Abdominal pain. Whether it's period pains, a tendency to be prone to bloating, the menopause or even just a dodgy sandwich from the corner shop, us ladies tend to be well versed in the curse of abdominal pain.
About three years ago I was diagnosed with a particularly nasty little gremlin called Interstitial Cystitis - otherwise known as painful bladder syndrome - which, as the title suggests is a chronic pain condition that affects the bladder. The condition comes in "flare-ups" of pain - which can be pretty aggressive, not to mention the oh-so-fun side effects of bloating, often resulting in a 9-month-due-any-minute phantom food baby. The diagnosis led to several major lifestyle changes in diet and exercise regimes, but little did I know it would also grow to have great impact on my sense of style too. With tight, figure-hugging pieces suddenly off limits in the midst of the bodycon trend, I had to adapt my style to reflect not only my inner fashionista, but to be mindful to my physical well-being too.
Regardless of whether your pain is a monthly occurrence when mother nature pays a visit, or like me something that is a permanent part of your life, my guide below offers tips and tricks to stay as pain-free as possible without compromising your style.
Go high-waisted or go home (and lie in bed in agony.) Personally, my pain tends to land just below my gut, which makes anything mid-rise or low-rise completely off limits during a flare. I have been known to actually seek out shops in the middle of a date to purely buy a pair of trousers due to discomfort. The trick is to select trousers and skirts with a high-rise or high-waist - and then go up a size. Sure, they may be a little baggier than you're used to, but trust me when I say you'll be thanking your lucky stars you did come 6pm in the evening. Going up a size can be beneficial in hiding the obvious appearance of bloating and instead of trousers and skirts looking like they're about to burst from your new beach-ball inspired stomach, the piece will simply look like it fits well.
Skinny jeans are the enemy. They may feel great and look even better on, but trust me when I say you do not want to be caught in skinnies when abdominal pain strikes. Whilst the introduction of stretch technology is a welcome addition to the textile industry, denim still remains the stiffest of fabrics to wear, outside of thick leather. If you're a fan of the skinny fit but need more room to account for pain and bloating, look to cigarette and peg-leg trousers. Benefits of wearing cigarette trousers include a super streamlined figure, a more forgiving fabric not to mention ultimate style sophistication. Swap out your summer crepe trousers for wool when the season changes.
In times of abdominal pain, are pyjamas your only solace? Good news - pyjama dressing is on trend. Even if I did not suffer from consistent pain, I'm pretty sure I'd still be completely and utterly in love with the pyjama trend. Identified by it's boxy, oversized silhouettes and flowing fabrics, it's pretty much the ideal trend for anybody who wants to retain supreme style during a flare up.
Elasticated waists are your new best friend. You might cringe and think "but they're for grannies," but the truth is your health has to come first. There is nothing "chic" about hospital gowns which is probably what you will end up in if you don't listen to your body. Don't forget, elasticated bands can be covered up with cute belts and some strategic layering, so don't fret it.
Bin the control pants. Pronto. They're pretty much designed to squash your stomach and its contents into as compact a shape as possible. Get them binned - they're going to cause nothing but pain for your poor tummy.
|In this photo, I'm wearing trousers two sizes larger than I usually wear - can you tell the difference?|
Having abdominal pain is never fun, but it's an inevitable part of being woman. Remember, if your abdominal pain continues over an extended period of time, it is important to visit your GP. Similarly if you experience a sudden onset of severe abdominal pain, seek medical attention immediately.
Do you have any tips for dressing with abdominal pain? Share them with us!
Live by the catwalk, die by the donut.