. I have come a long way from a nervous pre-op visit to a specialist lingerie shop and my first tentative look at this blog, which was the only information I could find. I found the downloadable guides so useful, even if only as a confidence booster. For anyone awaiting a mastectomy, I can offer some comfort. Even leaving hospital on the day of the operation with a “softie” I felt presentable, thanks to the efforts of one of the ward nurses, and wearing a baggy shirt and a scarf. I also owe a lot to the lady who fitted my prosthesis six weeks later, who made me feel like a super-model! In fact, don’t tell my husband but I probably only needed to change 5% of my wardrobe, not including bras.
However, I wanted to be myself and not rely on uncomfortable “enhancements”, so took the opportunity to invest in some new party frocks. As I wanted to experiment with different styles, I decided to find my perfect dress in a charity shop. I did not pay more than £10 for any of these dresses, and in many cases a lot less.
For the technical stuff, all these dresses are worn without my left side prosthesis and with the aid only of an M&S very elasticated crop top.
I have never bared my shoulders before now, but thought this one, originally from Primark, might work as a “day-to-evening” dress.
Here’s another daytime one from Debenhams. I felt justified in buying this one as it is smart and versatile. The ruffle on the flat side works really well. Please note: you wouldn’t believe the number of dresses that I had to reject for being “back-to-front”, so anyone who has had a right-side mastectomy can rest assured there is plenty of choice out there. I don’t wear much jewellery, but am definitely getting into chokers and these pearls are just the job for a more formal occasion.
Black velvet is my LBD of choice. This one is from Dorothy Perkins:
A quick word on accessories: statement shoes and bright or patterned tights have lifted many an outfit for me – drawing attention downwards. I have black patent brogues for day time and some quite outrageous silver shoes for evening. I have rarely worn them up to press, but they will certainly be getting several outings this Christmas!
Scarves are my new best friends, and I only realised when I started wearing them regularly that I didn’t have any brooches or scarf rings. I have since started making beaded kilt pins, for myself and as presents. I now have one to match most of my scarves/ outfits.
The texture of this Marks and Spencer dress (left) appealed to me, with different styles of fabric flowers over a nude under-dress, but would hang better with a prosthesis. Some of the layering which adds volume if you are completely flat accentuates a single breast, so always a good idea to try them on.
As someone who never previously wore little dresses (let alone ones that weren’t black), I was very taken with this Lipsy dress and the patterning is quite diverting. The turquoise one was a bit over the top for me, in fact, I only got it because it went really well with the necklace. However, “hiding in plain sight”, it really disguises the mastectomy.
I think the moral of this is to try as many options as possible, as I was really surprised and have embraced several new styles.
I was happy to share these photos anyway, so people could see how and whether different styles work. It was really nice, though, to get positive comments about them. This black dress from Jane Norman, got most “likes”, and, I have to say I feel really comfortable in it (although I need a new watch!)
All the best for Christmas and the New Year, and I hope you enjoy the party season!
Caroline bought this top for £8.99 from H&M. Black is always flattering, and the lace neck adds detail (and shows off Caroline’s tattoo!)
Tamsin chose this gorgeous fringed dress for Christmas parties as it showed off her tattoo. Tamsin is a Uniboober and wore this without a breast form, and with some statement Irregular Choice shoes!
Maxine is double flat, and is wearing a glamorous jumpsuit from Pull & Bear. Proving that you don’t need two breasts to have a cleavage.
(Winter seems to be the season for showing off tattoos!)
Jenefer modified her homemade ballgown which you can see in our Formal Fashion Blog. Jenefer says, “As I knew that I was unlikely to wear it again as a full length dress it is now knee length. It is my new favourite dress.”
Hilary is new to being flat. Hilary says, “I’m feeling so comfortable being flat. I’ve learned to look at bust lines when working out if an outfit will be any good. I found 3 dresses in Next that are good with a flat chest, and that I liked. The blue and red dress are the same style but different patterns.”
These wise words for a New Year come from Aly:
Dressing my flats this morning in positivity (and a slightly padded topshop crop top which is comfy and gives me a slightly more rounded shape).
I do feel positive. I haven’t always felt this way. For anyone who is struggling right now or who is not very far along this road; first comes the pain, the grieving, the struggle, but then it is possible to reach acceptance and eventually body positivity. Not to say I never have wobbles or feel anxious or panic about how I may look in an occasion dress or whether people will “be able to tell”. I do. But let me tell you all this: Every body tells its own story and it is beautiful.
Alison now has a few sets of underwear/emergency swimwear from Mardy Bum. Alison says, “My lovely friend bought me a custom-made pants and top for Christmas. It’s made me feel so special having something made to fit my uniboob.”
Eleanor sews almost all of her own clothes, and say this is making the adjustment easier following her single mastectomy. Eleanor says, “For anyone who sews and wants to know, the patterns are the Everyday Chic Dress and Cocoon Jacket by Sew Different.”
Maybe learning to sew should be our New Years resolution!
Here is Gilly dressed up for her first flat outing, a Friends 60th birthday party. Gilly says, “It is a jumpsuit I got before Christmas with a top layered underneath as I still have my dressings from surgery!”