One of the most common questions I get sent to me is about what clothes to wear when you have an ostomy. People asking if they can ever wear ‘normal’ clothes again, how to hide your bag, what underwear is best and how to still feel like themselves.
My answer is usually that you can wear anything you like! There are no hard and fast rules, it is about personal preference, some people don’t mind if you can see the bag, others want to mask it. I think the only thing that affects my clothes choices is comfort. I want to wear things that I am comfortable in and feel amazing. Amazing for me feels like wearing something that I love, that also fits well around my stoma and means I can go about my day without paying too much attention to my ostomy bag.
Now I am a permanent ostomate and will have this bag forever, it has meant a reshuffle of my wardrobe and some new clothes. I started by going through all my current clothes and chucking out EVERYTHING that doesn’t fit well around my stoma, this was pretty depressing and I have to admit, I had a little cry.
It all felt so FINAL to give away my favourite trousers. But those fave trews have a waistband that sit directly on top of my stoma, I tried wiggling them lower or pulling them over the top but neither worked. I had to accept that my stoma ain’t moving so what is the point in keeping the trousers?
Then I went shopping! YEY! Last time I had a stoma, I found that maternity trousers are awesome for life with an ostomy, especially those that have the stretchy panel attached to them and so I hit H&M and bought two pairs of maternity jeans and a pair of maternity leggings. I also find that a slightly longer than usual top makes me feel tons more comfortable and so searched for tops that made me happy.
So this was my going shopping outfit. A long stripy skirt, the waistband sits above my stoma and a longer black top with a scarf. It’s super comfy without being too casual and if you’re concerned about showing the bulge, the scarf hides everything.
Top – George at Asda
Skirt and scarf – Primark
Onto my bought items, this is maternity jeans and a tight fitting top that is just a bit longer than usual. I don’t mind if the outline of my bag shows and I am happy to wear tight fitting clothes. I know some people are more self conscious but I find that no one cares! And if anyone notices, I am happy to tell them about my bag.
You can see the panel and wear it sits with regard to my ileostomy bag. I love that it keeps everything tucked against my body and it feels safe. You can also see it from the side.
I also went in for some maternity black leggings. Leggings are great for going under anything and these make me feel the bag is kept tucked against my body so when I wear a dress or top over, it’s not flapping about!
Outfit three was more maternity jeans, black this time and a loose fitting shirt. I love this outfit as I just feel like myself in it, I can see myself wearing it around the house or going out with the kids. It’s so comfortable too, I hate wearing joggers, I feel like Waynetta Slob in them and so a comfy, relaxed outfit that I feel like ‘me’ in is just brill. Again, it’s easy to shove a scarf over for those times when your bag fills up instantly and you look like you’re smuggling a bag of potatoes…
Scarf Primark – £3
This next outfit made me smile, it is a dress I bought pre surgery and I wondered how it would fit me now. I teamed it with my new black maternity jeans and pumps and I felt like me again!
So there we go, my first post ostomy shopping trip. It may just seem like a couple of pairs of jeans but to me it was the start of getting back to feeling like myself. I have spent weeks recovering in pyjamas and to now be back in ‘human’ clothes feels amazing.
I really enjoyed sharing my clothes ideas and after receiving a few emails recently from women who feel they can’t wear what they want I think I may share some other fashion posts again. I am a size 16, 34 year old woman, I know I am no clothes horse but I love fashion and I want other people with an ostomy to know that no matter your condition, your size or your age, you can wear whatever the f**k you want. Fashion is about fun and expression, the only person it matters to whether your clothes look good is you.
Your style and fashion with an ostomy may have to adapt, you might have to think twice about where that waistband sits, but it is not the end of the world and you can still look and feel like yourself again. You may want to flaunt your bag, hide it or care neither way, but there is a style of clothes that will fit you and make you feel awesome again. You just need to look for it.