Clinton Kelly’s RA Fashion Tips

Clinton Kelly, co-host of TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” wants to help women who battle rheumatoid arthritis look their best – and feel great in the process.
Clinton Kelly's RA Fashion Tips
Kelly learned about the struggles of dressing with rheumatoid arthritis from both his grandmother and a good friend who have the chronic condition. They let him know that it’s difficult to use buttons, zippers and complicated clasps due to the sore and stiff joints that are a hallmark of RA.

So he went to work finding solutions. He didn’t want RA to mean shapeless clothes and a single style of shoes. According to Kelly, plenty of fashionable options are still available.

Here are his top tips:

  1. Avoid oversized clothing. Although Americans have become used to wearing oversized clothing, the overabundance of fabric and the tent-like shape of these clothes only adds to insecurities about your appearance, he says. And it can affect the way you feel physically. According to Kelly, to feel good you have to look good. It’s a way for women to take control of their lives with a positive self-image.
  2. Try it on! Kelly’s most important piece of advice is that you must try things on. Clothes look and feel much differently on you than they do hanging in the store. Try potential purchases on even if they’re your size and you own a similar piece of clothing. This is even more important for people with RA, he says, since it will give you the chance to gauge how easy it is to zip, button or buckle. Move around and see if the item restricts movement or causes any type of irritation to your skin or joints.
  3. Look for slip-ons. Kelly recommends fashionable clothing that you can step into or that slips over your head. These will eliminate frustrating and difficult-to-use zippers, buttons or clasps.
  4. Check out microfiber. Kelly especially recommends anything made of microfiber jersey because it’s breathable, stretchy and doesn’t need to be ironed, making these items not only super comfortable, but easy-to-care-for pieces that always look pulled together.
  5. Give unusual shoes a chance. When shopping for shoes, Kelly suggests giving all styles a chance.  All too often, women avoid high-heeled shoes because they’ve had a bad experience with heels in the past or they simply “look uncomfortable.” However, Kelly says that there are plenty of shoes that are both comfortable and fashionable. The key is finding shoes that are comfortable and easily secured to your feet. As with Kelly’s clothing recommendations, look for styles that slip on and avoid buckles or ties.

Additionally, Kelly has 5 must-have easy-to-wear items for your wardrobe:

  1. Jackets with large buttons.  A jacket with 3 large buttons or a single button just under the breast looks great on everyone, he says, and doesn’t require much fuss to put on.
  2. Microfiber jersey tops that are empire-seamed. These pieces give you the comfort of a sweatshirt combined with a fashionable and elegant cut.
  3. Pants with an elastic panel in the waist. The elastic panel can be in the back or on the side and make them easy to put on and comfortable, while retaining some style.
  4. Faux wrap dresses. These are great because they are so easy to put on. Just step into one of these wrap dresses and a pair of slip-on shoes and you’re ready to go.
  5. Black microfiber jersey dress.  If you have one that fits well, you can slip it on for any occasion: cocktail parties, weddings, work and play.

The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not, nor is

it ever intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice or professional recommendations,

diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician(s) or other qualified healthcare


Elizabeth Nixon is a writer, editor, and blogger who is searching for a perfect healthy and active lifestyle. She is currently exploring the many options of northern California’s wine county with her husband and their two dogs. Read more about finding help for rheumatoid arthritis at Lifescript’s new Rheumatoid Arthritis Health Center.