Adaptive Clothing

For people who spend a lot of time sitting, or if someone has difficulty getting clothes on/off, there are a number of solutions to make getting dressed easier.

There are lots of dressing aids, such as button hooks, dressing sticks, and sock aids. But, this article is focusing on ways that clothing can be adapted to help people with disabilities.

For women, skirts or dresses will make it easier to go to the bathroom. But, if you prefer to wear pants, you can have the side seam adapted with Velcro, zipper, or snap closure to make them easier to take on/off.

There are pants called “breakaway pants” that are used in basketball that can be found in most stores that sell sportswear that have snaps all along the side.

There are pants that are especially designed for those who spend a majority of time sitting. They have extra room in the back that helps the pants to not cut along the front when sitting.

Picture of pants with extra room in the back

For some people, it may be difficult to operate zippers and/or buttons. Pants, boxer shorts, and other items of clothing can be adapted to have a Velcro closure as shown below:

Another idea is to have button down shirts adapted so that it is held closed with Velcro only:

In the underwear department, front closing brassieres are a good option for women.  There is a company out of the UK that offers a magnetic closing bra that may be a good solution for those with limited dexterity.

(click on picture to go to site)

Also, loose fitting underwear, or underwear that is adapted with Velcro, a zipper, or snap side seams is a good idea. For men, wearing one size larger briefs or boxer shorts can make going to the bathroom easier. Some people may choose to not wear underwear to make toileting one step easier.

If you have a family member that sews, this is your chance to get them involved! Look at websites to get ideas, and then have your family member adapt existing clothing. This can be a very nice way for someone to help you out. A great resource for these types of ideas is This website also lists resources to find fashionable clothing for wheelchair users. Also, most dry cleaner tailors can do simple alterations for reasonable fees.

SPECIAL NOTE WHEN WEARING ADAPTIVE CLOTHING: Make sure that all seams are finished and that there are no bulky seams or fasteners that will rub you and cause irritation over time. Be sure that the edges of Velcro straps are not exposed to cause irritation. Also, be sure that there are no seams that go across your bottom when sitting. This could be a potential source of a pressure sore, which can be a life-threatening problem. The user or a caregiver should carefully inspect the user’s body when wearing adapted clothing the first few times to make sure that there are no skin irritations from seams or fasteners.

For help with putting on jewelry, there are a number of products available. Original clasps can be replaced with magnetic clasps for bracelets or necklaces. Look for items designed for arthritis patients for easy to use products. A lot of items can be found in the medical isle of large drug store chains.

A web search for “adaptive clothing” will result in a host of websites.  If you have any good resources or other comments, please feel free to leave comments below.

Here are a few specific resources:
Adaptive Clothing Showroom:

American Health Care Apparel:

Easy Access Clothing

Buck and Buck

Wardrobe Waggon

AG Apparel

Here is a link to a website that has especially fashionable clothing for women:
Izzy Camilleri Adaptive Clothing

There is a non-profit organization that provides custom-made, adaptive clothing, free of charge, to any veteran:
Sew Much Comfort