Feel-Good Clothes, Wigs, Scarves for Breast Cancer Comfort

Feel-Good Clothes, Wigs, Scarves for Breast Cancer Comfort

Expert Tips for Navigating Appearance Changes during Breast Cancer Treatment

woman looking through clothes

Breast cancer treatment can bring about significant changes in how you look and feel. From adjusting your wardrobe to dealing with hair loss due to chemotherapy, it’s important to remember that you are still in control of how you present yourself. Dr. Maryam Lustberg, director of The Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital, emphasizes that while finding clothes that fit and make you feel good is important, it’s equally crucial to acknowledge the emotional and spiritual aspects of the process.

Dressing for Success: Tips on Clothes, Bras, and Headwear

A Wardrobe Tailored to You

When it comes to finding the right clothes during breast cancer treatment, there are several options to explore. Reach out to others who have gone through similar experiences through social media platforms or organizations like Breastcancer.org and the American Cancer Society. Their insights and suggestions can be invaluable. Additionally, consulting with a tailor, especially one with experience in cancer-focused clothing, can provide both measurements and valuable advice on how to dress your body as it is now, accommodating potential changes in size due to treatment.

Comfortable Clothing Is Key

Take into consideration any sensitivity you might have following extensive breast surgery, such as a mastectomy or reconstruction. Opt for soft, cozy garments that are easy to put on and take off. If you have a port, consider wearing a V-neck shirt or something with buttons or a front zipper for easy access. Choosing short sleeves is a good idea if you receive chemotherapy through a vein in your arm. Dressing in layers can help regulate body temperature, as treatment might leave you feeling hot or cold unexpectedly.

Create Your Power Wardrobe

Wearing clothes that make you feel put together can go a long way in boosting your confidence. Dr. Marissa Weiss, founder and chief medical officer for Breastcancer.org, suggests assembling a power wardrobe as a way to enhance your self-image.

As you navigate dressing during this time, it’s also essential to avoid wearing tight clothing that may cause physical discomfort. Opt for gently-fitted garments that allow for privacy and camouflage surgical drains or other asymmetries you may prefer not to reveal. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed, as fatigue can be a significant aspect of cancer treatment. Delegate tasks like taking clothes to the dry cleaners to conserve your energy and focus on activities you enjoy.

Finding the Right Bra

The choice of bra during breast cancer treatment depends on your specific treatment regimen. Some people can do without extra support for a period, but it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare team for guidance. In some cases, you might need to wear a surgical bra. These medical-grade bras tend to be softer and free of underwire, often featuring a front zipper for convenient access, especially if drains need attention.

When transitioning back to personal bras, prioritize comfort. Dr. Lustberg recommends opting for seamless bras, both on the inside and outside, particularly during radiation treatment. Avoid underwire bras, lacy bras, and those with elastic bands that have zig-zag stitches to protect your skin.

Handling Hair Loss: To Wig or Not to Wig


Hair loss is a significant concern for many individuals undergoing chemotherapy. It is important to remember that handling hair loss is a personal choice. If you decide to use a wig as a way to preserve your sense of self and maintain privacy, there are a few options to consider.

You can purchase a wig directly or ask your doctor to prescribe a “cranial prosthesis,” which is a wig covered by health insurance. Human hair wigs appear more natural but require additional care and can become dull over time. Synthetic wigs usually cost less and require less maintenance. Additionally, consulting a hair stylist or visiting a cancer boutique allows you to customize your wig to fit your desired look naturally.

Some individuals choose not to wear a wig and are comfortable showing any hair loss. It is essential to decide what option makes you feel most confident and secure. Speak to your health insurance provider to determine coverage for wigs and explore local or national organizations that offer assistance in obtaining free headwear.

Exploring Other Head Coverings

woman with headwrap

Without hair or a wig, you might find your head feeling chillier than usual. Consider using a cap or scarf as a head covering. While companies offer specialized chemo headwear, exploring everyday options is also a possibility. Look for soft and secure coverings made from materials like 100% cotton, rayon, silk, bamboo, fleece, or chenille for different seasons.

Options for head coverings include skull caps for wearing under wigs, sleep caps, form-fitting caps or beanies, hats for various weather conditions, and pre-tied or slip-on head scarves. Don’t worry if wrapping a scarf seems challenging at first; with practice, you’ll become more comfortable. Programs like Look Good Feel Better offer beauty tips for individuals undergoing cancer treatment and provide online resources and videos demonstrating various scarf styles.

TLC for Your Scalp and Skin

It’s crucial to care for your scalp and protect your skin during breast cancer treatment. Radiation and chemotherapy can increase sensitivity to the sun. Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher, wear a hat with a 5-inch brim, and keep areas treated with radiation away from direct sunlight. Invest in oversized button-down shirts to cover your arms and chest during outdoor activities and sit under an umbrella when spending time at the pool, beach, or dining outdoors.

Hair loss can lead to a tender and painful scalp. Take extra care by using baby shampoo, patting your hair dry, avoiding blow-drying, and using a soft-bristled baby brush.

Eyelashes and Eyebrows: Nurturing Their Regrowth

fake eyelashes

Eyelashes can take several months to grow back after chemotherapy and may not return exactly as they were before. Some individuals use lash boosters or artificial lashes. Hair loss from chemotherapy can also affect eyebrows. Consider getting eyebrow microblading, a type of permanent makeup, before treatment to maintain their outline. Consult your healthcare team for recommendations on local makeup counters and online beauty tutorials.

Seek Support for Your Well-being

Cancer treatment can be emotionally challenging, extending beyond physical changes. Communicate with your support system, expressing how you feel. You can also request your doctor to refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in cancer care. One-on-one support with a dedicated counselor can prove invaluable.

Additionally, consider reaching out to breast cancer support groups. Interacting with individuals who have experienced similar situations can provide perspective and support. Organizations like the American Cancer Society can guide you towards local and national resources that provide free headwear and additional assistance.

Remember, you are in control of how you navigate the changes brought about by breast cancer treatment. By understanding your options, seeking support, and embracing your unique journey, you can face these challenges with grace and resilience.