After a woman undergoes a mastectomy, she may lose confidence in her appearance. Finding clothes that fit well can be a challenge. Luckily, there is a burgeoning trend in mastectomy fashion, offering a full range of options in casual wear, sportswear, sleepwear and even formal wear.
After a mastectomy, there is so much to deal with that many women do not update their wardrobes. Those women who do purchase clothing may just attempt to buy new versions of their old favorites. However, Mary McCabe, a nurse who is Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Cancer Survivorship director in New York, asserts, "Everyone needs to reassess their personal style after breast cancer."
Some of the most popular designer names in mastectomy clothing are American Boutique, Classique and Jodee. Even mainstream manufacturers of bras, like Playtex and Amoena, now carry mastectomy bras, although the styles are more likely to be found online than in department stores. A major online retailer of mastectomy clothing is Nicola Jane. Land's End sells two styles of bathing suits that accommodate a prosthesis.
The cut of most mastectomy clothing is modest. Necklines are high and do not show cleavage. Arm holes are cut smaller to cover scars. Some women opt for plunging necklines or halter tops, however, and just let scars show. Mastectomy bras do not have underwires, because the wires can poke into the chest. Mastectomy clothes come equipped with pockets or panels into which women can slip an insert or breast form. The breast form itself is silicone rubber and either stays in the pocket or adheres to the skin. The breast forms can come in various skin colors and cup sizes, with a nipple or without.
The most popular types of mastectomy clothing are camisoles, T-shirts and blouses that provide coverage of the chest area. Bras and lingerie are also integral to the wardrobe. These days, there are the everyday, high-coverage bras as well as plunging, sexy styles, sports bras and strapless bras. Active wear and swimwear also often come in styles that accommodate breast forms or inserts.
Forming a core wardrobe of post mastectomy clothing is essential, but it is also possible to hang onto some of your favorite pieces. Professional tailors can altar clothing to fit a post-mastectomy body, and they can also add pockets for breast forms. Nordstrom's and some other high-end retailers will add a prosthesis pocket to bras and lingerie for a nominal charge. Jacqueline Designs (see Resources below) has developed styles that integrate a feather-light mastectomy bra that liberates the wearer from having to use a prosthesis.