How to Look Your Best With Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis of the spine can lead to changes in the shape of your body and the fit of your clothes. These fashion tips will help you look and feel your best.  

By Stacey Feintuch

What we wore as teenagers (say, super short skirts) may not look the same as we age. And a similar fashion philosophy goes for people who have osteoporosis: Clothing that was once flattering may no longer fit the same. A skirt’s hem may seem uneven. A jacket may be too tight. A dress may pull across the back and shoulders. Get started with these fashion dilemmas may be due to osteoporosis-related body changes, including shorter stature, a hunched back and protruding stomach.

It’s not surprising, then, that you may dislike getting dressed. You may even think it’s impossible to look good with osteoporosis. But stop right there! Banish those negative thoughts. You can find clothing that flatters your body and boosts your confidence. Get started with these fashion tips.

  • Invest in the right undergarments. Find bras that fit well and are comfortable while providing support. Try bras with straps that cross in the back, sports bras or ones with a front closure. Consider visiting a shop that will custom fit you.
  • Pick clothing that is loose, straight or just slightly fitted.
  • Select necklines and collars that create little or no gaping around the neck and that don’t restrict neck movement.
  • Look for blouses with flattering jewel, round, slight V or cowl necklines. These styles will divert attention from rounding shoulders or a protruding abdomen. Avoid plunging or large square necklines and high turtlenecks.
  • Choose tops with dolman, drop or raglan sleeves. These softly-shaped styles have a relaxed fit around the arm hole. This means that they de-emphasize rounded shoulders, promote movement and give a softer look and feel to the upper torso. Avoid tops that have tight sleeves or are sleeveless.
  • Wear dresses that are loose, straight or slightly fitted but aren’t too closely cut. Try dress shapes like A-line, tent, tunic, empire waist and drop waist. Then, you can shorten hemlines to a comfortable length.
  • Experiment with shawls or capes, which fit loosely and can hide problem areas.
  • Try pants with elastic instead of a zipper, or a combination of elastic and a zipper. They’re comfortable and can accommodate changes in your figure. Avoid tight-fitting belts, which can be uncomfortable and focus attention on your stomach.
  • Use scarves in any size, shape, fabric and color to your advantage. A scarf can fill in a gaping collar or neckline or hide curved shoulders or a curved back. Bold colors or patterns can draw attention away from your shoulders and to your face and eyes. To look taller, drape a long scarf around your neck, and let it flow down your back.
  • Jewelry can divert eyes from problem areas. Wear a necklace to fill in a gaping neckline. Earrings can frame your face. Pin a brooch to the front shoulder area or on top of a tied scarf.
  • Wear hats to shift the focus from your body to your head. They frame your face and add glamour to any outfit. Avoid wearing low-hanging or wide-brimmed hats that may make it difficult to see.
  • Sport the right shoes—the wrong ones may cause falls and increase your risk of fractures. Opt for comfortable flats or low-heeled shoes. Choose nonskid rubber soles that promote balance.

You may also consider taking advantage of personal shoppers, which many department stores have on staff. They can help you find the right clothing and accessories to address your health-related issues. You can also search for a good tailor who can alter clothing to fit your body. That way, you can take what you already have in your closet and make it work for you (for example, adjust hemlines). Or you can have a dressmaker make clothing just for you.

You’ll see it’s possible to look and feel good when you have osteoporosis.

Published December 2013

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