Today I spent the entire day in my PJs, and not even new clean ones, the very same ones I went to bed in last night. I never changed. Granted, sometimes this is utterly necessary in a spoonie’s life – it was my mental trick to force my Type-A personality to rest. It worked because I wasn’t about to leave my house in this state, and it was just too darn comfy to leave the couch. Mission accomplished.
The problem is falling into a cycle of pjs and ratty clothes that make us feel about as good as we look. We get tired of fighting buttons, zippers, snaps, ties, tags, seams, and restricting shapes. We flare and lose our flair, letting Arthur (or pain) dictate our fashion in only negative terms. This is why I began identifying clothing that I call “toddler wear”. You know those soft easy to put on pieces of clothing for toddlers that still manage to have great shape and pizzazz? Turns out they exist for adults too, you just have to learn to look for them.
For me, toddler wear is just as comfortable as pjs, yet I often get compliments on it like I put actual thought into it. Taking even a small amount of pride in your attire can provide an endless amount of emotional and mental positives. I’m not talking about adding yet another thing to your to do list, just refocusing future purchases when you can afford them and trying something new with what you already have.
Lucky for us, fashion is in its prime for arthritis. Leggings are socially acceptable for adults, big drapey dresses or tunics, and oversized fluffy cardigans. How can your ailing bones not want to crawl into these pieces? Admittedly, I am talking mostly about women’s fashion, but arguably we have it a little tougher. We have to strap in our tits – or are ‘supposed’ to, which is often painful in itself, and are dealt new trends that can feel more like a straight jacket in the fitting room than a workable option.
The idea is to wear clothing that is just as easy and comfortable to put on as your pjs, but makes you feel good about yourself. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing someone who is struggling with arthritis, we have the opportunity to see someone who is strong and confident, and stylish to boot.
So what do I wear? My favorite pieces of clothing are my leggings or sweater tights, which I pair with long shirts or tunics, dresses, comfy sweaters and cardigans, boots and scarves. Scarves are one of the most useful pieces of clothing you can own. I find myself wrapping up in chilly doctor offices, bundling it up to support my lower back or neck, or shielding myself from the sun with it.
So how do we put this together? @RisaFriedman was kind enough to share this picture of her favorite arthritis friendly style (and look GREAT while doing it!), a smart moveable layering technique that is very fashionable and could be taken out of any magazine right now.
I know I know, you’re thinking ‘how do I have the money for this after paying all of my med bills?’ I am not saying go out and do it all today, but start making these choices one purchase at a time, and see how looking great might just help you feel a bit better. Not to mention, as so many of you have pointed out, these clothing options are much kinder on our fluctuating weights.
What to look for: The following is compiled from the wonderful suggestions of our arthritis community, and I hope they’ll help you. I’ve provided links to some of my personal favorites (in yellow).
Fabrics: anything soft, breathable and stretchy such as Cotton, Bamboo, Jersey, Modal, Fleece, Velour, and Cashmere (if you can afford it) – preferably with no tags or seams
Clothing: loose fitting or non-restrictive pieces like leggings, t-shirts – long and short sleeve, tunics, dresses, sweaters, cardigans, built in bra camis, padded socks, gloves – fingerless if you prefer, drawstring pants that hold their shape through the day and yoga pants – always yoga pants ;) and consider buying your shoes a half to a whole size larger if you have problems with swelling
Brands/Where to shop: Old Navy (check out their front page - Toddler Wear!), Target, Gramicci, Lululemon, Modcloth, Cable and Gauge, Garnet Hill, Gap, Smartwool, Yala Designs (keep reading for a discount!), and Eberjey – for when you want to feel like a lady under your clothes ;)
Shoes: Alegria, Jambu shoes, Ugg boots, Merrell Shoes, Orthaheel – supportive flip flops I had prescribed to me, boots, Toms, Converse, La Plume, Danskos, Birkenstocks, Barefoot Freedom, Softwalk, Earthies, or check out BarkingDogShoes.com for more recommendations
Dudes: You thought I forgot you! Here’s what you guys prefer: sweats and sweatshirts, memory foam slippers, oversized t-shirts, and felt blankets (not clothing, but I’ll give it to you!), and stiff work boots – who knew?
My Favorite: Now, I’m saving one of my favorites for last! I stumbled upon Yala a little over a year ago, and immediately became obsessed, as their entire collection is Toddler Wear personified. Upon ordering, I found their fabrics to be sumptuous and durable, and after serious wear and washing, look just as good as the day I purchased. Now, lucky for you, Yala was willing to support our search of stylish pain-free clothing, and is offering a 20% discount till November 9th! Just use offer code: HURTBLOGGER20
Now what I need to do, is rid my closet of all of the straight jacket pieces so I don’t look in there and keep saying “what if?” I’m going to free myself of that burden, and let you know how that goes.