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A woman clothing shopping. She examines a pair of dark pants, a good choice if you're worried about bladder leaks and stains.

Top tips for clothes shopping with incontinence

Living with bladder leaks doesn’t mean you can no longer step out in style. You absolutely can still be that head-turning fashionista; just put a bit of thought into what you pull off the rack. The right gear will not only have you looking good, it also will make living with bladder leaks even easier. Take the time to try things on, move in them to see how they feel and have fun creating a wardrobe that is as fashionable as it is practical. It’s possible!

Two woman clothes shopping, comparing two blouses. Consider fit, function, and fashion when dealing with incontinence.

First fit, then fashion

Before we get into the style specifics, let’s talk about some sensible things to keep in mind when selecting any garment. The choice between something that uncomfortably binds and something that literally takes the pressure off can mean the difference between bladder comfort and feeling like you’re going to burst at the seams. Don’t make things tough on yourself by thinking you need to squeeze into something in order to look good!

Keep things loose
Flowy skirts and dresses and pants with forgiving waistbands let you breathe easy and keep the constriction off your midsection. Makes sense that giving the area around your bladder a break means more comfort and less concern. Think cotton dresses when the weather is warm and pajama-like pants with elastic waistbands that have just a bit of fit when you want to feel comfy.

Stock up on stretchy leggings
This wardrobe workhorse can dress up or down with ease. They work with long shirts, dresses and skirts and are available in all kinds of colors and prints. The forgiving fit moves with you, and they tend to be really affordable. Get several pairs, and you have the foundation of fun outfits you can make as formal or informal as you like. And don’t forget the cozy fleece-lined options to get you through the fall and winter!

The world of comfy pants
Yoga pants, sweatpants, even maternity pants. Yep, they can stretch easily and move with you, and there’s no worry about pressure or pinching. Be sure to try them on first, however. Some styles may have a supportive structure that can be pretty tight. No need for that squeeze. There are even very stylish pull-on jeans that have the look of fashion denim but the fit and feel of sweats. No zippers, no buttons, and many still have pockets!

Now, how about some outfit ideas?

A woman examines her outfit in the mirror: a flowy shirt with dark wash jeans, fashionable but functional for handling leaks.

Think substance and style
Denser, durable fabrics can withstand frequent washings. That’s a welcome attribute for garments that may be hitting the laundry on a weekly basis. Today’s athleisure, athletic and active wear are made from all kinds of innovative fabric blends that provide substance and style without being bulky.

Don’t be afraid of the dark
Basic black, classic navy, deep gray—these colors are both flattering and a bit forgiving should you experience a leak. Pairing dark leggings, for example, with a longer-cut sweater or blouse is a great look, and it affords a little reassurance if you have a moment where you need to step away and check the status of things.

Pattern recognition
Similar to solid colors, think darker with your patterned fabric selection. Patterned pants, capris and slacks can be really helpful with concealing leaks should you find yourself in an unexpected situation. Pair them with an eye-catching top, like a scoop-neck sweater in a bold color that draws attention up.

Get an A+ in skirts
A-line skirts fit the waist nicely, while giving you a sophisticated shape as well! Skirts also make it easy to change protective products like underwear and pads should the need arise and you have to step into a nearby restroom.

Better dress decisions
The classic maxi dress can go from flirty to formal, fitting nicely above the waist and having more freedom and flow below. There are all kinds of patterns, colors, sleeve lengths and necklines available. You can dress it up quickly with a stylish jacket and boots, or keep it playful with sandals and a light cardigan or blouse. And the maxi dress has the same advantages as a skirt—it’s so easy to quickly freshen up or replace leak protection when you need to.

Now let’s hit the boutiques with fewer worries about leaks!

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