I am by no means a ‘fashionista’, and definitely not the first person I would turn to for style tips or clothing advice!! You wouldn’t see the outfits I wear on the runways in Milan, but I do have almost 3 years’ experience dressing with an ostomy, and over the years have picked up some practical tips and ideas on dressing with an ostomy.
My fashion motto has always been COMFORT over EVERYTHING! If I am comfortable in what I am wearing, that helps me feel cool, calm, cute and confident! I’m sure I am way more conscious of my bag than anyone else around me. I’ve been told you can’t even tell there’s a bag underneath my clothes on most days (until it starts filling up a lot, and then you just go and empty it!).
There’s no reason at all an ostomy should limit your clothing or jeopardise style. Mix and match and use it as a reason to be adventurous and play around with different styles and options so you look and feel great! Stomas can be sharp, sleek and sassy too!
Here are a few of my general tips:
Singlets and leggings: A must-have in my wardrobe! I wear fitted singlets under just about everything. They are a cheap, comfortable alternative to a support belt or wrap, and help keep everything snugly in place, plus you don’t even notice the singlet under most other tops. Leggings are great too especially in the colder months under a dress or skirt, and can be lifted up to cover the stoma and help you feel more secure.
Long, loose tops: Whilst there is no reason not to wear tighter fitting tops, my personal preference is to wear longer length looser fitting tops (for work and casual) over pants or skirts. It makes me feel more at ease that my bag isn’t hanging out and less obvious when it starts to fill up. Tops with different cuts, multiple layers, lines and patterns can also do a good job of hiding the bag and drawing the eye elsewhere.
High or low waisted pants: I have a range of both high and low waisted pants in my wardrobe (including jeans). It’s important before your surgery where possible to ask the stoma nurse to mark the spot for your stoma site, ensuring it sits in a good position for the type of pants you would like to wear. As long as the pants don’t sit right on top and cut into your stoma, you can make high or low waisted pants work! Some people prefer to tuck their ostomy bag into the high waisted pants, but I find it equally as comfortable to have my pant waistline sitting below my stoma, and adjust the top I am wearing accordingly.
Dressing up / Formal wear: There are so many options for beautiful dresses, loose or tight, long or short, all sorts of materials and cuts, and they can be worn with a support belt, tights, or no support at all and still look stunning. My personal preference is loose, flowy dresses. I find I am less conscious and don’t worry as much (so can relax more) in looser fitting styles (plus they often leave more to the imagination!). I usually take into consideration how easy it will be to empty my bag in the dress too, especially on a night out!
Underwear and lingerie: To my husband’s disappointment I have never been one for lacy, sexy underwear. That said, there are SO many different companies now making absolutely gorgeous underwear that can help conceal and support your bag and is sexy too. To name a few, 4 Me Underwear, Ostomysecrets, Vanilla Blush, Comfizz, Jasmine Stacey Collection, and ANA . I recently tried 4MeUnderwear which is an Australian based company, with super comfy briefs designed by an ostomate, and I am loving them!
Swimwear: The biggest wardrobe change for me was buying a one-piece bathing suit instead of my pre-ostomy regular bikini. I still have my 2 piece ready to rock, but haven’t quite built up the confidence to don it just yet. It’s a completely personal choice
Having an ostomy really hasn’t made any major difference to my wardrobe or clothing choices. In fact, my weight fluctuations due to Crohn’s disease, as well as having an ostomy have encouraged me to get out and expand my clothing repertoire. What girl doesn’t love an excuse for a shopping spree!?