Cancer Fashion Forecast, Spring 2010

April 9, 2010 at 5:26 PM (Humor, style) (, , , , , , , )

After spending a few months immersing myself in the fashion trends for Spring 2010, I’ve noticed a bit of a difference between the way healthy people dress and the way cancer patients dress. And since I feel an obligation to my public to keep them well informed in this area, I give you:

 The Carcinista’s Cancer Fashion Forecast, Spring/Summer 2010.

Cargo pants: Where the well-dressed trendsetter this spring will run right out for a pair of slim, cropped, drawstring-hem “safari” pants to wear with platforms and a silk tank top, the cancer patient will find the cargo indispensable for chemo days when you’re too tired to carry a handbag. The drawstring waist accommodates fluctuating sizes due to carbo loading, and the pockets will hold seven different hospital IDs, your insurance card, your cell phone, sugarless gum, and Prilocaine cream for your port. Forget the silk top: drips from the IV could stain. Instead, layer up with the most recent walk-for-a-cure tee and a hoodie to keep the chill of the waiting room off the back of your naked neck.

Nautical style: Striped sailor pants might look great with a cute scoop-neck tee and wedges on your way to a cocktail party, but since standing up for two hours and making conversation is probably out of your reach, count on the wide-leg silhouette to cover persistent lymphedema and the fact that you’re wearing slippers to the pharmacy. [Side benefit: what’s more nautical than a pirate? Sport your ‘do-rag with confidence.]

Ruffles: Feminine details abound on the runways for S/S’10 – use them to your advantage! A cute top with an a-line shape will not only disguise the muffin top that has developed since you can’t catch your breath long enough to work out, but the soft detail around the neckline will remind the world that you’re still a girl, despite your lack of eyebrows, lashes, and hair. Not to mention disguising the scar left from your port insertion procedure six months ago that won’t heal due to your low blood counts.

Maxi-dresses: Still a hot silhouette from last summer, the maxi has it all for cancer chicks. Empire waistline holds up breast prostheses; a-line skirt to the floor hides everything else. Bare shoulders let your scorching skin breathe during hot flashes. Where else will you find a legitimate garment that’s more like a nightgown?

Wedges: A heel that even a weakened babe can adore, they’re easier to walk in than a pump but still give you an extra three inches of height (spread out those pounds!). Closed toes and heels on espadrilles camouflage your parched skin and the fact that it’s been over six months since your last pedicure. They’re not only the perfect excuse not to have to take the dog out (“Can’t walk on the lawn in these shoes. Sorry!”), they also double as weight-training on those days you really need to maximize every move.

Boyfriend jeans: See cargo pants. When your waistline is four different sizes in three months, don’t even try to pick a size. Rock the baggy-pants trend like you’re doing it on purpose.

Soft pastels: Delicate colors won’t overwhelm pale skin; sweet shell-pink flatters ghostly complexions of every color, and minimizes the effect of dark under-eye circles. Careful, though – too close to lavender and you risk calling attention to the IV-stick-attempt bruises on your forearms.

See, girls? You can still follow the trends, even from the comfort of your own barcalounger. And while you’re sitting still, it’ll be so much easier for your support team to admire how stylish you look. I think retail therapy should be a required co-therapy with the standard chemo stuff, don’t you?

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Non-Cancer-Patients Have Feelings, Too

February 17, 2010 at 9:31 PM (Family, friends, Recovery, WTF) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Before I was The Carcinista, I was known as the Fashion Nazi. Working hard at building a style consulting business, I was the go-to gal for advice of all sorts (“I have this wedding to go to…” or “Gee, how about we go to the mall this weekend? I’m looking for boots…”) and quite popular when friends or acquaintances wondered if this outfit made them look fat/out of date/mutton-dressed-as-lamb. Clients streamlined their wardrobes and lost fifteen visual pounds/years. Fashion review columns flowed from my fingertips. Withering red-carpet reviews became my calling card.

The downside, apart from wasting countless hours lost in W and on style.com, was that in social situations, good friends and new acquaintances alike were constantly apologizing for what they were wearing. “Gee, Kate, if you’d told me Sarah was coming to the party, I would have dressed up!” I tried to explain that unless they were my clients, their appearance was their own business, and it didn’t matter to me what they wore, but I guess Clinton and Stacy’s reputations preceded me. No matter how much I reassured them, there were always sheepish mea culpas for all-black outfits, comfortable shoes, or un-made-up faces.

Now that my public persona has shifted a bit, although I’m still the sassy style arbitrix I always was (with occasional forays into the yoga-pants-and-oversized-sweater look on schlumpy days), I’m still getting bowing and scraping from people. Only this time, they’re apologizing because I have cancer. Everyone has gripes. Everyone has a lousy day, a sore muscle, a bad cold. But no one feels like they can tell me about it, because my cancer trumps any other life gripe.

Thanks, everyone, I appreciate your…what, grasp of reality? But it’s all relative. My reality is mine, and your reality is yours, and if you’re sore from shoveling snow, it’s okay to complain about it. I promise I’m not thinking, “Wow, what a selfish bitch she is, grousing about sitting in traffic; I have CANCER!” I actually got back in contact with a dear friend after a too-long hiatus, and she told me she hadn’t called in over a year because she’d been having confusing medical problems but they didn’t hold a candle to mine, and she hadn’t wanted to complain. Are you kidding me?

Look, kids, you love me, scars and all. And I love you, baggy sweatshirts and all. And I want to know what’s going on in your lives because I care about you and how you feel. So complain about the flunky at Starbucks who screwed up your chai. Cancel our playdate because you have a headache. There’s no measuring stick for a crappy day.

Just don’t tell anyone I dress you if you wear that out in public.

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