Christmas is upon us, with all its madness, fun, glitz and glamour. The magazines are filled with suggestions of backless, strapless party wear – the ubiquitous LBD that ensures we will all sparkle during the holiday period. Historically, this was the time of year that I used to become bad-tempered! Why? Because I have psoriasis and that will always dictate what I can, and more to the point, what I cannot wear every single day. And sadly, this means that a backless, strapless LBD cannot be part of my wardrobe.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder which causes skin cells to reproduce at a faster rate than is normal; instead of the usual 28 days, they reproduce every three. The result is a build-up of flakes on skin that becomes sore, inflamed, itchy and red. Because psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body, it typically affects the scalp as well, resulting in a severe dandruff effect as flakes fall onto the shoulders.
As this disease is so visible (and so unsightly!) in its manifestation, the psychological effects can be devastating for sufferers, who become embarrassed by how they look and humiliated by the disparaging comments of others.
Psoriasis is a genetic condition that is not contagious but lack of awareness amongst the general public still remains an issue. The good news for sufferers is that treatment options are improving at an encouraging rate and even though psoriasis is not a curable disease, there is every reason to be optimistic about living a normal life despite it.
However, clever dressing is needed to ensure that it is you, and not your disease, that people notice. It may seem that the odds are stacked against us, but bear with me! I have learned all the tricks that you need to know to ensure that your skin is concealed and that you will be fabulous for this festive season.
First up, I’m afraid the sad news is that black is no longer your friend. As seasonal as a snow flake may be, a white dusting on your shoulders is not the look that you want. Instead, it’s time to embrace taupe, grey and winter whites as your new black. Just as seasonal and in a sea of LBDs you will stand out for all the right reasons. Add some opaques and killer heels and you are good to go!
There are also plenty of options for those who need a full leg coverage. Pair some black cigarette pants with a high stiletto and opaques for an elegant look. If you prefer an edgier style, why not try some faux leather skinnies or black coated jeans which will work with all types of footwear from a platform boot to a ballet flat? As an added bonus, these are often lined with a soft, almost fleecy fabric which is incredibly gentle on skin – comfort and style in one fell swoop! Finally add a white tuxedo jacket. A timeless classic, this is a piece that you will have in your wardrobe for years, ensuring that you are always the epitome of style.
But I promised you sparkle and sparkle you shall have! The happy news is that flakes do not settle on sequins. Instead, they just glide away leaving your shoulders free from any tell tale signs of your disease. What are you waiting for? Bring on the bling! As a firm believer that sequins are for life and not just for Christmas, I adore some sparkle for an evening look. Wear with the aforementioned cigarette pants and silk vest for a formal occasion or team with some boyfriend jeans and a white tee for a casual evening with the girls.
So now it’s time to turn your attention to the skin. Slather on some emulsifying ointment before taking a shower to seal the skin and reduce the possibility of flaking for a few extra hours. Layer on a moisturiser or body oil. A great French Manicure or a slick of dark nail polish will distract attention from your psoriasis on your hands whilst if the décolletage area is one of concern, try a simple round neck top with the addition of a jewelled collar. Armed with these aforementioned style tricks, a little imagination and an injection of positivity, you will find that you too can be fabulous on even your flakiest days.
Enjoy the festivities.