Is comfortable clothing for chronic pain a possibility? And if so, what is it?!
We didn’t plan it but we slowly started discovering a common theme for many of our lovely customers: they struggled with high street fashion thanks to various health issues but still wanted to wear clothes that looked nice when their bodies were hurting and struggling, perhaps even more so.
For many, comfortable clothing for chronic pain was something they’d spent a long time searching for. There were years of attempting to find clothes on the main street that could cope with fibromyalgia flare ups, weight fluctuation, and allodynia friendly clothing when most fabrics and styles felt painful.
Thanks to their honesty and willingness to share their stories, we’ve discovered some common themes to expand on, hopefully demonstrating that it is possible to have comfortable clothing for chronic illnesses that looks nice and won’t cause additional pain.
So what about fibromyalgia pain and clothing issues - why is it a big deal?
Fibromyalgia can feature a plethora of issues including one called allodynia. Areas of skin become highly sensitive and very painful to touch. Those areas can swap and change around your body too. For many, this means clothing that is tight fitting or has waistbands or straps becomes uncomfortable or even painful to wear.
Furthermore, fibromyalgia can result in weight fluctuations, sometimes even during the course of a day, and a struggle to maintain a constant body temperature, not to mention nerve and joint pains, digestive issues, and neuropathic skin pains.
This means clothing can truly become an area of pain, where the clothes you want to wear will be painful, and the clothes you can wear make you feel even worse about your self-image. (And living in the delightfully rainy and frequently cold British Isles means going naked isn’t really an option!).
Is it just fibromyalgia or is chronic illness & clothing sensitivity a common occurrence?
Sadly, many chronic illnesses seem to carry clothing sensitivity along with them. Whilst we've spoken of fibromyalgia and allodynia, there are also illnesses like eczema and psoriasis that cause deep skin issues where clothing adds extra unwelcome issues.
The sensory overload fabrics can cause means chronic illnesses cause both initial pain and then the additional work of finding clothing for sensitive skin that doesn’t exacerbate the condition.
That’s why it’s a big deal but that’s also why we’ve been so delighted to find our clothing is an answer for many women. Let’s share why!
What are The Best Clothes for Clothing Sensitivity then?
Clothing sensitivity can be part of a larger health problem, like fibromyalgia, or a separate issue in and of itself. It can make finding comfortable clothing for chronic pain that does not cause additional discomfort hard to find.
One of the main tips constantly coming up is: choose your fabrics. At mufflermanoflansing we absolutely adore soft fabrics that drape. Not only do they look incredibly flattering (which is never a bad bonus!), the soft fabrics are gentle on the skin, ideal if you need clothing for sensitive skin.
Look for clothing with gentle textures that won’t irritate the skin. Jersey can be brilliant for this (and has a lovely shape to it), and cotton has the added bonus of good breathability (great for the temperature swings). Silk, rayon or even fleeces are also excellent options.
Another major help often mentioned is: avoid buttons. Like “no buttons is a godsend” level of avoidance (as one of our ladies described it). When dealing with pain, tight clothes that require buttons, or even the act of having to button up items, is an extra faff you don’t need.
It can also require extra effort that could be better preserved for other jobs or, in cases with joint issues, actual pain. Free size clothing or elasticated waist trousers (or our famous magical stretch trousers) mean you can just pull clothing on and don’t need to worry about extra details like buttons and zips.
However, and this is a big however, many have felt this leaves them with no option but “men’s joggers and t-shirts from Primark”. Please please realise this doesn’t have to be the case. We adore colour and style and it is possible to have “Loungewear that you can party in!”.
The point being, many of our amazing ladies have found they can wear clothes they feel confident and stylish in whilst not sacrificing the vital comfort and ease required by clothing for fibromyalgia sufferers.
We loved this description by a lady with fibromyalgia who normally struggles finding clothing: “I’ve found easy soft clothing that feels like a comfort blanket and stops me stressing out even on the worse days”.
(For more tips, read our blog post “10 Ways to Dress for Chronic Illness”)
I need some Easy Clothing Ideas for Chronic Illness
Using the tips above, plus extras found in the blog post on dressing for chronic illness, we pulled together some long running favourites that customers have repeatedly found fibromyalgia friendly and make for some easy clothing ideas for chronic illnesses.
These are clothes that have given them back confidence and, in many cases, colour!
- Joggers + an oversized hoodie. Many ladies find structured trousers can rub wounds or cause discomfort through tight waist bands or non-give fabrics. Joggers (or our famous magical stretch trousers) give the illusion of structured trousers but feel like leggings. They are easy to dress up or down and for casual comfort you can’t beat an oversized hoodie! You can pop on a camisole underneath and then a t-shirt as well for extra warmth.
- One size tunic + ankle boots + thick leggings + blanket scarf. Perfect for winter, one size tunics can be paired with many other items to create quick outfits that look modern and put together. The advantage of adding a blanket scarf gives you an instant thermostat changing option.
- Jumpsuits. An outfit all in one, grab a jumpsuit in a soft jersey and you’re ready to go. Many can simply be pulled up so you don’t have to worry about buttons or zips. They can also be worn casually around the house - throw on chunky scarf or hoodie for extra warmth - or with some dressy shoes and accessories can be blinged up for a night out.
A friend suffers from fibromyalgia - are what are some good gifts for fibromyalgia sufferers?
Perhaps you don’t suffer from fibromyalgia or other chronic illnesses yourself but have a friend who does and want to buy her a helpful gift. With our wonderful ‘ladies on the inside’, let us give you a head start on buying for a friend who is dealing with fibromyalgia or another chronic illness.
One thing many ladies have mentioned is their love of colour. If your friend has a favourite colour, see if you can find it. So much life for a person with chronic illnesses is hidden behind doors and many days of dealing with exhaustion and pain can leave them depressed and very lonely.
Colour makes a huge difference. Putting something on that isn’t drab or boring, when your whole body is screaming at you, can really be a good ‘pick-me-up’. So if your friend rocks turquoise, go hunting for a stunning turquoise scarf or sweater.
(As an aside, often times a quick message to remind them you’re thinking of them can be an incredible gift. Not everyone with chronic illnesses is housebound but for many there is a lot of loneliness. A text message saying you just saw something that made you think of them reminds them they aren’t forgotten. A card in the post can also be a lovely gift.)
Another tip is: make sure the fabric, if it’s going to be clothing or home furnishings, is soft and gentle to the touch. Anything hard or abrasive can cause additional discomfort, especially when you throw in skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.
Other fun gifts can be a scarf or pair of earrings. Something that says “you’re special”. Given heat fluctuation is a big problem many face, a lightweight sweater (in a favourite colour, of course) gives them a stylish extra layer to add to their outfits.
We also love a soft fleece throw or colourful throw pillow. Something that can be used practically on a day they’re stuck on the sofa but adds some vibrancy into a space. (Or if staying warm is an issue, you need to see some of the crazy options available at Hot Water Bottle Shop - plus hot water bottles also have the added advantage of providing pain-relieving warmth to muscles and joints).
Whilst this post has provided a quick overview of various topics looking at comfortable clothing for chronic pain, please do check out the attached blog posts for more in-depth looks at the different subjects covered.
Also, before you go, we have an amazing community of people in our private Facebook group so if you want some encouragement, outfit ideas (there's a great thread of people sharing fibro friendly clothing they've found) and just a friendly group of people in your phone, do pop over. Join our colourful clothing mufflermanoflansing Facebook Group here.