Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yes, It's Still Possible to Be Stylish When You're in Pain

Here's a little something that'll never occur to a non-chronic pain sufferer-- sometimes the thought of wearing real clothes makes someone with chronic pain (at least me) want to gouge their eyes out.

Thinking about the idea of wearing any of my stilettos (I have a lot of them.) is inconceivable at this point. Even though I stand at 5'10", I used to love heels. Now, I can't stand the thought of them.

My style has always been fairly "effortless" and minimalist, but the chronic pain has really brought out the "lazy girl" in me in what I've been wearing for those dreaded days out that I have to see people I haven't seen in a long time that still expect me to look put together (aka not a hot mess).

At this point, I pretty much try to get away with what's as close to pajamas as possible when out in the real, public world. My style tends to be fairly utilitarian too. I hardly ever wear color (mostly black, white and beige), with the occasional, purposeful pop of color. I do this for good reason--because I'm over shit pretty fast and it makes it easy to match everything.  For example, if I went out tomorrow and bought a bright pink dress that look amazing and fit me perfectly, I guarantee you by next summer, I would be sick of it (and probably would've only worn 3 times max to begin with.) I'm more focused on shape and texture.

Here's a few tips I have and ingenious things I have adopted over the last year and a half or so:
  1. First things first: compression garments. This sounds crazy, but for some reason the tightness of the compression garments actually sometimes helped with my spasms. I'm not talking about Spanx or anything like that, but real athletic compression garments. I got mine from SKINS and they are a godsend. I wear them a lot after I get injections and sometimes sleep in them. They are a little on the pricey side, but 100% worth it. I bought the RY400 Women's Compression Long Sleeve Top for Recovery ($119.99) and RY400 Women's Compression Long Tights for Recovery ($139.99). The nice thing about this company is that they actually have two different "shapes" you can buy. "A" shape is for a pear shaped kind of girl and "H" shape (what I got) has little variation in shape. (I am probably more of an inverted triangle because I am busty but this is closest thing to it, I guess.) 

  2. Infinity scarves/snoods: instant neck brace.  Need I say more? In the very beginning when my neck was hurting like a bitch, big chunky neck scarves were my go to. They gave me my only shot at making it through a work day or a long car ride. I get most of mine from ASOS, but really anything will work. 

  3. Pants with elastic waistbands: The sheer panic of wearing anything tight, uncomfortable or restricting (unless it was leggings) was a death wish. Elastic waistbands are not a death wish. I have a lot from Zara, Joe Fresh, Asos, etc. that are made of light fabrics that drape well with an easy pattern (making them super easy to match to anything) and they're nice enough to wear to most places: dinner, movies, etc. In September, I got recruited out of the blue for a major fashion company (even though I couldn't physically do the job, I interviewed anyway) and wore almost exact outfit below.  HR and the hiring manager complimented "my look" and I was actually offered the job, even though I couldn't take it. Aside from the heels, this outfit was ridiculously comfortable. 
    Interview outfit. 
    Ignore the heels. This is a perfectly acceptable outfit for 99% of all occasions

  4. Comfortable, acceptable tees: One might think wearing a tshirt out to nice events out is sloppy, but if you pair it with the right things, the juxtaposition is actually nice (and comfortable.) I like to pair it with a nice coat, cool pants, shoes or good jewelry to "up the ante" of the outfit. My favorite tshirts are all from Brandy Melville, Free People, Madewell and AllSaints. I look for soft fabrics and am also a big fan of linen tees. (I am also constantly looking for sales and outlet online shops like THE OUTNET, etc.) 
    The Man Repeller always nails it. 
    If you're going to wear heels, platforms are more comfortable than stilettos and offer more support. Plus, this is generally just a perfect outfit in my opinion. 

  5. Nikes and fashion sneakers: Every girl in their 20's can thank their lucky stars that "normcore", Nikes and fashion sneakers are currently a thing. Thanks to people like Eva Chen, editor-in-chief at Lucky, we can all run around wearing real clothes with running sneakers and not be considered a hot mess. #blessed
    Eva Chen is known to rock an amazing and ridiculous heel, but clearly loves a sneaker moment and I thank her for that.
    Bow to Isabel Marant for creating a work-wearable sneaker. 

  6. Activewear trend: Jump on this bandwagon while you can. "Healthy" is in and incorporating activewear pieces into regular day apparel is exciting (and comfy, duh)! Here's an article from on "WHY FITNESS IS HAVING A MOMENT IN FASHION".  Everyone and their mother is coming out with an activewear line which is exciting for two reasons: 1) More exciting gym options. 2) More acceptable ways to incorporate into day-to-day style. Whether you're going to the gym or not, the key is to tricking people into thinking you are and there's no shame in it.
    While I wouldn't necessarily wear all of these outfits as is, they're good inspiration. 
  7. Oversized sweaters: No one loves an oversized sweater like I do. For the supremely lazy and get ready in less than 10 minutes look, I usually just throw on one with a ton of jewelry, leggings (only as long is covers everything that should be covered because leggings are NOT pants) with nice boots and voila. Instant pain acceptable outfit with minimal effort. 
    This picture is probably 90% of my closet. 
    I wore a lot of things to work like this in "the good old days". Pairing a drapey sweater with an interesting skirt is always fun and doesn't necessarily require heels. For dressier things I have to attend now, this is my go-to outfit.
    I think I almost own this exact outfit and I wear it a lot. 
  8. Comfy layers: Layers are key, especially when hiding any new, potential chronic pain weight gain. Plus they prove efficient if you need to take a piece and roll it around your neck or behind your back..or into a pillow! (I am a genius and you're welcome.) Hats and sunglasses are also a nice way of saying "There's a chance I could look/feel like total shit today, but you will never know." 

    Is she hungover or in pain? Chances are, you will never know. 
  9. Maxi skirts: In an attempt to still look and act like a lady (which is rare these days), maxi skirts/dresses are supremely underrated. Try one on and you may never take it off. 
  10. Drapey sheath dresses: Anyone that knows me at all knows that pants are generally not my thing. If I could go the rest of my life without wearing them, I would in a heart beat. Simple sheath dresses are super low maintenance and, like everything else that I'm about, require minimum effort. 
    So ideal. 
    Pantsless >
  11. Black: Like my heart, hair and soul, black is easily my favorite color (even though it's not technically a color). Wearing all black can be slimming and makes it super easy to get ready. (Must be the New Yorker in me.) A really stylish Frenchman told me in Paris once that it's never chic to wear more than 3 colors at any given time and that has kind of stuck with me. Sometimes I have panic attacks about wearing more than 3 colors or not wearing any black in a particular outfit. But like, Joan Rivers says (even though I don't always trust her fashion advice), "Black is slimming, but it's not fucking magic." Just keep that in mind. 
  12. Kaftans: Maybe I'm slightly biased, but there's nothing I'd rather be wearing than a kaftan or mumu. Comfortable, easy, low maintenance, generally flattering. 
    This kaftan is by The Row, so I will probably never be able to afford it, but I am absolutely obsessed with it. 
  13. Natural make up/hair: I have always been big on not having big hair or tons of colorful make up splashed across my face, but before it was more out of preference than convenience/ease. I am a sucker for the no-make up make up look and pretty much just let my hair do whatever it wants at this point. If you want to see what I'm using for my hair products, click here. Although, shortly before I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I felt like my face had blown up like a balloon (apparently a symptom), so if I was having a fat face day and felt like I could stand for 10 more minutes, I would occasionally do some contouring. But, I usually just use bronzer, highlighters, some light shade of brown/pink on my eyes, chapstick and mascara. 
    Go-to beauty look

    If I ever had to do real make up with my eyes.

    More no-make up make up. 

    How my hair would naturally dry ideally on a really good day.
    Sans the braids, this is what my hair looks like most days.
    14. It's also probably a good idea to look into some comfortable bras and undies. My pre-pain bras are inconceivably uncomfortable now. Any band that is too tight/not soft just seemed to make my back pain worse and trigger my spasms. AND just putting on a regular bra can sometimes be painful. I also have some very light sports bras and bralettes for around the house, but I need a very supportive and comfortable sports bra. My favorite bra now is one that snaps in the front, making it easy to put on. The fabric is also ridiculously soft. I have the Front-close Unlined Perfect Coverage Bra from Victoria's Secret. I think I seriously have it in 3 colors. For sports bras, I'm a fan of the Incredible by Victoria's Secret Sports Bra

Death to Nasty Gal's impossible bodycon dresses. (The idea of attempting to put this piece of shit on makes me feel like I'd rather throw myself off a bridge.)

The antithesis of everything that I am.

I will continue to update this list if I think of anything else that could be helpful. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I know you posted this long ago, but thank you for this :) I am currently looking for clothes for my boyfriend who lives with chronic pain and needs very comfortable and very loose fitting clothing while still keeping a good and somewhat stylish look. However, I couldn't help continue reading your post and will copy this right off for myself, it looks so stylish and comfy!! :)