Young patients to learn ways of dressing to lift their spirits


Dressing in one-size-fits-all, cozy knit clothing is a good idea for people whose are undergoing cancer therapy, treatment for eating disorders, and other diseases. The trouble is knowing where to look for it when you don't feel well enough to shop.

To bring fashion advice to the ill, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Units, the boutique that specializes in one-size knit dressing, are combining forces to hold a fashion show for Hopkins patients March 19.

Geared toward teen-agers, the private fashion event is part of a national public awareness campaign, Children and Hospitals Week, focusing on the special needs of children undergoing medical care.

Debbie Bangledorf, a spokeswoman at the hospital, says that it is hard for teen-agers to keep their self-image when they suffer a disease that causes them to lose hair and change their weight. She took a list of common figure and beauty dilemmas to the show's coordinator, Robin Finch, manager of Units in White Marsh. Finch will match clothes to the models, actual patients and hospital staff.

"The best thing about our clothes is one size fits most. It's nice because it all has elastic waists; with fluctuations in weight, our clothes will expand or contract," says Finch. People wearing size four to 18 should fit into Units' petite, free size and tall categories. The clothing is made from wrinkle-resistant cotton and polyester knits, which make a soft, stretchable alternative to the sweat clothes worn by many patients.

"The whole idea of fashion is it makes you feel good. Colors can make you cheerful," says Finch, who will says a group of psychedelic, '60s-inspired leggings, scarves and tunics she says will brighten the complexions--and outlooks--of people who wear them.

Seaming and pattern in garments are also important ways to disguise weight loss or gain. Horizontal lines on a sweater make a thin body appear larger, as does layering a blazers over atop, or using a belt over a full skirt. To look slimmer, as a patient with water retention might like, choose V-necks and vertical lines, and wear long tunics over leggings in the same color for a stream-lined look.

Loss of hair is a problem that can be camouflaged with a silk scarf or a big hair band. Baldness does not have to masked with wigs anymore.

"Even if you are losing your hair, you can be beautiful," says Kinch, who cites singer Sinead O'Connor as an example of someone who has intentionally shaved her head for a bald effect.

For additional information, call 955-4948.

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