When looking for clothing to suit you, there are many things to consider. Not only our size, shape and personal taste, but also our lifestyle. You might feel like a princess in a ball gown, but it’s highly unlikely that you’d feel comfortable wearing it to do the weekly food shop. For wheelchair users, there are certain practicalities that we have to consider in our clothing choices. These things will partly depend on our disabilities, our specific wheelchair and whether or not we are full time or part time users. I’ve had a few questions about wearing a skirt as a wheelchair user, so I thought I’d share my tips!
About me as a wheelchair user: I’m a pert time wheelchair user, who uses an active user chair (Kuschall K-Series). To leave the house, I have to use my wheelchair. With the how my footrest is set up (I’m pretty sure my footrest is too low), it’s more comfortable for me to wear heels when I’m using my wheelchair, as they stop my ankles from wobbling around. But if there’s any chance that I’ll need to stand up or walk a few steps then heels are a no-go.
Tips For Wearing A Skirt As A Wheelchair User: Consider The Length
There are various difficulties for wheelchair users with skirts that are either too short or too long.
If you opt for a short skirt, you’ll want to make sure you’re decent. When wearing a shorter skirt, I often feel more comfortable with a pair of leggings on underneath. This looks good and has the added bonus of keeping legs warm in the winter.
If you opt for a skirt that’s too long, you run the risk of it getting caught in your caster wheels (small wheels at the front of your wheelchair). I’ve experienced this with loan chairs at shopping centres and my first wheelchair, the Drive Medical Enigma. With my active user wheelchair, long skirts no longer get caught up in my caster wheels, so it very much depends on the positioning of your foot plate. I can’t see an issue with long skirts when using a power chair – if you have any experience of this, please let me know in the comments.
Tips For Wearing A Skirt As A Wheelchair User: Consider The Shape
For some self-propelled wheelchairs, the shape of a skirt can be an important consideration. If you have arm rests with side panels attached, like my first wheelchair, the shape of the skirt won’t interfere with the functionality of your wheelchair. But, if you have a wheelchair that doesn’t have arm rests, like my active user chair, or the arm rests don’t have side panels attached then the shape of your skirt can impact how easy it is for you to push yourself in a manual wheelchair.
For practical purposes, I find a pencil skirt to be the best shape to wear when using my active user chair. The material doesn’t billow over the wheels, making them more difficult to push or potentially damaging the skirt. However, not everyone is going to feel comfortable in a pencil skirt style. It certainly isn’t the most flattering on my shape, but the top and shoes I choose to wear with my pencil skirts can make a big difference (more on this below).
A line skirts flatter me the most, but these can flow over the top of my wheels. I love how this looks, but it does make self-propelling a lot more awkward. While this is a style that suits me much more when standing, I don’t tend to find the shape of a skirt as important in terms of looks when sitting down.
From my limited experience of power chairs, the shape of a skirt seems to be less of an issue. There aren’t any big push wheels to get in the way. So if you’re a power chair user and like the billowing look of bigger skirts, go for it!
Tips For Wearing A Skirt As A Wheelchair User: Consider The Tops You’re Pairing The Skirt With
As I’ve said, pencil skirts aren’t the most flattering style on me. However, I’ve managed to make them more flattering on me by being clever with the type of tops I’m pairing them with. For my shape, this means balancing the tightness of a pencil skirt with a looser fitting top. This style of top also hides that little ‘podge’ that everyone gets when they sit down. Win, win!
Tips For Wearing A Skirt As A Wheelchair User: Consider Your Shoes
Now, not everyone is able to wear heels. But for those who can, thinking about the type of shoes you’re wearing can make a big difference to the look of a skirt. My things have always been one of my least favourite parts of my body. Growing up, I felt they’re were large compared to the rest of my body. While I’m a lot happier about my thighs now, they way they look when sitting down isn’t one that makes me happy. They squidge out and look like they’re twice their actual size. I’m sure these observations are partly because of my previous hang ups about my thighs, but I still like to do something to make myself feel better about them. For me, this is wearing a pair of heels.
Not only do heels stop my ankles from wobbling around (because I can’t reach to put my feet flat on my footplate), they also lift the legs. This removes the squished out look that my thighs have when they’re flat on my wheelchair cushion. If you want to see this effect (and are able to), sit back in your chair and switch between having your feet flat on the floor and moving onto the balls of your feet.
So to counter the effect that sitting has on the look of my thighs and support my ankles, I like to wear heels when using my wheelchair, particularly when wearing a shorter skirt or pencil skirt (or pair of shorts).
What are your tips for wearing a skirt as a wheelchair user? I’d love to know!
If you do have any tips, please do let us know the type of wheelchair you use.
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