RA Doesn’t Have to Cramp Your Style

Don’t let rheumatoid arthritis zap your self-esteem. This advice will help.

Beth Shapouri
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When you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), looking and feeling your best can be a challenge. From swollen joints to weight gain and “moon face” (thanks, prednisone!), the changes to your looks can be discouraging. But you don’t have to let RA undercut your confidence. Use these expert style tips to face the world feeling your best!

If your confidence is getting zapped by...

Red, swollen joints in your hands and feet
When buying shoes, think fabric and form. Breathable fabrics like canvas and soft ones like fine leather make you look fashionable and feel comfortable, says Jacqui Stafford, style expert and author of The Wow! Factor. When it comes to form, you already know to avoid pointy toes, but you should also shun ankle straps. “They can tighten around the ankle and make legs look shorter!” says Stafford.
Give your jewelry some stretch! “Fiddling with jewelry clasps is annoying for just about everyone, so I’m a big fan of layering a few stretchy, elastic bracelets that you can pull easily over your wrists,” says Stafford. Another simple trick? Instead of a necklace, loosely wrap a long, slender, brightly printed scarf around your neck.
Tame redness with tinted moisturizer. You might think these products are only for your face, but West Hollywood-based hairstylist and beauty expert Billy Lowe says you can use them on red hands, too. “They last a long time and don’t look like you’re wearing a ton of coverage.” Translation: They’re the perfect solution for hiding redness.

“Moon face” and weight gain
Go for the bronze. “A little bronzer underneath the chin can help minimize the appearance of puffiness,” says Lowe. Just dust this sun-kissed powder along your jawline to create the illusion of a shadow. Another tip: Wear darker eye makeup and a natural lip color, which draws attention to your eyes and away from swollen contours.
Wear this neckline. A V-neck downplays puffiness because it adds length to your face and neck, explains Stafford. Avoid turtlenecks or anything with a high, closed collar, which emphasizes a round face.
Opt for this sleeve. The most flattering length for everyone is one that hits just below the elbow, Stafford says. “This elongates the arm, shows off your slender forearm and camouflages any unwanted upper-arm flab.” So look for ¾-length sleeves or try rolling your long sleeves up a couple of turns.

Unruly or thinning hair
Go for wash-and-wear! “My grandmother had severe arthritis,” says
Lowe, “so she resorted to a wash-and-wear hairstyle.” His advice: When you go to the salon, wear your hair in its natural state (meaning no styling products or blowouts ahead of time!). Then ask for a brush-and-go style based on your hair’s natural texture.
Jump on this fashion trend. If medication side effects are causing hair loss, Stafford suggests trying this stylish accessory: a fedora. “Go for one in a neutral shade, like tan, cream or black.” Not that adventurous? Try sideswept bangs and angled layers to create volume and movement, or experiment with clip-in hairpieces.  

April 2013