The art of wearing winter clothes from a wheelchair is exactly that; a talent, and it can take some time and patience to learn. From trying your hardest to not look like Violet Beauregard from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when she blows up into a blueberry when you put on a winter coat to making sure you can still move in whichever coat you buy, it can be tricky finding a coat that works when you use a wheelchair.
I’m from Minnesota so having a solid winter coat is a must. When I was first injured I was a teenager and Starter jackets were all the rage – those ugly puffy sports team jackets everyone seemed to have. I had one too; a Charlotte Hornet’s jacket, replete with black, purple and teal, and I would wear it all day long. Gross.
The thing about dressing for the cold however is that when you use a wheelchair, it’s not that easy to do. Jacket’s can be too long, too puffy and plain unflattering when you’re sitting down. They should feel like a hug and make you look great. You have to really study how you look in the mirror to figure out which type a coat looks best before purchasing. Always use a full-length mirror too.
And for some people no matter their size, it can be a tougher search. Always start by looking for coats that have been specifically made for wheelchair-users, and there are several, otherwise get ready to pay a seamstress to modify any new jacket you purchase. One of my favorite adaptive clothing companies is IZ Adaptive by Izzy Camilleri, designer of beautiful adapted coats and lots of other pretty stuff.
Izzy designs everything from chic dresses and jeggings, but her coats is where it’s really at. They’re high quality and I absolutely love her for using a wheelchair mannequin (Mannequal, purchased from artist and paraplegic Sophie Morgan) for the shots of her clothing on her site. Maybe it’s a passion of hers because she’s from Canada, but her coats truly can’t be beat. They’re perfectly adapted, stylish, comfortable and yes, they keep you warm.
When choosing a jacket that looks best on you, if you don’t want go through an adaptive clothing site or a seamstress and you’d rather keep things simple, you can always do what I do – find mainstream versions of clothing, like at Forever 21, that contain the fashion elements you need.
This takes a lot more “leg” and Google search work, but it will save you a few bucks. Look for high back jackets, generous arm space, not too long of sleeves, and an overall flattering cut.
So remember, look for jackets that aren’t tight and puffy or hide the best parts of your body. Nothing too long and bulky is a must for the ladies. Belts are also a great way to show off your figure while wearing a jacket sitting down, as well as cropped jackets and adapted bomber jackets.
Just remember to always layer up before putting on your winter coat. Layering is one of the best ways for someone with a spinal cord injury to adjust their body’s temperature. Stay warm, and happy shopping.
What winter coat have you found works best as a wc-user?