Dressing Do's and Don'ts with RA, Part 2

Last updated: September 2021

So, let’s talk shoes. I truly think I have spent enough money on shoes and now possess enough shoes to open my own store at this point! 

Tips on RA-friendly footwear

For me, the key with shoes is to not assume that just because they fit in the store, they will work later on. 

Wear newly bought shoes at home

I now wear the shoes when I get home for several hours to see if they are right for me. 

Not sure what it is, but sometimes they feel fine in the store, but then I get home and I wonder, "What was I thinking?"

Comfortable and supportive materials

Finding a shoe that gives me support yet allows for the pain of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is daunting. 

The new materials out now for sneakers and slip-ons that include a knit upper shoe are perfect for me. Sneakers have always been my nemesis, but these new ones with the knit uppers and supportive base are working well for me.

Find a sweet spot with sandals

When it comes to sandals, I need to have ones that have the thong toe as I cannot grip with my toes following foot reconstruction. 

Again, after years of searching, I have found some that work for me.

Each of us has a sweet spot when it comes to shoes and you just have to find the ones that give you support while not causing pain! 

No easy feat, but it can be done with patience.

Benefits of online shoe shopping

As to the shopping itself, I am so thankful for online shopping! 

As much as I like the brick-and-mortar stores and want to support them, for me, when RA is flaring, I am so thankful for the ability to order online. 

Take advantage of free shipping and returns

And nowadays, with free shipping and returns, it is effortless to shop that way. 

I just went through a phase of trying to find a dressy shoe and I ordered over a dozen online, trying them on, wearing them around the house, and eventually finding one that worked. 

It was delightful.

My tips for shopping in-person

I do still enjoy shopping in a store, but do so only when it makes sense for me. That means planning ahead - including when to get there and shop - so I do not overdo it. 

  • Wear the right clothes and shoes for comfortable walking. 
  • Carry the right handbag or tote so shoulders don’t scream at me.
  • Make sure you go when you are well-hydrated, have eaten, and have the energy to shop.

Those are always considerations for me. If I am flaring, shopping does not happen. 

Additonal tips

Consider how much time you need to shop for the items you want and then cut that in half. Take breaks while shopping. Make two trips instead of one long one. 

All of these will make shopping a much more manageable experience.

Considerations for jewelry

Jewelry is interesting when it comes to RA. I like to wear little, lightweight necklaces and earrings. They make me feel good, give me a little lift, and add to my overall “look”. I no longer wear heavy pieces. 

I have found that even some of the larger ones can be lightweight, so just play with how they feel on your neck before you purchase them. 

Small beads for an added grip

Rings can be tricky, but I found out that they can put “beads” on the inside of the bands to give you added grip. That means you can wear larger rings so that when you are flaring and your hands are swollen, you may still be able to wear that special ring. 

Most jewelers should know what these beads on the band are so check with a local jewelry store.

There are numerous ways to manage dressing and shopping with RA and you will find those strategies that work best for you. You can still enjoy the process if you plan carefully.


To read part one of this article, click here: Dressing Do's and Don'ts with RA, Part 1.

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