Comfortable clothing is always a challenge when you happen to be in a seated position most of the time, or if you are adjusting to healthcare aids like an ostomy pouch or a suprapubic catheter. A growing number of adaptive clothing innovators are designing attire that looks great while also being suitable for your lifestyle needs!
As I began investigating current adaptive clothing options, I had mixed feelings because my experience with adaptive clothes in the past hasn’t been great. Admittedly, as a man who doesn’t love shopping, that was almost twenty years ago. I was hoping to find some changes, and hopefully more options, in this area because the need is there.
For more than 70 million people in the U.S. with a disability, dressing can be an ordeal. I know it is for me.
And if you’re like me, you’re looking for more than accessible function since you’ve left rehab. Style and appearance matters too! Let’s see what a new generation of adaptive designers and community advocates have prepared for your wardrobe too.
BUTTONS2BUTTON: For limited hand function
James Murtha is a C4/5 quad from Michigan who has been on a quest to make buttoning a shirt possible for anyone with limited hand function. Gina Adams, who helped James create his new company, Buttons2Button, set out to find a similar solution after watching her father-in-law struggle to get dressed while dealing with Parkinson’s disease.
Their company is brand new and still in the beginning phases. They are a week away from their first pre-order campaign with a goal of producing magnetic button add-ons.
Buttons2Button add-ons will convert a person’s entire wardrobe into adaptive clothing by making it easier to get dressed.
“Finding adaptive clothing is challenging,” James says. “The needs of anyone living with a disability are specific and it can be difficult to find products that meet those needs. Adaptive clothing is not yet a very big market relative to the able-bodied population so it’s difficult for businesses to stay open even when they have a good product.”
Buttons2Button transforms all the shirts in your closet into adaptive clothing, making their product more cost-effective than buying brand new cloths. There are products on the market that include magnets inside the seam of the shirt, but you’re limited to the patterns and sizes they offer.
watch how Buttons2Button works:
CONSUMER ADVOCATES CAN’T WAIT FOR MORE ADAPTIVE CLOTHING OPTIONS
Rachelle Chapman is a C-6 quad from North Carolina. She was injured in 2010 at her bachelorette party. Since then, Rachelle has become a mother, a writer, a model and an advocate for people with disabilities. She travels the globe and blogs about motherhood, fashion, fitness and life in a wheelchair.
Find out more about Rachelle and follow her here.“There is a huge need for adaptive clothing,” Rachelle says. “I don’t know exact numbers, but I see girls in chairs exchanging tips in various Facebook groups. I bought some seated jeans from IZ Adaptive once.”
She continues, “I liked them ok, but there’s a lot I’d change about the style. I’d love some ripped skinny legs or something similar that would add fashion into the mix. If I had my wish, I would design more clothing like tops and dresses that have a popover top, called a flounce top. The fabric that pops over is great at hiding my quad pooch. I’d make them slightly longer as well. Of course, I’d do very fashionable jeans that incorporate a way to get my leg bag out (from the thigh area).”
Inclusive, Adaptive Clothing Also Means Extra Sizes
Jessika Kattah is a T-2 paraplegic from Sunrise, Florida, and a Wings for Life Ambassador. “Yes! I have bought adapted clothes,” Jessika answers. “This has been a long time coming and I think it’s fantastic! I find that there are some needs of mine still not being met.”
“I’d like to find all types of pants (dressy, yoga, casual, etc.) made easier to put on. I have learned to get dressed according to the type of clothing available now, but I hope to find options someday that make it easier as most of it is made for the walking-around world,” Jessika explains.
“I have trouble finding clothing for my size,” she continues. “Most adapted clothing companies only recognize the ‘smaller’ sizes. We may have broken through an industry but haven’t broken the barriers yet for curvy girls.”
“Patti + Ricky is my favorite online retailer,” Jessika beams. “They have a variety of adaptive clothing and accessories that are actually fashionable and functional. Most of the time, you can’t even tell that the clothes have been adapted with magnets, velcro or other changes.”
“Everyone is starting to understand that we are a large part of the market and have different needs than what has been previously provided,” she adds.
A few of the clothing options you can browse on the Patti + Ricky website are displayed below.
FASHION OVER FUNCTION: EQUALLY IMPORTANT FOR ADAPTIVE CLOTHING BUYERS
Dawn Ziegler is a C-5/6 quad from Madison, Wisconsin. She’s an editor of Able Outdoors magazine and her very first thoughts about adapting clothes began when she was learning how to self-cath.
“My mom helped me figure out how to self-cath from my wheelchair.” Dawn says. “She took my pants and underwear, removed the zipper and made openings all the way down. She sewed on Velcro closures and added a hook fastener at the top that I could use. That opened up a whole new independence for me. She also put little loops on the calf and ankle part of my jeans so I could pull them off myself.”
“In the 1990s, there was a store in town that sold custom jeans for people who use chairs,” Dawn adds. “They had a higher back, an elastic waist and no pockets but were a little expensive.”
When asked if her 1990-era pants looked good, Dawn replies,“No! They looked like grandma pants. There was no style to them and for that price, I needed them to look good.”
Over the years, Dawn’s assessment of adaptive clothing is a common one – the selection is limited and they look like they’re being made more for function over fashion. “Recently though, I’ve noticed more options coming out,” Dawn says. “The invention of stretchy fabric has been the biggest thing for me. It makes it easier to get clothes on and off and it’s better for your skin.”
Ladies, are you looking for a discreet, ready-to-use catheter that tucks away easily into your purse, pocket or bag?
To request free samples of the Cure Twist® Ready-to-Use Catheter or any Cure Medical catheter, contact your local distributor of quality healthcare products, or click here.
Barbara Beccio agrees. A famous costume designer on the west coast, Barbara began making adaptive skirts for young ladies who use wheelchairs and medical corsets for a woman who had polio as a child.
She recently launched an adaptive clothing line called è Ispirante and began displaying her wares at Abilities Expo events nationwide.
Barbara has been working with adaptive clothing designers in order to raise public awareness to this very important and growing market. That’s because she understands just how many wheelchair users out there are looking for better options when it comes to stylish clothes that can meet our functional needs.
We wish all of the adaptive designers featured in this story tremendous success! For more Adaptive Clothing Resources, see the links below.
- Zappo’s Adaptive Clothing
- Target Adaptive Clothing for Men, Women & Kids
- Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive Clothing
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Founded by a quadriplegic, Cure Medical is the only catheter manufacturer in the world that donates the first 10% of its net income to support research programs in pursuit of a cure for urinary retention, paralysis, spinal cord injury and central nervous system disorders.
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