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Bone Loss and Posture: 6 Tips to Look Your Best

Frustrated with the way clothes look on you lately? Try these fashion tips for a better fit and feel.
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Everything changes with time -- and that's certainly true if you have bone loss from osteoporosis. Little compression fractures can affect the way you sit, stand, walk -- and look. You may be a bit shorter now, your posture a little different.

"These changes alter how a woman's clothes fit," says Susan Randall, RN, senior director of education for the National Osteoporosis Foundation. "Clothes don't seem to drape as they should. The length of a dress doesn't seem right -- it's down in front, pulling up in back, or the hem doesn't seem even."

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So you tug here, tug there, then give up in frustration. "What's more -- it's difficult to find new clothes that fit any better," Randall tells WebMD. "The worst part is, you end up staying home when you'd rather be out having fun."

So Randall offers these tips to women about finding clothes that hide problem areas. "We want people to feel good about how they look. Then they can participate fully in life... get the most joy out of life," she says.

Fashion Tips to Disguise Posture, Bone Loss Problems

When you shop for new clothing, don't hesitate to utilize a personal shopper, Randall advises.

"Many department stores have personal shoppers today," she tells WebMD. "There is greater awareness among fashion industry and retail stores of special needs that women have. They can help you find clothing and accessories that help solve your problems."

Another option: Find a good seamstress to tailor clothing to your body -- or go to a dressmaker, and have clothing made just for you, she suggests.

Ready to forge ahead for fashion? Here are a few tips:

Select the right silhouette. It's best to wear clothing that is loose fitting, straight-lined, or slightly fitted -- nothing too closely-cut. Dress shapes that work best: A-line, tent, empire waist, dropped waist, princess (with vertical lines), tunics.

Find necklines that flatter. Jeweled, rounded, slight V, soft cowl necklines work best.

Revisit shoulder pads. "Judicious use of shoulder pads can help jackets, shirts, and dresses fit better," says Randall. Fabric stores sell shoulder pads in several sizes.

Look for softly styled sleeves. Raglan, dropped or dolman sleeves adapt easily to any shape.

Accessorize, accessorize. "Jewelry pulls the eye away from the problem area," she says.

Work magic with scarves. Scarves draw attention to the face and eyes, while they gently drape over your back. There is great variety among scarves -- shapes, sizes, fabrics, colors. Shawls or capes are also good options. By learning a few tricks in folding, twisting, and tying scarves, you'll add lots of style to any outfit.

Loosen up. Finally, an excuse for comfort! Buy pants with elasticized waistbands.

Get realistic about shoes. Invest in flat or low-heeled shoes -- the slip-on type with rubber soles. You'll be less likely to fall.

Got a shoulder bag? Switch to a backpack. Those heavy shoulder bags can throw you off balance, advises Randall. "A backpack helps distribute weight more evenly." And shop around; there are many sleek backpack styles to choose from.

Invest in great undergarments. The right bra -- typically a long-line bra -- can help provide support and increase comfort. You may need a personal fitting to find the undergarments that work best for you.

A long-line shaper (aka girdle) helps support the stomach. Some women need spinal supports like corsets or braces prescribed by their doctor. "When you're shopping, be sure to wear those spinal supports when trying on clothing -- to make sure the garment will fit over the support," advises Randall.

Reviewed on April 27, 2009
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Osteoporosis Glossary

  • Bone Mineral Density - A measurement of the amount of calcium and minerals in bone tissue.
  • Calcium - A mineral in (and vital to) your bones. If your body lacks calcium, it takes it from bones.
  • DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) - a test used to measure bone mineral density.
  • Osteoporosis - A decrease in bone density, which increase the risk of fractures.
  • Vitamin D - A vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium.
  • View All Terms

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