Fashion tips for women with ileostomy or colostomy bags

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how do you choose clothes to wear with your ileostomy bag, and so I thought Id do a little post on the question…

Its a funny one because my first reaction is ‘Wear whatever the hell you want to” and that is my general rule.  But there are a few things I wear for comfort and ease…

1. Maternity trousers

I know, I know, wearing maternity trousers when you aren’t pregnant seems awful, but they are FANTASTIC.  You can get a ton of different styles these days from most high street stores and they are really affordable.

I went for maternity jeans because from the crotch down they look like any other pair of trousers, but that soft stretchy band above makes them super comfortable and holds your bag snugly against your stomach so it just feels so safe.  Wearing these means I happily wear jeans and a vest and don’t even think about my bag.

2. Don’t feel that you have to hide it

The fact is that sometimes you will be able to make out the shape of your bag under your clothes, but seriously who cares?  What is the absolute worse that will happen? Someone will ask you what it is, you tell them.  The End.  Wear what make you feel good, if you can see the bag, own it and make it awesome…

ileostomy bag and fashion

I love this tshirt and didn’t want to go bigger and get a baggy top, I know you can see the shape of my bag through and so what!

ileostomy bag and fashion

I bought this is Australia and its totally see through… I think Im rocking it!

3.  In there like swimwear

I looked at a few ileostomy swimming costumes and never found one I liked and so I just wear what I already have! On the beach or sunbathing I am happy to wear a bikini and just let is all hang out…

ileostomy bag and fashion swimwear ileostomy bag and fashion having fun swimwear ostomy stoma

If I want to cover up on the beach, or at the local swimming pool I wear a one piece, if you are bothered about people seeing it, go for a large pattern.

ileostomy bag and fashion swimwear

4. Tight fitting clothes.

You had your bowel removed, you did not become a nun.  If you liked wearing tight fitting clothes before there is no reason you can’t still wear them.  It comes down to confidence and self esteem – your bag has probably saved your life, its not something to be ashamed of, wear what makes you feel amazing.

ileostomy bag and fashion

5. Loose women

If you want to go baggy then do it, but do it because you love the dress, not because you want to cover everything up.

ileostomy bag and fashion

6. In the bedroom

I don’t usually talk about ‘bedroom stuff’ just because it isn’t really something I want my mum or kids to read, but regarding clothes Ill talk a bit.  There are some specialist lingerie sets for ostomates, I have had a look and to be honest they aren’t for me.  There are specialist wraps but in a way I find them a little bit offensive, its like saying I need to cover up my bag for my partner to find me sexually attractive.

I tend to wear a vest in bed because I feel more comfortable when my bag is close against my skin, but honestly, with the right partner, you really don’t need to worry about what you are wearing in the bedroom.  I think sex is about trust and respect, if my partner didn’t want to see my bag during sex, he probably wouldn’t be the right partner for me.

7. Underwear

I tend to wear big panties, you know the high waisted ones, I do this because I prefer to have the cotton between my skin and the bag.  Its total personal preference, you can buy specialist underwear that has a pouch in it for your bag.  I haven’t bothered with these so far as Im comfortable in what I have.

8. Wear what makes you feel amazing…

This is the main point.  Clothes are such a personal choice, there is little reason for you to change your style because of your bag.  There are a few things I avoid nowadays because of the position of my stoma, waistbands need to go above or below my stoma to feel comfortable.  I’d never stop wearing something that I loved unless it was ridiculously impractical or uncomfortable.

ileostomy bag and fashion

Wear what makes you feel awesome and amazing, you deserve it xxx

Love Sam xxx

47 replies
  1. A Mermaid Named (E.D.)
    A Mermaid Named (E.D.) says:

    This post is freaking fantastic. I love the line, “I had my bowel removed, I did not become a nun.” When discussing wearing tight fitting clothing. I commend you on what you write in this post. It is informational, fun and also appropriate for a wide audience. Even if you are someone that has never had an ostomy, you can relate to this post. I think one message you are sending here is own your body, own your life. I looooove that!!! Thank you!

    Reply
  2. A Mermaid Named (E.D.)
    A Mermaid Named (E.D.) says:

    This post is freaking fantastic. I love the line, “I had my bowel removed, I did not become a nun.” When discussing wearing tight fitting clothing. I commend you on what you write in this post. It is informational, fun and also appropriate for a wide audience. Even if you are someone that has never had an ostomy, you can relate to this post. I think one message you are sending here is own your body, own your life. I looooove that!!! Thank you!

    Reply
  3. monique marsh
    monique marsh says:

    I was wondering if you could give me any advice on what I can wear during the colder month’s I have a wound manager pouch that takes up about the whole area of my stomach. It has to be drained every so often or I need to attach a drainage tube that goes to Foley bag. I will have to wear this appliance for the whole winter. Thanks for your time. Yours truly Monique Marsh.

    Reply
  4. monique marsh
    monique marsh says:

    I was wondering if you could give me any advice on what I can wear during the colder month’s I have a wound manager pouch that takes up about the whole area of my stomach. It has to be drained every so often or I need to attach a drainage tube that goes to Foley bag. I will have to wear this appliance for the whole winter. Thanks for your time. Yours truly Monique Marsh.

    Reply
  5. Moe
    Moe says:

    I am in the hospital awaiting surgery as my colon and anus no longer want to work, I lost the use of my stomach about four years ago but it has progressed to other parts, in fact I am also showing a lack of motillity in the small intestine as well. I am scared but I am happy it is being done as my life has been one filled with more stays in hospital then at home. I cam upon your blog on a search for information and I thank you for being honest and giving insight.

    Reply
  6. Moe
    Moe says:

    I am in the hospital awaiting surgery as my colon and anus no longer want to work, I lost the use of my stomach about four years ago but it has progressed to other parts, in fact I am also showing a lack of motillity in the small intestine as well. I am scared but I am happy it is being done as my life has been one filled with more stays in hospital then at home. I cam upon your blog on a search for information and I thank you for being honest and giving insight.

    Reply
  7. miss Juz
    miss Juz says:

    Hi Sam,
    I wore jeans for the first time today (post surgery 5 weeks ago) but suffered an horrendous bag leakage 🙁 They were fitted but not tight, do you have any hints to avoid this happening again??

    Reply
    • sam
      sam says:

      Hiya, where did the waistband sit? Do you think the leak was down to the jeans or just bad timing?

      I always found maternity jeans were great for me, the ones that have the soft material band that sits over the normal waistband.

      I avoided anything that cut across the bag.

      Good Luck!!!

      Reply
  8. miss Juz
    miss Juz says:

    Hi Sam,
    I wore jeans for the first time today (post surgery 5 weeks ago) but suffered an horrendous bag leakage 🙁 They were fitted but not tight, do you have any hints to avoid this happening again??

    Reply
    • sam
      sam says:

      Hiya, where did the waistband sit? Do you think the leak was down to the jeans or just bad timing?

      I always found maternity jeans were great for me, the ones that have the soft material band that sits over the normal waistband.

      I avoided anything that cut across the bag.

      Good Luck!!!

      Reply
  9. miss Juz
    miss Juz says:

    The waistband sat at the top of the bag, I didnt think it caused too much pressure?? I will try again on a home day (I was at Australia Day celebrations when it happened, so a bit distressing) & see what happens, if no good then i’m off to the maternity section 🙂

    Reply
  10. miss Juz
    miss Juz says:

    The waistband sat at the top of the bag, I didnt think it caused too much pressure?? I will try again on a home day (I was at Australia Day celebrations when it happened, so a bit distressing) & see what happens, if no good then i’m off to the maternity section 🙂

    Reply
  11. Susie
    Susie says:

    Hi – just happened upon your blog and I love your “let it all hang out” attitude! I had a total colectomy about twelve years ago and I must say that life became a whole lot better when I lost the diseased bowel (Crohns). But I’ve always been a bit self conscious about people “noticing” my bag through my clothes so I have tended to go for the slightly voluminous look – I like loose t-shirts and tights for everyday wear. And I’ve never quite come to terms with what to wear for swimming, so I don’t. Maybe I’ll try and adopt some of your more up-front attitude. Thanks

    Reply
  12. Susie
    Susie says:

    Hi – just happened upon your blog and I love your “let it all hang out” attitude! I had a total colectomy about twelve years ago and I must say that life became a whole lot better when I lost the diseased bowel (Crohns). But I’ve always been a bit self conscious about people “noticing” my bag through my clothes so I have tended to go for the slightly voluminous look – I like loose t-shirts and tights for everyday wear. And I’ve never quite come to terms with what to wear for swimming, so I don’t. Maybe I’ll try and adopt some of your more up-front attitude. Thanks

    Reply
  13. shelagh
    shelagh says:

    I’m soon having surgery that will result in an ileostomy. I have already given my stoma a name. She’s called Hope. Thankyou for your blog. It’s really reassuring, honest and informative. I will remember the line ‘your bag has probably saved your life, its not something to be ashamed of’ for ever. I think I might write it on my bathroom mirror. I’m young, I have the rest of my life in front of me and now I feel more confident about living my life with my new friend, Hope. Thanks you son much xx

    Reply
  14. shelagh
    shelagh says:

    I’m soon having surgery that will result in an ileostomy. I have already given my stoma a name. She’s called Hope. Thankyou for your blog. It’s really reassuring, honest and informative. I will remember the line ‘your bag has probably saved your life, its not something to be ashamed of’ for ever. I think I might write it on my bathroom mirror. I’m young, I have the rest of my life in front of me and now I feel more confident about living my life with my new friend, Hope. Thanks you son much xx

    Reply
  15. falean green
    falean green says:

    I had my bladder removed March ,2015. It happened so fast I had no time to think about what i was going to wear. So my wonderful daughter went out and bought me 4 long skirts, to a uniform store to get slacks and two long dresses. I have a lightweight cotton jacket that i can wear with the dresses and the jacket can be closed gently with a small safety pin in front. I also wear mens shirts which means they hang long.over other blouses underneath. I have measured that a blouse has to hang down at least 30″ to cover the end of the bag which usually is underneath the skirts or slacks. Hope this helps. falean

    Reply
  16. falean green
    falean green says:

    I had my bladder removed March ,2015. It happened so fast I had no time to think about what i was going to wear. So my wonderful daughter went out and bought me 4 long skirts, to a uniform store to get slacks and two long dresses. I have a lightweight cotton jacket that i can wear with the dresses and the jacket can be closed gently with a small safety pin in front. I also wear mens shirts which means they hang long.over other blouses underneath. I have measured that a blouse has to hang down at least 30″ to cover the end of the bag which usually is underneath the skirts or slacks. Hope this helps. falean

    Reply
  17. Pam
    Pam says:

    Hi Sam
    I have a iliostomy and wear maternity jeans. I do feel as though my Stoma burns as though they press against it? Have you any thoughts on why? Thank you for your blog you are a wonderful person xxx

    Reply
    • sam
      sam says:

      I believe you can get a Stoma guard that’s usually used for sports but perhaps it could help?

      Speak to your Ostomy supply company!

      And thanks for your lovely words.

      Sam x

      Reply
  18. Pam
    Pam says:

    Hi Sam
    I have a iliostomy and wear maternity jeans. I do feel as though my Stoma burns as though they press against it? Have you any thoughts on why? Thank you for your blog you are a wonderful person xxx

    Reply
    • sam
      sam says:

      I believe you can get a Stoma guard that’s usually used for sports but perhaps it could help?

      Speak to your Ostomy supply company!

      And thanks for your lovely words.

      Sam x

      Reply
  19. Veronica
    Veronica says:

    I have a friend who has very aggressive cancer which has not entered her bowel and therefore has just without warning a colostomy bag for her bowel. I would love to buy her a beautiful pair of PJ’s and a robe. Are there any suggestions? It must be natural fibres and soft on the skin as that is extremely sensitive due to the radiation and chemo.
    Thank you anyone who can help me.

    Reply
  20. Veronica
    Veronica says:

    I have a friend who has very aggressive cancer which has not entered her bowel and therefore has just without warning a colostomy bag for her bowel. I would love to buy her a beautiful pair of PJ’s and a robe. Are there any suggestions? It must be natural fibres and soft on the skin as that is extremely sensitive due to the radiation and chemo.
    Thank you anyone who can help me.

    Reply
  21. nancy
    nancy says:

    I discovered the lingerie department is the best place to look for tops to go with Spanks slacks or any slacks!
    When I was able to go shopping, I happened to glance at the lingerie department. I knew the
    tops were not form fitting and kind of just fell without looking like it came from the maternity
    department. Low and behold, I actually have a new wardrobe consisting of really attractive
    lingerie tops and I usually wear Spanks- like pants or even regular slacks. I would be really self conscientious
    when anything looks like I wear an ileostomy. If you have any new ideas for looking like you don’t have a bag,
    please write.

    Reply
  22. Cece
    Cece says:

    I feel on this site because my mom had a “melt down” by this I mean she keeps trying on clothes that will not fit, see she not only has a bag but she also has a huge hernia on the same side that can’t be repaired. She will buy bigger clothes to accomadate both items which I keep telling her will frustrate her more. I have asked for her jeans so I can sew in the maternity panel but her head is hard!!! My sister and I keep telling her ” You are shopping at the wring stores go to a maternity shop”I make her go away every year and live her life no roadblocks!!!! Swimming, hiking, anything she wants to do I make her do it. Now that I have read this I am going to set it up for her so she can read it and I am taking a pair if her jeans (don’t tell her) and sewing the panel in. Then I am going to a maternity store and getting the stuff for her. That’s it!!!! She is our mom and we will move mountains for her. Thank you for reassuring me we are guiding her the right way.

    Reply
  23. Shanell
    Shanell says:

    Love this blog! Thank you….. I have a colostomy bag, which as you said is saving my life…… I haven’t quite owned it yet because it’s only been 2 and a half months…. But this was very helpful to me because I was clueless. My new way of life, I’m grateful for it all, feels good to know I’m not alone.

    Reply
  24. Jennifer Lambert
    Jennifer Lambert says:

    Thank you so much, Sam, for sharing your story!!! My very best friend just underwent a life-saving surgery this week, and she has a bag now, though she doesn’t know it yet, as she’s still on life support. I came across your page researching how to “style up” a bag to cheer her up when she wakes, as I know she is going to take the news hard. She is the most BADASS chick I know, and I’m hoping that sharing your badass story with her will give her the comfort, comaraderie, and strength she’ll need to keep her badassness intact! THANK YOU!!!

    Reply

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