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Pain News Network: Dressing for Comfort and Success

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Check out my latest column for the Pain News Network!

Comedian Patton Oswalt once apologized for all the times he made fun of sweatpants.

“I thought the pinnacle of mankind would be Mars colony or teleportation. Nope! Sweatpants! That was it. Sweatpants!” he said. “We started with fire and the wheel and writing, agriculture, penicillin, sweatpants. Everything else, we’re just on the downward slope. We did it. We’re all done.”

Oswalt went on to say how one never puts sweatpants on after showering; they’re always worn over “un-deodorized flesh,” with which I disagree. Why? Because I just took a shower and then put my sweatpants back on. (That’s not the point of this post.)

If you are one of the approximately 60 million people in the world with chronic pain, you know that regular clothes can just hurt. It becomes a burden to wear something as regular as jeans. We operate by feel alone.

What is comfortable? What doesn’t compound our pain? What feels good against our tortured skin?


This obviously was a problem for me when I was in the working force. An attorney cannot wear sweatpants to court or when meeting with clients……. or can she?


That’s me. This outfit was actually remarkably comfortable. Want to know why? Those are Clarks Kearns Blush boots (literally one of three pairs of shoes I can wear that provide support for my back) and Betabrand’s Dress Pant Yoga Pants (boot cut style).

They work better than, say, black sweatpants or regular yoga pants, because they have fake buttons and pockets. They look like real pants. They are deceptive. It’s a genius idea that fools both court officials and other attorneys into thinking that I am appropriately dressed.

They’re a bit pricey, but they are totally worth it. I own three pairs because regular pants just hurt when my sciatica runs down my legs or my low back starts firing off. I want to be as comfortable as possible, and even well-worn jeans cannot make that happen.

Bonus point for the Dress Pant Yoga Pants: They are one of very few styles that can hide the Quell device.

The jacket is also the same kind of sweatshirt-ish material and was found at H&M.

Betabrand makes a number of products designed for office comfort like the Work-It Skort and the Travel Dress Suit, as well as a zip-up suit “onesie” for men. Not quite sure what I think about that one, but you have to admit it looks pretty convincing.

These can be lifesavers for people who choose clothes by comfort level instead of presentability, as they allow us to achieve both objectives instead of them being mutually exclusive.

The bottom line is that chronic pain patients no longer have to make concessions when it comes to fashion. We don’t need to go outside looking like hobos just because we feel terrible.

It’s common knowledge that by looking good, we can fool ourselves into feeling good. It’s difficult to face the world when you are only armed with sweatpants and no makeup. That’s why I try to wear even just base makeup on a daily basis; you never know who might knock on the door or who you might run into while outside the house, but more importantly, I like feeling pretty.

Sometimes it’s hard to get the motivation even to put on the Betabrand pants, because I associate those with work now. However, I know that when I wear them, I look like I belong in the professional world… and that feels great.


  1. Speakeasy Great Danes says

    After a year of wearing only black yoga pants I was desperate to feel “normal” again. I’m happy to say that for the past few weeks I have been able to wear jeans when I leave the house.

    OK, OK… they’re just Pajama Jeans. Sadly, I think I’m a convert.

    Those Betabrand pants have always looked so appealing. Of course, I once had a pair of wide leg gray pinstriped work pants that started life as Victoria’s Secret PJ bottoms. Lightweight wool, flannel… really, what difference does it make?!


    • Oh my gosh!! Tell me all about the pajama jeans. I wasn’t sure if they were legit based on their ‘as seen on tv’ commercial! 😀 And VS PJs definitely worked their way into my wardrobe far before my second car accident… I still wear my favorite PJ T-shirt constantly. Their stuff is great!
      But yeah, I love Betabrand. My mother just got me their sweatshirt kimono dress for a late Xmas present, and it’s soooooooooo soft. I just want to curl up in it and go to sleep.


  2. seachy says

    This is a brilliant piece of writing, I try sometimes to explain how every decision is guided by chronic pain but people don’t always get it, this is another example of just this. Clothing choice not based on style as such but whether we can get said items on and how they feel once we’ve grunted and groaned and fought our way in. I always need a rest after dressing how daft is that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seachy, you’re the best!! Thanks so much! I know how you feel, I always have to kind of prepare myself for dressing, it’s actually a mental exhaustion before it even becomes a physical one because I’m like, “guhhhhhhh… real pants…. AGAIN.” 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post so much! My clothing choices are predominantly based on what I can afford and what I’m physically able to dress myself in and wear comfortably. I usually wear mostly black cause it’s amazing how smart an outfit can look just by being all one dark colour and adding a piece of statement jewellery can take a long stretchy dress (no buttons, zips or awkward straps) from slouchy to smart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! You are totally right, all black can look amazing and absolutely intentional, especially when paired with statement earrings or whatever. 🙂


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