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Accessible clothing

Accessible Clothing Panel

Staying stylish and independent with your wardrobe choices is an essential part of living well. However, age-related changes like reduced dexterity, limited mobility, and vision problems can make dressing a challenge.

Common scenarios and problems

Lifestyle and equipment options to help you

Limited dexterity: Difficulty manipulating buttons, zippers, and fasteners.

This can lead to frustration, dependence on others, and the potential for skin tears.

Adaptive clothing: Features easy-to-use closures like velcro, magnetic snaps, or pull-on styles for easier dressing. 

Dressing aids: Utilise zipper pulls, button hooks, and sock aids for added assistance.

Reduced mobility: Difficulty bending, reaching, or raising arms.

This can lead to difficulty dressing independently and an increased fall risk.

Front-opening clothing: Opt for shirts, jackets, and trousers with closures in the front for easier self-dressing. 

Adaptive undergarments: Explore options like support bras or easy-access incontinence underwear.

Vision problems: Difficulty seeing clothing details or differentiating colours.

This can lead to frustration and potential wardrobe malfunctions.

High-contrast clothing: Choose clothing with bold colours and contrasting patterns for better visibility. 

Clothing labels with large print or raised textures: Identify garments by touch with larger, raised labels.


Common obstacles to independent dressing

Here are some common issues that can make dressing independently difficult:

  • Limited dexterity: Weakened hands and fingers can make manipulating buttons, zippers, and other traditional fasteners frustrating or even impossible.
  • Reduced mobility: Bending over to put on socks, reaching for lower body garments, or raising arms to dress can become increasingly challenging and pose a fall risk.
  • Vision problems: Difficulty seeing clothing details, differentiating colours, or reading labels can lead to mismatched outfits and frustration.

Accessible clothing for effortless dressing

The good news is that a range of clothing specifically designed for ease of dressing is available. Here are some features to look for:

  • Easy-closure options: Opt for clothing with velcro closures, magnetic snaps, or pull-on styles that eliminate the need for fiddly buttons or zippers.
  • Front-opening designs: Choose shirts, jackets, and trousers with closures at the front, allowing you to dress independently without assistance.
  • Adaptable features: Look for clothing with features like adjustable waistbands, leg openings that open wide, or built-in bra support for additional comfort and ease of dressing.

Equipment and aids to help you get dressed

Alongside accessible clothing, various dressing aids can make the process even smoother.

  • Zipper pulls: These large, easy-to-grip zipper pulls make zipping up garments much easier, especially for those with limited dexterity.
  • Button hooks: These simple tools help you loop buttons through buttonholes with minimal hand and finger strength needed.
  • Sock aids: These ingenious tools assist with putting on and taking off socks and stockings effortlessly, especially if bending over is difficult.
  • Long-handled shoe horns: These eliminate the need to bend down to put on your shoes, reducing strain and fall risks.
  • Dressing sticks: Extendable tools with hooks or grippers allow you to reach for items like zippers, buttons, or socks without bending over.

Choosing the right accessible clothing and dressing aids

When selecting accessible clothing and dressing aids, consider your specific needs and limitations. Here are some additional tips:

  • Comfort and fit: Choose well-fitting clothes that are comfortable to wear and allow for ease of movement.
  • Quality and durability: Opt for clothing made from quality materials that will last and dressing aids that are sturdy and well-constructed.
  • Trial and error: Don't hesitate to experiment with different styles and dressing aids to find what works best for you.

Dressing tips for improved independence

  • Plan your outfit: Lay out your clothes the night before or choose a simple, pre-coordinated outfit to minimise decision fatigue in the morning.
  • Sit down while dressing: Sitting on a sturdy chair with armrests provides support while putting on socks, shoes, and lower body garments.
  • Layer strategically: Use layers to adjust your temperature throughout the day without having to completely redress.
  • Ask for help when needed: Don't hesitate to seek assistance from a family member, friend, or carer if needed.

Vision-friendly clothing for easier identification

If vision problems make getting dressed challenging, consider these tips:

  • High-contrast clothing: Choose clothing with bold colours and contrasting patterns that are easier to see. Consider colourful stripes, geometric prints, or contrasting coloured tops and bottoms.
  • Clothing labels with large print or raised textures: Invest in clothing with larger, raised labels you can identify by touch. Some labels may even be in Braille for those with complete vision loss.
  • Colour-coding system: Develop a colour-coding system for your wardrobe. For example, allocate specific colours for weekdays and weekends, or categorise tops and bottoms by colour to simplify outfit selection.

Where to buy equipment to help you get dressed

Plymouth City Council, NHS Devon, and Livewell Southwest have jointly commissioned NRS Healthcare to deliver the Safe+Well service, and they have over 2,500 daily living aids that you can purchase by mail order, telephone, or online.

View the Plymouth Safe+Well website

NRS has a dedicated phone line with a trained team of specialists who can answer any questions you might have. Just call 0345 6461860.

Other places to buy equipment from:

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  • Free assessment tool: Select the area of difficulty that is relevant to you. You will then be asked a few questions to guide you towards helpful daily living aids. 
  • Free telephone advice line: Complete the online form, and we will contact you to arrange a convenient time to call.



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