When I was newly diagnosed and my RA was not yet under control, I remember being stuck in a public bathroom because I couldn’t do up my jeans.
They were nothing wrong with the jeans.
The problem was that my fingers were swollen and stiff, and the simple act of zipping up a zipper and pushing a button through the hole was causing excruciating pain and required mobility from my fingers that just didn’t exist at that moment.
How long could I stay in the bathroom stall before someone would notice and send help? Would I have to ask a stranger to help me *gasp* do up my pants?
I’ve had to ask my husband before to help me get some articles of clothing on… but asking a stranger was a whole new level of frustration and embarrassment!!!
It was then that I realized that I needed to make some changes.
I needed to take back my dignity and my ability to comfortably dress….and that meant making some changes to make my wardrobe more arthritis-friendly.
I began to consider new factors with my clothing purchases. Purchasing clothing was no longer just a matter of style or comfort, but also ease of accessibility – could I put it on even on a flare day? What joints or flexibility did it require to get on?
I didn’t go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe, but I do think carefully about any new piece I buy.
Are you looking to make a few changes in your wardrobe to make it more arthritis-friendly? Consider these simple solutions to help you.
UNDERGARMENTS For An Arthritis-Friendly Wardrobe
- When traditional bras are difficult to put on or to undue, consider alternative styles like a sports bra, front closure bra, or my personal favourite is this tank top with built in bra.
2. Although I haven’t used it myself, I recently learned about underwear that has side closures so you can easily put it on without having to bend over and step into it. They can even be put on while sitting or laying down. This is great if you have limited mobility or for use after surgery.
TOPS For An Arthritis-Friendly Wardrobe
3. Choose tops without buttons or snaps. The less work it requires to get dressed, the better! If you do have tops with buttons, consider using a button hook aid to help you.
4. Another option for the button-up shirt is to wear a t-shirt or tank top underneath it, so you don’t have to do up the buttons.
5. Choose styles with wider neck holes to allow for easy dressing.
6. If your arm dexterity is limited, choose shirt styles that are loose and have deep armholes for easy dressing.
7. Choose wrinkle-resistant materials to save your joints the chore of ironing!
(See also Bonus tip #20 below)
BOTTOMS For An Arthritis-Friendly Wardrobe
8. Go for elastic waist pants and skirts (learn from my mistakes…don’t get trapped in a bathroom!)
Before your sense of style is offended by this suggestion, know that there are a lot of great options available nowadays that have an elastic waist but are still stylish. There are some pants that are designed to look like jeans but are super comfortable and have the elastic or drawstring waist. You might remember the Pajama Jeans or the Jeggings?
9. Trouble stepping into pants or a skirt? Try a wrap-around skirt! Wraparounds can be worn in a variety of ways to create unique looks, all without having to bend over and step into it!
10. Choose loose-fitting pants (no jumping to fit in) and wrinkle-resistant materials.
ACCESSORIES For An Arthritis-Friendly Wardrobe
11. Choose jewelry with magnetic closures so you can easily put them on or off with one hand.
12. If your fingers are swelling, consider switching to a silicone ring that is comfortable to wear, and easy to get off should your finger suddenly swell.
13. Invest in an infinity scarf in a pattern that you love. Okay, I may be biased here ( I have a slight infinity scarf obsession) but these scarves are so versatile! I love these scarves because they can dress up any outfit. You can totally change the look of the outfit by choosing a different patterned scarf.
Also, scarves are really handy in doing double-duty as an arm sling! No kidding! I’ve used this so many times and I love having this available for comfort without drawing attention to myself.
SOCKS For An Arthritis-Friendly Wardrobe
14. Socks can be much more than a fashion statement but can be an integral part of your pain management. Yes, you read that right. Your first thought may be of compression socks, which many who suffer from inflammatory arthritis swear by, for helping them reduce swelling or discomfort. But some socks can do MUCH more than that. In fact, in my own experience, I would say that changing my socks was a turning point in my healing journey.
I changed my socks and it changed my life. I know It sounds dramatic, but in my case, the changes really were dramatic. I’m not talking about compression socks that you buy on Amazon here, I’m talking about a unique product that is backed by research and studies and a money-back guarantee!
I will admit that the only reason why I tried these socks is that it came with a 30-day satisfaction money-back guarantee. I was tired of spending money on things that didn’t help me, and I figured if I could get my money back then I had nothing to lose.
A detailed post of my experience with these socks will be coming soon, and feel free to message me to answer any questions that you might have. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and look into SpoonieSocks.com and watch the video that explains the hpt technology in these neurotech socks and how they work to decrease pain, improve balance, increase energy, and speed up recovery. The benefits affect the entire body and not just your feet!
15. If you have trouble putting on socks, there are also some great solutions available to help you put on socks without having to bend over and without needing two hands to do it. This sock aid is one example that’s demonstrated here.
FOOTWEAR For An Arthritis-Friendly Wardrobe
16. Save your fingers and switch to no-tie shoelaces.
17. Choose slip-on footwear that is supportive as well as easy to get on and off.
18. Use a shoehorn when putting on your shoes.
(Products I’ve discovered since writing the original post that needed to be included on this list!)
19. Try Hands-Free Footwear. Hands-free shoes, such as these by KIZIK, are designed to be slip-on shoes with the comfort, support, and style of a sneaker. A detailed review will be coming soon of my experience with them, but you can click here to check out their website and learn more. If you would like to try them for yourself use the coupon code LIFEHACKS10 to save 10%.
20. If you struggle with doing up zippers you will want to check out ankhgear which offers magnetic zippers in their clothing line, or you can purchase the zippers by themselves to add to your favorite piece of clothing. The magnetic component makes it easy for the zipper to align and attach which then reduces the painful fumbling around, trying to connect the two sides of the zipper.
A few simple changes to your wardrobe can reduce your joint pain while getting dressed, and increase your comfort and confidence as you go about your day. Instead of being afraid of being trapped in a bathroom stall, you can just go out and enjoy the time with your friends! 😉
Do you have adjustments you have made to your wardrobe to accommodate your arthritis or other chronic illness? Please share your arthritis-friendly wardrobe tips below so we can all learn from each other!