The Right Fit

Reprinted from PN June 2016

Better materials, more choices and some enterprising adaptive clothing designers are making it less of a hassle to look and feel your best.

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There was a time when finding comfortable, fashionable clothes to accommodate medical devices or mobility issues was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

While jogging suits and scrubs are functional, they’re hardly appropriate for the workplace or other occasions that require more formal attire. Many times, these outfits also sacrifice comfort and style. 

Now, more and more designers are addressing the need for specialized clothes that incorporate fashion, function and comfort. A quick Google search for “wheelchair fashion” will turn up dozens of results, so figuring out where to begin can be a challenge.

Heidi McKenzie, founder of Alter UR Ego, sports a pair of her adaptive jeans at the 2016 Los Angeles Abilities Expo.

There’s a wide variety to suit nearly any personality, activity, age and budget. Fun, trendy designs are constantly being developed for men and women. Even better, these clothes are made with the seated frame in mind and are built with clever, functional details.

Raid Your Closet

Sometimes the best place to start looking for adaptive clothing is your own closet.

Stephanie Alves of ABL Denim says a few simple alterations can greatly reduce the effort it takes to get dressed.

For example, there are department store pieces, such as an oversized scarf that can easily be converted to look like a cardigan or poncho with the addition of a few buttons. 

A trendy skirt option that needs no alteration is a wrap skirt, which can be placed on a wheelchair and folded over the seated person’s lap.

If finger dexterity is a problem, a tailor can alter a bra or shirt to close with magnets, and jackets can have zippers added to the front and back to make getting in and out of the garments less hassle.

If an old pair of pants has become too short or has holes, make them into capri cut-offs or sew on decorative patches, Alves says.

Alterations can be expensive, so it’s best to do them yourself, if possible, or reach out to a family member or friend who has the necessary skills. 

Good Jeans

When alterations aren’t possible, several brands offer clothes designed with a seated person in mind. 

The pants in the adaptive clothing category generally are made of softer fabrics, have a high-rise backside and angled thigh pockets for leg bags, cellphones or other useful items. Some brands also include details like forgiving elastic waistbands, tummy control, drop-down panels, pull-tab zippers, disguised catheter openings (for women) and fewer seams to help prevent pressure sores.


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The Right Fit


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