Time for Confession

Over the course of the past year, I have had the immense pleasure of becoming friends with a fabulous woman named Christina Wilson. At first glance, Christina seems almost too perfect…pretty, blonde, impossibly thin, impeccably dressed, grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and went to the famous “Fame” school, owns a men’s accessories company (more on that later)…you get the picture. However, we all know what our mothers told us…no one is perfect, and you never know what goes on behind closed doors.

So when I heard that Christina was writing a book about a specific part of her life, I really didn’t give it a thought beyond “very cool…I bet it will be just as fabulous as she is.” And then she called me the night before it came out and said she wanted to tell mewhat it was about before it debuted…

At the age of 32, Christina was finally (after two years of knowing it herself) diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy. Chemotherapy. Radiation. Multiple botched reconstructive surgeries (don’t worry…the “girls” look great now!). An immune system breakdown. A divorce. She also gained a whole new outlook on life, discovered who she really was and what she wanted, and figured out how she was going to take care of herself from then on out.

“Chest Confessions” exposes doctors who (very mistakenly) think they are God, a pharmaceutical system that is downright dangerous, and a fabulous, seemingly “perfect” woman who is, in reality, just as scared and scarred as everyone else…but also smart, brave and a seriously self-reliant fighter.

Recently, I, along with many of our dearest friends, got to celebrate the book’s launch at a lovely, inspiring event at the beautiful Coco-Mat Lexington Avenue boutique in NYC, which is filled with gorgeous bedding, furniture and home accessories. Christina charmed everyone with a reading of excerpts from the book, and signed every copy with heartfelt messages and a grateful smile. (Check out the photos!)

Now, this is a fashion magazine, right? So why am I sharing this with you? Well…number one, it’s important. Point blank. But number two…Christina and I share a love of all things glamorous and ‘70’s-inspired, AND she not only spent a stint as a handbag designer, but currently co-owns Well Suited NYC, a men’s accessory company that brings stunning, pre-folded pocket squares to its customers. (Um, this is brilliant. BRILLIANT. I make my living as a fashion stylist and still often find myself youtube-ing how to fold certain shaped pocket squares. So again…brilliant!)

I sat down with Christina and had her answer  a few key questions for you. Read on to see what she had to say, and then go buy a copy of her book (www.chestconfessions.com). I couldn’t put it down, and read the whole thing in one day…and then wondered where Christina got the jeans in one of the photos…;)

StyleWhipped: As someone who always looks amazing and has obviously always been a fashionista, did your relationship with fashion and clothing change throughout this whole ordeal? Did it help you through it or make you more frustrated?

Christina Wilson: Yes, my relationship with fashion did change. After the first breast surgery, I no longer looked like my original self. It was very difficult for me to get used to & accept putting on different clothes that covered up the “reconstruction in process.” Since I was a child, fashion was one of my favorite things in life. To then feel so limited with what I could wear after breast surgery and “hide” the shape of my chest was so upsetting. It’s one of those things…you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I yearned to have a body back that I could wear and enjoy fashion again. After having a final reconstruction that fixed the original botched surgery, the appreciation and gratitude I felt being able to wear the clothes of my choice again was thrilling. I actually appreciate wearing fashion even more than I probably ever would have.

SW: I always say that fashion and what we wear is our “armor” and allows us to determine how the rest of the world sees us. What advice would you give other women going through breast cancer/treatment about their wardrobe choices?

CW: Wear what makes you feel best or better about yourself. Padded athletic bras under my tops were what saved me and really hid a “work in progress.” And remember it will get better!

SW: You have launched two successful fashion companies (once as a handbag designer and now as the co-creator of Well Suited NYC (a men’s pocket square company). What inspires you as both a designer and female business owner? And why did you choose to journey into menswear?

CW: I am both a creative type and an entrepreneur. I have a lot of experience in business and in product development, so I figured why not be the female business owner I’ve always wanted to be. What really inspired the creation for both my handbags and the men’s pre-folded pocket squares was to design products that I wanted to use myself which I hadn’t seen on the market. My handbags were a modern version of fun disco nighttime clutches that added flair to an outfit. As for Well Suited NYC, there’s nothing like a man dressed well in a jacket with a perfectly folded pocket square. Myself and my friend Amanda Sanders (my co-founder), decided we wanted to help men look their best. It’s a great alternative to a tie since most men are not wearing ties anymore.

SW: I know you are working toward starting a foundation to help other young women with breast cancer diagnoses gain access to better information/advice/sound medical practices. How can our readers help/reach out to you if they want to support this incredible venture?

CW: They can reach me through my website www.chestconfessions.com which is the website for the book. A large portion of the proceeds from the book sales will allow me to facilitate a mentoring program for women to receive very detailed information about breast cancer treatment and breast surgery. I hope to prevent what happened to me from happening to other women. XO

~ Alison.

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