How Crohn's Disease Has Changed My Wardrobe
I often blog about the physical symptoms of Crohn's disease but forget to consider the many, less obvious ways IBD has impacted my life. Believe it or not, before I spent my days writing about my intestines, I actually ran a fashion blog.
That seems like light years ago, because now, my fashion dilemmas pretty much revolve around "is it comfortable?" and "can I wear my pajamas outside?" That's not to say that you can't be super-stylish with this disease, but it certainly makes it more difficult. Today, I wanted to share how my illness has actually changed my wardrobe.
Goodbye high-waisted styles
Can we just end this high-waisted trend already, please? When I slip into a high-waisted pair of trousers or skirt with a tucked-in blouse, I temporarily forget that the inevitable will happen after I've eaten. Whilst it might look flattering, once the bloat and pain hit I'm going to be unbuttoning them as quickly as possible. Low or expandable waistbands are my go-to and make things so much easier.
The jumpsuit dilemma
I love jumpsuits during the summer months. They're comfy, lightweight (I also find heat affects me badly so I need to stay cool) and don't dig in around the waist. Perfect, right? That is until you need to use the bathroom. Why do they make things so awkward? They're impossible to pull down when urgency strikes (especially if they have fiddly belts and ties) and then you're left sitting pretty much naked on the toilet.
Thankful for loungewear
It used to be seen as lazy to wear your PJs at home all day. Then loungewear came along and made it fashionable. Loungewear is pretty much the best invention ever for those of us with IBD: It's just as comfy as your pajamas when fatigue-days hit, but it's stylish enough that you can actually wear it outside and not be considered strange. I am also a big fan of activewear for this reason: leggings, yoga pants, hoodies. Whose to say I haven't just been for a workout?
When we still want to feel pretty
Loungewear is all well and good but sometimes we do want to get dressed up. IBD can already affect our body image and confidence, so being able to find something more glamorous is important.
This is where empire waist dresses have become my best friend. Yes, I might not feel comfortable in high-waisted skirts or tight, bodycon dresses but empire waist dresses gather around the bust, leaving the stomach area loose. Empire tops also work well with low-cut leggings too.
Many of us feel restricted with beachwear choices due to ostomy bags. Whilst I'm lucky enough not to have had any surgery with my IBD, I still find heading to the beach a challenge.
There are practical reasons: being autoimmune means I need to be careful in the sun, so I opt for far more cover-ups rather than just lying in my bikini. I need to make sure the material itself doesn't aggravate my perianal area and, because of weight loss, feel conscious of showing certain bony areas such as my hips. However, there are some amazing advocates who snap themselves posing proudly in their bikinis-so I vow to take inspiration from them this summer and do the same.
As I finish this piece, I'm conscious it might come across as negative. IBD absolutely shouldn't change the way you live your life, but sadly it does for me on occasion. However, I'm acutely aware of how my body image is closely linked to my illness and am going to vow to find a way to recapture my previous love for fashion, even on days when I feel like I've worn the same PJs for 3 days in a row. I'd love your tips on your own IBD wardrobe. What are your go-to styles?
Will you tell us what life with IBD is really like by taking our In America survey?
Join the conversation