Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis Get Fashionable


Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis Get Fashionable

by D.Z. Stone

When it comes to clothing, women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are no longer banished to yesteryears frumpy polyester stretch pants and dowdy housedresses. From boho-chic to classic, mens wearinspired sophistication, contemporary fashion offers both style and comfortand women with RA want more of it.

Women living with RA shared their insights into the role that fashion plays in their lives, as well as their unique needs and favorite finds, during a recent Facebook conversation among members of CreakyJoints, the worlds most popular arthritis community.

The following are just some of the comments that describe how women living with RA are embracing fashion and overcoming challenges.

  • Women living with RA want wardrobe essentials they can dress up or down that can take them from day to evening with a simple change of accessory and a pop of color.
  • Layering is key, and leggings, jeggings, and yoga pants are pivotal wardrobe essentials. The fabric of choice is breathable cotton; or, in the words of community member Cassie Weaver, stretchy, stretchy, stretchy.
  • Member Nicky Knight says these comfortable basics are her every day, go-to items, and Tammy Kolbe is a fan of the versatility that these active-wear staples provide: Theyre comfy and I can wear them in public, she says, noting that long sweaters and tunics provide welcome, full coverage.
  • Women also pair the ubiquitous leggings with flowing skirts and camisoles, wear tunics with jeggings, and have fun mixing yoga pants with tank tops and hoodies.
  • Adding accessories to even the most simple outfits can boost style and mood. Tamarae Ellis achieves her casual-chic look by adding lightweight jewelry, scarves, and hair accessories to her T-shirts and jeans, while Laurene Hamilton accessorizes to lift her spirits: I try to use color and add earringseven at home.
  • Dresses are also popular. Knit dresses are my best friend, says Arianna Zander. I can still feel pretty, but I dont have to deal with buttons or zippers. Just slip it over my head and Im done! Its easy on my joints and soft and comfy.
  • Never knowing when shell be too hot or too cold, Miranda Nelson layers when she wears dresses: I wear a lot of dresses. In the winter I pair them with cardigans, leggings, and UGGs.
  • Women living with RA who work in professional settings say that mens wear styling can be an easy and elegant solution at work. For business clothes, Ive gone to mens-style, loose, tailored pants, shirts, and jackets because it eliminates the stockings and high heels, says Karen Finch. Mahua Datta agrees: I usually wear a mans shirt and trousers since my frozen shoulders dont permit me to pull on even simple knitted dresses.
  • For swimming and aquatic exercise top recommended activities for those with RACreakyJoints members Kelly Maynard Brooks and Skip Dennis prefer mix-andmatch swim sets that feature a tankini top and sporty boy-short bottom. For those looking for a more feminine look, swim skirts are also an option. Julie Pickard, who just recently purchased a set with a skirt, loves her new find: Quite modern material and simple patternand provides support for the bust.
  • For Julie and many other women living with RA, the bra can be the most problematic wardrobe staple. The straps are just too painful, Jewel Jones notes. Hooking a bra in the back can also be difficult for those with aching and stiff hands, which leads many to opt for bras that clasp in front or for strapless or sports bras.

Ultimately, women living with RA want their clothes to reflect their sense of style. Style is a must, says Angie Bryant Allen. This is especially true for young women with RA, who expect style and comfort and will not settle for the shapeless options of the past.

I want something in fashion says Holly Dennett, 24.

Mylene Isabelle Zèle, 29, agrees: I dont want to be ugly just because Im sick.

D. Z. Stoneis social media and editorial director for Creaky- Joints, the nonprofit arthritis advocacy organization with more than 55,000 members online, and, according to Facebook, the most popular arthritis community in the world, with 4 million conversations per week. She has published numerous articles in the mainstream media, including the New York Times and Newsday.

Comments (5)

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Rising Above ra
Rising Above ra


This is an important topic for our self-care. I can relate to a lot of these comments as someone who is living with Ra and have written about too.

I talk about fashion and style on my website & how I came to choosing my outfit:

Also, I've written a post on my blog last winter about a Christmas type of 'wishlist' in relation to this topic. Sometimes when we are sick we opt for comfy clothing which is awesome but it can make us feel frumpy after some time. It's important to not lose our personalities, which can often be expressed by someones sense of style. Sometimes illness can decrease confidence too, so I feel little things like wearing the fashion we enjoy, can uplift and increase self-esteem.

Rheumatoid Arthritis