When You Have Photosensitivity But Still Want to Be Fashionable


I’m 22 years old. I work in advertising. I wear bright lipstick and high heels.

And I cannot – for the life of me – find sun-protective clothing that fits into my world.

I’ve struggled for years with the current selection of sun-protective clothes. Most don’t cover all of your skin (why are there so many short-sleeved shirts and knee-length dresses)? Most don’t come in my size (it’s shocking how few brands acknowledge people below a size two or four). And almost all look “medical-type” clothing. In other words, it looks like you’d wear it because you had to — not because you wanted to.

I go to a heck of a lot of trouble to keep my illness invisible. I’m vibrant and active and I don’t want my solar urticaria to define me or attract attention. I can’t change the color of my skin. I can’t stop wearing my medical IDs. I can’t go out in the sun. I’d greatly appreciate it if the sun-protective clothing industry got on the bandwagon and understood that I don’t want to advertise my condition in my clothing any more than necessary.

But I need solutions now, so I’ve gotten creative.

The modest fashion scene is growing — rapidly — and that’s one place I feel very comfortable and at home. Long-sleeved and opaque maxi dresses are easy to find, well-designed and attractive. They pair nicely with my headscarves, since many are specifically designed to do so. Oftentimes the fabric is specifically engineered to keep you cool in the hot climates of the Arabian Peninsula. Macy’s Verona collection has been life-changing for me. I don’t have to try and find non-task-built clothing that happens to cover all my skin. I can instead purchase dresses/abayas designed specifically to keep your skin covered while helping you embrace your style.

I’m hoping the fashion industry expands. Or that the sun-protective clothing industry takes a hint, but in the meantime, for all my photosensitive friends, check out the Verona Collection and see all the possibilities.

Do you have photosensitivity? What clothing brands do you recommend?


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Solar Urticaria

the author in a full-length dress

The One Question I Don't Like Being Asked as Someone With a Sun Allergy

I wear a dress almost every single day. I have to cover my skin, and in the 90-degree heat that Michigan deals with for almost 25 percent of the year, dresses are my only viable option. I am constantly, I repeat — constantly being asked where I’m going or why I’m dressed up. In college, [...]
Reserved parking lot space for people with disabilities with a disability sign on the ground.

When You're Not 'Sick Enough' For a Disability Parking Permit

A few months ago I tried to apply for a disability parking permit, since I have solar urticaria, a rare allergy to UV rays. I worry about exactly when and which grocery store I can go to because of parking spots. Between April and October, I cannot go out on errands by myself because I [...]
bella thorne in midnight sun trailer, on a boat in the sun

Seeing the Trailer for 'Midnight Sun' as a Person With a Sun Allergy

So I’m seeing this trailer everywhere. Everywhere. Spotify. Facebook. Instagram. Randomly following me around the internet. It’s the trailer for the new teen romantic tragedy “Midnight Sun.” It’s about a girl with a sun allergy. Caveat: this is not the same sun allergy as mine — xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) and solar urticaria are very different — [...]
Victorian fashion girl with umbrella standing in front of gate.

I'm Allergic to the Sun, but I'm Not a Delicate Flower. I'm a Warrior.

In honor of Women’s History Month I wanted to speak out about misconceptions about my disability related to my gender. Please share your stories and help end the stigma! I’m allergic to the sun — which sounds like a condition invented in the 19th century to assure fashionably pale skin. Some of the accommodations I need [...]