Style and Functionality: Special Needs Clothing

special needs clothing

Getting dressed hassle-free is something many of us may take for granted, but those with special needs can face unique challenges with clothing and shoes. Fortunately, these challenges can be mitigated thanks to recent measures taken by clothing and shoe companies. With all the variety in fashion nowadays, special needs clothing is able to evolve right alongside of it and offer both children and adults more functional and user-friendly options while staying current with the latest trends. Perhaps most significantly, special needs clothing can offer a form of individuality previously unavailable because it may allow those with disabilities to dress themselves more easily and ask for less assistance, if any at all. So what differences are there between traditional clothing and special needs clothing?

For starters, button-up shirts are certainly popular and stylish, but not everyone has the dexterity to maneuver each individual button into place. With the help of magnets, those who may lack this dexterity, like some individuals with Cerebral Palsy, do not have to suffer from limited clothing choices or ask for assistance with buttoning. That’s because shirts with magnetic machine-washable ‘buttons’ are available, and they’re a cinch to put on compared to traditional buttons. One company offering these magnetic closures, MagnaReady, has men’s collared shirts and ties and women’s collared shirts for purchase. The regular buttons still appear on the shirts, but hidden underneath are the magnets that hold each side together.

Tommy Hilfiger offers modified clothing for children with special needs featuring similar magnetic closures in t-shirts, for example, that are lined down the back for easier access and hands-first entry. Versatile options in getting into the clothing, closing it, and adjusting it make for exciting new choices for those with different needs. Tommy Hilfiger also offers everything in its regular kids’ collection in adaptable disability-friendly clothing, whether it need be wheelchair sensitive, or account for a limb difference or a muscle disease. This means that a kid with a disability has the exact same clothing selections as their friends and peers, but with the added benefit of being tailored for their unique needs! Since many who have Cerebral Palsy also have challenges with motor skills, this kind of clothing can make a true difference for those wearing it and families alike. Putting on one’s own clothing can be a great confidence boost, especially for children, helping them to feel like the important, accomplishing persons they really are.   

Shoes, particularly tying and getting into them, can also present problematic setbacks for those with disabilities. But thanks in part to a Florida teen with Cerebral Palsy who wrote to Nike about difficulty with his shoes due to limited hand mobility, the Nike Flyease series was born in 2015. The Nike Flyease series makes putting on shoes much easier while not compromising the shoe’s support or aesthetic appeal. Featuring a wrap-around zipper at the heel that partly detaches to allow for roomier access, the Flyease series offers shoes for running, basketball, and everyday purpose sneakers. Plus, they’re made in collaboration with NBA star LeBron James, so they’re likely to be the talk of the footwear world for quite some time.

Some individuals with Cerebral Palsy must occupy wheelchairs throughout the day, and this can present extra hurdles when figuring out something to wear that will provide appropriate comfort. One company, called IZ, specializes in just that – making comfortable clothes with wheelchair users in mind. Like other special needs clothing we’ve already learned about, it features easy access through wrap waist jeans, t-shirts and jackets that open and close at their backs, and more. What’s new and special about IZ clothing is that it is cut, angled, and styled to fit a seated body, using fabric that can sustain stretching for a better experience putting on and taking off. For example, IZ jeans have a higher waistband in the back to prevent them from slipping down while seated, and the absence of back pockets offers a smooth seating surface. But it’s not just jeans that should rouse excitement – the available choices and fashions are vast, ranging from robes, accessories, denim, tees, and shorts, to suits, skirts, dresses, coats, and more. So there’s sure to be something for both men and women looking for a snazzy and accommodating way to express themselves.

Dressing or undressing doesn’t have to be stressful for those with special needs. Sometimes traditional clothing can be troublesome to put on, fasten, or adjust, but special needs clothing may be able to reduce this trouble and reduce the amount of assistance needed. And in turn, this can mean that someone gains that much more liberation in their day to day routines. With so many exciting options available in special needs clothing, for adults and children, the time has never been better to shop for that perfect work, school, play, or casual outfit!