Last updated: Dec 13, 2011
tim-gunn
Nearly 7 million Americans suffer from psoriasis, a chronic disease of the immune system that causes the skin cells to grow at an accelerated rate. But it's not only a physical condition. It can cause feelings of self-consciousness and also inhibit clothing choices. Fashion guru and Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn knows all too well how psoriasis can affect personal style. His sister was diagnosed with plaque psoriasis in her 30s and struggled to find flattering clothes to wear.


"The first and most important step for any individual who has psoriasis is to seek treatment from a dermatologist," Gunn says. "It's the first step in managing the symptoms, achieving fashion fabulousness, and navigating the world with exceptional confidence and joy." Here are his top six tips for looking your best with psoriasis.

1. Realize the importance of undergarments
"They should be cotton or silk and feel good against your body. Undergarments serve as a frequently necessary barrier between the surface of your skin and your apparel. Undergarments are especially useful when lotions or ointments are being applied to the skin, because they prevent your apparel from stains. Furthermore, they can wick moisture away from your skin."

2. Don't be afraid to show off your legs
"Women with psoriasis are frequently inclined to wear pants rather than skirts. I suggest that you consider skirts with opaque tights as a feminine and fashionable option to pants."

3. Skin-tight is a fashion faux-pas
"Women should consider loose-fitting items that dont hug the body or constrain movement. Provided that the psoriasis in not in or around the waist, the items can be belted to give them—and you!—some shape. This is more difficult for men who must wear suits. For them I repeat the virtues of undergarments."

4. Lighten up
"Consider wearing light colors and patterns to mitigate the skins flaking, one of the problematic side effects of psoriasis. Choose lighter-weight fabrics that breathe, such as cottons and silks, which are generally more comfortable. Any heavier-weight fabric, like wool, will be uncomfortable, by definition of the pressure it puts on your skin. Linen can be uncomfortable, too, because of its uneven, slightly stubbly surface."

5. Build an outfit layer by layer
"Layering is beneficial to all of us, because it allows us to respond to fluctuations in temperatures—our environments and our own. Overheating can be very uncomfortable for individuals with psoriasis. And remember the benefits of undergarments for wicking moisture away from your skin."

6. Leave the headbands at home
"Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, including the head and scalp. Patients may think that these accessories will hide flare-ups, but if the psoriasis has not been effectively treated, then the hat or headband may exacerbate the pain."