Are your clothes out to get you?
First of all – you’re valid, and you’re awesome. No matter how you dress or whether you even care about fashion or not. But sometimes part of our self-care might be allowing ourselves to feel creative and individual in our fashion choices. Self-expression can be empowering and freeing for many people, and I’m here to talk about how we can balance this desire with the demands of living with hypermobility disorders. Because, honestly, are your clothes out to get you? Somedays it feels like mine are!
(This post contains affiliate links to two helpful products. Remember we only recommend products we know are helpful!)
Personal style Personal style has little to do with what is currently ‘on-trend’. Personal style put simply is the uniform you set for yourself. What fabrics, colours, styles and themes define you?
A great way to get started is to make a few Pinterest boards with outfits you like for going out, summer days, business etc. Putting these images together can help you find common themes. Our level of disability also defines our personal style as it limits some of the options we have for outfit choices, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Buying clothing you’ll actually wear Every person with a hypermobility syndrome has different experiences, even from day to day. We may have different needs at different times and have to take these things into consideration. Here I’m going to outline some common clothing annoyances and how you can work around them.
Certain clothing features that suck (and friendlier alternatives!)
Zips (zippers) Zips suck. Personally, my arms are bendy enough to reach zips even in the weirdest of places, but not strong or stable enough to actually do any of them up. Therefore, to be able to dress myself I realise that most of the time I will not wear an item of clothing if it has a zip. This doesn’t mean you can’t own any clothing with zips! Just try them on before purchasing or plan to have someone around that can help you in or out when you decide to wear them.
My favourite alternative to zips is ruching/smocking with elastic threads and is commonly used in tops and dresses. This is when a panel of the fabric (often on the back or a garment) looks all gathered up but stretches out flat when pulled. This means that the clothing item can be easily pulled over your head but still maintains a fitted appearance when on the body.
(An addition from Michelle: You can also buy zipper helpers like these (affiliate link))
Buttons When my fingers aren’t cooperating my hands hate buttons. I still own a few button-up shirts I love, but can’t wear if my hands aren’t cooperating that day. A great alternative to traditional buttons are snaps or press studs, which are just pushed together to close. While these can still be quite hard to do up, it can be much easier than the sometimes difficult (impossible) task of getting every single button through every single buttonhole. And if you’re me, you almost always realise only when you’ve finished that the buttons aren’t actually in the right holes and you have to start again!(An addition from Michelle: You can also buy button helpers like these (affiliate link))
Constrictive or stiff clothing
Sometimes clothing can feel hard to move in or constantly feel tight or uncomfortable in all the wrong places. Often these are very structured garments made of non-stretch, woven materials. The solution to this is stretch knits (my favourite fabric). These are things like t-shirts, leggings and everything made out of that 4-way stretch material.
So many types of garments often come in stretchy materials so definitely don’t feel like you’re restricted to t-shirts and trackies here.
The best way to see if an item you are about to buy is stretchy is to pull it. Jersey knits (which t-shirts are made of) are constructed the same way as your classic knitted jumper, just on a teeny scale (if you hold the fabric close to your face you should be able to see it). These are one of the most comfortable fabrics because they stretch four ways, and they don’t just have to be used in casual clothing! These fabrics can come in shiny finishes and made into dresses, tight pants and tops that you can go out in.
The best thing about clothes made from these knitted fabrics is they most often won’t have bulky things like flys (the do-up bit at the front of jeans), zips, or tight waistbands, as they can be pulled on and off. These bulky bits can cause rubbing, pinching and discomfort which can be heightened for those of us with particularly sensitive skin.
If you’re not feeling all-over stretch, ‘oversized’ tops or dresses made from woven will feel far less restrictive than more constructed garments and look great when paired with form-fitting bottoms.
Another fashion ‘hack’ you can try is one of my favourites. Wear some plain black leggings with a fancier blouse if you want to look more put-together but still feel comfortable. I am forever thankful to the fashion gods for the acceptability of wearing leggings as pants and will never relinquish my right to wear them.
And lastly… Sometimes it takes you looking at the clothes you wear the most to see what features are most comfortable for you. Once you’ve got a general idea of the types of shape and materials that suit you most, it becomes much easier to buy clothes that look great, and you feel great wearing.
Remember that being confident and comfortable goes a long way. In truth, the most ‘fashionable’ people are just those that know who they are and aren’t afraid to show it. Look up any list of most fashionable celebrities and you’ll see this shine through. Wear your individuality like a badge of honour and your best self will shine through too!
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I’m a 21-year-old fashion design student with hEDS living in Melbourne, Australia. My journey to diagnosis has been a recent one, and I’m still learning about myself and my disability and how to approach life.
Batman is my favourite superhero!
My passions in life are creative and include my love of sewing and fashion design, illustration, theatre and art. I love history and learning new things and am known to spend hours researching interesting topics. You can follow me on Instagram @megan_louise_taylor