Dear Fashion Rescue friend,
My name is Moira Lion, and I am 15 years oId, a sophomore at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View. I have scoliosis and have to wear a back brace. I first learned that I had to wear a brace at the very beginning of my freshman year of high school.
When I first started as a freshman, I did not know anyone. All of the other kids had already known people, but I was completely new. As hard as it was, I managed to make new friends. I met many new people because I played volleyball. Toward the end of the volleyball season, I was hit with the news that I had to wear a brace. I could not believe it. I was just starting to find my place at school, and now I had to worry about wearing an uncomfortable and indiscreet brace. This news completely affected me. I was not playing volleyball very well because the only thing on my mind was how to react to the news: How could this happen to me? What was I going to wear? How will people react to this? I felt like I was on the verge of tears every second of the day.
A huge part of my feelings had to do with clothing. Ever since I was little, I had always been interested in fashion. I have always loved wearing clothes, shopping for clothes, and even designing clothes. Because of this brace, I could not wear certain clothes while keeping the brace hidden. I still could not believe this could happen to me, someone so interested in fashion. Although it was quite a challenge, I was determined to find clothes that would make me look the same as everyone else in school.
I decided not to tell very many people about what I was going through. The few close friends that I did tell did not even go to my high school. I did not want people to treat me differently, whether it be in a good way or bad way. I wanted to convince myself and others that I was as regular as any other high school girl. Eventually, people would find out about my brace because they touched me and I would tell them. I grew to be more open about it and in a particular situation would tell people about it. Many friends that I told already knew someone who had to wear a back brace, too. Some people i had heard of, in this same situation, did tell their friends and were very open about the whole thing, but you will decide yourself what you want to do.
The first day I started wearing my brace to school, no one even noticed. I was wearing a sweatshirt and pants. Luckily, I had all of winter to get used to wearing my brace at school. I was so worried about what I would wear in the spring, though, because the brace traps in body heat. How was I going to hide my brace while staying cool? This pamphlet will give you tips on dressing in hot weather.
Now that I know that I can soon stop wearing my brace, although I prepared myself for a longer amount of time, I feel relieved. Throughout the year that I have had to wear my brace, I was always searching for answers about why this happened. It has constantly been on my mind at all times of the day. Whenever I was talking to friends, family, or even strangers about their personal problems, I would compare my situation to theirs. I have come to the conclusion that everyone has great challenges at sometime in their lives, some much harder than this and others easier. This was mine I have always had such a strong interest in fashion and this situation has made my interest stronger. I have learned how to be more creative with clothes and accessories. My creativity and hope that this would all be done soon gets me through my challenging experience.
Although brace makers and doctors say to wear a seamless, ribbed tank top from the boys or men's underwear section under the brace, I chose something else to wear. I found that ribbed shirts left imprints in my skin which were very uncomfortable. I experimented with material that I had to put on when I was getting measured for the brace, and I cut it into tube tops. That worked well because I did not have to worry about thick straps showing, but it was still uncomfortable because it was ribbed. Then I found the perfect solution. I wear spaghetti strapped, seamless tanks made of nylon/Lycra spandex. It is important to find camisoles that are seamless so they do not make prints in your skin. These seamless camisoles can be found at the online web site for Victoria's Secret at www.victoriassecret.com.
You can also find other brands of camisoles, like my favourite Tammy Mars, made of this same material at yoga stores. Remember you also do not need a huge amount of these under shirts. Just make sure you buy enough so that you have enough time to wash your shirts.
My brace seemed to dig in to my butt which I thought made my brace obvious to notice. I found that pants or shorts with pockets that had flaps on the back were a great way to hide the brace. Also, baggy pants like sweats or gym shorts are good if you feel like being comfortable.
You can also wear pants without pockets and still hide your brace if you wear a long sweatshirt or find a long shirt that covers your butt (see "Shirts" page).
Since I decided to wear jackets, sweatshirts and the other items mentioned on the "Cover up" page, I could wear almost any shirt I wanted underneath the jacket. As long as the shirt would not rise up to show my brace if I raised my arms, I felt secure with any shirt. Wearing a lot of tank tops or tube tops underneath jackets is a good way to keep cool.
I also found that long shirts that go past your butt or short dresses are a good way to be able to wear any pants (not necessarily with pockets). On hot days, these dresses and a jacket can also be worn without pants.
Baggy t-shirts can also be worn alone, without a jacket, if you feel like being more cool and comfortable.
For the same reason I found that pants with back flap pockets were good to hide the brace, I also found that tiered skirts, fuller or pleated skirts are a good way to hide the brace and stay cool in the spring and summer weather. Again, skirts with flap pockets on the back work well, too. Wear a light jacket or sweater (depending on weather) to cover the waistline.
For me to personally feel comfortable while wearing the brace, i needed to wear either a sweatshirt or a (light) jacket at almost all times. Although it gets extremely hot in the summer, I felt more comfortable being hot, than having my brace show through my clothes. Baggy t-shirts do not reveal the straps on the back of the brace, but if you are like me and do not want to wear t-shirts everyday, any zip jackets, blazers, puffer jackets, or sweatshirts can cover it up.
Light button down sweaters left unbuttoned are especially great in the summer. You can obviously roll up the sleeves if it's warm. All of these items can be found at all kinds of stores like department stores, smaller chains, or other stores.
Accessories can be another great way to hide your brace. Tying a scarf around your hips or around your waist to hide the brace's straps are a few examples.
You can also wear belts loosely too. Wearing different accessories can also take focus away from areas where your brace may seem more obvious. Accessories are the best way to get creative with disguising your brace.
All teenage girls and even "tweens" are interested in looking presentable, whether they are obsessive about clothes or just want to look normal. I found that girls like us are put into this kind of situation for various reasons, but we are young women who can handle the challenge and not give up. Wearing this brace has helped me become confident in handling life's challenges and even more passionate about my interest in fashion. You will learn more about yourself too. You will find answers to questions that you never dreamed you would ask yourself. My best advice: be strong, get creative and don't lose hope!
University of Southern California - School of International Relations - Thornton School of Music - Sciences Po '10