“In the grand scheme of all the struggles that come along with losing a limb,” writes Alexandra Boutté at Limbitless Sunshine, “clothing may not sound like a significant one. But it is part of what makes us feel like ourselves. . . . I just wouldn’t be myself if I stopped caring about fashion.”
That’s why we spent a big chunk of our current issue on adaptive apparel: For many clothes-conscious amputees like Boutté, caring about fashion is a source of deep frustration. “On top of the challenge of selecting clothing,” she notes, “there is the challenge of putting it on. Changing in a department store dressing room feels like wrestling with an alligator. . . . It’s ok to throw a pair of jeans across your room and consider putting all of your clothes in a pile and lighting them on fire so you can just live in sweat pants and never leave your house again.”
As you may recall from this recent article, Boutté is nothing if not a problem-solver. She’s attacking her closet with the same cheerful determination that she’s throwing at her insurance company. We asked if she would share a few tips of what she’s learned so far. Here’s what we found out.
What retailers (if any) have a good selection of clothes that work for an AKA lifestyle?
Unfortunately, I have not found many retailers that offer accessible clothing for those of us with limb difference. But I am always on the hunt and haven’t given up hope!
What about designers—are there any you’ve found to be especially useful?
Margaret M makes my favorite work slacks. They have plenty of stretch and are easy to slide on. Bonus: They also have a slimming waist band.
Any online vendors that you like?
Curves n Combatboots offers an above the knee legging! The side where you wear a prosthesis is a short that sits at the top of the socket and the other side is a full length legging. Also, PacSun has my go-to pair of prosthetic-friendly jeans.
Any fabrics that seem to work better than others, in your opinion?
Stretch is your friend. It can be challenging to find clothing that fits around your socket comfortably and stretchy fabrics will make it much easier to get dressed and undressed.
Are there particular styles or fabrics that you avoid because they’re just not compatible with AKA needs?
I avoid pants that are too tapered at the bottom. Because I do not actually have an ankle, it can be tough to slide them on and off.
Is there a type of garment (or feature) that you wish existed, but that you can’t find?
I wish that shorts and pants which were slightly more wide on the side I wear a prosthesis on were an option. I often find that pants and shorts will ride up on that side and it’s not the most flattering fit.
Any other tips?
I use a plastic bag over my foot to slide on pants. This is a game-changer. Sometimes the edge of your socket can create small tears in the back of your pants. Your prosthetist should be able to smooth these edges for you with a heat gun. You can also sew a small patch of heavier duty fabric inside your pants to avoid this.
“It is more challenging selecting clothing and getting dressed,” Boutté concludes. “But I have always had fun with my wardrobe, and I don’t plan to let my amputation change that!” Boutté just observed her six-month ampuversary. Follow her journey at Limbitless Sunshine and on Instagram @limbitlesssunshine.