Fibromyalgia Fashionista

As I’ve mentioned in other posts I’m a bit of a fashion fanatic. To quote Carrie Bradshaw “I like my money right where I can see it.. hanging in my closet.” I always had a bit of a ‘no pain no gain’ attitude to fashion, high heeled boots, tight skinny jeans, glittery mesh fabric that was beautiful but didn’t half itch, that sort of thing. Although I tried to keep up-to-date with current fashion fads to an extent, I maintained my own sense of fashion. A sort of classic and vintage style. Think Audrey Hepburn but a bit more casual and a lot heavier.
A lot of people don’t understand how much fibro can effect your life. Symptoms have a knock on effect on life, family, work, confidence and less obviously style. Comfort becomes key, which can in turn mean boring clothes, but I’m not prepared to join the beige brigade just yet. So for all my fellow fibro fashionistas I have compiled a few tips that help me stay feeling like me, whilst being (mostly) pain free.

I know a few people that swear by FitFlop shoes, but as a self proclaimed bargain hunter, I just couldn’t justify the cost. With many of the shoes upwards of £80 I was reluctant to part with that much money. Luckily for me a wonderful thing called a ‘sale’ was invented! With my first purchase still over £40 it was still fairly pricey but based on the reviews I thought I’d give them a go. They were comfortable, stylish and well worth the money I’d say. A few years ago, when first investigating the option of FitFlops they all seemed a bit dowdy, they looked ‘comfortable’, not appealing to a teenager. Now they are as attractive as they are comfortable, with different styles to suit all tastes.
Like many chronic pain sufferers I’ve put on a fair amount of weight, mostly from the cocktail of medications I take and a little because I have an insatiable addiction to chocolate. It can be very difficult for plus sized people to find flattering and affordable clothing, but when you add in the fibro restrictions it can seem near impossible. For me, M&S or Next provide the most comfortable, affordable and fashionable plus sized clothing. I tend to buy clothes a size up nowadays, and soft fabrics are a must. Trousers I always buy a size up to allow room to move, and stops buttons, zips or elastics digging into my skin. Stretch fabric is also essential, it’s much less restrictive, comfortable and allows me to move as ‘freely’ as my body allows.
Leggings and long comfortable tops or jeans and a cosy jumper are my go to outfits.

When occasionally I decide to dress up, I choose ‘Snag’ tights. At Snag they have made it their mission to cater to all body types, tall or short, big or small, they make tights to comfortably fit everyone. They make tights with different sized waistbands rather than just changing the length, making them better fitting for a cornucopia of shapes and sizes. Personally, I like my tights to be big, the bigger the better. If I can pull them up to my shoulders I consider that a win. I bought the biggest size, and they reached just above my waist, so when they started to fall down a little (as all tights do) I was able to avoid the webbed effect turning me into a penguin. They slipped to just above my hips and rested there for the remainder of the day. Comfortable, well fitting and affordable – certainly gets a thumbs up from me.

The garment I have had the most problems with have to be bras. Underwires are a complete no no for me. My ribs are so sensitive that the wires would be agony for me. After disbanding with wired bras I first tried so called comfort bras. Whilst they are comfortable they’re unsupportive and quite often a rather unattractive shade of beige. Then I moved on to non wired sports bras. These were better I must admit. I found Matalan a good source of sports bras. The issue I found with them, was that they were often so obvious. You would either see the Racer back or the chunky straps poke out of my clothes. Whilst this isn’t a major issue, it can detract from an outfit when you want to look special. The answer? Bralettes!!! An amazing invention by the comfort fairies, and they are often so pretty. I struggled to find one in my size, but recently Primark have begun to stock non-wired bralettes in large bra sizes, making it more accessible to more people. They come in a variety of colours, with pretty lace and other embellishments. Finding these just helped me feel a bit more normal again. I didn’t have to stick to boring plain underwear, which was often expensive and ugly. These bralettes cost me £6 each and they were far from ugly. Having such a wide choice took me back to days before fibro.
As I am fairly lucky and don’t have too many problems with my clothes, I called in the cavalry. My Fibromyalgia Facebook family – Fibromyalgia Warriors Cymru (FWC) who have very kindly let me share their stories and suggestions.

“I can’t be doing with buttons and zips. I suffer with my wrists and arms so trying to pull up a zip or doing buttons on a shirt is a toughie for me. Have a dress on today and funnily enough there’s 2 buttons at the back of my neck, I’ve been walking around with the buttons undone all day, but the lovely girls in the chemist decided to do them for me when I went to collect my tablets!!!!” – Sara Preece FWC

“I think fastenings like buttons and bra hooks can be a struggle and getting shoes on and off. I can only wear cotton as I find anything else makes me sweat like Lee Evans! Plus of course they have to be low care, I’m not going to iron or hand wash things! I pretty much live in leggings, t-shirt bra, big granny knickers and loose fitting pull on tops with no buttons or anything and my all time fave.. pjs!!” – Tesni Rivers FWC

“Shoes are a problem, I only wear orthotic flip flops or ugg type boots. Leggings and loose tunic tops in cotton from Seasalt or Joules (On mailing list so sales and special offers) and pjs. Comfort over style anyday!” – Jo Jones FWC

“If you can’t cope with wired bras, buy maternity, feeding or post surgery bras. These are soft and supportive, whilst being pretty!” – Louise Jane FWC

“Can’t wear heels anymore now , so wear them when I’m in my (wheel)chair” – Sammi Delphia FWC

“I was born with a club foot so I’ve always struggled with pain when walking. I’ve had multiple operations to try and help the problem but it hasn’t done a lot. No matter what type of shoes I wore, none reduced the level of pain. I’ve recently bought a pair of Fit Flop trainers and they’re probably the best ones I’ve tried. They’re really comfortable and help reduce pain. They offer a good level of support and adapt to the shape of your foot to add extra comfort.” – Jacob Morris*

Here are a few links that might help you.

Some retailers of plus sized clothes

If you want some money back from shopping sprees, check out Quidco and Topcashback using the links below. They offer cashback for a multitude of websites for a multitude of things. **

Big thank you to everyone that shared their stories and advice. Please feel free to comment with your own suggestions or problems ☺️

*Not all contributers have fibromyalgia but share similar clothing requirements
**Sign ups from cashback links may provide me with additional cashback, however I only recommend products and services that I think are beneficial.

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