Why I started and still love Flatter Fashion, and why this website is – and always will be – ad free and unsponsored!

I have recently done a few interviews with journalists, researchers and undergraduates about Flatter Fashion, and each one has asked if I have thought about launching a range of specialist clothes. The answer is no, I haven’t and never will. For the same reasons this website is ad free and I do not gain financially from it (e.g. I am not given clothes to promote and keep) – I do not agree with making money out of Cancer, nor people’s insecurities.

Here is the latest interview I have done with a student writing a dissertation on how personal styling can make a positive impact on those who have had a mastectomy:

How did you get into this?

I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in my right breast in December 2014. I was offered reconstruction, but I knew immediately that this was not for me. I requested that my left breast be removed at the same time so that I could be symmetrically flat. My breast care team offered me delayed reconstruction, silicone prostheses, and fabric ‘softies; but, I told them that I wanted to live flat. The breast care nurse warned against this saying “You won’t be able to find nice clothes.”

So, I went away and read the Breast Cancer Care leaflet on clothing which had two sentences on living without reconstruction and prostheses and advised I cover up with scarves and baggy tops. I searched on the internet what suits a post-mastectomy body shape, and all I found was one website which again suggested ‘disguising’ my chest with scarves and baggy tops. This, and the comment from my BCN annoyed me, so two weeks later just before my double mastectomy I set up my website Flatter Fashion so that no other woman would think she should be ashamed of, and hide, her body just because she doesn’t have two breasts.

What do you think is key in creating confidence in the consumer?

Women who have had a mastectomy have spent most of their life a certain shape. As a teenager, we experiment with clothes; find the styles that suit us, follow trends, and reflect our personality through what we wear. Then a few decades down the line we suddenly have fewer breasts, and often a new outlook on life. We are faced with a wardrobe of clothes accumulated over many seasons, even years, which no longer feel like they belong to us. We also have a new body shape, which means it can be daunting suddenly not knowing what suits you anymore, or what you want to wear to reflect the new you. My website is all about sharing basic tips to help women develop confidence to try on new things to see what suits them now, and not feel that they should cover themselves up and hide who they are.

How would you best reach this consumer?

Some find my website via search engines, or via the links on the Flat Friends UK website. I am a trustee of this charity, and member of the Facebook support group so most of the people who use my website are through Flat Friends. Flat Friends UK is currently writing a patient information booklet which would be given to every woman facing mastectomy by her breast care team, and there will be advice in this booklet about finding clothes which I have written, with links to the Flatter Fashion website.

How much do you charge?

I have never, and will never charge anything for my advice. I do not agree with making money out of cancer, nor people’s insecurities.

Do you get a lot of requests for clothing items?

Requests for advice usually come from Flat Friends within the Facebook group; for instance someone who has a wedding or party coming up and doesn’t know what to wear. I share a link to the Flatter Fashion website, especially the new blogs by Flat Friends members. I then have a look at high street clothes online and share items I think would work.

I have been asked several times about launching a fashion label, but as I have said I do not agree with monetising my ideas. I also would never want women to think they need ‘specialist clothing’ just because they have not had reconstruction.

How old roughly are your readers?

From approximately 30 to 70 years old.

Do you have a preference to certain brands?

All high street brands can work for women who are living single or double flat. The recent trend for ruffles, frills, fringing and bardot tops has been brilliant for us. The classic cowl neck in jersey, or light fabrics is always great too.