Disability Creativity: Co-opting Clothing for Accessibility

Disability Creativity- Co-optingPeek inside my wardrobe and you’ll see the evidence of a life spent in pursuit of adventure. From wetsuits and jodhpurs to ski wear and jewel-bright dresses.

But the mix is misleading – they’re all ideas I’ve borrowed from other disciplines to make living with disability and dressing for wheelchair use easier. What’s neoprene got to do with life on wheels? Read on…

I’ve lived with disability for 13 years and learned to get creative.

Disability doesn’t have to mean dismal dressing. (Click to Tweet!)

I’ve yet to find disability clothing brands that suit my sense of style, so instead I’ve co-opted clothes from other areas that work for wheelchairs and disability needs.

Often people tend to ‘stay in their own lane’ and not look into other fashion areas. If your trousers don’t work with your wheelchair then you can struggle. I ask, who else spends lots of time sitting down and are their trousers more comfortable? If so, let’s borrow them!

My favourite clothes to co-opt for accessibility wear:


Outerwear (sign up to my list below for Part 2: My List of Everyday Wear, next week)


How do you go out in a wheelchair when it’s cold and wet? I live in Wales – cold and wet is something with which I’m very familiar.

Up until now I’ve used a wheelchair cosy toes, which works, but it’s not exactly stylish and if I want to get up and stretch a little  then I have to unzip, climb out and face the cold. Not fun.

Instead, try ski trousers, or salopettes – they are warm, lined, waterproof, snow-proof, lightly padded, and you can wear your usual clothes underneath. Warmth and movement!

Riding Gloves

If you are self- propelling your wheelchair you may have noticed those rims are slippy. Grippy gloves are essential. Lots of people use weight-lifting gloves as they have grips, but they are nearly always fingerless.

I can’t stand fingerless gloves in the winter!

A great alternative is riding gloves. They have grips (for holding the reins), and come in amazing insulated and smart-phone friendly versions. There are even little cotton grippy gloves available for summer rolling.

Riding Boots and Thermal Socks

If you don’t move your feet a lot they can get dreadfully cold, especially if your circulation isn’t quite up to par. Thermal boots designed for walkers or riders can be ideal. And let’s borrow their socks too.

Walking socks, from my amazon store and bamboo socks are my favourites. It’s a balance to find socks that don’t dig into your ankles if your legs become swollen, but also don’t slip off your feet so you struggle to replace them every 30 minutes.

It can be a matter of trying out what works for you but always bear in mind that bulk doesn’t necessarily guarantee warmth, it often just makes you less mobile. The newer thermal materials are fantastically warm yet thin and stylish.

Platypus (it’s not clothing, but I couldn’t leave it out)

When I was bed bound I really struggled to drink. I couldn’t lift a glass. The adult beakers tended to leak, or just open and spill when dropped (and if I could lift a glass without dropping it I wouldn’t be needing a beaker!) The leak/drop proof weaning/babies beakers were no good as adults don’t have the suckling reflex and so I couldn’t get anything out of them.

What’s the solution? What long distance walkers and hikers use of course! The Platypus is a great option for those who struggle to drink. It’s leak proof (from bag and mouth piece), and drop proof. To get water just bite down, suck and the water flows. If it falls from your mouth the water stops. And it holds 2 litres so you can easily track your water intake.

I can’t wait to see what your wardrobe will look like when you expand your sartorial reaches!

What clothing/products have you ‘borrowed’ from other areas to make life with disability better?

Image courtesy of Emily May.