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The Mighty Style Diaries: Colorful and Comfortable With Psoriatic Arthritis

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Welcome to The Mighty Style Diaries, where our community showcases their favorite outfit and shares how they combine fashion with their illness or disability.

For the first entry in The Mighty Style Diaries, meet Brandy Lewis, whose fun, colorful style shows off her sunny personality and also keeps her comfortable while walking or using crutches or a wheelchair. Brandy lives with psoriatic arthritis, which is part of a group of rheumatic disease called spondylitis that causes symptoms like inflammatory back pain and inflammation in the pelvis and other joints, and psoriasis skin rash. Keep reading to discover how Brandy decides which clothes work best for her body, and which celebrity is her fashion idol.

woman wearing yellow dress and black sandals with arm crutch


Brandy Lewis




Los Angeles, California


Psoriatic arthritis and spondylitis

How would you describe your style?

It’s so funny — for years I used to say I had no sense of style. I was very much a tomboy growing up — basketball shorts and T-shirts every day kind of girl. But my mom always dropped tidbits of knowledge as I was growing up, which is probably how my style has evolved over the years. Today I would have to say that my style is colorful, casual and accessible. I definitely choose comfort over anything. When picking outfits I ask myself, “Would Tracee Ellis Ross wear this?” and go from there.

How does your disability influence your style and the clothes you wear?

Tremendously. It’s hard because on really bad health days all I want to wear is sweatpants and a hoodie. However, I did that once and was mistaken for a homeless person. So I started putting in more effort into what I wanted my clothes to say about me before getting know me. Having a hip kit [a set of tools that helps people with limited mobility put on clothes] helps a lot. You would think they would have a yoga aid for yoga pants by now…

Typically I wear a lot of maxi dresses and sundresses because they’re easier for me to put on, plus it’s a whole outfit in one: pop on some accessories and you’re good to go. Since walking again [after recent health issues] is still fairly new, I steer away from heels unless I’m in my wheelchair. Which brings up the issue of making sure not to wear long sleeves and jackets or even full skirts/dresses because they get dirty or caught in the wheels of my chair. Some outfits hit differently when I’m standing vs. in my chair, so I have to finesse it to make it work for me.

Why did you choose the pieces you’re wearing in the photo above?

My favorite thing about the dress is that it’s yellow, and if you know me then you know yellow is my color. I love the detail of the earrings — it’s hard to see because of my hair but there’s a turquoise stone in the middle. They are my favorite earrings to wear when I’m not wearing hoops. The shoes were cheap, I love a good bargain, plus they have a slight heel so it helps when I want to dress up an outfit.

What fashion advice would you give others with chronic illness and disabilities?

Wear what makes you feel good! Who cares what others say or think. Play with colors and textures that don’t irritate your skin. Be bold, and be you. If you don’t love it, don’t buy and definitely don’t wear it.

Like Brandy’s style? Here’s how to get a similar look:

yellow dress, black sandals and turquoise heart earrings

Yellow dress: Nordstrom Rack, $48.97
Black sandals: DSW, $39.98
Turquoise and sterling silver earrings: Walmart, $18.99

Originally published: July 25, 2019
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