Story by Grant Maynard
Whether it be the inevitable plumbers crack bound to greet people throughout the day, the monumental task of shoelaces or feeling forced to wear t-shirts just to avoid buttons. Getting dressed can be a tiring and complex daily task, often before coffee. Often taken for granted, dressing can add stress, pain, fatigue and frustration before the day has even begun.
My first memory of ‘adaptive clothing’ was at the age of ten as my mum cut down the sides of my shirts, pants and underwear replacing seams with velcro or buttons. While I say ‘adaptive clothing’ here, I do so in the loosest of terms. I often believe the real history of adaptive clothing is doing whatever you can just to get by.
Just getting by doesn’t however help with building confidence when leaving the house, recovering from surgery, or building independence across a range of daily tasks, when leaving the house or dealing with rain. It’s dealing with situations like wet weather that prompted my first of many adaptive clothing purchases, the Kinetic-Balance Raindek.
While the delightful suggestion of strapping an umbrella to my chair seemed like a great solution to friends, the idea of flying off like Mary Poppins didn’t appeal to me. The Raindek however covers not just my clothing but also the side of my chair, keeping both myself and my cushion dry then neatly rolls up to sit in my under-seat bag.
From there my collection of adaptive fashion and accessories grew as more manufacturers entered the market. Not only with clothing I’d wear but more importantly clothing that looked good and was functional. It boggles my mind how simple things like magnetic buttons took so long to become available. After-all, strippers have been using some of these manufacturing marvels to allow for ‘quick changes’ for years.
And while yes, I joke, some of the concepts are quite simple ideas that not only make dressing easier, but safer. I remember the evening when the benefits of these adaptations became unbelievably clear to me. I’d got home from a physio appointment, daggy, tired, sore and in a few hours I had to be in the city for dinner and a show. While I considered canceling, the Moulin Rouge was calling, it was then I became a rolling catalogue – reminding me of major benefits adaptive clothing offers. In a fraction of the time it would normally take, I’d velcroed up my pants, zipped up my boots and magnetised my shirt and was on my way.
While it’s unlikely we’ll see adaptive fashion in our local shops anytime soon, in the meantime more retailers are popping up online, fulfilling the needs of just a handful of the issues people can face when getting dressed – with the ultimate goal of improving independence.
ADAPTIVE CLOTHING SITES
- EveryHuman: A one-stop-shop for adaptive clothing everyhuman.com.au
- Kinetic Balance: Rainwear and accessories www.kinetic-balance.com
- Tommy Adaptive: Hilfiger made adaptive au.tommy.com/tommyhilfiger-adaptive
- JAM the Label: Clothing developed by both OTs and people with disabilities. jamthelabel.com
- Recovawear: Post surgical clothing recovawear.com
- Carol Taylor Designs: Australia’s first quadriplegic designer caroltaylordesigns.com.au/
- FFORA: Accessories https://liveffora.com
- June 8, 2022