What NOT to Wear After Unilateral Mastectomy
Updated: Sep 11, 2019
By the time I learned I had breast cancer, I knew exactly what worked for me when it came to my wardrobe, I had perfected my “look.” I also knew exactly what didn’t work clothing wise and simply knew when to walk away from something in a store that wasn’t going to flatter me, no love lost.
The rules had changed
Then the cancer monster came. It was like he attacked my closet and everything was upside down and inside out! All that programming in my head that told me what I could and could not wear had to be rewired. All the rules of fashion suddenly changed and I found myself wearing things I would have NEVER worn pre-cancer and vice versa.
Remember when you were dating? Remember how you spent so much time on listing all the things you wanted in a partner? Remember how by doing that you unwittingly overlooked something even more important?
No? You have no idea what I’m talking about?
I’m talking about that all-important list of what you don’t want in a person.
What does this have to do with fashion?
Well, let me tell you. Shopping with a physical disability (yes, I disability, we’ve had something amputated from your bodies, so in my opinion we have a disability) is challenging enough. In order for us to now find things to wear that flatter us, we must also know what we don’t want. We must know the rules of what not to wear.
Ladies, it’s like I’m saving you from that boyfriend (or girlfriend) that you had. You know the one. That one who made you so focused on the positives that you willingly overlooked the negatives.
Same deal with the blouse! I am trying to prevent you from falling in love with that item that is so cute in the shop window, on the mannequin, or placed oh-so-nicely on the display hanger. I want to prevent you from making the mistake of pulling out your money, taking that cutie home and sleeping with…I mean putting it in…your closet, only to wake up the next day realizing your error. I hope to prevent you from feeling that disappointment when you realize, this isn’t right; you are a terrible piece of … clothing!
We all know that shopping can be painful. It’s the number one reason why some of us don’t go. We simply can’t handle the disappointment of waiting in a line for the dressing room and taking off our clothes to look in the mirror of reality. We all have flaws. We all feel this way at some point in time. So if you do, remember that you are not alone. Also remember that the goal here is to help you save time and to save you from ever taking certain items into that changing room to begin with.
Here are the top no-no’s for a uni.
Tops that have a line (seam) going across the chest (or any horizontal seam for that matter)
Some of you may have been a fan of this cut. It never actually worked for me because I found it made my breasts look odd. However, for a large breasted woman this may have been a cut that floated around in your closet because the idea of this cut is to actually “cut” your breast area, making your breasts look smaller.
Regardless of whether you have clothes with this cut in your closet or not, it is my biggest don’t go there item once you are one breasted. That is because with one breast, this once strait line will no longer fall strait across your chest. It will be like that hairpin turn with no warning sign. After you crash your car you will scream, “Why didn’t this show up on MapQuest!” It’s the same thing with this top. There is no warning sign that the supposed to be strait line is about to go crushingly crooked!
Do yourself a favor. Don’t go there.
See above. Darts are evil. Your chest is not a board game – don’t throw darts on it.
Tops that only have one breast pocket
Oh dear. I’m discriminating against a one-breasted design! I didn’t start out that way, I promise! But Honey, this just isn’t going to work for you.
I thought that this was going to be such a clever trick. I thought I’d just put something where my breast used to be and viola! I thought it would be just fine. I was so very wrong. It matters not the placement of the pocket – either on your flat side or on the side where your breast remains – because all this one-breast pocketed shirt does is puts a big, red, flashing warning sign on you for everyone to see.
Car alarms will go off.
Train track railing barriers will come down and start flashing.
Emergency announcements will blast through your radio speaker, shouting to the world, “SHE ONLY HAS ONE BOOB!”
Hey, if you don’t mind this public service announcement, then by all means, go ahead and wear that one-breast pocketed top – I double breasted dare you!
Tops that have a symmetrical design on the front upper chest area
I have a top (above) that I wore religiously. It’s one color and has a pretty square design in embroidery that is the same color as the blouse. It is feminine and pretty and I love it so much I want to live in it, but I have to fall out of love with it now. Don’t make the mistake of falling for this seductively evil design.
But if you don’t believe me, fine. Go ahead and try wearing it if you don’t mind your shirt looking like it got caught in a mangle. Don’t know what a mangle is? Look it up…or you can just look at the above photo of me in this top because it looks like half my chest got caught in one.
I’m not saying that people will necessarily notice you don’t have a breast. However, you would be drawing people’s attention to the fact that something is “off” if you decide to wear this type of shirt. And people may stare at the part of you that you really don’t want them to stare at. Just sayin’.
Don’t torture yourself. Just like there are many more fish in the sea, there are many more shirts with embroidery that will be nice to you. Keep reading my articles (one is on the way that is all about how to find the right design) and try things out for yourself. As for this one, you don’t have to love it anymore. [I’m currently singing “Let It Go! Let It Go!” while putting this blouse in the bag that’s on its way to the Goodwill where some two-breasted woman will find and fall in love with it again.]
Tops that have bold wording on them
I know. This guideline pretty much sucks. It’s fun to wear tops like these. You want to send a message right? To make matters worse they are all the rage right now. Why not wear something that has a fun saying on it? Because people want to actually read what is on your chest (which is why you bought it in the first place) but they won’t be able to read it because it doesn’t sit strait on your body!
I’m not saying you can’t buy these tops to wear to the gym, or the grocery store on a Sunday morning because lots of people are at church or sleeping in so they won’t see you. Heck, wear it around the house to cheer yourself up or get yourself out of a funk (that is why I bought this top). But you’re not going to want to wear it to a Lakers’ game, or your kid’s baseball game, or to the park. Just keep this shirt to yourself and the people who love you.
There are exceptions to this rule and to see it click here:
Buy it – wear it everywhere! In fact, buy it and post a pick of yourself here on my Facebook page, “I Don’t Need Two.”
Off the shoulder tops
Okay, I bought this top because when I put it on I couldn’t stop laughing. I thought I would buy it and wear it for Halloween. I sent this picture to my parents as a funny joke and my father begged me not to post this on the internet.
Just because I’m a grown-up doesn’t mean that I started listening to what my parents say! So, I posted this on one of my private groups on Facebook and the resounding majority decided that they actually like me in this top!
But if your goal is to not draw attention to your one-boob body, this is probably not the top for you.
Tops with a square collar
See above. Wait…why do I have to keep repeating myself? If you read this last tip and thought to yourself, “Yeah, you already said this” then congratulations! You’re ready to go shopping!
Remember, you are on a journey to find the best clothes for your amazing and beautiful body. The good news is that you can find clothes that make you feel yourself again, even if they are a different style than you are used to.
***Keep in mind these are just suggestions to help anyone who doesn’t want to draw attention to their new shape. However, I’m a rule breaker by nature, that’s why I didn’t do reconstruction. If you’re like me, feel free to break away! Don’t let me tell you what you can and can’t wear! I can’t hinder the unicorn in you! Fly!***
This article has been published in Wildfire Breast Cancer Magazine. Click on the link to purchase a copy of Vol 3 No 3 or to sign up for a yearly subscription today.