A bra emerges from colorful flames.

12 Tips for Dressing with Lupus

Lupus has its challenges and nothing is more disheartening than not having the basic human functions on a flare day. Flares can range from mildly uncomfortable to the “stone mummy” and being unable to move. This means often you can kind of look like Edward Scissor Hands on the way out your door. I find having an adaptable wardrobe helps in all types of flare situations, aiding in keeping your spirits up.

Here are a few of my tips and tricks.

1. Bras

Can’t turn into Gumby or Elasta girl and reach around to clasp your bra? Turn your bra around, into the reverse bra position. Strap bra around your waist with the clasp in front. Proceed to rotate bra into the right direction and slip your hands in. This way you avoid the use of hands and shoulders during flares.

2. Shelf bra tank top

The gift from the anti-bra makers. Can’t clasp your bra today due to a flare, and the reverse bra trick isn’t working? No problem. There are alternatives to bras. Shelf tanks tops are my next go to, allowing you to step into them and pull them from the legs up. This eliminates the awkward use of your hands and shoulders. These can be found for less than $10 at Walmart.

3. Ditch bras completely

Is your shelf bra too tight to use? If you are ok with the occasional nipple shaming, this might be your best option. During some flares, it’s hard for me to even put on a tight tank top. So, I ditch it. Consider the use of nipple stickers if you are self-conscious about your nipples.

4. Workout clothing

When in doubt, workout clothes work for day-to-day life, with the ease of wearing. Plus, they are stretchy. This is comforting on flare and water retention days, kind of one size fits all option in your wardrobe.

5. Leggings

Who wants to work buttons on a bad day? Leggings are a great alternative to jeans. They tend to be looser than workout clothing, so there is less tugging due to the lighter fabric. This allows you to pull them up with ease. The looser the pant the easier to put on. Need to dress up? Old Navy has some great dress pants with an elastic waist.

6. Elastic waisted jeans or overalls

Leggings not for you? Want to relive being a part of TLC or be Billie Eilish with overalls? Jeans with an elastic waist or overalls are a perfect alternative. Yes, you might feel 80, but it's worth it if that’s the look you desire. Plus, no one will ever see the top of your jeans, just don’t tuck in your shirt. Wear a long tee and cinch it with a belt for style. Overalls are genius. The side buttons allow for extra room on flare days and are loose enough no one will notice.

7. Skirts

Skirts are a great alternative to pants. So many are easy slip on and off and most have an elastic waistband. In the summers, skirts are a cooler alternative to pants. Plus who doesn’t enjoy a little breeze on a hot day? Often, I pair my skirt with knee-high socks to avoid sun burning and bug bites.

8. Maxi or midi dresses

These dresses are flowy and need no garments underneath them. So, on a bad flare day, I jump into a maxi or midi dress. You can also use the trick of slipping it on from bottom up to avoid shoulder pain.

9. Shoes

Slip-on shoes like Vans, Converse, or Toms are great for any occasion. The slip-on function will save your hands. Many of these shoes have stretch built into them, so if your feet are swelling these are quick and easy. Also, many of these shoes have variations with zippers. Flat boots with zippers are a great way to dress up your stretchy jeans. Brands like Toms and Merrell also make great dress shoes and boots that are RA-friendly.

10. Layering tops

Getting bored of that plain tee? Layer. Wear a loose tank with an open sweater to avoid buttons. Loose pullovers are also great options over tanks. Have Raynaud’s syndrome? Then this is great for you to keep warm.

11. Hair

This one takes a lot of thought. After years of having long hair and multiple texture changes due to medication, I had to find a hair alternative since some days styling my hair is out of the question. Find or talk to a stylist to see what options you have for your hair type. I find that wearing my hair down on these days is the easiest. Also. I often wear headbands if I do not want my hair in my face. If it’s a hot mess, jump in the shower and finger through your hair with conditioner. I don’t even bother brushing it. If you get and easy fuse hairstyle that works for you, it eliminates the stress of managing it.

12. Jewelry

Some women need their jewels. I find that earrings and rings are often out of the question on flare days. In these cases, I have become fond of long loose necklaces and bangles. This gives a polished look without being too uncomfortable.

Finding what clothing works for you

With advancements in technology, you can find a range of clothing that works for you. Even better, you can order items and have them at your doorstep by the end of the day. On days you are flared, get up, get dressed and move about even if it is in your own home. Trust me, it will bring a little joy to you.

With these tips, I hope you have found things that you may have not thought of to include in your wardrobe. Something as simple as getting dressed without assistance will boost your morale. These simplest of functions will allow you to feel human and normal. However, if you do need assistance on days that are bad, do not feel ashamed of getting assistance from others that love you. You can also receive aid from local caregivers and most medical insurance help cover this. Remember no matter how frustrated you are there many resources available to you, that will help you create ease in your life. Do not be afraid to ask for help.

You will be shocked by how kind people can be.

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