Dress for success? I dress to disappear.

shallow focus photography of assorted color clothes hanged on clothes rack

I read an article this week about a woman who’d undergone a double mastectomy. She is a successful entrepreneur and very well off. I was excited to read the article because she was going to talk about how her wardrobe had changed and what she liked to wear now. She talked about high end stores she liked to shop at…her Gucci shoes, how much she liked to splurge on winter coats and how her mother bought all her “european designer wear” when she traveled abroad. Instead of being inspired by the article I felt disappointed and depressed. Can’t someone just be honest about what it’s like to try to clothe oneself when you’re struggling with a new body?!

Right now, I am in a “holding” pattern. Not only am I trying to adjust to my shape, I am still in the reconstruction phase so I’m reluctant to purchase many new clothes as I don’t know what my “end result” will be. That said, I know that my body will never look like what it was “before” cancer. It’s a reality that I am still coming to terms with. I’m reminded every time I look in the mirror and every time I get dressed. It’s frustrating to say the least. My existing closet and clothes do not fit the new me. Rather than dress to make a statement I dress to try to disappear. I don’t want anyone to look at me or notice me or god forbid compare how I look now to how I used to look. I’m self conscious, uncomfortable and pissed off that this stupid disease has taken away my love of fashion and my sense of self.

Someone said to me, “just think, you can buy a whole new wardrobe when all this is over!” Yes, this is true, I guess, but one, I don’t have a fashion fund to replenish what I have and two…I don’t know what even looks good on me anymore. I know I have to be patient and wait for the results of my final surgery, but in the meantime, I still have to be out in the world. I still have to work, see clients and attend social events. I can’t just show up in jeans and a baggy sweater…which has become my go to outfit. At least it’s winter so I can hide behind the bulk of knitwear. I have learned that tops with a pattern help to camouflage my uneven chest. I wear long necklaces to draw the eye away, and scarves are a blessing as a mode of disguise. Ladies, think about what it’s like getting ready for an event. How many outfits and accessories you try on until you find that “perfect” look. Now think about trying on all those clothes, that you’ve loved and felt good in…but nothing fits, nothing looks right and nothing you do will change that. Get the picture?!

I would love to attend a clothes exchange with other women who need to revamp their wardrobe for whatever reason. An event that was about helping and supporting each other. Fashion, clothes and how you “feel” is an important thing for most people…but especially women. We all struggle sometimes with how are bodies look. I certainly did my whole life.  I never in my wildest dreams thought that I had a great body…but what I wouldn’t give to have it back now.

My surgery is scheduled for April 25th. I suspect my recovery will be 4 to 6 weeks and then it will be several months before everything “settles” and I have a new and permanent shape to deal with. So maybe by mid summer I can start reevaluating my wardrobe; start to rebuild what I have and get rid of the pieces that will never fit again. Will I be attending a runway show in Paris or designer event in NYC? Not likely, but I am looking forward to finally having an end result that I can learn to accept and to learn what suits my new shape to start to feel good again. When that happens I will stop dressing to disappear and that will be for me dressing for success.


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President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.

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