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The world of fashion is notoriously fickle; bound up in a vision of unobtainable beauty concepts. But times are changing, and suddenly accessible fashion has hit the runway, the headlines … and even the front cover of VOGUE. Being able to dress and impress whatever your age or ability, is now the tangible topic that’s hot on the high street.

Barrier-free clothing isn’t just big news; it’s a smart retail decision with households already spending around a whopping £274 billion on wears that don’t tear. That’s a figure surely forecast to grow as we strive to look good and feel great as the years roll by.

So, what should you be looking for when it comes to futureproofed fashion? What types of garment or little adaptations could make the world of difference to you?

Labels without the label

If you are seeking fully adapted clothing then here are some names to check out online.

Unhidden is a young adaptive fashion brand that’s made the catwalk at London Fashion Week. The collection is all about clever tailoring for all ages. Garments use hidden Velcro topped with buttons meaning you get the look without the struggle. Double layer fabrics allow for stoma bags or carrying drips. Zips on trouser hems give extra width so you don’t have to take your footwear off. These items  are made to order yet remain competitively priced.

The Able Label is another range to try. Designed to help those of us with physical and cognitive challenges, it aims to encourage self-confidence and autonomy. If you still need a helping hand, then not to worry as the collection also takes into account those who help others with getting dressed.

Finally, you’ll find US fashion giant Tommy Hilfiger is a surprising leader in the adaptive fashion field. Even Nike have ventured into the adaptive market with the much sought-after FlyEase trainer with ‘on/off laceless technology’.

Off your shelf

If specialist clothing isn’t for you, simply reassess what you already have and follow these simple, common sense rules. Check whether the trousers you’ve chosen aren’t too long to avoid them snagging on footwear and causing a fall. For the same reason give long, flowing clothing a miss if you’re using a walking aid. Elasticated and drawstring waists are easy to put on and avoid fiddly buttons or zips, while practical soft stretch jersey and thermals are enjoying a renaissance. And by choosing wrap dresses or skirts you can avoid having to reach up over your head.

Brand aid

But don’t stop there with your forward-thinking fashion. Investing in assistive dressing devices can be bring joy back into what might previously have been a chore. Button hooks and zip pullers for example are superb if your dexterity’s not what it used to be. Elastic laces will allow you to slip shoes on and off without having to bend over plus they come in styles suitable for most footwear. Your gadget arsenal isn’t complete without a long-hand grabber or a pull-on, pull-off sock aid. All these are especially useful whether for temporary use while recovering from an injury or a more permanent help when arthritis continues to march on.

Stiltz Homelifts are completely onboard with this inclusive fashion evolution. “We’re big advocates of adaptability of all kinds, says Mike Lord, CEO of Stiltz Homelifts. “We’ve levelled the boundaries so customers can adapt to a better way of living, creating possibilities that an unfashionable stairlift couldn’t even begin to compete with. A home lift from Stiltz does more than attract admiring glances and turn heads – it turns around lives.”

An Occupational Therapist’s viewpoint from Stuart Barrow, OT:

“Adaptive clothing plays a crucial role in promoting inclusivity. By understanding the significance of clothing modifications, Occupational Therapists can help overcome barriers to dressing independently, fostering a sense of autonomy and confidence. Adapted clothing contributes to inclusivity by enabling everyone to express themselves and their personal style while accommodating unique needs. This can lead to feeling more comfortable, independent and empowered. Moreover, functional clothing adaptations simplify daily routines, enhancing the ability to engage in social interactions which leads to more positive mental health and well-being.”

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