From the Archives: Spring 2005 Issue of Lupus Now Magazine
Clothes Call: You don’t need to sacrifice style for comfort -- dressing to impress is easy if you follow these few simple tips
by Emily Wojcik
Everyone has days when they feel out of shape and nothing in their closet fits. But if you’ve been diagnosed with lupus, you know that sometimes, it’s more than just a feeling. After all, it can be hard to get enough exercise if you’re feeling fatigued, and sometimes exercise can be hard on painful joints and exhausted muscles. Plus, if you’re being treated, side effects from medications such as prednisone can include weight gain and an increased appetite.
"Many people who are in treatment for lupus experience weight gain," says Bevra Hahn, M.D., chief of rheumatology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. "Coupled with decreased energy levels and physical discomfort, staying in shape can be very difficult."
But, as New York stylist and fashion editor Sally Cannon points out, you don’t have to sacrifice style on those "not-so-perfect" days. The truth is, you can look amazing at any size -- just follow Sally’s advice for a look that will make you toss those shapeless togs for good:
- To avoid appearing big on top, wear tailored separates, such as a fitted jacket or a classic button-down shirt. V-neck and surplice tops are also good choices: They expose more skin at your neck, which draws the eye up to your face.
- Don’t layer bulky items. Try a fitted -- not tight -- t-shirt under a blazer, or pair a cardigan with a camisole. "Neckline details, such as a key-hole cut-out or fun trim in complementary colors, will emphasize a pretty décolleté or a fabulous smile," Sally points out.
- Consider items with a bit of stretch material in them. Forget Spandex: These days, everything from jeans to evening dresses has added give. Stretch assures a slimmer fit without clinginess—which makes you look longer and leaner all around.
- Body-skimming dresses and skirts hide flaws while accentuating curves. A just-below-the-knee length is flattering on every body type, and a bit of flare or trim at the bottom adds a feminine pizzazz.
- Fuller-cut pants may feel more forgiving, but too much room will actually make you appear bigger than you are. If you like an easy fit, Sally suggests looking for trousers with inverted pleats: "They have a sleek, tailored effect." A boot-cut leg looks modern and will balance your upper half beautifully.
- Everyone needs a classic pair of black pants, but don’t be afraid of patterns. Pants with a subtle stripe make you look taller and slimmer by visually elongating the leg. Detailing, like strategically placed embroidery, can emphasize your favorite areas.
- "The rule of thumb when choosing prints," Sally says, "is to remember that the smaller the pattern, the smaller you’ll appear." Keep a colorful pattern under control by pairing it with a solid blazer: "It’s like putting a painting in a frame."
- To hide trouble areas, try optical illusions. With jeans and trousers, larger back pockets and full legs minimize a rear view, while low-rise waistbands keep curves in control. A straight-cut—not tapered—leg balances heavy thighs, while a high-waisted front will hold your belly in.
- Emphasize the parts of your body that you love by calling attention to them with subtle details. A dramatic neckline will draw the eye to a pretty neck, while a wrap shirt emphasizes a small waist. A ruffled skirt or tailored Capri pantss show off great legs.
- Never underestimate the power of a good fit. Find a tailor you trust (most drycleaners have one on staff), and have your clothing hemmed and fitted to you. It ensures that you’ll always look perfectly polished.
- The right shoe can pull an outfit together, and a little bit of height can visually slim and lengthen your look. These days, it’s easy to find comfortable, low-heeled shoes that still say "sophisticated." Look for shoes with no more than a two-inch heel, to avoid putting too much pressure on painful joints or feet, and ask for a padded foot bed. Tender or sore toes need lots of room, so wear shoes with wider toeboxes.