Real Life Style Tips for Post Mastectomy Dressing — Inside Out Style


Post-mastectomy dressing can be tricky as women’s clothing is made to fit a curvier body shape.  One of my fabulous 7 Steps to Style readers, Kelly, who has had a double mastectomy offered to share her tips on what she’s found has helped her style and the garments she’s found most flattering when you have a flat chest.  She’s sharing her experience and tips and a series of photos to help other women who also have experienced this.

Jean Jackets

The length can be regular or shorter depending on other body type characteristics. For me, as a shorter A/X shape, shorter lengths work especially well with dresses.

Denim jackets for post-mastectomy dressing

Style Tip from Imogen: Denim jackets have enough structure to fall over the body and the pockets at the bust line are a great distraction and provide the illusion of curves.  A busy pattern that is made up of curves (rather than stripes) also provides a great distraction from a flat chest.

Waterfall cardigans

Make sure the volume is across the chest and not too low on the body. This isn’t so easy to find, that’s why I can only show one example.

waterhfall cardigans for post mastectomy dressing

Style Tip from Imogen:  The extra volume of fabric in a waterfall cardigan  is the key to this working on a flat chest.

Voluminous scarfs

This works especially well for spring/summer, as in autumn/winter you will have to wear a second scarf outside and doubling up on scarfs may be too bulky!

Voluminous scarves for post-mastectomy dressing

Style Tip from Imogen:  Think about the fabric you choose, cotton is great for adding extra volume, and a wider scarf will also add more volume than a slim scarf.  Try different scarf knots and ways of tying them to add variety and wear different shapes and sizes of scarves.  Large squares folded in half and then tied behind your neck is another option that would work well on a flat chest.  

Bulky knits with texture

It doesn’t change the flat shape of the chest, but it does add some volume to the upper body overall. Buy one size larger than usual. This ‘rule’ goes for many of the tops, sweaters and cardigans I buy.

Chunky knits for post mastectomy dressing


Style Tip from Imogen:  Chunky and textured fabrics add additional curves to your body plus the patterns in a cable knit like Kelly is wearing add detail and interest to the outfit.

Blouses and dresses with pintucks or pleats

For summer, thin cotton or linen fabrics work best because they are stiff and add volume, while at the same time keeping me cool. Fluid fabrics fall flat over the chest without adding much volume (as in the second photo), but can be pretty anyway!Pleats, pintucks and gathering for post mastectomy dressing

An advantage when wearing pretty summer tops and dresses is that you don’t have to wear a bra if you find the right amount of coverage that you feel comfortable with. A downside of wearing a bra with a flat chest after a double mastectomy is that it rides up all the time. This can be uncomfortable and impractical. If you want to wear ‘foobs’ (fake boobs) anyway, a personal tip from me is to put some lightweight ones (knitted knockers for example) in a bustier or sports bra and buy them one or two sizes bigger. Then the bra will move up and down as you raise and lower your arms. You then don’t have to pull the bra down each time.

gathered necklines for post mastectomy dressing

Style Tip from Imogen: Gathered fabric adds volume as the gathers pull additional fabric over the area which is great for giving the illusion of curves.

Cotton sweatshirts with textured print

Prints with a texture are a bonus! Without texture, prints work well as a distraction, but they don’t add any volume to the chest. In this photo I’m combining some wide pants with a wide sweatshirt, but I find wider tops work better with slim bottoms. You’ll adjust your silhouette as you learn about your new body shape. In the meantime, you can still make your old clothes work for you using several of these tips.

Sweatshirts with print for post mastectomy dressing


Style tip from Imogen: Graphic printed tees and sweatshirts are great at providing a distraction from a flat chest as the designs create curves and distraction.

Sleeveless vests and bodywarmers

My favourite tip for a flat chest! You can add volume right where you need it the most. You can choose a bulky or stiff fabric for the vest while keeping the fabrics of the rest of the outfit smooth and fluid if that suits your body shape.

Sleeveless vests, fur and quilting for post mastectomy dressingStyle tip from Imogen:  Fur and faux fur are great for adding volume as they are highly textured and have lot of natural body.

bust pockets for post mastectomy dressing

Knots or bows at chest height

Right at chest height as with the deep purple dress on the right works best, but a knot just below chest height may work well too.

Front ties and bows for post mastectomy dressing

It’s a bonus if a knot is combined with chest pockets, a distracting print and a necklace!


Tie front and bust pockets for post mastectomy dressing

Style Tip from Imogen: Providing distraction for the eye to focus on is a great way of taking attention away from a lack of bust.  Knots, details, pockets and bows are all great distractors!

Necklaces that end at chest level

Anything that helps add some interest and detail to the chest area, helps. After my surgery, I initially wore bulky necklaces out of wood, for example, as in the right photo. I eventually let these necklaces go because they’re in the way when hugging people and I’m a very huggable person!

Long necklaces for post mastectomy dressing

Style tip from Imogen:  Long necklaces work best on small busts and flat chests as they don’t bounce over the bust and flap.  There are so many different styles to choose from so that you can reflect your personality with your jewellery choices.  

Chest pockets

Chest pockets on a blouse or jacket do a great job hiding a flat chest, in case you feel insecure about it or if you’d like to balance out your body shape. You can use a blouse as a cover-up (topper) in summer if it’s not too hot.

Chest pockets for post mastectomy dressing

Style Tip from Imogen:  Pockets on the bust draw horizontal lines across the bust making the area appear visually larger, which is why they are terrible for large busts and fabulous for small bust and flat chests.  Particularly when the pocket also has a pocket flap this provides the additional element and fabric that provides even more illusion of curves.

Grow your hair and Go Double Breasted!

Use your hair to cover up the area, it works because people will only see your cute ponytails or braids and they will add volume to your chest as well if your hair is long enough (which mine isn’t yet, but I’m patient…). A double-breasted coat with large lapels works well with a flat chest, as do bulky wool scarfs underneath. There’s plenty of room to tuck it in now!Longer hair for post mastectomy dressing

Style Tip from Imogen:  Long hair has long been used in art to discreetly hide a bosom, and it took can be used to disguise a flat chest.  Double-breasted coats and jackets add extra fabric across your torso which is why they work so well for the flat-chested.

8 Tips on What To Wear When You Have a Flat Chest

Real Life Style Tips for Post Mastectomy Dressing


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