Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

How to Adapt Clothing for a Person with a Disability

a woman in a wheelchair using a laptop at a desk
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By SeventyFour /

For people with disabilities, wearing regular clothing can be difficult or even impossible. Adaptive clothing that is specifically designed to cater to their needs can be the difference between being able to get dressed in the morning or not, an activity many of us take for granted. (Still not sure what adaptive clothing is? We’ve got you covered in our guide.)

Here are seven ideas for ways that designers can adapt clothing for disabled people:

Reconsider the closures.

Garment closures are one of the most difficult things for people with disabilities to work, especially those with limited hand dexterity. Buttons are some of the most difficult, followed by zippers with smaller pulls. There are some devices that can make these types of closures easier to deal with, such as button hooks and elongated zipper pulls. However, for someone with a disability they often find thatit’s better for them to simply opt for another kind of closure, such as Velcro and magnets, so that they don’t need a special device to get dressed or fix their garments.

Ditch closures for pull-on styles.

Sometimes, a person with a disability even struggles with Velcro and magnetic closures. This is especially true if the closure is located in a hard-to-reach area, such as the back of a shirt. In these cases, it’s often easier to skip closures altogether in favor of pull-on styles that don’t need closures at all. These garments need to be made out of stretchy fabric and to incorporate elastic and other material that will expand and then snap back into shape. Elastic waist pants and stretchy shirts can make it possible to get dressed when no other garment is feasible.

Browse Adaptive Clothing Online

Add loops to pants waistbands.

Speaking of elastic waist pants, sometimes it can be difficult for people with limited dexterity to grasp their pants to pull them up and down. This can make it hard to get dressed and undressed as well as use the restroom on their own. Adding loops to the waistband of pants lets them slide their fingers inside the loops. Then, they can simply raise or lower the pants with the help of the loops, even if they don’t have the hand strength or control to grasp the pants’ waistband on their own.

a little girl holding a wooden horse
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By Natalia Lebedinskaia /

Pay attention to seams and pressure points.

Seams, tags and other components that press or chafe the skin can cause issues for those with autism and other disabilities that involve sensory processing issues. They can also cause problems such as bedsores in people who are wheelchair-bound or bed-bound and thus lay on the seams for many hours at a time. Designing adaptive clothing that gets rid of seams, tags and other problematic components can make clothing a lot more comfortable to wear and prevent these issues from arising.

Leave room for prostheses and braces.

Those who use prosthetics, braces, bags and other bulky medical equipment often struggle to find clothes that fit. They often have to size up multiple times, resulting in ill-fitting clothing that sags and bags everywhere else. Garments that are specifically designed to leave room for such devices is a huge help, as is clothing that has flaps secured with snaps or magnets that allow for quick access to these medical devices.

a pair of velcro lace shoes
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By KucherAV /

Shop Adaptive Clothing for Wheelchair Users

Don’t forget shoes.

Shoes are an often overlooked component of adaptive clothing. They are difficult to put on not only because of the laces and other closures, but also because shoes involve a lot of bending over, which can be impossible for some people to do. Slip-on shoes eliminate both closures and the need to bend over to fasten them. Velcro shoes do involve bending over, but they can be adjusted throughout the day as needed, making them a great option for swollen feet.

Remember that fashion matters.

One of the things that is most frustrating for people with disabilities is that much of the clothing that fits them doesn’t look at all like normal clothes. It’s immediately obvious that they are wearing disability-specific clothes, which just separates them even more from their peers. These styles also tend to be frumpy, unflattering and plain old-fashioned — and who wants to wear clothes like that? Designing adaptive clothing that is not only flattering but also resembles regular clothing is a great way to make everyone feel included instead of forgotten.

Looking for adaptive clothing? At Silverts, we carry a wide range of clothing for disabled people, including adaptive clothing for wheelchair users and muscular dystrophy clothing. Shop our selection of adaptive clothing today and get free shipping on U.S. orders over $20!

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