Clothing and fashion can be a unique and fun way to express one’s identity, creativity, style, and even cultural background. The right outfit can help you feel comfortable, confident, and body positive. Although disabilities often are accompanied by a complex range of comfort and safety needs, it’s also important to select clothing that reflects your personality and flaunts your style.
How Clothing Can be More Accessible
Adaptive clothing is a subcategory of apparel designed to better meet the needs of people with disabilities.
When selecting an outfit, it is important to consider your comfort and safety. The correct item of clothing should suit your range of mobility and also be safe to wear with any assistive equipment you may use, such as walkers and wheelchairs.
Here are just a few ways that clothing can become more accessible:
- Seams in clothing can often press against the skin when using a wheelchair, creating sores and areas of irritation. Some adaptive clothing is seamless, or features seams in less sensitive areas as an easy way to avoid injury.
- Trousers, shorts, and skirts that open from the side make it easier to dress when in bed.
- Regular length trousers often ride up and expose the ankles when a person is sitting down, so trousers which are a longer cut are often more comfortable for wheelchair users.
- Pockets placed on the front of clothing are far easier to access when sitting or laying down.
- Clothing that fastens at the back instead of the front can make it easier and quicker for caregivers to assist with dressing, particularly if it features hook and Velcro or magnetic fasteners.
- Many items of clothing can be adapted for sensory purposes, such as making vests and jumpers weighted, or using sleeker fabric so as not to irritate the skin.
Safety should be paramount when selecting adaptive clothing, so it is wise to ensure clothing is well fitted and cannot become snagged in wheelchair mechanics, or ride up at the back to cause cold and discomfort. Finding a personal tailor can often be beneficial to ensure that your outfit fits you well.
Buying Adaptive Clothing Online in Australia
With so much to consider, finding the perfect piece of adaptive clothing for your wardrobe can take time. There are many wonderful adaptive clothing companies online who ship to Australia, catering to a diverse set of needs with a broad range of fashionable clothing and footwear.
Timeless by Heather Hill is an Australian-owned company focused on high quality, stylish and adaptive clothing for women. They strive to make dressing a pleasure with elegant garments that are effortless to put on and wear. The company is backed by the Heather Hill Group, who have been providing support and empowerment to nursing home residents and the wider community for 14 years. All of their collections are available through their online shop.
Silverts is a leading provider of adaptive fashion and footwear for men and women. They have a broad range of stylish and practical apparel including condition-specific collections, easy-to-use fasteners, plus sized clothing, edema socks, and therapeutic footwear. They also offer a useful guide to adaptive clothing and how to choose what’s best for your lifestyle.
The Able Label, a UK-based adaptive womenswear retailer, ship their products worldwide including to Australia. Of particular note are their bras in a variety of sizes, and their unique adaptive jewelry collections. The brand aims to encourage self-confidence and independence, and have designed their pieces with caregivers in mind to make assisted dressing quicker, easier, and stress-free.
Born out of the frustration of a wheelchair using woman who was disappointed in the high street fashion available to her, WheelieChix-Chic sells fashionable adaptive womenswear and backpacks. After a successful London Fashion Week launch in 2007 using models with disabilities, they now ship their designs worldwide through their online store.
UK-based Willow Bug is an adaptive children's clothing retailer selling on the international market. The store's founders claim they are on a mission to provide stylish and practical clothing for children with disabilities and special needs to take the drama out of dressing. They focus on items in bright and fun styles that appeal to children.
As seen above it’s now easier than ever to purchase adaptive clothing to allow people with disabilities to have access to safe, comfortable, and suitable outfits that they enjoy wearing.