Even though modern medicine has made it possible for lupus patients to live longer than ever, the benefits often come with strings attached. Prolonged use of prednisone, one of the most common medications for lupus, can cause damage to skin, bones and lead to weight gain. Weight gain itself comes with a whole host of complications both emotional and practical. For me, my weight gain saga went from not leaving my house for months to now having to cope with dressing an entirely new body shape. Whether you’ve gained a lot on your medications or just feel like you’re going through puberty all over again, here are some of the tips that are helping me stay looking good, even when I’m feeling my worst.
Tune out the hype. Be realistic. While you might be putting together an exercise or diet plan, don’t let that stop you from feeling good about your appearance right now. If saving an outfit for when you lose those 10 pounds really motivates you, great. But if you’ve done that before and the outfit still has its tags on, then consider changing your perspective. Beauty shouldn’t be about how everyone else (including yourself) thinks you should look, but about looking like your best self. There’s a great post about self-image over at Charmed, I’m Sure that you all should read. Whether you like the witchy bent or not, the core message is one we should all have tattooed somewhere: Figure out what looks good on you and feels like you. Figure out what makes you feel powerful about your appearance and use it, godsdamn it.
Body, know thyself. I used to have a classic pear figure, but over the years and the many medications I’ve taken, now I fit more into a classic apple shape. If these words make you think more about fruit salad than fashion, Joy Wilson’s Shape Guide can help clear out the confusion. The fruit-named categories are good general guidelines if you’re completely lost as to what might look good on your figure. But don’t etch these fashion “rules” in stone. Every person’s body has its own nuances and no two are exactly alike. Dress for how you are, not how some website (mine included) tells you that you are.
Look for clothing that can change with you. Having a stable of classic, never-going-to-go-out-of-style pieces is basic fashion advice, but also think about pieces that will still look good on you later if you gain or lose a few pounds. I like thicker, stiffer fabrics in my clothing since they tend to skim my figure, instead of strangle it. The thinner jersey fabrics that are popular now just nose-dive into every bodily nook and cranny and some are so thin that my scars are visible through them. “Fashionable” or not, they aren’t for me. Clothing with spandex is always a good bet since they not only expand with you, but can more easily shrink back into shape when you do.
Clothing that can easily be tailored is also a good choice. Sewing is a great skill to have in general, but it’s even more useful if you have lupus. By learning a few basic tailoring and mending tricks, you can not only save a bundle in getting clothing tailored outside, but also extend the life of some of your favorite pieces. If a favorite top is now too short because of a few more pounds in the belly area, you can get creative by sewing a long lace layer underneath and creating the illusion of a layered top. Waist too tight? Maybe adding some elastic side inserts will save those jeans from the trash can. The Craftster forums are the hands-down best resource for this that I know of. Their clothing forum has tons of tutorials from simple reconstructions to gorgeous original ensembles.
Think outside the rack. My biggest weight-related problem for a while was buying well-fitting pants. Regular pants would fit perfectly up until the hips. Then I’d be lucky if the zipper didn’t pop off the fabric and try to slap me for even bothering to put them on. Plus-sized pants had the opposite snare; the waist fit perfectly, but I ended up with super-wide zoot suit-style legs. Sure, I had the option of tailoring them, but as luck would have it, I found another, even better option.
Maternity pants. For the same cost as a regular pair of pants, I found a style that fit comfortable around the waist and narrowed down to show off my legs. No tailoring needed. Don’t be afraid to check out stores, sizes or departments that you never have before – you might find a hidden wardrobe treasure.
And above all, put health first. Good rest and a healthy diet will go a much longer way to keeping you looking good than all the makeup in the world, so always take the best care of your self than you can.
What other tips do you have for staying stylish with lupus?