A Fibromyalgia Guide to Clothes Shopping & Dressing


Here is a recent article I wrote…

Although you will probably never see the advice I provide in this article on the runways at New York Fashion Week, if you have Fibromyalgia you will want to pay close attention.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes widespread muscle pain, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, sleep disorders and other symptoms. The pain experienced by Fibromyalgia patients is not a pain that is easy to describe or easy to treat. It is believed that in Fibromyalgia patients, the brain sends out signals to the body that causes the patient to feel more pain than they should. For example, if someone walks up to me and just places a hand on my shoulders or back, I jump because the pain is so bad. So you can just imagine what it is like trying to find clothes and dress properly without causing pain.

I am not a fashion expert or anything of the sort, nor do I pretend to be. To me the important thing is to be comfortable and to not be in pain so whatever I have to wear to achieve that is what I purchase.

I have talked to many Fibromyalgia patients who do not wear undergarments at all when they are at home due to pain. Pajamas in cotton and flannel that are drawstring are the perfect comfortable Fibromyalgia patient’s dream while at home. Many of us spend a lot of time in our pajamas because of being sick so much. I spend just as much time and effort shopping for pajamas as what I do for regular clothes.

Bras and Underwear

I have personally found that cotton is the most comfortable way to go with underwear, or a satiny type material. With underwear, I have found it best to purchase panties that do not come up over my abdomen. The elastic waistband hurts my stomach, causes pressure and I am miserable. Bikini underwear, thongs, anything like that is out for me – ouch.

For bras, give up the underwire. I know underwire provides support and keeps the goods from sagging later in life, but for me I personally would rather be pain-free now and comfortable now. There are bras that offer support these days without the underwire.
I also went and had a store clerk at Lane Bryant measure me to determine if I was wearing the right size bra and I found out I wasn’t. If your band is too tight that can cause added tension, pressure and pain to your body. Check out the many types of bras that are available and feel the fabrics and the cups. Do they feel soft? Do they feel as though they would not cause any scratchiness or pressure?

Socks & Pantyhose

One of the most sensitive areas on my body due to Fibromyalgia pain is my lower legs. I have found that the only type of socks that I can comfortably wear is anklets or anything that does not extend over the calf area. A light cotton sock that is not too heavy is what I look for.

I haven’t worn a pair of pantyhose for quite a few years. Just thinking about pantyhose makes me hurt! If it is the summertime, go without and show your bare legs. If it is the wintertime and you have to dress up for something, wear a longer dress and if you are able to stand the pressure, wear knee-highs that go up to your calves.

Pants and Skirts

I hardly ever wear jeans anymore. I love jeans and the way I look in them, but I am just too miserable. I will wear jeans on a rare occasion and when I do I find that I can’t want to get home to get them off.

I choose pants and skirts that are loose-fitting at the waist. I have a nice collection of drawstring exercise pants that have become my best wardrobe friends. For skirts, I have some elastic waistband but not the tight-fitting elastic. Silky-type skirts with elastic waistbands seem to be the most comfortable.

Shirts and Sweaters

Typically shirts that are a size too big feel the most comfortable and do not cause pain. Bulky sweaters are out of the question, as the weight of the sweater seems to put pressure on tender points. Again, cotton blends, silky type materials are the best.

I always try to have a few button-up shirts around too for the days when I’m in too much pain and lifting my hands over my head to put a pullover shirt on is impossible and too painful. I purchase these in a size too large also.


If you have to wear dresses for your job, choose something that flows and does not have elastic around the middle. Lightweight materials are the most comfortable. If I have to dress up in the winter, I will wear a lightweight dress but add a nice shawl to keep me warm.

So these are my “fashion tips” for the Fibromyalgia patient. Who knows, maybe we will start a new trend that will catch on across America!

This post is featured on the How to Cope With Pain Blog Carnival for February.

How to Cope with Pain isnowoffering a monthly Pain-Blog Carnival during the last week of every month, to include each month’s best posts. February’scarnival is nowposted. New bloggers are always welcome to contribute.

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  1. Most people don’t understand when I say that clothes hurt, this article is brilliant

  2. Thanks! How are you doing?

  3. Good article! I once wrote Oprah asking her to do a show on clothing fashion for people with special disabilities. I struggle with how to make the baggy clothes that i need for comfort into a slightly fashionable presentation. But I’m still trying. There are a lot of illnesses with special clothing needs – even people with lupus who have to cover all to stay out of the sun, or amputees or paraplegics, etc.

    I also love that show What Not to Wear (on TLC) and sometimes watch Ten Years Younger (although I also sort of protest that show in my mind….come on, aging is part of life! – and I worry most of the cosmetic procedures carry risks too high) – but I wish they would nominate someone to be on these shows who have challenges like us. Now that would be a fun fashion challenge for the stylists on there.

    Anyone know of web sites that sell clothing to folks like us? Baggy, cotton, and jersey knit stuff????


  4. Hi Liz! Thanks so much! I think almost all of the FM/CFS population has written to Oprah but it hasn’t been doing any good! I guess she doesn’t take us seriously. I am glad that you found this article helpful. Best of luck to you!

  5. The Commandos patch is a godsend for those who find underwear uncomfortable or painful to wear. The Commandos patch is a razor thin cotton patch that adheres to the inside of pants so that you don’t have to wear underwear. Basically it’s the cotton crotch without all the rest. Check out the website at http://www.gocommandos.com If you enter promo code CH2 after your name on the order form you will receive a discount on your first order. Best of healing and health to all!

  6. clothes are one of my many challenges. I look like a hobo. Fibro is complicated. Im glad others understand the clothing aspect of this disease. I wish there was a store for us, so I could figure out how to look better for my family and myself.

  7. I’ve just launched a line of custom sewing patterns for fibromyalgia sufferers! Designed with fashion and comfort in mind, made to your measurements and with plenty of wiggle room for comfort. ‘Bout time we left the pajamas behind when shopping. . .

  8. Amy Perella says:

    This article was awesome! I was diagnosted with Fibromyalgia 14 years ago & have never seen an article like this published. I think it is very helpful for people like us. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. Leona Gaffney says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. I have fibro dome days worse than others. It has really changed my life and my wardrobe. At present i am going thtough one and hurting. Made it out yesterday and bought a really soft srt of pj’s. I do not plan living in my pyjamas fulltime so have be looking for alternative clothing. Your article has helped me greatly as i am not alone in this battle. Thank uou.

  10. Fleece socks seem to be a helpful sock for Fibromyalgia suffers, I make a sock that I sell at CraftyplanetCanada on Etsy. May of my customer have written reviews with regards to the relief they get from these socks. I am very happy that these socks are a help to people with fibromyalgia. Thank you

  11. Fleece socks seem to be a helpful sock for Fibromyalgia suffers, I make a sock that I sell at CraftyplanetCanada on Etsy. Many of my customer have written reviews with regards to the relief they get from these socks. I am very happy that these socks are a help to people with fibromyalgia. Thank you

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