Dressing with a Disability
Fashion is more than just clothing, it’s a way to express oneself.
But finding the right clothes that are both stylish and functional can be a challenge, especially for those with disabilities.
Hopefully, you’ll relate to something in this post and it will spark an idea!
Updating My Wardrobe For My Disability
An invisible illness like mine can creep up on you slowly so the changes in your closet happen gradually.
A big question I’ve asked my fellow disabled friends is how do you know when to make these changes? It’s different for everyone and basically you just know. For me, a symptom would become overwhelming and I realized it was time to change how I did things!
First up for me, I swapped out my constricting pieces for ones that had elasticity and ease. This was an obvious choice as my gastroparesis causes regular stomach issues like pain and nausea. When those symptoms hit, I want to be wearing comfy clothes that won’t exacerbate my misery.
Not to mention I’ve gone through some pretty extreme weight fluctuations so having a wardrobe that accommodates size changes (without an additional shopping trip) is very important.
This ties in perfectly with the need to choose clothes with low-maintenance care/wash instructions. I have chronic fatigue (thanks to POTS & EDS!) so I have limited capacity for activities like laundry or steaming. Having clothes that are easy to care for saves a lot of spoons!
TIP: My favorite materials to buy for low-maintenance care are cotton, spandex/lycra, lyocell, and jersey. Of course, this will be specific to your needs if you have sensory issues that exclude certain fabrics!
Specific Products I’ve Bought For My Disability
When vertigo became a regular symptom for me a few years ago, I searched high and low for a walking cane that was age-appropriate and FUN. Most mobility aids are tailored to older folks with modest styles.
And it seemed like every time I found something, the dimensions didn’t fit my needs. I finally struck out at Walmart, of all places, with a polka dot cane.
To further make it feel like an extension of my style, I customized it with shiny gem stickers, a keychain, and I’ll soon be adding a custom pink base!
Small touches like that to your mobility aid help you feel a bit like yourself and can fight the insecurity you feel when using one for the first time.
Another item that comes highly recommended to many people is compression gear! This comes in handy for many things like painful bulging veins and circulation issues.
My first foray into this was with full-length compression stockings (without the toes, just my preference) but I’ve since explored other options like abdominal compression bodysuits (per updated research coming out for POTS) and buying athletic leggings which provide a similar level of compression with slightly more comfort, are more affordable, and readily available with better styles to choose from.
Changing How I Get Dressed
The final way I’ve helped myself that anyone can do is to simplify my closet!
My cognitive impairments include decision fatigue so making choices easier for myself is major. I’ve written about the closet changes I’ve made in a previous post so I won’t get into too many details here.
But the big things to consider are:
1) Do your clothes match your current lifestyle?
2) Do you love and wear everything in your closet or is there stuff you can donate?
3) What clothes would make your life easier? (Re-read this post for ideas! haha)
Fashion For All
I hope these tips have been helpful to you and encourage you to find ways to make your wardrobe work for you, no matter your abilities. Remember, fashion is for everyone!
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