With two generations of maternal breast cancer in her family, our designer Amy comes with a personal understanding of what it means to have a medical diagnosis affect multiple aspects of a woman’s life, from family dynamics to financial considerations to career goals. Breast cancer patients have specific issues to address in how the treatment impacts their bodies, their sense of self, and their future.
While it’s only one of the many steps involved in a complex equation, finding clothing specifically addressing these needs can be challenging. With the radical body changes that breast cancer can create, it can be like having to dress a whole new body, one that has a different feel, shape, and identity. In the treatment and recovery process, issues like scarring, sensitive skin, lymphedema, and changes in body shape or size can make it tough to find clothing that fits and feels great.
Looking for clothing with specific design features and fabrics can give you a great wardrobe that doesn't come across as specialty or medical clothing.
As dressing standards have gotten more informal, we wear a lot of t-shirt type fabrics in our daily lives-- stretchy knit jersey. Sometimes this can cling or get a little too sweaty, so you may want to look for woven tops in natural fibers like cotton and linen. Woven fabrics have less stretch, and a little more structure, which can help cut down on the cling and elevate your look without taking you out of your comfort zone.
This is where it's about proportion, rather than a specific neckline type. Whether it's V-neck, scoop neck, or boat neck, for many women, a neckline that hits four to six inches below where your neck meets your torso will reveal enough to highlight your face, without flopping, flapping, and otherwise misbehaving! If you have a flexible measuring tape, measuring a garment that works well for you can help you figure out your own individual sweet spot on that balance of depth and width that allows you to wear specialty bras and camisoles without reaching for a turtleneck every time.
Most women’s tops, dresses, and jackets are made with set-in sleeves, which sit more closely around the shoulder and armpit. After a surgery or with the swelling of lymphedema, set-in sleeves can become constricting. Look for sleeve shapes with an easier fit that give more room from the shoulder down through the sleeve using raglan and dolman cuts. Alternative shapes give a modern, designer look while providing the functionality you need.
A-line silhouettes that skim but don’t cling to the body are a great way to show your shape in a sophisticated yet comfortable style. Slightly boxy tops convey a sense of cool without hiding you in a tent of fabric. Shaping features like darts, curved seams, and walking vents allow for movement and fit ease, so look for the little tailored details that flatter and create structure by incorporating designer touches.
You'll see some of these concepts about the fabrics and silhouettes in pieces from our own clothing line in our Breast Cancer Clothing section. There's more options out there on the market than you might realize, when you know what shapes, features, and fabrics are your best bet for comfort with style.