a fully stocked closet and a woman looking in the mirror happy

The Most Comfortable RA Wear

Last updated: March 2023

I recall years ago that trying to dress while dealing with RA was at best difficult and at worst impossible. The clothing fabrics all seemed tight and confining, shoes were stiff and boxy, and outerwear was heavy and inflexible. Closures on coats, shirts, and pants were hideous to deal with given our swollen and painful hands. Tying shoes was simply a nightmare.

Fast forward to today, and so much has changed! 

Footwear and cushioning insoles

Let’s start with shoes. The no-lace slip-on sneakers, flats, boots, etc. are amazing, and the inner soles are often made of something with give — like memory foam — so that my feet are no longer in pain when I have to wear a shoe. There are also insoles you can get to add to the comfort. Once I find the perfect sneaker, boot, sandal, or flat, I get them in multiple colors so that I am not constantly adjusting to a new shoe. 

There are also some amazing specialized shoes out there for those of us that need a more custom fit.  These can be pricey, but if you have painful feet, the cost is worth it.

No more buttons on coats for me

Outerwear has also taken giant strides. I have several coats for all seasons, and they all either zip or snap. No more buttons for me. 

I only get coat fabrics that are lightweight and comfortable; down and fleece are great examples. I love that I can get them a bit roomier to accommodate my RA body, which may fluctuate in size and pain and still have the coats look nice and stylish.

Gloves come in some terrific lightweight but cold-blocking materials as well, so there is no need to have cold, painful hands because of too-tight gloves.

Choosing soft, lightweight, stretchy fabrics

Slacks these days, even jeans, come made of lovely stretchable fabrics that feel light and soft on my skin. The fabulous waistbands they have can expand or are stretchable to accommodate my body fluctuations while still having details that make them look like regular waistbands.

Tops have come such a long way! Most of mine slip easily over my head and are silky knits, soft fleece, or lightweight, wrinkle-free cotton. I love that there are so many styles, fabrics, and colors.

Casual and workout gear also comes in so many wonderful styles and fabrics; there is no need to exercise in discomfort ever again.

Cooling fabric for sleepwear

Sleepwear is another category that was always a challenge for me. I have skin that is very dry and often itchy, and it seemed no matter what I wore to sleep, it was horribly uncomfortable. 

Now I have "cooling" fabric PJs, and they are fabulous! Along with my percale/bamboo sheets, I now sleep so much more comfortably.

Compression and lightweight socks

Socks are vastly improved as well. They come in a variety of styles and are also available in so many different fabrics. 

I have some that are hidden in the shoe, ankle-length, knee-high, etc. I also have invested in some wonderful knee-high compression socks. Once again, these used to be made of the most uncomfortable fabric. Now, however, they are made of lightweight fabric. They are stylish and oh-so-comfortable,  perfect for when your feet and/or legs are swollen/painful. They are also highly recommended for flying, and I always wear them on flights longer than 45 minutes.

Improving self-image and bringing joy

Clothes are something I have always enjoyed, and now that there are so many choices that work with my RA, I can wear things I like, which helps my self-image and overall joy.


Have you found that certain types of fabric or clothing styles have helped you more easily manage your RA? Share with us in the comments below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

On average, how many times per month do you (or your caretaker) go to the pharmacy?