Fashion is an avenue for personal expression — a way to show the world who we are. You aren’t imagining that confidence boost you get when you put together a killer outfit; psychological studies have proven the positive effects clothing has on our moods. The term ‘enclothed cognition’ was coined during a 2012 study that aimed to prove the power of fashion. The study revealed that an outfit could increase a person’s confidence, attention span and even one's critical thinking skills.
Other studies have shown the effects on human behaviour changing according to the outfit. A suit can make us feel powerful, brightly coloured clothes can lift our moods, a casual outfit increases openness and agreeableness, and high fashion can even go as far as changing our political views.
Until recently, due to a lack of options, a large portion of the population couldn’t share in the benefits or the joy clothing can bring. The majority of Australians find buttoning, zipping and tying laces a mundane affair, but for the 20% of us who struggle to dress, mainstream fashion can be a frustrating experience.
That’s where adaptive clothing comes in — a movement in fashion design that aims to bring inclusivity to the industry and allows everyone to dress stylishly and with ease.
What Is Adaptive Fashion?
Adaptive fashion is specialised clothing that makes getting dressed a comfortable, pain-free, enjoyable experience no matter a person’s age, body type or ability. The seamless blend between function and design allows everybody to express their sense of style and discover the joy of getting dressed every morning.
Benefits Of Adaptive Fashion
Each item of adaptive clothing is made with the individual in mind and caters to a wide variety of needs. There are incredible options for wheelchairs users to ensure the wearer is comfortable and stylish in a seated position. Waist bands are raised at the back and lowered in front to avoid awkward riding up, and hemlines are easily adjustable to cater to a variety of heights. Pant legs are also widened so they can slip easily over leg braces.
For those who find buttons and zippers a chore, magnetic closures and Velcro take their place. Innovative closures can be found on t-shirt shoulders and backs, jumper necks, underwear and pant legs — which means no more tugging and pulling to get in and out of garments. Velcro is also a popular replacement for pesky shoelaces, along with slip-on styles and one-handed zippers.
Fabric choice is important too, ensuring clothing is comfortable, especially for people with sensory preferences. Look out for label-free clothing made from 100% cotton.
The Adaptive Clothing Movement
The leaps and bounds made in adaptive fashion over the years have not been without faults. Until recently, adaptive fashion has firmly focused on functionality, with minimal emphasis on style. Thankfully, ground-breaking brands like Recovawear have been working to turn the tide, with their beautifully made, cleverly designed pieces.
At first glance, Recovawear appears to be like any other collection of understated, sports-luxe staples. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find an innovative range of clothing made to aid in the recovery of injuries. Their range is soft and comfortable, and easy to slip in and out of — so dressing is pain-free. Recovawear’s founder, Penny Webber, came up with the idea for the brand when recovering from a car accident.
“Recovawear was created due to my own personal situation. I had an experience where I broke the left-hand side of my body in a car accident and was having difficulty dressing. I thought long and hard through the night of a way forward and they became the first prototypes of the range.”
Recovawear’s founders are also passionate about adaptive fashion, and the need for inclusivity in the fashion industry.
“Ultimately, everyone deserves to look and feel their best regardless of medical or age limitations. That has always been the goal for what we do... provide adaptive solutions that look and feel great”.
In recent years, adaptive fashion has started trickling over into mainstream fashion, with fast fashion and some high fashion brands releasing adaptive collections. And the movement isn’t showing signs of stopping, with predictions the industry will be worth over $53 billion by 2023. Thankfully, the ever-expanding range of adaptive fashion means everyone can get in touch with their inner style icon.