After a couple of months living in the hospital, I remember the first time I was allowed to leave for a 2-3 hour outing with my recreational therapist. The goal of this outing was to get a taste of the outside world and find a dress for my appearance on the homecoming court. It was a great learning experience because I was still pretty new at wearing clothes and adjusting my style with the wheelchair. By the end of our outing, we ended up finding a perfect dress and blazer!
As I look back on it, there are some changes I would have made, only because I know what styles to look for and what works best with my new body. My goal for this article is to share tips I have learned when shopping for clothes and share adapted clothing lines you should know about. Please understand that I am not 100% independent with changing my clothes but I do plan on being independent one day!
What to look for:
When I shop for tops, it has to be very specific. A lot of the times I will buy the shirt, try it on for couple hours, and if I don’t like it, I will return it. Why? It happens very frequently where I cannot fit in changing rooms. I also have enough experience that I usually know what’s going to work. As I analyze tops, here is a simple check list I use:
Can I easily put it on/take it off independently?
This is obviously important. If I struggle to put it on solo, I won’t buy it (unless it’s so cute I can’t resist it). There are shirts I do need help with regardless, but if I need too much help, it’s not worth it.
How stretchy is the material? Is it tight?
If the material is stretchy, the shirt will ride up my back 5 minutes after wearing it. I like to call it a “shirt wedgie”. This means I will need consistent help by pulling my shirt down through out the day. It drives me insaneeeeeeee. Usually, I need help pulling it down 2 or 3 times a day but if it exceeds that, no thank you!
The stretch also makes it hard for a care taker to pull it down. This becomes annoying. If it’s that big of a hindrance, I will stop wearing it altogether.
If the shirt is too tight, I won’t buy it. Tight shirts show off my “quad belly”. What’s a quad belly? Long story short, since my abs are paralyzed, my gut sticks out 24/7. I do not think it looks attractive and I feel most confident in loose shirts.
Is it long enough?
Crop tops are cute and all but not when you are sitting with a quad belly. At least that’s my opinion. It has to be long enough to cover my entire back and stomach or else it’s a hard pass. The longer it is, the less often I need help pulling it down.
Does is flow well?
I LOVE FLOWY TOPS! They work the best for me! They are easy to pull down, they hide my quad belly and never annoy me 🙂 I love them so much I have pictures to show them off. I found that altar’d state (clearance section) is my go to for stylish, flowy tops.
Pants are tricky. I am unable to put them on independently so I have few limitations when shopping for them. I have to be careful with length (long legs probs) and waist band size. I love elastic bands and try to avoid any pants with zippers. This makes it easier to cath independently (I have a mitrofanoff). I have found that H&M has a great selection for elastic ban styles that are priced between $15-$30. Thanks to popular trends, another perk to the H&M jeans is that they are high rise and will cover your booty! Just make sure they air dry because they tend to shrink in the dryer.
A disadvantage these pants have are a lack of belt loops. They are not essential for me but they are important when I am comfortable enough to pursue independence in this area for the future. Here are some pictures of the jeans!
ADAPTED CLOTHING LINES
A lot of the popular clothing lines are coming out with adaptive wear. For example, Target has adapted pants for wheelchair users! I have yet to try them but I have read great reviews on them. They are high rise jeans, without back pockets, designed with flat seams, made of stretch fabric, and only $27.99!
There are other clothing lines like Izzy Camilleri and Tommy Hilfiger but who has impressed me the most is Zappos. They not only designed adaptive pants but also magnetic closing shirts, nike fly release shoes which unzip from the back, and kid’s shoes that open in the front with a zipper that is wrapped around the shoelace. I would love to see this style for adults!
My hope for the future is to try some of these items myself and see how my independence improves! Especially with the shoes!! I hope this article helped you today!
Thanks for reading 🙂