Person in a wheelchair is in front of laptop choosing between clothes jeans

Shopping for Clothes with a Disability

One of the biggest challenges of living with SMA is buying new clothes, especially pants. For me, it’s not possible to go to a store and quickly slip on a pair of jeans in the dressing room to make sure they’re the right size and I like the fit. I mean, I personally have never seen a dressing room with a Hoyer lift; I rarely find one that’s even big enough for a wheelchair.

Try then on at home, then return

If I want to buy pants, I have to purchase them, come home, get in bed, try them on, and get back in my wheelchair to see if the pants are comfortable. If not, I have to go back to the store to return the pants and then sweat out those dreadful days while I wait for the money to get refunded to my credit card.

Trying a clothing subscription service

That’s how the shopping experience has always been for me until recently. A couple years ago, there was an influx of clothing subscription services like Stitch Fix. An able-bodied friend of mine had been using Stitch Fix for a while and seemed satisfied with the stylists and told me they pay attention to your wants and needs. So, I decided to give it a go.

I went on the Stitch Fix website and completed a style profile that asked questions about sizing and overall style preferences. I got nervous since it was pretty basic but at the end there was an open-ended section to fully explain my clothing desires. I took this as an opportunity to tell whatever stylist I was matched with that I’m in a wheelchair.

Explaining what works with my wheelchair and me

I explained that my legs are skinnier below my knees and I prefer pants that taper toward the ankle so they don’t look too baggy or long. I also mentioned that since I’m sitting, jackets would need to be short so as to not hang and look messy. Long-sleeve shirts also tend to puff out because of my skinny arms (I mean muscular arms) so please send shirts with tighter sleeves or ones that aren’t too long. Lastly, I said to never send any shoes or accessories.

Waiting for the box

My first Stitch Fix box was scheduled and I couldn’t have been more excited. The entire premise of Stitch Fix is they mail a box of clothes (at whatever frequency you choose) and you only pay for the items you keep. Usually 5-6 items are sent. Most importantly, I’d be able to try on pants before purchasing them.

About a week later I received the Stitch Fix. Inside was a description of the items along with ideas of how to pair them with clothes that might already be in your closet. Also included is a letter from your stylist explaining why certain items were chosen.

The stylist listened (and I purchased)

I was blown away by how personalized the letter was as the stylist mentioned my note about being in a wheelchair and pointed out the pants that were skinny fit or shirts for shorter torsos. I’m not ashamed to admit I purchased everything in the box because it all fit perfectly.

If you’re having problems with shopping, definitely consider Stitch Fix or a similar company. Just make sure you’re honest and detailed in your profile for the best results.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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