Looking fashionable isn’t easy. Staying on top of trends, finding clothes that flatter and of course, the sheer cost of keeping up with trends all pose challenges. But besides the literal price of clothing and accessories, does looking good come at a cost to your health?
We turned to stylish Toronto chiropractor and Pilates instructor Dr. Blessyl Buan for her advice on how to avoid hurting yourself in the name of fashion.
1. The problem: Living in high heels
Dr. Blessyl admits to loving and even wearing high heels. However she admits, “They don’t call them ‘killer heels’ for nothing.” According to Dr. Blessyl regularly wearing high heels for many years (or a lifetime) can cause chronic pain and permanent damage to your joints. “High heels force your weight forward, hyperextend your knees and cause your lower back to arch more than it naturally should, causing increased pressure on your midfoot, knees, hips and low back.
The solution: Try wearing flats or lower heels more often or, if you just can’t give up your heels, commit to only wearing your heels when you arrive at your destination and change into sneakers or loafers when walking from place to place. And take those heels off when you’re sitting at your desk.
Sometimes flats can be just as sexy as heels! Try these leopard-print beauties on for size: Michael Kors Kiera Leopard Print Calf Hair Ballet Flats, $145, net-a-porter.com.
2. The problem: Carrying a big, heavy bag
“This can affect your body in a number of ways,” says Dr. Blessyl. “Shoulder bags now triple as gym, laptop and work bag. The uneven weight can throw out your postural alignment causing rib joint dysfunction, chronic neck pain and headaches, mid-back and low-back pain.”
The solution: Dr. Blessyl suggests cleaning out your purse and carrying only what you need. You can also divide items into two separate bags that you carry for separate needs. One for the gym, one for work. That way, you can at least leave your gym bag at your desk when you go for lunch and leave your work bag (but take your wallet) when you go to work out. And always alternate shoulders so each side gets a rest once in a while.
Try a slightly smaller bag with multiple straps and ways to carry like this Roots Lauren Bag in Prince Leather, $318, roots.com.
3. The problem: Heavy earrings
Heavy earrings, says Dr. Blessyl, pull on the lobes of the ears, elongating the opening of the piercing. “Also, the weight of the earrings can worsen a forward held head relative to the neck and shoulders. This is called ‘anterior head carriage.’ This compromised posture predisposes you for chronic neck pain and headaches.
The solution: “Opt for earrings made of lighter material or limit the use of heavy earrings for special occasions,” says Dr. Blessyl.
Try lightweight filigree earrings like these pretty dangling leaves: Leaf Shape Earrings, $6.95, hm.com.
4. The problem: Poorly fitting bras
“Wearing bras that are too tight constrict the rib cage from expanding fully,” says Dr. Blessyl. “As a result, the diaphragm can’t descend to its full range so that the lower lobes of the lungs can be filled with air. This causes you to breathe shallower creating chronic neck and shoulder tension, mid back pain, and headaches.”
The solution: “Always make sure you are properly fitted for bras,” says Dr. Blessyl. Try a comfortable wire-free bra with stretch like this Wonderbra Wire-free T-shirt bra, $25.97, sears.ca.
5. The problem: Wearing flip flops all summer long
“These sandals do not give the foot the required support under the arch or around the heel for long walks, says Dr. Blessyl and she lists the numerous consequences of making flimsy sandals your daily shoe: low-back pain, plantar fasciitis (pain in the heels), tight calf muscles, dropped metatarsals (causing pain in the ball of the foot), shin splints, blisters and knee pain.
“Limit flip flop use for the beach and the pool or to and from yoga class. Wear more supportive shoes for longer walks,” she says.
Try more supportive sandals like birkenstocks instead: Birkenstock Papillio Florida in Mini Points Black, $119.99, getoutsidesoes.com.
6. The problem: Wearing too many heavy bracelets
Dubbed the “arm party,” wearing piles of bangles and bracelets is trendy, but Dr. Blessyl warns this can cause pain and health problems, too. “Heavy bangles made of wood, metal or plastic can compromise the alignment of your wrist and can irritate the radial nerve as the bangle bangs against the base of your thumb,” she says.
The solution: If you have heavy bangles, try wearing one or two and pushing them up your forearm for some arm candy instead. Or, try light fabric or twine bracelets instead like this Forever 21 Favorite Beaded Cord Bracelet, $3.80, canada.forever21.com.
7. The problem: Wearing tight and uncomfortable clothes
Looking good doesn’t have to mean feeling uncomfortable, and forcing yourself into clothes you don’t enjoy wearing can be harmful to your health. “Your body will compensate in order to pull off an ill fitting outfit,” says Dr. Blessyl. “For example, if you cram your feet in shoes that are too small or too big, your gait will alter and you can develop foot, ankle, knee and back problems. If a shirt or high-waisted skirt is too tight, this alters your breathing similar to the effects of a tight bra. If you feel awkward, your energy will be picked up by others,” she says, advising that you’re better to start out with a flattering AND comfortable outfit. You’ll look and feel much more stylish.
The solution: Opt for clothes with stretch in soft fabrics. Try a knit skirt that looks refined without confining your body and movement like this Gap Stripe Knit Pencil Skirt, $54.95, gapcanada.com.