Do You Suffer From Pelvic Pain? Here Are 5 Tips For Comfortable But Chic Styling
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed the freedom that comes with wearing what I want whilst working from home. I attend most Zoom meetings having only placed consideration into what I am wearing from the waist up — after all, what the person on the other end of the meeting doesn’t know won’t hurt them right?
I was diagnosed with endometriosis several years ago; a diagnosis that brought with it a sense of relief knowing that my changing range of ‘trendy’ to more ‘comfortable’ clothes over the years were in fact my body’s way of saying “I need space!”.
When my chronic pain or gut symptoms would flare, I found it hard to style the items of clothing I would usually go for pre-diagnosis like; fitted high-waisted denim, cropped sweaters and tanks… the sorts of things are categorised as things that women should be wearing.
I always embraced the athleisure trend, but at times felt lazy going for a baggy option because anything tight was just too painful.
Endometriosis is one of many pelvic pain conditions plaguing women all around Australia. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pelvic pain as “pain in structures related to the pelvis. It is often associated with negative cognitive, behavioural, sexual and emotional consequences as well as with symptoms suggestive of lower urinary
tract, sexual, bowel, pelvic floor or gynaecological dysfunction”.
It is considered chronic/persistent if the pain has been there for more than six months.” Symptoms can vary from consistent aches to rapid and sharp pain, and a host of other symptoms relating to bladder and bowel.
“If the individual felt that the tighter clothes were aggravating the pain then it makes sense to self-select to not wear the clothes as it comes down to doing what makes you feel better,” says Karly Coltman, a pelvic floor physiotherapist at Sydney Pelvic Clinic, who sees hundreds of women with varying degrees of pelvic discomfort.
Karly treats patients with conditions like vulvodynia and vestibulodynia who might also avoid certain underwear like lacy underwear or G-strings in addition to tight jeans or other compressive material.
“This can make a huge difference to the pain response,” she says.
It’s no question that what we wear is a form self-expression. It can also have particularly positive effects on our mental health. Feeling empowered in a chosen outfit can lift our mood but on the contrary, may also dampen our mood.
A study completed in 2012 by two psychologists Hajo Adam and Adam D. Galinksky, discovered the effect which clothing has upon the way a person may think, feel and function. Coined ‘Enclothed Cognition,’ the experiment points our daily clothing choice can make us feel good or bad.
“Fashion isn’t about wearing the most expensive, hottest trend all the time, it’s about how it makes you feel and dressing to suit your mood and personality, if you are comfortable you are confident!” Sydney fashion designer Kate Andy says.
Kate was diagnosed with endometriosis several years ago and learned the hard way that going for comfort was always the right choice. On many occasions, Kate would be sitting at her office desk in her uncomfortable pants unbuttoned hoping nobody would notice!
If Kate wakes up and experiences a flare she makes sure to prioritise self-care through dressing, opting for items like a buttery soft denim in one size up or a supportive pair of leggings together with a blazer for a fancier look. Baggy jeans & shorts, and oversized T-shirts and shirts (she is loving this one from Blanca right now) are all part of Kate’s failsafe repertoire.
Sydney stylist Emma Read has styled hundreds of different body shapes and sizes throughout her career.
“I think overall looking to fabrics and silhouettes that feel more like a cocoon is your best bet, rather than anything overly form-fitting or stiff. In any instance when I’m not feeling 100 per cent mentally or physically I want to reach for those pieces I know are more like a warm hug over anything too tricky or trendy,” Emma says.
Emma doesn’t suffer from pelvic pain but has worked with many clients who do, and her one goal has always been to ensure they feel good. She also knows how rewarding it is to listen to our bodies when getting dressed.
Emma shared some styling tips, for the days chronic pain might make dressing an uncomfortable task:
A Man-Style Trouser
The slouchier the better — these mimic professional without losing any comfort points. Perfect for work with a button-down or transition these into weekend wear with a lightweight knit or t-shirt.
A Silk Bias-Cut Skirt
Silk is my go-to for elevated comfort dressing — plus anything bias-cut is incredibly flattering on the body no matter how you’re feeling. I’d pair this with an oversized turtleneck in winter and a man-style white shirt and ribbed tank for the warmer months.
A Roomy Short Set
I love an elastic-waisted short set when I’m in a rush or stuck for comfy outfit ideas — it’s a one and done. Dress this up with strappy sandals or keep it casual with sneakers. This one is especially good for the warmer weather.
A Wide-Leg Jean in Stretchy Denim
Volume is absolutely your friend when it comes to denim in this instance — a wide-leg in a soft, stretchy wash would be my pick (or straight-leg if you’re petite).
A Matching Tracksuit Set For Off Duty
Thankfully the humble trackie is sticking around post-lockdown — the key to keeping this elevated is all in the cut. Look for styles that taper to the leg rather than balloon.
Sweatpants are a dream come true and I will never complain about them being my preferred option but allowing myself to be more creative with my personal style on days when pain seems unbearable, is what fashion is all about — self-expression.