Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

15 Adaptive Clothing Ideas to Try

15 Adaptive Clothing Ideas to Try
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Want to learn more about adaptive clothing, but not sure where to start — or even what it means? While adaptive clothing is beginning to gain more mainstream attention, it’s still a relatively unknown niche in the fashion industry, and many people are unfamiliar with adaptive clothing ideas and what they entail.

Adaptive clothing is versatile and can help in many different situations. Stuck on what to wear after shoulder surgery or you’re not sure what clothes to buy for your parent in the nursing home? We’ve got you covered.

To help introduce you to the concept of adaptive clothing for women and men, we’ve rounded up 15 things that you might not have even realized are adaptive clothing ideas! Here are some features to look out for when shopping for adaptive clothing:

Zipper Closures

If buttons are too hard for you to work, then consider switching to clothes with a zipper closure instead. Zippers are easier to work with limited hand mobility and make it easier to keep dressing yourself (or to get undressed in a hurry if need be). Most zippers also give you the option to attach an extra long zipper pull so you don’t have to fiddle with the tiny metal tab on its own. If you have trouble lining up the two ends of the zipper, such as on a jacket, you should know that you can actually get magnetic zippers that will use the power of magnetism to line up the two halves of the zipper for you.

Magnetic Closures

Speaking of magnets, they actually make excellent closures by themselves. If you find that even magnetic zippers are too much for you to handle, then you may want to switch over to completely magnetic closures. Magnetic closures are common on upper body garments such as shirts, vests and jackets. Some of them even feature decoy buttons sewn on top of the magnets to create the appearance of a traditional button-up shirt, which is awesome if you need a more formal look for the office or a special occasion. You just have to get the two sides of the garment close enough for the magnets to attract and — voila — your shirt will be closed.

snap closure option garments
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Snap Closures

Snap closures are another great closure option when you need the garment to stay closed, but still be able to open it quickly. These closures are especially popular on post-surgical garments since they give the ability to easily access wound dressing, catheters and more without completely undressing the patient. Snap closures are available on all kinds of clothes, from at-home hospital gowns to post-surgery jackets to tearaway pants. Snap-on clothing is also commonly used in wheelchair garments since they are not attracted to the metal frame of the wheelchair, unlike magnets. 

Velcro Closures

Rounding out our list of closures for adaptive clothing is good old Velcro. This super sturdy closure is used for everything from pants to shoes, thanks to its durability and versatility. Velcro is very forgiving because you don’t need to perfectly line it up in order for the garment to stay closed. Simply smush the two pieces together and you’re good to go. Velcro is especially popular on slippers and shoes because it offers the ability to adjust the fit larger or smaller without having to fiddle with laces. Since many seniors struggle with swelling in their lower body, this is a big benefit to having Velcro closures on shoes specifically.

Pull-on Styles

Pull-on clothing styles get rid of closures altogether in favor of an easy on garments. Pull-on clothing comes in many different styles, including easy grip pull-on pants. Generally, the styles are a bit looser since very tight clothes can be hard to pull over up your legs. Some people also like to size up to make it even easier to pull the garments on. Pull-on clothing also sometimes requires a little more upper body mobility to get dressed, especially the tops, so keep that in mind as you’re shopping.

Adaptive Clothing for Men and Women!

Elastic Waistbands

Elastic waistbands are absolutely essential for pull-on pants; otherwise, they’d just fall right down! Men’s and women’s elastic waist pants make getting dressed and undressed a cinch. You simply pull the pants up or down as needed, and the elastic automatically adjusts. If you need the maximum amount of stretch, look for a full elastic waist (some pants only have elastic on the back half of the waistband). Sometimes, elastic might be combined with other closures, such as Velcro, so the pants can be opened even wider to make it easier to get dressed and undressed. 

medical device openings adaptive clothing
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Openings for Medical Devices

Regular clothing is not designed with medical needs in mind, which means that people often have to disrobe partially or completely in order to access prosthetics, catheters, wound dressings and other medical devices. One of the innovative adaptive clothing ideas that we love the most is deliberately adding ports to garments that allow people to access these medical devices without having to take off their clothes. These openings usually stay closed when not in use, thanks to snaps or another type of closure, but open quickly when you need access.

Seamless Designs

Seams aren’t just uncomfortable for some people who are sensitive to sensory input. They also contribute to the risk of developing bed sores and other skin issues. Because of this, many adaptive clothing garments are moving towards low-profile seams or even totally seamless designs that eliminate them completely. These garments are important for people who are bedbound or wheelchair bound (and thus at greater risk for developing bed sores), but they’re so comfortable that lots of people love to wear them — even if they don’t have a disability or sensory issues.

Soft Fabrics

If you think that all senior clothing is made of heavy, scratchy fabrics, think again! In a similar vein to the low-profile seams, a lot of adaptive clothing brands are also prioritizing soft fabrics since they are less likely to cause sensory issues or chafe the skin. Soft, thin, flexible fabrics are also way more comfortable to wear after surgery or while sitting in a wheelchair all day, making them an excellent choice for adaptive clothing (or really clothing of any kind). Prioritize these fabrics while shopping for adaptive clothing and you won’t regret it!

Open Back Designs

It can be difficult to dress wheelchair users in traditional closed back garments since ideally they should remain seated during the whole dressing process. That’s why many adaptive clothing stores, including Silverts, carry open back tops and bottoms that are specifically designed for wheelchairs, bed-bound patients and other people who need to remain sitting or lying down during the dressing process. The back or seat of the garment is made from two overlapping panels of fabric that offer complete coverage while still making it easy to get dressed and undressed in a sitting or lying down position.

open side pants
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Open Side Pants

Open side pants serve a slightly different niche than open back pants. Open side pants are a great choice for anyone who needs a wider opening to accommodate taking the pants on and off. The open sides also allow you to access catheters and other medical devices, which is an obvious perk if you need those medical ports. The waistband of open back pants also offers lots of opportunities for adjustability, which is great if your weight fluctuates or if you struggle with bloating during the day. If you want to continue self-dressing, but elastic waist pants aren’t cutting it for you anymore, we highly recommend checking out open side pants as an alternative. 

Front Closure Bras

Many women find that wearing a camisole with a shelf bra built into it is the easiest and most comfortable way to wear a bra. However, sometimes that isn’t possible — either because you can’t wear a camisole with your outfit or because a camisole bra doesn’t offer enough support. In these cases, many women with mobility limitations prefer to wear a front closure bra as opposed to a traditional back closure bra. A front closure bra is easier to take on and off and to fasten in place if you don’t have full range of motion in your upper body and your hands, making this another one of our favorite adaptive clothing ideas.

Comfortable Nightgowns for Elderly Women

Non-Slip Socks

Non-slip socks are one of our favorite items of post-surgery clothing. Not only will they help keep you warm, they will also help you stay steady on your feet if you need to get up in the middle of the night. While we recommend that seniors wear non-skid shoes inside for safety reasons (more on those below), we think that non-slip socks are a great adaptive clothing idea for specific situations, which is why they’re one of the most highly reviewed products on our website. They don’t replace non-skid shoes by any means, but they do serve a very important purpose in the overall adaptive wardrobe. 

non-skid shoes prevent falls indoors
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Non-Skid Shoes

Wearing non-skid shoes or slippers inside the house is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent falls indoors. Anyone who is unsteady on their feet, whether they’re a youthful surgery patient or an aging senior, should have a pair of these to wear inside the house to keep themselves from tripping. We especially love plush indoor slippers with Velcro closures that make the shoes a breeze to adjust. If you don’t already own a pair, definitely check out this adaptive clothing idea and consider adding them to your wardrobe.

Adaptive Accessories

Some of our favorite adaptive clothing ideas are actually adaptive accessories. Small add-ons such as adult bibs, feet protectors, post-surgical scarves, adjustable belts and adaptive neckties help keep you comfortable and make your outfit look more put-together. While they may not always be strictly necessary, they are a great addition to any outfit and also make for awesome gift ideas for seniors who already have a closet full of adaptive clothes. If you’re on the hunt for a unique but practical gift idea for an elderly loved one, definitely check out our adaptive accessories section.

Got a better idea of what adaptive clothing ideas you are looking for now? Then head on over to our online storefront, which contains a wide range of clothing for both men and women. At Silverts, we carry a wide range of both styles and sizes to suit a variety of needs. We also carry one of the widest varieties of adaptive clothing, including all the features listed here.

Browse our online storefront to see what strikes you or reach out to our customer service department if you need help finding something specific. All U.S. orders over $20 ship free and you’ll get free rush shipping within the U.S. if you spend over $100. So don’t be afraid to add to your cart!

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