Shopping for clothes. Some of us love it, some of us loathe it – but no matter your perspective, selecting new clothes is undeniably more difficult with fibromyalgia. The suggestions on this page will help make the process as painless as possible!
Shopping for Clothes
Always check the seams of garments you’re interested in purchasing. If seams are raw or stiff, the clothes may be uncomfortable or even painful to wear.
Before shopping for clothes or accessories, list the changes that your body experiences during different weather patterns, flares, and so on. This can help you ensure that you always have something comfortable and flattering to wear.
Take a moment to consider activewear. It’s not the sloppy (though so cozy) sweats you may expect! Brands like Zella or lucy provide structured, yet comfortable, attire that can see you through meetings, errands, and other occasions. Look for clothing with small or nonexistent logos so you aren’t shouting out to the world, “Look, I’m in my comfies!” – these clothes tend to be designed well enough that the casual observer can’t tell the difference, if you don’t give it away. [Gentlemen, if you've found an activewear vendor that provides you with clothes that are both neat and comfortable, please let us know!]
When shopping for clothes online, try vendors that make it easy for you to get the styles and sizes that will look best on you. Features to look for include size charts, lookbooks, videos, items categorized by body type, live chat (text or video), and the ability to “save” the items selected without actually purchasing them yet – so you can go back later if your foggy brain is acting up. Free shipping is also a nice touch, and more common than you might think. Look for sales and loyalty programs – and check out the return policies, too. And customer reviews offer important tips for learning what worked and what didn’t for other shoppers. Sites we particularly like include Lands’ End, Ann Taylor (women only), JCPenney, and Nordstrom. These stores can be expensive, but they also tend to have the best customer service: the most information on their websites, the most flexible shipping and return policies, and the easiest access to knowledgeable help. [You do largely get what you pay for.] And better to have a few articles of clothing that fit comfortably and attractively than a closet full of unwearable items, right? So spend some time exploring unfamiliar sites; you just might find something you’ll love at a price you adore.
Shopping for Shoes
In the market for new shoes? Look for vamps/uppers made of sturdy materials, such as leather or heavy canvas. Lightweight materials stretch over time and can allow your foot to move about within the shoe – often resulting in a fall. Short-vamped shoes, like ballet flats or loafers, can cause similar problems.
Purchase shoes later in the day: your feet swell slightly over the course of each day, so it’ll be a little easier for you to find a comfortable pair. Bring socks that you’d typically wear, not a brand-new pair “to look nice” – the sales clerk doesn’t care about your socks! Most importantly, always check the return policy before you purchase shoes.
General Shopping Tips
Sales are great for finding a deal on that perfect item (or items). But the crowds can cause your fatigue, pain, and brain-fog to shoot through the roof. Before a big sale starts, do some research. Ask the customer service staff when the store tends to be least busy and try shopping then. If personal styling service is available, consider making an appointment. And if you can shop online, do it!
When shopping at department stores, wear light layers – the air conditioning might be too much to handle in short sleeves, but trying on clothes or shopping during crowded periods is a sweaty business.
When shopping at department stores and malls, wear several light layers – no matter the time of year. Some shops and departments will be warmer than others (dressing rooms are often overheated, especially in the winter), and your comfort level can change abruptly. During the winter, wearing a bulky coat with a lightweight shirt can make matters worse: you may find yourself either too warm or too cool, with no pleasing middle ground. During the summer, the air conditioning might be too much to handle in short sleeves, but trying on clothes or dealing with crowds is a sweaty business. If there’s a coat-check service available, use this handy resource to store not only your discarded clothing but your purchases – while during warmer weather we recommend visiting your car frequently during shopping trips to unload baggage, doing this in cold weather can further disrupt your internal thermostat. No matter the season, be sure to drink plenty of water when shopping to prevent dehydration from the dry environment.