How MS has affected my wardrobe

Declan Groeger
Written by
Declan Groeger

MS can affect life in many different ways. While it can impact bigger aspects like work and family, it also impacts smaller activities like drying your hair and cooking for yourself. We know that sometimes it’s these smaller things that can build up and make day-to-day life with MS more challenging. In this blog, Declan talks about one part of his life that many people may not recognize as an impact of MS.

Multiple Sclerosis brings many challenges to the lives of those living with the disease; some of those challenges are major and some minor. This blog is about a less significant one: my wardrobe (and its associated fashion statement…or the lack thereof).

My walking became impaired soon after my MS diagnosis and, although I needed one, I refused to use a walking cane. As a young man, I didn’t exactly see a walking cane as a fashion accessory and I refused to show what I thought of as a sign of weakness and infirmity. I opted to use a large golf umbrella instead. I carried that umbrella in the height of summer (which made people think that I was a real pessimist) and I carried it the depths of winter, but I never once used it to keep the rain off my thinning hairline. I tried a number of different canes but I couldn’t find one that I thought was fashionable enough; they were all functional - function over fashion every time.

My shoes suffered as my foot drop intensified. The toes became worn before any other part. A local cobbler would remove the offending section and replace it, thus avoiding replacing the complete sole and reducing the cost of repairs. My shoes always had to have soft soles with good grip to minimize the chances of slipping on wet surfaces. Function over fashion once again. I shudder to think how my more fashion conscious female contemporaries fare with high heels. I also had to hang up my ‘dancing shoes’ as my MS progressed.

Another item of clothing to become redundant as time moved on was my overcoat. It is difficult for me to wear such a coat whilst sitting in my wheelchair. Anoraks and shorter jackets are okay but don’t look ‘dressy’ enough. This isn’t a major problem for me now as I rarely venture outside if the weather is either too wet or too cold, but was to start with.

I was never one for real skinny jeans or trousers, I never had the legs for them, but I liked reasonably snug fitting ones and now MS has taken that choice away from me; my legs are stiffer and less agile, so I have to wear looser fitting pants to make getting dressed and undressed easier.

These are just a few ways that MS has changed the way I dress. Tell me, how has MS affected your wardrobe?

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