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Adaptive fashion is an important aspect of life after a spinal cord injury. The way we look can impact the way we feel. Choosing what we wear can boost self-esteem and lead to increased levels of confidence. Many people want to dress as good as possible just like they did before their injury. For many, adaptive fashion is a must, especially if one has specific needs like limited dexterity. It allows them to dress in a way that makes them feel functionally powerful and looking good while seated.

Many people have to get rid of clothing after a spinal cord injury because it does not fit well while in a seated position, thick or rough fabric that can cause skin breakdown, or clothing that is too difficult to wear, such as tight pants or very high heels. This can be difficult, but the good news is that there are dozens of businesses selling fashionable adaptive clothing. You can also purchase your own clothing and make it work, or even have your current clothing altered/adapted by a local seamstress.

It is important to work on creating a dressing plan when as an inpatient and outpatient during therapy. Occupational therapists are experts at helping people with spinal cord injuries develop the easiest way to get dressed functionally and considering their needs. Functional dressing involves putting on and taking off clothing based on someone’s physical functional movement and abilities. Here are some tips to follow to make dressing a safe and easy affair.

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  • Develop your dressing regiment with your occupational therapist

  • Soft and comfortable fabric is best for the skin

  • Be careful of tight clothing, loose clothing is recommended

  • Be careful of clothing wrinkles that are formed on your back and under where you’re sitting, these wrinkles can lead to pressure sores

  • Dress appropriately for the weather:
    • Hot weather – wear clothing that can breathe, clothing that is very light weight usually breathes easier than heavy clothing

    • Mild weather – wear clothing that is comfortable

    • Cold weather – wear clothing that is heavy or thick to keep the body warm, wear layers, but being mindful of wrinkles

    • Wet weather – do not let your clothing or wheelchair get wet, wet clothing can cause skin complications. Stay out of wet weather, but if it is unavoidable, protect yourself with a large umbrella

Make Garments Work

Here is an overview of how each garment in general is adapted by our founder Josh, a C4-5 quadriplegic.


When wearing shirts make sure they are tucked down in the back and on the sides so that there are no wrinkles. Wrinkles can cause skin complications which can result in pressure sores and autonomic dysreflexia.



When wearing sweaters make sure they are tucked down like your shirt to avoid wrinkles. I have found sweaters to be more comfortable and form fitting than jackets.  They conform to the body a lot easier than jackets, especially around the tummy, because sweaters do not have top to bottom zippers.



When wearing jackets and really all upper body clothing make sure they are tucked down in the back and on the sides so that there are no wrinkles.  I found jackets to be more difficult to wear because there’s not much elasticity.  I usually only wear jackets when it’s really cold out. In recent years I started wearing a hybrid jacket which is a half zip jacket.



Having to be in a sitting position at all times is not how pants are designed.  Because of this we either have to buy our pants two or four sizes bigger or not buckle the pants at all.  I tend to do both because the seat belt and shirt bottom will hide both the button and unzipped zipper.  The pants should also be two to four sizes longer because the knees are bent when sitting in the wheelchair. I have a seamstress remove all extra unnecessary fabric like the back pockets, metal back buttons, and the belt loops. If I don’t need it or use it, I lose it.



When wearing underwear, you need to be extra careful because the underwear can not be seen or felt.  You need to make sure that the underwear is not easy to wrinkle.  I look for underwear that has no or very few fabric seams that I would sit on. There is underwear that has zero seams on your bottom area. Seems can sometimes cause red marks. I also look for boxer briefs that are not too tight but with no extra baggie fabric. Pull down the underwear so there is no wedgy.  Double check after getting in the wheelchair. Anti-embolism stockings are also important. Here are two links –

T.E.D.TM Knee Length Anti-embolism Stockings

T.E.D Thigh Length Anti-embolism Stockings


Buy your shoes one to two sizes bigger than your actual foot size.  This will help to prevent pressure sores on the feet.  Also, use shoe stretchers at night to keep the shoes loose fitting.

Two-Way Shoe Stretcher

A shoe stretcher is a very important product when it comes to shoe maintenance.  This product stretches shoes in multiple directions.  A stretched shoe is less likely to cause skin complications. Shoes that are too tight can cause pressure sores. Two-Way Shoe Stretcher


Traveling Umbrella

It’s good to always keep a traveling umbrella in your backpack or hanging on the back of your wheelchair.

Traveling Poncho

Buy a traveling poncho and keep it in your backpack or car.

Jumbo Umbrella

Jumbo size umbrellas with a clamp are perfect for people in wheelchairs because it gives the person holding the umbrella the ability to cover them self and the person in the wheelchair while moving.

Adaptive Clothing Designers

Since 2015, adaptive fashion has exploded. The market for adaptive fashion is bigger than ever, with many mainstream designers now making adaptive clothing. There is a wide variety of adaptive clothing makers as well, ranging from men and women adult adaptive clothing to companies that specialize in adaptive lingerie. Whether you’re looking for adaptive clothing, shoes or accessories, we have got you covered. Check out what is all available below.

Target: Since 2018, Target has been offering adaptive clothing for men, women and children. You’ll find standard garments such as slacks and tops. They also sell adaptive Halloween costumes. Women Men

Tommy: Created by Tommy Hilfiger, they’ve designed an entire line of high-end casual adaptive clothing for men, women and children. Seated clothing can be found in all categories. See more: https://usa.tommy.com/en/tommy-adaptive 

Kohl’s Adaptive: Kohl’s offers an entire unique line of adaptive clothing that was inspired by interns at the company. They have launched adaptive clothing for all kinds of disabilities, including sensory disabilities. See more

IZ Adaptive: Based in Canada and founded by a former Hollywood fashion designer, IZ Adaptive offers a wide variety of high-end seated adaptive clothing for men and women, including making adapted jackets and gowns. See more: IZ Adaptive

Alter Ur Ego: Founded by a woman with a spinal cord injury, Alter Ur Ego specifically makes adaptive jeans for both men and women who use wheelchairs. See more:  https://alterurego.co/ 

So Yes: Based in the Netherlands, So Yes creates innovative and fashionable adaptive clothing for both men and women. They create adaptive trousers, jackets, shorts, skirts and more. See more: https://so-yes.com/en/home-so-yes-adaptive-clothing/ 

Seven7 Able Jeans: A jeans company based in Los Angeles, Seven7 Able creates a variety of adaptive jeans for both men and women. You will find all of the additions that make jeans accessible and safe for wheelchair users. See more: https://seven7jeans.com/adaptive 

FFORA (accessories): If you are looking for high-end accessories for your wheelchair, such as cup holders or tumblers, or adapted accessories such as an accessible purse or bag, FFORA is the best place to look. Their accessories are from both men and women. See more:  https://liveffora.com/ 

Intimately Bras: If you are in need of adaptive undergarments such as adaptive bras or underwear for women, Intimately is one of the few companies in the world that offer adaptive lingerie. See more: https://www.intimately.co/ 

Slick Chicks panties: Slick Chicks has a patented design for side opening underwear that make them incredibly easy to put on and take off for women with disabilities. See more: https://slickchicksonline.com

Abilitee Adaptive Accessories: Only available at American Eagle Stores, Abilitee Adaptive creates adaptive accessories. You can find fashionable cath clips, arm and wrist bands and ostomy bag covers here. See more: Abilitee Adaptive Clothing Accessories | Aerie 

THEIA Bridal: An American bridal gown designer, they will often offer at least two accessible dresses in each line. See more: https://bridal.theiacouture.com/runway/

Zappos: Zappos doesn’t create adaptive clothing, but it is one of the best places to find adaptive clothing from dozens of quality designers, including many of the above designers we’ve profiled. They are a hub for searching for adaptive clothing. You can find 22 different adaptive clothing companies in their database of designers. Learn more: Zappos Adaptive | Zappos.com

And if you need help styling an outfit, Cur8able by Stephanie Thomas showcases what is available in the world adaptive fashion. Stephanie Thomas also helps style amazing adaptive fashion outfits and is a prominent advocate of adaptive fashion. Learn more

How to Find Your Own Seamstress

While adaptive clothing designers are highly helpful and many people with disabilities buy their clothing, it is possible to save money by buying standard clothing and have a seamstress in your area make clothing you have accessible to your needs.  

Our founder will frequently have his shirts altered by a local seamstress so he can put his chest wrap underneath and hide it from plain view. It’s an easy fix, but it can do loads to help one’s self-esteem. Other people will have their pants altered so they are shorter or longer.  Others may have their jackets altered as well, adding a zipper for example.  

There are many small alterations that can be made to pants, shirts, jackets, dresses and more that can make all the difference. Sometimes it is good to brainstorm with the seamstress as well to come up with the best design ideas.

To find a seamstress near you, your best option is to ask your local friends with spinal cord injuries. If that produces no results, try looking online for a seamstress in your area that has experience doing alterations. Contact them to ask if they would feel comfortable helping you make your clothing more accessible.

Click Your Level of Injury

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