female figure in a high fashion pose wearing sunglasses, basketball shoes, sweat pants and a sweatshirt.

The Passing of a Design Icon

You may or may not have heard that Karl Lagerfeld, the Creative Director of Chanel and Fenti, recently passed away. This is a major event in the fashion world as Lagerfeld is a design legend. He was in the luxury brand business for decades and was head of Chanel for at least three of them.

Short disclaimer: This article is not about luxury design but how I’ve re-evaluated my idea of fashion because of my RA.

I have never realIy been into it but I’ve always had a soft spot for Chanel; probably because my mother loved Chanel. She wore Chanel No5 perfume and I now wear Chanel Mademoiselle.

Lagerfeld's influence on my RA journey

I never met Lagerfeld, though it was on my bucket list (seriously!). He was cagey about his personal life, especially his age, and he had a very specific manner. He often said things that went down in infamy and I would take his quotes with a grain of salt. However, there were a couple of them I took to heart.

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The first, "I'm very impeccable and clean before I go to bed. When I was a child, my mother always told me that you could wake up in the middle of the night and be deathly sick, so you always have to be impeccable. I laugh about it now, but I think everyone should go to bed like they have a date at the door."

The second, which makes me giggle each time, "Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants."

I laugh because I am that person. According to KL’s rules, I lost control of my life. One day I had RA and started wearing sweats. I stopped caring about my appearance.

Defining my RA-friendly style

Well, let me rephrase that. I do care about how I look on some level as a beauty influencer but I often opt for easy, accessible clothes like "athleisure wear". Given my RA, zippers, buttons and snaps are especially hard and sometimes even leggings are too tight to maneuver.

When I do one last primp before I leave the house, I check my makeup, I check my hair, then I do a quick glance at my clothes (generally just to make sure they fit). I think, well, my nice t-shirt is too hard to get over my shoulders so I opt for a more loose pullover. I blame my condition but deep down I know its because I’m just not trying. Why though? I’ve perfected “arthritis-friendly” ways to do my makeup and paint my nails. Why can’t I do the same with how I dress?

And, why do I ditch the nicer work attire for sweatshirts and pants the second I enter the house? A few months ago, I binged my favorite FBI homicide show and panicked that if I died people would go through my things and realize I was a disorganized mess. I have a tendency to just shove things into drawers so the tops look nice, you know? Well, what if something happened to me while I was walking my dogs? Or I didn't wake up one morning? Do I want the last thing I wear to be a pair of neon green fleece pants with penguins on it? (Actually...Probably!)

I need to sit down, evaluate my needs (RA style) then look for clothes that fit the bill. I don’t have to settle for button-downs or pants with extensive fastenings, my accessories don't have to be extra fiddly and I don't have to own an array of heels to feel fashionable. There is no reason for me to spend oodles of money doing so, either! As Lagerfeld once said "...Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chicest thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans—it’s up to you.”

And, if I get stuck I can always ask WWKLD? (What would Karl Lagerfeld do?)

How do you stay fashionable with your RA? Let me know in the comments!

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