How to Dress When You Have Lost a Breast

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Today I want to share with you some guidance I received from Susan, who has lost a breast due to cancer and has shared her tips on how to disguise it (and other scarring which can happen with surgery).  I’ve created some pictures to illustrate her advice.

I am a great fan of your website and have been following it for some time now. Thank you for all your insights.

Reading the post on horizontal stripes reminded me of a challenging time in my life when I could have used a little sartorial advice. When I was only 40 I lost a breast to cancer. Not surprisingly, I was extremely self-conscious about my irregularities, from the time I was stuffing a sock in my bra, to post-reconstruction when I am still lumpy and lopsided (but glad to be here!). Those initial months I learned a few tricks to disguise my asymmetry without hiding in oversized sacks. I thought I would like to share.

What to Wear When You’ve Had a Mastectomy

1. Obviously, avoid stripes like the plague. In fact, avoid all geometric patterns. All-over, asymmetric patterns are much better.

What to wear when you've lost a breast after a mastectomy - which are the best prints?

2. If you prefer solid colours, cowl necklines and ruching are good disguisers. Looser, button-up shirts are also easier to wear.

2. Loose layers hide a multitude of sins, even over a close fitting top like a T-shirt or turtleneck.

3. Scarves and shawls are great to drape over the chest, and to fill in a scarred neckline. But don’t overdo if you’re also wearing a scarf on your head.

4. Keep attention high with interesting earrings and shorter necklaces. Don’t wear long necklaces that dangle over the bustline.

What to wear when you've lost a breast after a mastectomy - choosing necklines5. Wear (the right) colour. It’ll make you look healthier and feel happier, to help you through the dark days ahead.

 

What to wear when you've lost a breast after a mastectomyUnfortunately, where I have been unable to find much of a solution is in eveningwear. It seems almost impossible to look “sexy” in our society without showing a lot of decolletage. Anything I could find to hide my scars and my prosthesis-supporting bra only made me look matronly. Highlighting your back (if you can) or legs might be an alternative if you can find the right outfit. Imogen, any suggestions you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Susan

Thanks so much for sharing your tips Susan!  Here are my tips for evening wear:

What to wear when you've lost a breast after a mastectomy - formal wear

Choosing Evening Wear When You’ve Had a Mastectomy

My evening wear suggestions keep going along the same guidelines as you’ve already provided:

1. non-repeating all over pattern

2. Asymmetrical details and design (any sort of asymmetric plays tricks on the brain, stopping it from noticing what else about you is asymmetrical)

3. Texture (such as lace) and dark colours (which recede)

4. Big shiny earrings and necklaces above the bust to draw attention upwards

5. A large shawl in a gorgeous fabric to drape over your shoulders

Don’t forget that you can use silicone breast forms rather than socks.  And if you need a special bra fitted, there are bespoke bra makers and fitters like Linda you can go to for help.

If you’re in this situation, what have you found really works for you?

What to wear when you've lost a breast after a mastectomy

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14 Comments

  • Wow, Imogen! My respect and admiration for you. Very creative article, you’re taking your information beyond with the intention that despite the circumstances life bring us, every woman can look beautiful with these tricks you give us.

    Thank you very much and hope you continue to have energy to publish your interesting blogs for much longer. Nice day!

  • I lost a breast at 30 and wear a special bra and prosthesis. Ten years later I’m happy to still be here, but I still find dressing a challenge! Most difficult is the fact that it is impossible to show décolletage, and so many summer fashions and evening/formal wear seem to demand it. Thanks for the very helpful article.

  • Loved this article. Could have used this advice when my sister In law had a breast removed. It is also hard to dress when preparing for reconstruction. Have put it on my fb page and hope lots share this info.

  • At a time when a woman is struggling with both health and self-image issues, and trying to retain her femininity despite after losing a breast, this type of simple but helpful information is absolutely invaluable. I will share this with a dear friend who is in exactly this position. Thank you!

  • THANK YOU for this wonderful post. Even though I lost a breast seven years ago and wear a prothesis, I am still heartbroken about the change to my body and find that dressing is a challenge. These are very interesting and helpful suggestions!

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