“Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.” –Virginia Woolf
Multiple sclerosis can affect many areas of your life, and the disease may change how you do various activities. Choosing what to wear probably isn’t at the forefront of most people’s minds when receiving a diagnosis of MS, but clothing quickly becomes relevant to daily living when people experience certain MS symptoms.
Adaptive clothing can serve as temporary fixes during exacerbations for people who live with relapsing-remitting MS. For people who have a progressive form of MS, clothes adapted for special equipment can help make life a little easier. Here are some MS-friendly clothing suggestions:
If MS affects your balance and coordination, select shoes with significant “tread” on the sole rather than a smooth surface. If you experience numbness on the bottom of your feet, however, you may opt for a thinner sole to better “feel” the ground beneath you.
For people with heat sensitivity, cooling clothing may provide some relief. Cooling clothing contains gel crystals that retain cold temperatures when they are wet; they come in various styles, from bandanas to vests. Scroll down for suggested retailers.
Adding an invisible zipper to the seamline along the sides of pant legs can allow for easier dressing and undressing. Side-zip pants are ideal for people using wheelchairs and scooters, as they eliminate the need to pull pants legs up; instead the pants may be placed around the legs, with a thin zipper closing the pants from calf to waist.
Shirts that can be pulled over or zipped may be better options than shirts with buttons, snaps or ties for people who experience symptoms that affect the use of their fingers, hands or arms.
“MS progression resulted in permanent wheelchair use, and increasing upper-body impairment placed restrictions on my outside activities. This was compounded by a lack of available clothing for style, comfort, fit and freedom of movement. Modern adaptive apparel solved those problems for me; providing real clothing options for people with physical disabilities involves deeper issues of restoring dignity, self-confidence and personal autonomy.”
— JULIE, DIAGNOSED IN 1979
Here are some Canadian online shopping resources to get you started:
http://www.izadaptive.com Izzy Camilleri’s IZ Adaptive line in Toronto
http://www.ezeplus.com (French) for Mode Ézé Plus in Montreal
http://www.ashleysadaptiveapparel.ca/ (Winnipeg, MB)
http://www.debralynncreations.ca/ (Surrey, BC)
How do you use clothing to make your life easier with MS? Use the comments section to let us know what you think.
All photos sourced from IZ Adaptive.
Really liked the reading. Good tips. Thank you
I have had a secondary progressive MS diagnosis 9 years ago. I’m still able to walk and I’m now using a motorized walking asisting device (exoskeleton) and it would be easier for my knees to bend if wearing pants that allow flexibilities at knee level. Would you have any suggestions? Thank you! 🙂
Synthetic and otherwise toxic clothing really worsened my MS symptoms. Organically grown AND processed and certified by 3rd parties natural clothes are a must to reduce total load improve health and abilities, as is washing them with non-toxic, fragrance-free detergents, and avoiding all dryer sheets and fabric softeners.
I use a wheelchair and I have to wear suits everyday. I was worried that I would not be able to get suits that I could put on by myself and that would look good. My clothing store – Eddy’s Men’s Wear in Edmonton, AB – was not only able to tailor my suits to look good, but they were able to make a number of suggestions for ways to make them easier to put on. From changing the pants closure to replacing buttons with velcro (and sewing the button onto to ensure that it still looks right), shortening the jacket and lengthening the pants, they were able to accommodate my needs. My recommendation to anyone who needs to dress a certain way (and can afford a good clothing store) is to go to a good store and ask what they can do to assist you. Alternatively, find a good tailor or seamstress that can make the alterations for you.
When I became a full time wheelchair user I searched for good price hard wearing clothes that weren’t aimed at seniors. It was a hard find, but it was great to find that the only one I found was a Canadian designer, Izzy, from IZ Adaptive. Her clothes keep me dressed for a reasonable price and keep me comfortable. Strongly recommend her!
Nice blog for wearing. Thanks for sharing.