Lymphie Legs: Compression & Summer Style

The scorching summer heat and oppressive humidity can make the life of a lymphie challenging, but there are a few physique-appropriate choices in light, breathable fabrics that will carry you through the season in lymphie summer style.

I was recently diagnosed with primary bilateral Lymphedema, and had to kick my compression game into overdrive with in the sweltering Arizona summer – sure, it’s a dry heat until monsoons (about now). As far as I can tell, there are two critical factors in looking good at all times: knowing your own style and wearing your look with confidence. Wear something you love and own it!

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Defining your look

Have you defined your style? Do you have a look that works for you? When I was looking for a new job, and would likely be moving from an office environment where cargo pants were acceptable to one where professional attire was expected, I needed to build a proper business wardrobe. A good friend who is extremely fashionable created a board on Pinterest for me where we both added looks that suited my style and that would fit the need. If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest collecting looks you like – whether from magazines or online – and building your wardrobe aspirationally.

Physical challenges

I was born with athletic legs – my Mexican relatives say they’re good for pulling a plow – and large feet, which means I enjoy excellent balance and won’t blow over in a hurricane. You can only imagine how my situation was exacerbated by lymphedema, but I already knew how to dress a meaty lower half. With legs affected by lymphedema, we have some specific physical challenges to work with: wider-than-the-prototype legs (all jeans are skinny jeans) and wide feet. What you must decide is whether you want to show the limbs off or not – there are good options for both.

Tips for dressing lymphie legs

Taking into account the shape of our legs and feet, warmer weather, and wanting to look cute, here are some tactics for building an ensemble:

  1. Distraction: use patterns, large jewelry, embellishments on the unaffected limbs, or show more skin to draw attention away from your compression and/or edema.
  2. Disguise: maybe insurance covers two pairs of compression that you need to wear every day, but you can disguise them and change your look by covering compression with cute socks or donning them under flouncy clothing. Also, clothing and shoes that cover the compression line, will trick the eye.
  3. Rock it: get a standard color of compression to wear under skirts and dresses for a neutral look, but also get a funky pair that you don’t mind showing. 

Lymphie Legs (Compression & Style) - Pura Vida Sometimes

Lymphie summer style options

Compression: taking a cue from Lymphie Strong, I bought some funky tie-dye tights, which are great on weekends off with a band t-shirt or to the gym. I even wear them to the office. People tell me all the time they like my socks. I’ve finally stopped telling them it’s medical compression and just go with the fact that I have a funky aesthetic.

Socks: Xpandasox and fishnet socks, and even fishnet stockings, are a cute and unoppressive thin layer to cover compression (even multilayer bandaging) or change your look. Check out this post on Expandasox on Lymphie Strong.

Shoes: sneakers like Converse and Supergas look cute and are wide enough to fit expanding feet.

Prior to getting diagnosed, I only used barely-there resort sandals – I’d get shoes that were as close as possible to not wearing shoes, so now, the best I can do is open-toe compression and cute sandals. Vionic runs wide and has good options. Many, like the Vionic Karina, are even adjustable width.

Gladiator sandals like these Lace-Ups from Rampage are another great lymphie summer style option because all the horizontal lines trick the eye, and most are expandable.

After my Lymphedema was triggered, I could still fit into my pre-LE cowboy boots, and when I took my boots off, my feet looked close to normal. Since, I’ve found that wearing sneakers and boots is a good way to keep my feet contained. Booties are a great option for summer, because many of them like the Lucky Brand Obelia are open-toe while others come in great breathable materials like these perforated booties, which are pretty on-trend at the moment.

Clothing: Loose, forgiving clothing like maxi dresses are a great option, as are wide-leg pants. In the summer, I love wearing lounge pants like these from Old Navy. And I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I have 3 black wide-leg jumpsuits – they’re comfy like pajamas, but can be dressed up to be very work appropriate.

If you want to show off your legs, check out this fantastic post in Chronically Motivated. I especially loved love idea of a midi dress with sheer detail.

Be the most comfortable by being you

No one can tell you how to dress, or how to feel, or how to adjust to challenges specific to Lymphedema. My experience is probably very different from yours, but I hope these tips and ideas will come in handy. It’s not easy and on the days when my compression rubs me the wrong way or when I get too hot, I can be a real B-word and some days I look a hot mess. I’m not an infallible example and am still figuring it out, but I’ve managed to feel comfortable with myself good about how I look almost every day. I hope you find something that makes you feel great, and makes your LE at least bearable. If you have tips of your own, I’d love to hear in them in the comments box below.

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