High heels have made Susan Juarez's feet ache to their soles, and she even sprained her ankle once while dancing in stiletto boots. But soaring, slimming heels remain the 24-year-old Californian's favorite fashion vice. "I like that they make me taller, and they just look a lot sleeker," she says.
Like Juarez, legions of women have suffered in the name of painful fashion. How many of us have endured strappy sandals that cut into our feet, oversize designer bags that hurt our shoulders, too-tight...
Dressing stylishly -- but sensibly -- is easier this summer than ever before. For starters, it makes sense to choose clothing with a tight weave or knit, which deliver a higher SPF. Here's how to tell: Hold the material up to a window or lamp and see how much light gets through. Darker clothes also generally have a higher SPF.
Remember that your average light-colored cotton shirts provide an SPF of only about 4 -- and they're practically useless once they get wet. All garments lose about a third of their sun-protective ability when drenched with moisture.
To make your summer clothing as protective as possible, Audrey Kunin, MD, a dermatologist in Kansas City, Mo., suggests throwing a packet of RIT sun guard in with your laundry to increase UV protection in clothing. "This way you can wash SPF 30 into all your washable clothing," she says.
But that's not all. Smart clothing that has UV protection already built in is now readily available. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation based in New York City, such clothing contains colorless compounds, fluorescent brighteners, or specially treated resins that absorb UV rays. As a result, the clothing often provides an SPF of 30 or higher.
And there may be more in the way of functional clothing this summer. You may have read about "magical" anti-cellulite clothing including pantyhose, shorts, pants and shoes that will get rid of cottage-cheese buttocks and thighs for good.
But buyer beware. "This is sort of the emperor wearing no clothes except in this variation, the emperor is wearing cellulite panties," says Bruce E. Katz, MD, medical director of the JUVA Skin and Laser Center in New York City. "It just doesn't do anything. You can't see any difference. But if you want to wear them, go right ahead.
"Basically these clothing items contain creams and by wearing the pants, you build up heat, which may increase penetration of the creams. The shoes were originally designed as orthopaedic shoes and are meant to re-create the natural gait of folks who walk barefoot for distances on uneven surface. As such, they have a curved sole that forces you to use muscles you probably didn't know you had. Bottom line: "caveat emptor," Katz says.