The Athleisure Way of Life
There is one thing I dislike more than mornings and that’s clothes.
Clothes are the worst. They are constricting, they carry more weight than a person’s personality, and they are expensive (to name a few reasons why I don’t like them).
I mean, I like clothes because they keep me warm but otherwise? Nah, I’ll pass.
How I dressed before RA
Pre-RA I was not a fan. I thought women’s clothes were too tight and didn’t fit my style or body. I have a short torso and most feminine tops are made with longer torsos in mind. Leggings were not yet a thing and jeans...well. Jeans.
I loved me a good pair of cargo pants or PJ pants (mostly the latter because pajama pants were against the school dress code) and a nice comfy sweatshirt. I was that person.
Little did I know: my teenage persona would pave a much easier and simpler way for me as an adult.
Trouble with buttons and zippers
Circa 2010, 20 year old me was diagnosed with that pesky autoimmune, rheumatoid arthritis. All of a sudden I had trouble with buttons and zippers, laces, and drawstrings.
That meant that jeans, button-down shirts, and most shoes became the stuff of fiction.
But, it was okay! First of all, I barely wore those types of clothes, to begin with. And second, a medical reason that I needed to wear my loose-fitting, agender clothing? Yes. Please.
Athleisure to the rescue
Thankfully, by 2010-2012, the idea of athleisure had taken over full swing. It was cool to wear athletic wear all the time.
Leggings were popular. Cute and cool sneakers were hitting the market and it was easy to find snazzy sweatshirts that looked less lazy and chicer.
How to dress up athleisure wear
Unfortunately, there are moments that even the most avant-garde athletic wear is not appropriate. So, here are my tips for dressing it up.
1. No bra, no way
For my female cohort, bras are tough. I couldn’t figure them out before RA and I can’t figure them out now.
If a shirt really calls for a private layer, I either wear a sports bra (with the rise in popularity, there are some rather cute ones), a cute bralette, a tank top, or even a front-zip camisole.
Note that I try to keep these layers as loose-fitting as possible to make changing a bit easier.
2. Shoes, shoes, shoes
Okay, this may not be helpful for most but I wear sneakers or cute "everyday/leisure" shoes. I buy them in fun colors or cute prints so they seem less dressed down.
Interestingly, I actually really liked heels but those are difficult to wear now. If I must wear a pair of heels, I go for a wedge, a cute boot with a thicker heel, or a sandal with a kitten heel.
But, my go-to is slip-on athletic shoes. No laces, please!
A nice scarf goes a long way to dress up a tee-shirt or front-zip sweatshirt.
In lieu of a scarf, a few long-strand necklaces are quite nice as well (long strands so you don’t have to worry about clasping them since they slip over the neck).
I love wearing rings. My rings are just slightly larger so they can slip over my joints. But, if I am swollen, the rings are out!
I am also a fan of elastic bracelets. These are more mainstream now so it’s easy to find some nice ones that just slip over the wrist. Bangles are a great dressier alternative.
I wear earrings that do not have a closed-back or require that teeny tiny clasp. I just swing the hook through my lobe and boom done. Clip-on earrings are also a great staple if you do not have piercings.
If wearing a button-up shirt is non-negotiable, I wear one but I don’t button it and slip on a sweater on top.
A small amount of adjusting and tucking the tails into my bottoms and nobody would ever know your dressy button-up is not, in fact, buttoned up!
What are your tips for dressing up? LMK in the comments!
Have you taken our Rheumatoid Arthritis In America survey?