Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

Adaptive Living: One-Handed Dressing Techniques

A man using a long handled shoe horn to put on his shoes
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By Motortion Films /

Many daily activities become more difficult when you only have the use of one hand, arm or one side of your body, this includes getting dressed and undressed. Having to ask for help with personal routines, such as getting dressed, can be discouraging for many adults, not to mention difficult if you live by yourself. Here are five one-handed dressing techniques you can use to make this easier, from adaptive clothing to specific tools:

Use the stroke dressing technique.

This technique is used by people recuperating from strokes, which often affect one side of the body only. To use the stroke dressing technique, use your unaffected hand to dress your affected side first. When undressing, you follow the same order and undress your affected side first as well. This technique can be used seated or standing. The seated technique is more stable and is best for those who have compromised balance or mobility in their lower body. This stroke dressing technique allows you to keep the affected side relaxed and immobile, while letting your unaffected hand do all the work – making it ideal for those who can only use one hand.

Shop Self-Dressing Tops for Women

Choose your closures wisely.

Common closures such as buttons and shoelaces are difficult and sometimes impossible to work with one hand. Instead of struggling with these closures, look for easier options such as Velcro and magnets. These closures are much easier to operate with one hand and will make getting dressed by yourself much easier. In some cases, you can find clothing that pairs a traditional look, such as that of a button down collared shirt, with an easier closure such as Velcro. If you have had a lot of trouble dressing yourself with one hand, and your closet is full of these traditional but difficult to work closures, that might be the source of your problem. Try switching to some easier closures to see if you can get dressed one-handed with them.

A woman wearing loose fitting clothes
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Select loose-fitting clothes.

As a general rule, loose-fitting clothes are easier to put on than tight-fitting clothes, whether or not you have compromised mobility. This is especially true when you only have the use of one hand or side. Instead of continually wearing tight garments, opt for looser silhouettes such as pullover T-shirts, open sweaters and wide legged pants. These are much easier to pull over your head or up your legs, even with the use of one hand. Loose-fitting clothing is also easier to work with if you are new to dressing with one hand and just getting started with learning different techniques. This is why many self dressing tops for women and self dressing tops for men follow a loose, pullover style. Wearing such clothing styles also increases your mobility in your unaffected side once you are dressed, making it easier to move throughout the day.

Try out adaptive clothing and accessories.

Adaptive clothing is specifically designed for those with mobility issues, which can include only having the use of one hand. Adaptive clothing combines many of the techniques on this list, including easy to work closures and loose-fitting styles. Adaptive clothing may also incorporate other features that make it more comfortable for the wearer, such as extremely soft fabrics and minimal seams that do not cause chafing or pressure. Adaptive clothing is a great choice, not only for those who have limited mobility on one side, but also those who suffer from arthritis, are confined to wheelchairs or experience a number of other conditions that affect their mobility. Even if you still have the use of both your hands, you might still find it easier to wear adaptive clothing for other reasons.

Shop Self-Dressing Tops for Men

A man using a long handled shoe horn to put on his shoes
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By Monkey Business Images /

Consider buying some helpful tools.

There are many tools available that can help address specific challenges with donning clothes one-handed. For instance, a button hook can help you do up the buttons on a traditional formal shirt using only one hand. A dressing stick can help you pull the shoulder of a jacket in place or pull up pants. A long-handled shoe horn will help you put on shoes without requiring you to bend over and compromise your balance. If you struggle with a specific aspect of getting dressed one-handed, chances are that there’s a tool available that can make things simpler.

Try these one-handed dressing techniques to take back control of your daily activities and begin taking care of yourself again. And don’t forget that if you buy adaptive clothing from Silverts, you’ll get free shipping on any orders over $100! Browse our selection today and find your next personal one-handed dressing solution.


  • […] Getting dressed is one of the most frustrating tasks to do with one hand, and having a sling or cast complicates things further. Regular clothes with buttons and other tricky closures simply need two hands to operate. Some assistive devices, such as one-handed button hooks, can make the process feasible, but are still time-consuming and frustrating to operate. Instead, you should consider getting adaptive clothing that is designed specifically to be donned with one hand. These clothes feature pull-on styles that skip closures altogether or employ innovative closures such as magnets to make it easy to get dressed with one hand. Shop our selection of adaptive clothing or check out our blog on one-handed dressing techniques. […]

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