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My Fashion Likes And Dislikes As A Wheelchair User

Finding clothes that fit and look good when sitting down in a wheelchair can be a struggle. This is made worse by ever-changing fashion trends, making it difficult to keep up with the latest styles that will work when sitting down. Often, what’s currently in fashion, no matter how much I love the look on the model (who is standing up), won’t work for me at all. Even after all these years as a wheelchair user, it’s still one of my biggest pet peeves. So I thought I would share my fashion likes and dislikes as a wheelchair user including a few wheelchair fashion tips.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a fashion expert. This is just my personal opinion of what I’ve found works and doesn’t work for me. 

The Pros and Cons of finding fashionable clothes as a wheelchair user


I tend to wear things that I find most comfortable, especially because I’m sitting down all day. Jumpers are super comfortable. They also keep me warm, which comes in handy when living in Scotland.

I also tend to feel the cold a lot more, so cosy jumpers and knitwear are my go-tos. I think jumpers, sweatshirts, and cardigans are so versatile that you can dress them up or dress them down to suit different occasions.

Emma sitting in her wheelchair beside a disabled parking space

I don’t buy tops that are long, oversized, or ‘boxy’. The boxy fit has been in trend for a while now, but it’s one I avoid. Anything oversized will allow the extra material to gather up around my body and make me look bigger than I am.

However, I do like tops to be a little longer at the back so they can be tucked down. This keeps my back from getting cold and stops my tops from creasing, which can cause irritation and pain.

Tight-fitting sleeves

Due to my condition, I have weak arm muscles and I’m unable to lift them. I move my arms by dragging, sliding, or shimmying them across a table surface. For this reason, the type of sleeves a top has is so important to me.

Emma leaning on her wheelchair tray table in the back of her car. She is wearing a stripey jumper and holding a can of diet coke.

Tops or jumpers with wide (balloon) sleeves are a big no-no because too much material gets in the way and makes it difficult (and too heavy) for my arms to move. I always look for tops with tight-fitting sleeves and tight cuffs. There is nothing more frustrating than baggy cuffs.


I’ve lost a lot of muscle tone in my legs, so I find getting trousers that look good and fit well on my legs difficult. In particular, my thighs are flatter due to muscle wasting.

I will mainly wear skinny jeans because I like the way they hug and shape my legs. Jeans or trousers that are baggy tend not to look good on me as the material ruffles and creases when I’m sitting down, which makes me look untidy and shapeless.

Emma is wearing dark blue skinny jeans with a hole in the knee. She is also wearing red converse boots. She is sitting in her garden next to a red tree.

As much as I love wearing my skinny jeans, they aren’t the most comfortable and can become annoying as the day goes on, especially around the waist area. High waisted jeans can be a good option for hiding those pesky lumps and bumps that we all get when sitting down.

Also, jeggings are a good alternative to jeans, as they look the same but are more comfortable. The pockets on jeans and other trousers can cause pain and discomfort when sitting all day, so cutting the pockets off the back can prevent pressure and skin irritation.

Emma wearing patterns leggings, a purple cosy jumper and white converse.

I love these jacquard-patterned leggings because they are comfy all over with an elasticated waist and slim legs. Perfect! I loved wearing them with this cosy purple jumper and white converse.

For me, my stomach is one of my main concerns as it is for many other wheelchair users. I know I’m never going to have a flat tummy, so I don’t like to draw attention to it. I try to avoid clothing that has too much material as it will gather up and make me look bigger which in turn makes my top not sit as neat on me.

Emma is sitting in her wheelchair in her livingroom. She is wearing grey jogging bottoms, white converse shoes, a black top and black denim jacket.

Jogging bottoms are the perfect example of this. I wear jogging bottoms when I’m at home due to their pure comfort and ease.

However, the pockets on jogging bottoms bunch up creating lots of excess material around my stomach and hip area. I recently went on a mission to find jogging bottoms that had slimline legs, cuffs at the ankles and no pockets. It was a nightmare.

Shirts and Dresses

As much as I love the look of shirts and dresses on others, I’ve never really felt comfortable wearing them myself. Although I did wear a dress to a friend’s wedding a few years ago, I spent months hunting for that dress to ensure it looked good on me when sitting in my wheelchair.

What I found worked for me was this Pleated Maxi Dress which didn’t have lots of flowing material. It was slightly stretchy, so it fitted me neatly but was still comfortable and flattered my body shape sitting down.

Emma is sitting in her wheelchair wearing a metallic pleated maxi dress.

It depends on your shape and size too, and not just your wheelchair. A dress that works for me may not work for another wheelchair user. Generally, shorter dresses can work best as there is less chance of the material getting caught up in the wheels of your chair.


Jackets are my least favourite clothing item, but I live in Scotland, where it’s mainly cold, so I need to wear them even though I don’t want to. Putting jackets on can be a little painful when my arms are bent back to go in the sleeves, which is worse when my arm muscles are tight.

Jackets also feel very restrictive on my already weakened arms. Wearing jackets just makes moving my arms more difficult.

Emma in her wheelchair in the local park. Emma is wearing a red puffy jacket.

I can’t wear long coats and jackets, so I always try to find one that is shorter so it will sit neatly around my hips. I also like the jacket to be able to tuck comfortably down my back without the rest of the jacket feeling too tight.


My feet can be a little swollen, so I find Converse and ankle boots the most comfortable and easy to put on. I pretty much live in Converse shoes and ankle boots all year round. They are casual but can be dressed up, so they look good with everything.

Emma in her wheelchair sitting next to a brick wall. She is wearing brown ankle boots, black skinny jeans and a mustard coloured jumper.

When I’m at home, the only things on my feet are fluffy socks and my ankle slipper boots. Comfort and warmth over fashion, I’m afraid.

Heels! I’d love to wear them, but I don’t for a few reasons.

Number one, wearing heels puts my feet/legs in a stained position as well as putting pressure on my hips.

Number two, my footplates are set at the correct position for the length of my legs, but if I wear heels it will cause my knees to rise which will also put pressure on my hips and thighs.

My Fashion Likes And Dislikes As A Wheelchair User

So there we have it, some of my fashion likes and dislikes as a wheelchair user. Although I feel like I know what works and doesn’t work for me, I often feel like I haven’t truly found my style yet.

It’s a constant battle, and there is so much I would love to wear but can’t because I’m sitting. But I do believe a lot of that is down to the fashion industry not having models who are in wheelchairs modelling the clothes. This would enable wheelchair users to know straight away how something would look sitting down.

I hope this can help you, even just a little bit, and give you some ideas as to what might work for you.

Please remember, we are all different so it’s important to wear what you feel most comfortable in. Fashion is a great way to express yourself.

Hopefully, brands will take note and start showing clothing worn by models sitting down, which will help us all. It would also be fantastic if adaptive clothing was more mainstream and easily accessible.

Please share your fashion likes, dislikes and tips for finding fashionable clothes as a wheelchair user.

More on this topic…

How to Feel Confident in a Wheelchair
What is Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (and how does it affect me)?
Wheelchair Fashion: Finding the Perfect Dress
Why I’m Feeling Nervous About Getting a New Powered Wheelchair

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Wheelchair Fashion: Finding fashionable clothes for wheelchair users

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Meet Emma

Hello I’m Emma. My mission is to show you the possibilities of accessible travel through my travel guides, tips and reviews. I also share personal stories, live event reviews and more.

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12 Responses

    1. Thank you for your comment Elaine. Of course, that is absolutely fine to link to your blog post – it’s a great post with lots of helpful information. I loved reading it from your point of view 🙂

  1. Every season, just when I think I have figured out how to wear that latest rage everybody else is wearing…as soon as I figure it out, it changes! Or the opposite happens: something I love like leggings become super popular, which is PERFECT for me, but that can only last so long. Pretty soon I’ll be the only one left wearing leggings! LOL

    I share your pain about dresses and jackets, though. Ugh. I avoid them both as much as possible.

  2. Coats are my nemesis! Trying to stuff them into my sideguards is always a bit of a nightmare because they just end up bunching up and getting sore and irritating!
    I mostly wear loose fitting clothes because my poor belly is always sore and bloated so leggings and trousers with an elastic waist are a must! I love dresses and I have a mid-length soft one that I love to wear in the summer because it’s so comfy!

    Thank you so much for sharing Emma ❤️

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing what works for you. Leggings and trousers with an elastic waist are a definite must. I love that you have a dress that you love to wear in the summer. Dresses are definitely something I’d like to experiment with 🙂

      Thanks again, Pixie. I hope you are keeping well. Take care ❤️

  3. I found Fusci adaptive clothing a couple of months ago and have never looked back. My reviews are on their website. The clothes are well thought out. I appreciate the higher back on the pants and longer back on the tops. I have worn the skinny jeans (no rivets,
    No back pockets) for a couple
    Of days and since they have stretch, you should order one size down. It takes an hour for the stretch to warm up and kick in. By the way, those two zip (decorative only) leggings/pants are terrific. I wear converse and short boots year round, too.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Peggy! That’s brilliant you found this adaptive clothing brand. I will definitely check them out as the pieces you’ve mentioned sound very interesting. I appreciate you sharing your experience and what has worked for you. 🙂

  4. I love to wear leggings too which is a problem as I have a leg bag, does anyone have any tips? I’ve only one leg also which can be a nightmare. I cut and sew trousers mostly myself, my Mum, god bless her, a victim of Covid 19, was a seamstress but I sadly didn’t get blessed with those skills. I do my best.
    Short jackets are a must. I recently bought a wrap coat without thinking, it looks great but you need to haul it in now and then.
    I too think that clothing should be modelled on wheelchair users, one company a while ago was on the news for using a wheelchair in their shop window. Sadly that has been the only time to my knowledge.

  5. I am so happy for finding your acount. My name is Bente, 67years old from Norway. When I was in the age of 50,I got my LGMD 2a.I have my work as a nurse in our hospital in town(Arendal) but when time passe I feel the weakness, specially from the heeps, my back and neck..Now I need help from my rollatour and waiting for a new rollingchair. I would like to follow your instagramacount. 🇧🇻🙏🙋‍♀️

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Bente. I’m so glad you found my blog and enjoyed reading this post. I’m so pleased you are now following my Instagram too! I hope you have your new wheelchair and that it’s working well for you. Thanks again and take care 🙂

  6. Clothing can be a pain , as you have said , Jackets I use A Ski jacket .If I can find the right type . Trousers and Jeans are a total pain the right length the same with skirts and dresses . Summer wear is not good normally end up in jeans 😕 . Foot wear due to braces trying to find one that famine . But end up in walking boots .

    1. Totally understand, Deborah. It is difficult to find clothes that fit properly when sitting down. I’m glad you have found things that work for you. Sometimes it’s trial and error, isn’t it? Hope you are keeping well.

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