Chronic Illness and Your Wardrobe

Let’s face the facts—as amazing as I look in a little black dress—there just isn’t the need for me to own twelve of them. And anyone who has ever met me knows that I am in no way, shape, or form fashionable. (Which is kind of hilarious seeing as a large part of my current job in PR and my previous one in magazines has to do with the fashion world.)


I do know one thing about getting dressed in the morning and that’s that at some point you have to be practical—without completely giving up. Everyone’s illness affects their bodies in different ways. Some of us gain weight, some of us lose it, some get stretch marks, some have surgical scarring. So how do you go about looking good when you feel so awful?

Lets consider another fact: What makes our wardrobes different from other people’s wardrobes is the fact that most of us aren’t going to an office to work and a lot of the time we’re in and out of doctor’s offices and hospitals which can be very chilly. We also have to deal with tricky things like getting a bra off when you have an IV in your arm and your straps aren’t removable.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to offer up solutions for all of the issues patients face when getting dressed—but I can share with you my personal problems and solutions to the everyday wardrobe with chronic illness.

Problem: It’s F*cking Freezing Everywhere.

Solution: Pink Fuzzy Socks.

Why they work: Keeping a spare pair of these in your purse insures that just in case you get stuck in the ER with sandals on, you won’t lose your toes to frostbite. You can usually find them in the accessory section of stores like Ross or Marshalls for less than $2.


Problem: I Keep Gaining and Losing Weight!

Solution: Multiple Sizes, Minus the Shame. Also, Yoga Pants.


Why they work: What girl isn’t going to beat herself up when her skinny jeans don’t fit? Imagine having a terrible disease AND seeing your love handles bust out of your slacks. Emotionally crippling. Over the years I’ve gone from skinny to fat to normal to bone thin to fat again. There are two solutions I’ve found that work. Buying multiple pairs of pants and shorts in multiple sizes. Yoga pants are also nice and stretchy for those in-between moments.

Problem: I Have IBS/Crohns/Celiac Disease/Stomach Issues and My Abdomen is Always in Pain!

Solution: Maternity Jeans.


Why it works: Hey! Don’t leave, I promise it’s not as bad as it seems. I had two surgeries on my stomach a few years ago. Now anything that sits above my hips puts me into a state of constant awareness of how much my abdomen hurts. I struggled to find jeans that would sit on my hips AND were short enough for a girl only 5’2. My solution turned out to be this pair of denims from the maternity section. But I promise—if I wasn’t posting this live on the internet, nobody would know the difference. (and sweet JESUS are they comfortable.)


Problem: Multiple Symptoms, Multiple Shapes.

Solution: Multiple Styles.

Why it works: Sometimes all you can do is switch it up! Here are three shirts for three problems. The light pink top is for days when I want to hide my body without putting on a burlap sack! The second shirt is a Self-Expressions tank top that sucks you in like shapewear but can be worn without something on top of it. The green top is a tunic I purchased years and years ago that always flatters my figure by emphasizing my better assets and draping over my abdomen.


Problem: Discomfort In Life in General

Solutions: Drapes!

Why it works: I once went to a craniosacral therapist who was amazing, but even more amazing than her healing work was her sweater collection. She was always wearing these beautiful draped cardigans that made her look so tiny and also looked as comfortable as wrapping yourself up in a big blanket. I love this red one—it works great when I’m out and in pain and just want a little comfort as I go throughout my day.



18 thoughts on “Chronic Illness and Your Wardrobe

  1. Kt

    I would add to this list to go for minimalist shoes. Zems and Vibrams have made walking so much easier on me now. Less chronic knee and ankle pain, and fewer acute injuries.

  2. I don’t think so. The thing about placebo is that it works usoinsccounly, so you can’t activate it? on purpose. Positive thinking will help of course, but that’s another story.And the main issue I was talking about is that EFT, along with lots of other pseudo-scientific methods, claim to be a healing force in itself, which I don’t believe, and that you can heal everything using it, even severe traumas, which is absurd. Plus, I don’t really know what God means. But do what makes you happy.

  3. I went through the maternity pants stage. Ugh. Was finally able to get rid of them after a few years of major dietary changes. I still often live in stretchy pants too due to visceral hypersensitivity. What did folks like us do before them?! Anyhow, I still own sizes 4-10 because I can go from size 4-10 within one day depending on GI issues. That means I have a lot of clothes, many more than I actually wish to have. I totally understand dressing for how your body is “shaped” that day/week/month. I have two pair of same colored sandals I can wear, and must wear for everything. One pair of shoes, medical shoes, Darco APB (not stylish in the least). Finally found a few dresses that really flatter my figure, even when my figure is harder to flatter. Once I find something that works, I try to stick with the same sort of cut/design to other dresses. I also wear these odd sheepskin type booties that wrap around my legs and shoes in the winter because I can’t tolerate the cold. Some people say they look like Ugg boots. I think, “Yeah…that must stand for Ugly” but I’m so glad I have them or I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. So I’m glad I have the means with which to equip my wardrobe to fit my conditions. Many are not so fortunate. Practical comes first, then style. Fun post!

  4. smurf_goddess

    I just found your blog and I love it! Thank you for this. I thought I was the only one walking around in maternity clothes. They are seriously the best. I even buy them online from The maternity dress paired with a cardigan is the only kind of top that fits me right. My boyfriend gave me a sewing machine and they are super easy to make. I can’t wait to try!

  5. A fantastic cup of coffee is the only thing that could make this blog better.

  6. Good article!

  7. I ate rice for lunch.

  8. Save up your money for a rainy day.

  9. I now know that everyone has an ace up their sleeve.

  10. I don’t like cheese.

  11. Try not to laugh!

  12. Have yourself a very good day!

  13. Don’t forget the grilled onions!

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  16. Would you like some popcorn?

  17. These two are some real messy eaters!

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