A person pulling out the waistband of loose, comfy shorts

How To Build an Endometriosis-Friendly Capsule Wardrobe

Last updated: October 2022

When I woke up last Monday morning, I could already tell it would be a bad day. I had bled through my pajamas during the night; my cramps made me want to call in sick to work, but I had an important meeting to attend, and I couldn’t have my morning cereal because the milk had gone sour.

So when I couldn’t wrestle my bloated stomach into my black slacks, I finally burst into tears.

If you have endometriosis, you’ve probably experienced several days like this. Endometriosis is exhausting, and it can impact every aspect of our lives.

When we already have so much pain to manage, our clothing shouldn’t be an additional stressor. My endometriosis-friendly capsule wardrobe is one small but helpful self-care tool.

While we can’t cure our endometriosis symptoms, we can work to minimize the stress in our lives to spend our energy coping with our illness instead of worrying about our outfits.

What’s a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of outfits that are easy to mix and match. You may have heard about capsule wardrobes from minimalists and environmental activists. But when I learned about capsule wardrobes, I realized that many of us with endometriosis intuitively have some comfortable clothing we wear during our period.

You may have a pair of stretchy leggings or panties that you don’t mind getting stained.

An intentional capsule wardrobe can help us dress confidently even when in pain.

Tips for finding endometriosis-friendly clothing options

Every person’s body is different, and every person will have different clothes that suit their style and needs. Here are some general guidelines that may help you curate your capsule wardrobe.

I have about three pairs of pants and two shirts in my endometriosis-friendly wardrobe. I’ve picked these because I like the way they make me look and feel.

The jeggings are dark-wash, which alleviates my concern about blood stains. The waistbands are stretchy, so I can sit at my desk at work without the fabric digging into my bloated belly.

Things to consider when doing an inventory of your clothing

You may ask yourself the following questions when you’re looking through your closet:

  • What do I generally need to do when I’m on my period? Do I have a very active job, or do I tend to sit at a computer for work? What clothing will be most comfortable for me as I do these tasks?
  • Do I have foot or leg pain and swelling when I have an endo flare-up? If so, are my shoes supportive and comfortable?
  • Do I bloat when I’m on my period? If so, do I have pants or leggings with stretchy waistbands and breathable materials?
  • Where do I tend to hurt? Is my clothing loose enough that I can lift my waistband or my shirt to apply a hot water bottle, a compress, a TENS unit, or pain ointment to my abdomen?
  • Are my clothes soft and flexible if I need to do some stretches or take a nap?
  • Do I tend to get hot flashes during my flare-ups? If so, do I have comfortable layers (like a cardigan) that I can wear with my outfits?
  • If I tend to bleed heavily, do I have period panties or dark-colored pants? Can I pack a spare pair in my work bag?
  • If I have digestive problems, do I have clothing that I can easily pull up and down if I need to frequent bathroom trips?
  • What clothes do I already tend to wear during my endo flare-ups, and why do I choose those outfits?

A capsule wardrobe isn’t about putting on a nice outfit and a happy face to pretend we’re not in pain. After all, period stigma often forces us to keep silent about our symptoms. A survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development found that half of the menstruating people said they faced period stigma at work.1

A third of the people who responded to the survey said their co-workers did not take their period pain or bleeding seriously. Some employees said they felt like they had to work to hide their period symptoms, taking on more work to prove that their periods didn’t impact their productivity.

Instead, a capsule wardrobe can help us add some much-needed comfort to our lives. When I have several “safe” outfits that I know will accommodate my bloating and sore belly, I feel like I have one less thing to stress about when I have an endometriosis flare-up.

From your trusty leggings to your snuggly sweaters, let us know about your favorite endometriosis-friendly clothing in the comments below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Endometriosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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