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Wheelchair Fashion: Finding the Perfect Dress

It’s good to change things up a little and try something new every now and then. That’s exactly what I did recently by stepping rolling out of my fashion comfort zone for my friend’s wedding day. The hunt for finding the perfect dress for wheelchair users began.

For months leading up to the wedding, all I did was worry about what I would wear for her special day. I wanted to look really nice and feel good about myself. Most days I’m skinny jeans, a casual top and converse kinda gal. So the thought of dressing up was daunting. Even though I always wear trousers I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of wearing a dress for the occasion.

Wheelchair Fashion: Finding the perfect dress

Finding a dress if you’re a wheelchair user

I have to admit, before my friend’s wedding, the last time I wore a dress I was around 3 years old. I had never worn a dress as an adult or as a wheelchair user for that matter. So many thoughts ran through my mind. Will I look silly wearing a dress? Will the dress look ok while sitting down? Which style is best for sitting in my wheelchair? and so on.

I wanted the dress to:

  • Look flattering sitting down
  • Feel comfortable
  • Pretty with a hint of glamour

After looking online at hundreds (literally) of dresses and ordering a handful of contenders, I eventually whittled it down and chose this stunning Tahnee Metallic Pleated Maxi-dress and I’m so glad I did.

Wheelchair Fashion: Finding the perfect dress
My cat, Milo photobombing in the background

From the moment I tried it on I knew it was “the one”. It felt comfortable which is so important when I’m sitting down all day in my wheelchair. It looked flattering for my body and I loved the style of the dress.

“Full-on fashion starts with a floor-sweeping maxi dress” was the description on the website and although the dress wasn’t floor-sweeping for me, I still feel it was a good length while sitting.

Wheelchair Fashion: Finding the perfect dress

Finishing touches

Footwear was my next dilemma. Since I don’t wear heels, I opted for silver flat sandals to complement the silver metallic in my dress. Much like the dress, the sandals were something I’ve never worn since I was about 3 years old. So it was a little strange, to begin with, but I absolutely loved the finished outcome and feel like everything came together nicely.

Although the sun was shining on the day of the wedding I decided to wear a black pointelle knit shrug as it got a little windy throughout parts of the day. I finished the outfit off with a delicate multi-row necklace and soft wavy hair.

Wheelchair Fashion: Finding the perfect dress

It can be difficult finding comfortable clothes if you are a wheelchair user, so it’s great when you find something that works and feels good while sitting. I’m really happy I found this dress for my friend’s wedding and now feel confident to start wearing dresses more often.

finding the perfect dress for wheelchair users

Tips on finding the perfect dress

If you are a wheelchair user looking for a dress but feel a little worried that it won’t look good, I have some advice that helped me find the perfect dress.

  • Have a few ideas of styles you’d like to try, but also remain open to other options while dress shopping.
  • They might not necessarily have been what you originally had in mind, but they may surprise you.
  • Don’t rule any out until you try them on.
  • Make little tweaks and alterations if necessary until you are happy with how it looks on your body while sitting in your wheelchair.
  • Lastly, have fun and take some risks.

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Wheelchair Fashion: Finding the Perfect Dress

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Meet Emma

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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18 Responses

  1. Fantastic outfit Emma. Am now going through some of your blogs, and don’t see me getting dressed for a while yet ! I was a manager at BT, and took early retirement on health grounds. Then I got bored, and did an HND in Fashion Design, another interest we have in common. I took Business Studies at night school, with the intention of setting up my own business making clothes for ladies in wheelchairs or who had curvature of the spine. Also children missing limbs, after all, you can’t just cut a sleeve off and think the garment looks okay ??? Unfortunately my health issues meant that I could not guarantee keeping deadlines, so I now do free alterations for neighbours and friends. Hope that I have not woken you up, or bored you back to sleep. Mary

    1. Hi Mary. Thank you for the lovely comment – I really appreciate your kind words and taking the time to tell me a bit of yourself. Congratulations on your HND in Fashion Design and Business Studies. I also studied Business Studies at Uni, but Fashion Design must have been great and so interesting? You’re business of making clothes for people in wheelchairs and children sounds amazing, but I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you. It can be very difficult to find comfortable and practical clothes if you are a wheelchair user. There are so many clothes that I’d love to wear, but know I can’t because it wouldn’t look good or fit properly. Don’t give up though, it’s great you’re still doing what you enjoy by doing alterations for neighbours and friends. Thanks 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for the lovely comment Heather! It was a great day and I absolutely love the dress. Can’t wait to wear it again. I’ve even thought about getting it in more colours 🙂

  2. Hi Emma, You look great in the dress 🙂
    I am also a wheelchair user/ quadriplegic. I noticed that you have some support for your thighs on the left and right hand side when you are sitting. I feel it can help in maintaining a proper posture when sitting.

    Can you please share more details about it and a picture may be.

    1. Hi there! Thanks so much for getting in touch and thank you for the lovely comment 🙂
      Yes you are completely right – my cushion comes up and supports my thighs to keep them in a nice position and help with my posture and give me extra stability when sitting. It’s a custom-made cushion that I had moulded to my shape. I’ve actually been thinking of writing about my experiences with my wheelchair cushion for a little while now, but wasn’t sure. I can share some photos too. Would that be something you’d be interested in?

      1. I would Love to hear about your choice of questions. I am looking into a new question myself
        Thanks
        Gretchen

      2. Hi Emma
        Am wondering if you can help.
        Am currently using a quickie m2 mini powered wheel chair with custom seating to enable me to sit which also tilts n more .
        Although am due to change my wheelchair as my health as declined and my chair no longer meets my needs .
        So it’s looking likely that I’ll be getting a quickie Q700m again with tilt n custom seating etc .
        But wondered if you could advise or recommend a cushion.
        Mine currently is so uncomfortable.
        But yours looks amazingly comfortable and supporting . Can you recall what it’s called? Is it gel /part gel or anything? Am thinking quickie might have something similar available.
        Hope your having a great day in the sun , I look forward to hearing from you soon , kelly x

        1. Hi Kelly!
          My current cushion is custom-made to my shape. It’s made of different forms and I also have a Roho insert as well. It was made for me by NHS wheelchair services after trying lots of different cushions and none of them being any good for me as I was in a lot of pain.
          Are you self-funding your new quickie Q700 wheelchair or will it be NHS? I’m also looking at new chairs and really liked the look of the Q700 but wasn’t sure if its availableon NHS.

  3. Thanks so much for posting Emma would love to hear about your search for a cushion. I will be looking in the next six months.
    Thanks
    Gretchen are

    1. Thanks Gretchen. I have a custom moulded cushion which has been made to my exact shape. It provides a lot of support to me. If you have any questions just let me know. 🙂

  4. May I ask your name on the molded seat? Is it a contour u (pin do) o RIDE?

    I am a pediatric PT, before my MS became too disabling

    1. Hi Gretchen, unfortunately, there is no name for my cushion. it isn’t made by a specific brand or anything like that.

  5. Hi Emma,
    Thanks for another great article. I can resonate with every one of your fashion factors and include the handy new trend of wide legs which are very convenient for in-dwelling caths!!!
    I also look for elastic waist where I can for comfort and ease of dressing.
    Take care and Happy (iso) Easter, Leanne

    1. Hi Leanne. Thank you so much for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed this post and could relate to the fashion factors. Yes, elastic waistbands are great aren’t they! They really do make dressing easier. I hope you are doing well. Have a lovely Easter weekend 🙂

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