Cazbarr dressed in leather jeggings and jade sparkly top

Being Disabled: Should It Mean I Can’t dress nicely?

Being Disabled: Should It Mean I Can’t dress nicely? I take a look at high street clothing and adaptive clothing to see how easy it is to dress nicely as a disabled person who is also a wheelchair user.

Dressing Nicely

Finding clothes that sit right AND look nice on a person who is always in a sitting position is not an easy task. When I go out, I want to look my best. It makes me feel happy and I feel much more confident.

I enjoy coordinating my clothes, shoes and make-up. I have different styles of clothing depending on the situation I am going out for. Rock chic look for karaoke nights down the pub, jacket & trousers for when I meet with shop managers and casual for meeting up with friends.

Being Disabled: Should It Mean I Can't dress nicely?  Woman sitting on the floor posing for a fashion shot

Fashion, unfortunately, is not geared for people in wheelchairs or disabled people in general. For example, models are 90% of the time in a standing position when being photographed for magazines/websites etc. If they do happen to be in a sitting position, it’s not a natural sitting position a wheelchair user would be sitting in.

Heels of any height is a no-no for me, as transferring in/out of my chair becomes impossible, I have to stick with flat shoes (ballerina type) which can leave a lot to be desired when it comes to style/design.

I have seen some lovely dresses hanging on the rail in clothes shops but as soon as I try it on, (oh, don’t get me started on dressing/fitting rooms in these shops) it is dreadful. It all bunches up on my lap, making the dress look far too long for me and looking like it could do with a good iron. So I now know it is pretty worthless even looking at dresses when out clothes shopping.

It has taken me many years to know what will suit me as a wheelchair user. Not only because I sit down all day but because of my body shape too. It’s still not an exact science but the majority of the time I can pick up an item, look at it and know if it’s for me. Well, I say that but I still have to fit them on as sizing greatly differs from shop to shop.

High Street v Adaptive Clothing for Disabled People

Adaptive clothing, I have to admit, is not something I ever think about. I suppose this may have something to do with the fact it’s not widely advertised, therefore, when doing a clothing search online, I can honestly say, I have never seen anything to do with adaptive clothing appear in my results. I have to tell my search engine I am searching for “Adaptive Clothing” before anything will appear.

Like everything else that is sold to make “disabled people’s lives better/easier”, it can come at a very high price:

Red linen wrap skirt with velcro fastening.

This is a wrap-around red skirt, it has two pockets and is fastened with a velcro strip on the waistband. I see a couple of issues with this skirt:

  1. How strong is the velcro? Will it come undone with manoeuvring, transferring out of my chair?
  2. Anyone half decent with a needle could attach a piece of velcro themselves.
  3. HOW MUCH?? £52.50…….You are having a laugh!!

There is no way, under any circumstances would I pay £52 for a skirt, no way!!

Red wrap skirt with tie fastening

By comparison, this skirt is also a wrap-around style…..Cost? £9.00 (was £12.99). Even at full price, it’s much more affordable. At the full price, you are making a saving of £39.51, not something to be snubbed at.

The item description says: “Calf-length skirt in a softly draping viscose weave. High waist with concealed press-studs and ties at one side, a wrapover front and asymmetric hem. Unlined”. A little needlework and a piece of velcro could be put in place of press stud.

Black decorative line with swirl in the center
Pair of floral jersey pull on trousers

Ok, how is this item any different to a pair of leggings??? They say ” Fully elasticated waistband for ease of dressing”. Errm, so are all the trousers I possess that I have bought from high street retailers! Again, how are these “Adaptive”?? And you want £40 quid……No!

At the end of the day, you can wheel into any high street clothing retailer and find an identical designed item for a much cheaper price!

So, by comparison, these next two items are what I would agree are in fact “Adaptive” pieces of clothing:

Black and grey coloured tie dye leggings

These leggings may not be floral but no different from the pair above: “Made from a stretch jersey fabric for comfortable wear, they feature an elasticated waistband and finish with a tie dye print”.

The price of these are again much more affordable: £14.99

I know which pair I would purchase.

Black decorative line with swirl in the center
Adaptive navy jacket made for wheelchair users

Now this is what I would believe to be an adaptive jacket, they say:

“This very comfortable Wheelchair Jacket has been specifically designed for wheelchair users. The front of the jacket has a shorter cut to prevent it bunching up and to keep it looking stylish at all times. Similarly, the arms of the jacket are reinforced on the insides for extra strength and durability, ensuring that the Wheelchair Jacket is strong enough to cope with all the usual scuffs and abrasions that occur when self-propelling without any loss of performance”.

So the problem I mentioned about dresses bunching up at the front has been catered for and I know how sleeves can get damaged very quickly while self-propelling in a manual wheelchair.

Look at that, a reasonable price too: £16.48 Just goes to show, adaptive does not have to mean expensive!

Black decorative line with swirl in the center
Adaptive polo shirt in light blue

This is a polo shirt that the wearer can put on like a back to front jacket. Or at least that’s what I think they mean.

The description says: “Full back overlap with snaps at shoulders. This adaptive polo shirt for men completely opens up, allowing the individuals arms to be slid into the garment sleeves without ever having to raise/lower their arms or struggle with small neck openings. The back overlap is then folded over and domed/snapped into place”. 

I’m extremely disappointed that this company shows no images of how the “Adaptive” part works. Just looks like an ordinary polo shirt as it stands.

Domed/snapped?? Not sure what that means. But at the price of £76.92, I really couldn’t care less as again this is just legalised robbery!!

Black decorative line with swirl in the center
Red suede ankle boot with fleece lining and lace fastening.

I have saved the most expensive for last…..Cosyfeet pair of boots: A website: Adaptaware, directs you to Cosyfeet when looking on their site for footwear.

As I mentioned before, my feet are odd sized and shaped, therefore I normally need to buy 2 pairs of shoes to accommodate this. But bugger if I would purchase 2 pairs of these.

Ironically, if they were more reasonably priced, I would have bought a pair, I like the style of them. Unfortunately, at the wonderful price of £112.00 – £93.33 without VAT I would not even consider purchasing a pair.

Would this be classed as a VAT relief disability aid? Hmm not sure myself!

  • 100% waterproof to keep feet dry in all weathers
  • Breathable and with climate control to keep feet comfy and fresh
  • Windproof to keep feet warm and comfy
  • Water-resistant lace adjusts to fit a range of swelling
  • Roomier than it looks due to hidden-depth design
  • Seam-free toe area is ideal for problem toes
  • Lightweight sole is durable, shock-absorbing and cleated for good grip
  • Deep collar offers additional stability around the ankle
  • Comfort footbed is removable for extra depth – ideal for orthotics

The description is still leaving me with the question of how are these “adaptive”? Hang on…….Seam-free toe area? Is it just me, or does it look like the seam goes right over the toe area?. Climate control?? Are you for real? Where’s the temp knob? Hidden depth design…..Oh, this must be like the “luggage” in Terry Pratchett books.

Conclusion

It would seem that some items described as “Adaptive” are truly adaptive and would benefit many disabled people but…As with all aspects of life, it would also seem that some companies are trying to “cash in” on the £259 Billion spending power of disabled people by advertising some of their products as “Adaptive” when clearly it is no more adaptive than I am Lady Ga Ga!!

The prices of the majority of these products are purely legalised robbery! Do these adaptive clothing really cost this much to make? I doubt it very much. Disabled people have much more to pay out for in comparison to ableds, yet still, companies who advertise to help make disabled’s lives easier, do this by fleecing us! In turn, making our financial lives much harder to impossible!!

Some of these products can be bought from many high street shops and with a little alteration, can be “Adaptive”. Yes, I’m aware not all people can do this (physically) I for one. The question is, would it be cheaper to purchase high street product and pay someone to make alterations, or purchase the “Adaptive” product??

As a disabled person, of course, I would love my daily life to be easier but I’m just not willing to pay the kind of prices that are being asked from some, of these adaptive clothing. Shoes are my nemesis, I have one foot that swells up much more than the other. Depending on style/sizing, I have to buy two pairs of shoes so I can have one of the shoes in the next size up needed for me to wear them. Boots? Well, I’ve given up trying to find a nice pair of those for wintertime. I really like the boots above but will not pay that price.

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Prices/information correct at the time this blog went live. (I have no affiliation with any third parties I may have linked to.)

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