It can be hard to get dressed with fibromyalgia. Buttons and bra hooks are difficult to manipulate, and pullover shirts can be painful to don. And wearing tight jeans against sensitive skin? Yikes! So this page is devoted to sharing ways to make dressing pain-free.
If the seams in your otherwise-favorite clothes cause you pain, consider using fabric glue to attach a thin strip of fabric – bias tape is common, but a smooth fabric like silk or satin may be more comfortable – to the offending areas. Make sure that whatever material you choose to cover the seams will be laundry-compatible with the original garment!
Trousers, skirts, and dresses made of suiting fabric are great all-weather items, plus they make you look crisp and trim: they tend to be wrinkle-resistant, and they skim lightly over unflattering bulges and curves. Some newer fabrics are washable, too!
Wearing white can reflect heat away from your body during heat waves, but it can also reflect light against your face. Be sure to wear sunscreen!
While many fibromites feel better when the weather becomes warm, others face problems when sweating and friction – often caused by clothes that no longer fit quite right – lead to chafing in sensitive areas, such as the inner thighs or under the breasts. Try using a lubricant, like cornstarch or petroleum jelly, to help your clothes glide over potentially-painful sites. Alternately, several brands of pain relief lotion that contain anti-chafing components are widely available. Also, drink more water!
Wrinkle-free clothing can be your best friend: these easy-care items reduce the amount of work you need to do to look your best. However, some fabrics are treated with chemicals that might be problematic for you, so be careful!
On days when you need just a little extra “give” in your pants or skirt, try this trick: wrap a rubber band around the button at the waistband and loop it back through the buttonhole to fasten. It’ll give you an extra half-inch or so of wiggle room and can be readily covered by a long shirt or sweater, a looser belt, or a soft scarf.
Drawstrings. There, we said it. While we often think of pants or skirts with drawstrings as sloppy, many fashionable (and office-appropriate) clothing items are now made with drawstrings.
When possible, replace buttons, hooks, and snaps with Velcro. [Options include stick-on, sew-on, or iron-on.] It’s easier to fasten and unfasten, plus it gives you the opportunity to make your clothing a little more comfortable on days when you need it.
Belts can be uncomfortable or even painful to wear, but many outfits look sloppy without them. Try adding structure to your style by loosely wrapping a soft colorful scarf around your waist – it’s gentler on your body, almost infinitely adjustable, and extremely attractive!
Lightweight, breathable layers keep you warm without overheating. When shopping, look for newer fabrics like Coolmax or Supplex. [As always, be aware that new clothing can create problems for sensitive skin.] Cotton is both breathable and lightweight, but it’s also highly absorbent – so it retains sweat, becoming heavy and damp.
Live in a cold and/or rainy climate? Look for appropriate outerwear that will keep you dry and comfortable. This can get expensive (watch for outlets, online discounts, and thrift-store bargains to limit the damage!), but well-made coats and other garments can last many years – consider it an investment in your health and happiness.
Purchasing waterproof boots and shoes is a great route, but what if you already have footwear you love? In many cases, you can waterproof your own items, depending on the material. Waterproofing leather boots is straightforward and inexpensive, as is waterproofing leather shoes. Canvas, another popular footwear material, is already water-resistant, but it’s easy to waterproof too. And fortunately, most synthetic materials used in shoe and boot manufacturing are already waterproof.
Shoes and Socks
Go through your shoes periodically. Look for danger signs – unevenly or excessively worn soles, cracked leather, loose elastics – that can cause a fall. Repairing, when possible, can be an excellent investment of both time and money: you don’t have to break in a new pair of shoes, much less bother trying to find the “right” pair. Unfortunately, repairs aren’t always possible, in which case the shoes are better discarded.
Skip shoes with platform soles: it’s too easy to fall off your shoes! If you have a favorite pair you’re desperate to wear, consult your local shoe-repair shop to see whether the platform can be removed (and the heels lowered, natch).
Backless shoes, like mules or flip-flops, are particularly treacherous for fibromites. Wear with caution!
Ladies, chunkier heels are better for your bodies than stilettos or kitten heels: not only do they more evenly distribute your weight, reducing levels of pain and fatigue, but they’re better for balance.
Sandals are popular, but make sure they’re safe! Sandal straps can stretch over time, creating a slip hazard: if your favorite sandals are getting up in years, it may be time for a trip to the repair shop. And always make sure that your shoes are comfortable and supportive.
No matter the season, many fibromites still experience chilly feet. Smartwool makes attractive skiing and snowboarding socks that can help you stay toasty. Another option is to wear sock liners under your regular socks: these help wick away moisture from your feet, helping them stay warm and dry. These liners are usually thin enough that your shoes will still fit comfortably, despite the extra layer.
Well-fitting clogs are easy on your feet and safe for your body. Sanita makes great-looking professional clogs that are sturdy and stable – the choice of professional cooks and registered nurses across the country – as well as more frivolous fare (including sandals).
Wear sturdy, slip-resistant shoes or house shoes at all times. The shoes should cover the backs of your feet, both for safety and for warmth.
Jewelry and Other Accessories
Even if you’re not planning to see anyone today, wear your earrings! If your ears are pierced, this can help keep the holes clear and prevent the pain and infection that can otherwise result. If you use clip-ons, this will help your ears “remember” the sensation of weight and tension, so it’ll be less fatiguing to wear your earrings when you really want to dress up. More important, it can cheer you up! Adding a flash of jewelry can help perk up your whole mood, which in turn can improve pain and fatigue levels. Try it and see!
Carrying too much weight over one shoulder can strain muscles and joints: even if you plan to switch shoulders from time to time to even the burden, most of us still forget. So skip the shoulder bag and use a hand-held tote, briefcase, rolling bag, or purse that can also loop around your wrist – you’ll be more likely to switch off between hands.
Long scarves are versatile layering options: unfurl to protect yourself from overactive air conditioning, then refold (or stow away) when you hit the hot streets.
Wear a hat! In cool or warm weather, these accessories are great for fibromites and their sensitive skins. Do an online search for “choosing a hat style” to find a host of flattering styles and materials for men or women.
General Tips for Clothing and Accessories
Having trouble zipping up the back of your clothes? Leaving your favorite bracelets and necklaces in the jewelry box because they’ve become too difficult to fasten? Try a bracelet helper! This nifty device is designed to help you fasten the clasp on a bracelet, but it has other uses as well. For instance, before you put on a zippered dress, blouse, trousers, or skirt, attach the clip to the zipper’s pull tab. Then put on the garment. The handle attached to the clip (a chopstick in the example, but you can use a longer stick – or even a flexible zip tie if more convenient) is easier to grasp than the tiny pull tab and gives your arm more latitude in fastening the zipper. When the garment is fully zipped, it’s a cinch to release the clip.