If you struggle with dressing independently due to limited mobility or dexterity, magnetic closure clothing can help. These clothes have magnets instead of buttons or zippers, so you only need one hand to secure them.
When brought close together, the magnets align to fasten shirts, pants, jackets, and more instantly. This allows you to dress yourself without the difficulty of manipulating small closures.
You can find ready-made adaptive clothing with magnetic closures from brands like Joe & Bella, Zappos, and even Tommy Hilfiger. Or have a tailor add magnets to replace closures on your existing clothes. The magnets are discreet, with covers that blend into the garment.
You don’t have to sacrifice style for function with magnetic closure clothing. Regain your independence and make getting dressed easier. Here’s how.
How Do Magnetic Clothing Closures Make It Easier To Get Dressed?
Magnetic closures offer a simple yet innovative solution to the difficulties of dressing for many people with limited mobility and dexterity.
They work by having magnets sewn into both sides of a garment closure. When brought close together, the magnets instantly align and connect to secure shirts, jackets, pants, and more with just one hand.
This spares the frustration and struggle of trying to manipulate and align small buttons and zippers.
Conditions like arthritis, Parkinson’s, stroke, and spinal cord injuries can severely limit fine motor skills and make using buttons and zippers painfully difficult, if not impossible. People with ALS especially find magnetic clothing easier to dress with.
The ease of magnetic closures allows people suffering from these conditions to dress themselves independently and retain their dignity.
For example, Lou, 87, struggles with arthritis and buttoning his shirts, leading to frustration. He lives alone and isn’t ready to hire caregivers. After his daughter introduces magnetic closure shirts, Lou says he feels like he got back a small piece of his life and independence. The magnetic shirts also reduced stress for his daughter, who previously had to dress him each morning before work.
By replacing complex manual closures with simple magnets, magnetic closure clothing enables dressing with one hand, improving the quality of life for both the wearers and their caregivers.
No longer relying on others for help with simple daily tasks like getting dressed can make a huge difference in preserving a person’s dignity and autonomy.
Here is a video of the Joe & Bella Button Up Shirt With Magnetic Closures I made to demonstrate these advantages:
Where Can You Buy Clothing With Magnetic Closures?
Many retailers and brands sell adaptive clothing that features magnetic closures. Some of the popular brands include:
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Joe & Bella is an active adaptive clothing brand that is currently developing several new and exciting products. I have personally used and reviewed their Magnetic Button Up Shirt and their Freedom Chinos which both use magnetic fasteners.
Being one of the world’s largest retailers, Amazon offers a wide selection of adaptive clothing from many of the most popular manufacturers. Another benefit to purchasing from Amazon is their easy-to-navigate website and generous return policies.
Zappos offers much more than adaptive shoes. They offer many adaptive clothing items as well from many of the popular adaptive clothing brands. Plus, they have an Advisory Council that reviews and selects the items they choose to sell.
Dignity Pajamas has created a nice niche in adaptive sleepwear for men and women. They offer many styles of sleep shirts, pajamas, and gowns with open backs and velcro closures.
Perhaps a surprising addition to the list is well-known fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger who has a line of adaptive clothing for both adults and children. His shop is a great choice for the more fashion-forward person.
Etsy is a great place to find one-of-a-kind adaptive clothing pieces that aren’t mass-marketed. Some Etsy sellers even offer custom-made items for special situations or will make special sizes for larger or smaller people.
JCPenney offers a decent selection of adaptive clothing made by standard clothing manufacturers like St. John’s Ba, a.n.a., and Worthington. Plus sizes are available too.
You can also find adaptive clothing through brands dedicated specifically to the craft, including:
MagnaReady specializes in clothes that rely on magnetic closure devices.
See my full list of adaptive clothing brands and retailers here.
How Can You Make Your Own Magnetic Closure Clothes?
You may be thinking that magnets don’t have much to do with clothes or fashion.
But, certain clothing items might use magnetic clasps or button magnets interchangeably or assist individuals with a disability or limited hand mobility resulting from strokes when it comes to unfastening or fastening garments.
If you are planning to include magnetic closures in a garment that you are making for a loved one who has a disability, make sure you choose a magnet type that won’t interfere with technology such as pacemakers or phones.
To sew a magnetic clasp into clothing items, below are a few how-tos and tips to help you get started:
- Square or felt fabric cover
- Disc magnets
- The clothing item you plan to sew the magnet into
Tips On How To Sew With Magnets
When sewing a magnet into clothes, you will need something to cover the magnet. The cover will protect the magnet and make it possible to sew into the garment.
You can choose a sewing magnet design that includes the cover or use a piece of square fabric to sew the magnet. For added security, you can also use fusible interfacing.
Once you have made the magnet cover, you can sew it into the garment. If you plan to use the magnet inside a pocket, first make a slit under the flap of the pocket so that you have enough room to insert the magnet and secure it into place.
On the opposite side, where the closure will fasten, you will need to sew in a second magnet. Make sure that the magnets are placed correctly so that they pull together when they are close together.
Buttons are slightly trickier since there is typically more than one to work with. However, the steps that were mentioned above will work just as well with buttons.
When it comes to buttons, it is advisable to either use thicker fabric or smaller magnets. This will also depend on the placements of the buttons.
These are just the general steps or tips you can use when it comes to sewing one or more magnets into an item of clothing. Some projects might be more specific.
When this is the case, do a bit of research to make sure you know what you are doing.
How Can You Adapt Existing Clothing With Magnetic Closures?
Garment closures are the most challenging things for individuals with disabilities or limited mobility to work with, especially for those with hand dexterity problems.
Buttons are the hardest to deal with, followed by a zipper with a small pull.
People use a few devices to make these closure types easier to handle, such as elongated zipper pulls or button hooks.
However, for people with debilitating disabilities such as ALS, arthritis, or a stroke, it is often better for these individuals to change the closure to something easier, like a Velcro closure or a magnetic closure.
This can also mean they won’t need special devices to help them fix a garment or get dressed.
It is easy to replace buttons and zippers for magnetic closures. The best option is to take a garment to a tailor to modify clothing items. Magnetic closures for clothing blend in relatively well and generally look like traditional shirts or dresses.
In fact, no one would know what type of closure the garment has unless you decide to tell them.
If your fingers are no longer working as they used to, this shouldn’t become a problem. Magnets can be placed and inserted easily into your clothes. They also easily snap into place without having to force your fingers or hands into a hurtful position.
Where Can You Buy Magnetic Closures To Make Or Alter Clothing?
You can purchase magnetic closures for clothing at just about any local sewing or fabric store. Or you can order them online. Amazon sells kits of varying designs and sizes as well.
What Is Adaptive Clothing?
Adaptive apparel is clothing that is designed specifically to make it easier for people with certain types of special needs such as learning disabilities, spinal cord injuries, or physical disabilities to get dressed.
Many of these people find it impossible or very difficult to manipulate buttons or zippers, or they may have limitations when it comes to mobility, making self-dressing difficult.
One of the common misconceptions about “adaptive clothing” is that it only benefits people in wheelchairs or people with severe injuries. But any person limited by traditional clothing designs may benefit from adaptive clothing.
These garments can also benefit caregivers or healthcare providers by making it easier to work with patients.
While most people are under the impression that getting dressed is a relatively simple task, understanding the problems that older people face when they start getting older is essential when choosing appropriate clothing.
From a technical and aesthetic viewpoint, families and caregivers should focus on finding garments that will help boost confidence and maximize comfort.