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Style File

Fitting Fixes for Women With Spinal Disorders

March 18, 1994

Spinal disorders such as osteoporosis and scoliosis create image as well as health concerns. To help address appearance concerns, the staff of the Fullerton Internal Medicine Center presented a fashion show at the Brea Embassy Suites on Monday.

Modeling summer outfits from The Broadway were women who have osteoporosis or scoliosis. Their male escorts were members of the California Highway Patrol.

The two spinal conditions often change body shape in ways that can make it more difficult to choose clothing that fits well. Fractures, a result of osteoporosis, curve the spine, reduce height and distort posture. Ribs sink into the pelvis; the stomach protrudes, and the head is drawn forward. Experiencing similar body changes are adults with scoliosis, who may have rounded shoulders, a prominent shoulder blade and one hip higher than the other.

These physical changes can make clothes ride up the back, fit poorly at the neck and shorten the look of the waist. However, certain styles, fabrics and alterations can help minimize these problems.

Experts at "Fashionable Fixes for Osteoporosis" said long, lean lines appear to straighten curves and give a sense of height. And flowing fabrics (wool, silk, crepe, rayon) don't cling to the body.

Other designer solutions:

* Neckline: Wear a high collar that hugs the neck, such as a mock turtleneck. The classic crew neckline works if two well-placed darts close any gaping material in the back.

* Protruding stomach: Straight, loose dresses with drop waists conceal the stomach. Blouses and jackets should not be fitted and should be long enough to cover hips. Double-breasted styles flatten the roundness and loose, unconstructed styles conceal imperfections. Pleated skirts and pants expand comfortably around the stomach.

* Spine: Wear something that draws the eye away from the curve. Pleats above the waist make a person look taller. Darts above the shoulder blades close the neck and open the back to accommodate a curve. A dress with a short attached cape or a waist-length cape with a plain, crew-necked dress is elegant night or day.

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