7 Snacked Tips: How to dress with a leg cast


Maybe you've broken your ankle, your leg or your foot, ruptured a tendon or had surgery, either way you're stuck in a leg cast. This is not fun. I promise.

Last week, I had surgery to repair my EHL tendon that ruptured after my iMac attacked me. The EHL tendon (aka the extensor hallucis longus tendon) controls the big toe and this apparently is a big deal problem that needed big deal fixing. So here I am stuck in bed and on the couch with my leg all plastered up.

I had a little warning that I'd be having this surgery and that I could expect the be in a cast for 4 months, so like any good procrastinator I spent hours trawling Dr Google for advice on how to take care of myself and what to expect. The one area that was really lacking in information was what to wear. As semi fashion conscious as I am, I knew my one pair of denim shorts that I'd worn everyday this summer just wouldn't work. I needed help and options. I even tweeted @Refinery29 hoping they could do a post, but they ignored me. So a week in, I've learned a few things and thought I'd write the post Refinery29 didn't want to.


1. Stay comfy, stay in bed.
Most of the time you will be laying down, not even sitting down. So get comfy. Way comfy. If no one is coming over or you're not going anywhere then eff fashion. Wear your undies and a t-shirt and be done with it.


2. Dress over your head.
If you do venture out or someone is coming to visit and you don't want to show them your underwear you will have to put some freakin clothes on. Dressing over your head is the easiest way to do this. What does that mean? Choose clothes that you 'pull on' rather than clothes you 'step into'.

When you're in a leg cast you need to quickly accept the fact that you have only one leg and less than 2 arms to work with. When you stand you are not balanced and your arms will be preoccupied by the crutches - you won't be able to 'step into' anything. Even sitting on the bed and pulling up a skirt won't work because when you stand - ahh no arms to finish pulling it up! See? So unless you have someone helping you dress everyday aim for 'pull on'*. Elastic waistbands on skirts are your new bff. So are dresses with elastic waists and no zips.




3. Carry your own stuff (or why pockets rule the world).
I've always been a big fan of dresses with pockets. They're just so practical and if they're cut well they don't add any fabric bulk. Now that I am on crutches I am an even bigger fan because you cannot carry a damn thing with crutches. Ok I fib, I can sort of carry my phone if I have to, but it just slows down the trip and kind of cramps my fingers. So if you're clothes shopping pre-cast keep an eye out for pockets.

(If you don't have pockets, make use of your bra. The only thing I take with me from the bed to the couch is my phone. It travels next to my left breast. TMI?)




Steps 4-7 after the jump.


4. Not too short not too long not too baggy not to tight.
Dressing with a leg cast, like all fashionable dressing is about balance. Firstly, when you walk in crutches your shirt or dress with get hiked up under your arms fairly quickly. If your dress is on the shorter side of short you'll be revealing your bum cheeks after just a few steps. If you were to wear a maxi dress on the other hand you clearly have a death wish - one trip of a crutch on the hem and you'll be back in hospital in no time.

It's a similar story for tight vs baggy. If a dress/shirt/jacket is too baggy then you'll get all caught up in the crutches, it it's too tight you'll be trying to pull it down all day without the use of your arms. Fail.


5. I heart sleeves forever.
It's a week after my surgery and I have bruises under my arms. I spent two days in hospital in bed, then came home and have left the house once since then. I go nowhere except from the couch to the bed to the bathroom. I have bruises. Crutches are bitches. All I can say is get yourself some padding and get yourself some sleeves. Protect your pits, people.



6. Why shorts don't work in the beginning.
You're gonna want to wear shorts, I know it. They're comfy, especially if they're baggy enough to get on. And before you know it you will be disagreeing with everything I said in Point 2. You'll pull on your shorts one day and say to yourself "That stranger from the internet knows nothing! ah ha! Look at me and my awesome wearing of shorts" and then at the end of the day you will try to take them off and you will realise that I am right and you will mutter "Bitch" under your breath. Why? Because getting shorts on is not the problem.

When an able bodied two legged person takes their baggy shorts off they unbutton them and let them fall to the floor. Then they 'step out of them' or 'shake their ankle' to free their foot. You can't do either of these things. Even if you sit on the end of the bed and reach to peel of the short from your bulky plastered foot - you can't. Reaching to touch my toes is the most painful thing I could do in the first week. Slowly I can see that in a few weeks it won't hurt so bad but for now I want to limit my leg movement as much as possible.

7. Re-read step 1.
You just had surgery or suffered a major injury, this is the time for you to rest. Stay in bed with your leg up as much as possible so your body can heal itself. Nothing is worth re-injuring your leg for. I wish you well.

Both photos of Marilyn Monroe by John Vachon from the book Marilyn, August 1953: The Lost LOOK Photos available here.

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*If you do have someone helping you dress you are wildly lucky. But I presume this is the same person who is fetching your food, bringing you more pillows, charging your phone. So give them a break ok. You can do this one thing for yourself.




42 comments:

  1. Caroline5:23 PM

    thanks so much, I broke my foot on Saturday and not only was your advice fantastic, it made me laugh out loud for the first time since I got into plaster! hope you are much better xxx

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  2. Thanks Caroline. I'm glad you found this post. Folks like you are the reason I wrote it. I'm glad it helped. And yes, I am much better now :)

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  3. B love this post.. only read it just now!

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    1. thanks jojo. Its one of my favourites.

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  4. I so enjoyed your post. I'm in the third week of convalescing from foot reconstruction surgery and am looking at a week or so to prepare for going back to work. Trying to find some skirts/pull-over dresses to get me through the next 3-4 months. Wish me luck with my internet shopping! Thanks for the laugh!

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    1. I'm glad I could help AND make you laugh. I hope all goes well Paulette.

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  5. cute article. :)i feel your pain, girl. i've been in a wheelchair, on a walker, one crutch, a cane, and now two crutches again since january 2012. just had my 7th reconstructive surgery of this year. maxi dresses are awesome when you're in a wheelchair because they cover everything and are great for sleeping if they have some stretch. BUT like you said maxi dress + crutches = death wish. i almost took a spill the other day and man.... lesson learned. i wear a lot of shorts (live in south florida) but i take them off lying on my back on my bed to be safe. makes it relatively easy. now i'm trying to tackle dressing for warmth with a cast up to my knee. t's been a little chilly the last week.... by fl standards. ;) was thinking on cutting some leggings knee length on the cast side and doing the old horizontal shuffle (LOL) to get them on. ideas?

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    1. Hey LB,

      I think the leggings idea is a really good one. Another option could be stretchy pants - I know! How ugly does that sound!! But I'm thinking something like these cool neon sweats http://pinterest.com/pin/25825397833515884/ or super baggy like http://pinterest.com/pin/187884615674741201/

      I think leggings and a dress or skirt is the way to go. Trying to pull on/off pants, to go to the bathroom sounds dangerous.

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  6. Anonymous11:00 AM

    I loved your suggestions and would add one that I learned from a magician friend of mine; the art of distraction. Dressing from the top I bought a VS push up bra and let my demurre B girls graduate to full C's when I was in nmixed compny. My fully casted leg got much less attention.

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    Replies
    1. I dont know if I agree with the idea behind this one, but you get 10 points for ingenuity :D

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  7. Anonymous5:06 AM

    A tip from a newly-plastered fashion addict. Get yourself a small bag that can go across your chest or round your neck. in it you can keep your phone, painkillers, pen and paper (to write down the list of things you need to ask your husband to do when he gets home), tissues (for when your self-pity overcomes you) and glasses. You can carry this around easily with no hands and you then don't have the irritation of the phone ringing when you can't get to it in time. Also a safety hint. Go up and down stairs on your bum. You cannot fall, and can just about manage to carry your crutches.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for this tup! Its so great. Being prepared for self-pity... very smart.

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  8. Anonymous5:09 AM

    And i should have said thanks for the advice, which is very wise and much appreciated. Hope everyone gets well soon.

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  9. Anonymous4:50 AM

    Love your comments, I have spent 18 months in a fiberglass long leg cast after my Vespa was t-boned, I have had six surgeries and a bone graft along the way! I live in elastic waist skirts and shorts, deep pockets and a flat, lol! I have 4 months to go and can drive and get to work as it is my left leg, pop me a note at Carol.r1975@aol.com if you would like to chat about it!

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  10. Anonymous10:14 PM

    Thank you so much for this! I broke my knee 2 weeks ago and am stuck in a full leg cast. I have a lot of events in the next month and was wondering what to do. Your ideas all help!
    Anne Marie

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  11. Anonymous12:42 AM

    A skater skirt shows off the full leg cast to best advantage. It is actually quite a fetching look and guys go crazy over the sight of it. Much better than wearing gym pants. Bright red clog on other foot helps seal the deal.

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  12. Anonymous8:12 PM

    What a great article, I'm about to go in for knee surgery and will be in a splint afterwards so different circumstances to yours but similar movement issues. Thought I'd google 'suitable post-op clothing' and your blog came up. I've taken on board all your tips and need look no further, fantastic!

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  13. Anonymous6:05 AM

    Wonerful blog. Every woman in a leg cast and on crutches should be given a copy when she leaves the castroom.

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  14. Anonymous3:09 AM

    Love this blog and particularly enjoyed the pockets point as I too have been carrying everything I can manage in my bra since my leg plaster went on. :)

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  15. Anonymous8:29 AM

    There are times when being a guy is a real bonus. A pair of board shorts and when my crutches rubbed my shirt against my sides so badly they rubbed me raw, I took my shirt off and got rid of the rubber pads off the top of the crutches and with just smooth plastic against my skin, instant comfort, even if it does look a bit odd getting around shirtless everywhere

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  16. Anonymous9:58 PM

    I just broke my foot and am in a cast up to my knee, and am getting married in 10 weeks - here's hoping it's off before then! In the meantime though I'm trying to figure out how to dress in cold, rainy London weather. Any ideas?

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    1. Keep your toes dry so cast doesn't get wet.

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  17. Anonymous1:01 PM

    I just broke my leg and have a cast up my knee thank you for all the great advice (first time breaking a bone)

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  18. Newly casted. 8weeks to go in a full leg cast. Thanks for the tips

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  19. Anonymous12:46 PM

    just got my cast yesterday for my broken foot. thanks so much for this! heal well everybody! ^_^

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  20. Janice Urquhart2:11 AM

    Thanks for your common sense ideas. I was in a cast for 3 months a year ago for a fractured heel. I will have to have surgery next week (Dec. 4, 2013) to repair tendons that were damaged at the same time. I couldn't carry ANYTHING when using crutches as if it bumped against the crutches, my balance would immediately change for the worse. I learned to carry my phone in my knee sock under my sweat pants. That was the only thing I carried for a good while. I used a cross body later on when I was stronger but for the time I was on crutches, travel with very little and ask a trusted friend to carry your wallet. Does anyone have experience using a crutch purse that fits on the crutch and how that impacts balance and safety?

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  21. Janice Urquhart2:13 AM

    Forgot to say that I purchased a fleece toe cover with elastic and velcro that fits over your toes and cast to keep your toes warm. I'll try to find info on where I ordered it. Works great in the winter with a cast.

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  22. Anonymous4:05 PM

    I'm on week 2 of wearing my cast. I go back next week and hope to switch to a boot and have this obnoxious thing off me. I wish I had seen this sooner! Very helpful tips. I wish it was warm enough to follow several of the tips but lose sweats seem to be working. The over the shoulder bag is a must! I have a plastic bag that zips up where I'm able to throw my pillows down the stairs each morning. I'd stay upstairs but one does require some sustenance and silly dogs must go outside. I hope to put more of these recommendations in to effect when I have to travel for work.in my boot in a few weeks. Luckily it should be warmer. The pitty parties are the worst but it is good to see people joking and making the best of an inconvenient situation. Thank you!

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  23. Great advice. I'm stuck in a cast from my thigh to my toes, and this is great. My sister is a gem in helping me dress, but this is really helping. Good stuff!

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  24. I was just wondering out of curiosity, no one seems to have mentioned it, is it any trouble changing in/out of underwear while having a leg cast?

    Maybe for women it might be easier as the panties/underwear is a lot more loose fitting? For men, I wonder what might be good options. The standard briefs design, they might have to be stretched over the cast foot to go on/off it, unless you get a bigger (and thus looser size), or I guess go with boxer briefs.

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  25. Anonymous3:40 AM

    You are right about crutches. I have been in plaster for 4 weeks (fractured ankle) and was given elbow crutches. I feel like my hands are going to drop off!! I live by myself so don't have anyone to fetch and carry for me so have got quite nifty at inventing ways to carry things. A bra is great for carrying the phone and I also have a small thermos for making a cuppa, which I tuck in a belt or the top of my leggings. I didn't go out for the first two weeks and just wore cut down jammies. Excellent article!!

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  26. Anonymous3:47 AM

    I am finding some of the comments by men( presumably) a bit pervy, like wanting to know how we girls get our knickers off!!

    Dudes, you might have some creepy fetish going on but us girls are coping with some quite serious injuries and being in a cast is not that great...it's really painful and difficult. I won't say 'Give us a break' cos most of us already got one!!

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  27. This article is great and so true. I have full leg cast having broken tibia and fibula, unfortunately for me I also have rheumatoid arthritis, therefore my upper body strength is not good. Couldn't manage crutches, or the usual walker so came home with what is called gutter walker. Great name eh! Basically it is a tall walker with gutter shapes each side and handles which I rest my elbows on and so far shuffle along. I tried shorts but after two children and being 57 if I want a wee its urgent shorts are not the answer for getting caught short believe me. Whilst no visitors just wear a t shirt easier. Haven't yet sussed what to wear with visitors only been home two days. I have a dress from the 70's that i kept cos loved it may just work, drawstring waist different patterned material in tiers and just long enough that whilst leaning on waker can't see what I had for breakfast. Retro.

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  28. I Broke My Ankle And I Have A Cast On And I Hate It But I Will Learn To Live With it

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  29. Thanks for your post, I just fractured my ankle, and have a cast on for 4-6 weeks. Your tips are very useful.

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  30. THANK YOU!!! I needed this... wish I found it 3 weeks ago, but still helpful and hopeful :)

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  31. Anonymous11:59 PM

    Thank you so so much.. I fractured my ankle the other night and now my family has decided I have to leave my house, so the clothing tips really help! Thank you! x

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  32. Brilliant and hysterically funny!
    Big Merci. I'm on day 2 of broken leg or ankle..not sure..I'm in Paris but care here is superb. Though zero was said about what to wear. Ah to look like Marilyn...

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  33. Anonymous12:10 AM

    I put a link to your blog on mine. I hope that is ok; if not I will take it off if you ask me to. Dressing in plaster is such a challenge.
    my blog: "La vie en Platre" ladyinplater.wordpress

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