Getting dressed after shoulder surgery


A friend of mine who is having a shoulder replacement in a couple of months asked me what sort of clothes she should wear after the surgery.  It kickstarted me into getting around to doing a long overdue post on getting dressed after shoulder surgery

Out of all the joint replacement surgeries I think shoulder surgery is the one that interferes the most with getting dressed and preparing food etc. post surgery (you may have to wear a sling for up to 8 weeks)

If you have a joint replacement or shoulder surgery scheduled, it’s time to get your wardrobe organised and embrace two concepts – active wear and a capsule wardrobe

Active wear? – Loose active wear is pretty easy to get on post surgery

Capsule wardrobe? –  you’ll probably be wearing the same couple of outfits for a while

I don’t own much active wear so I had to go out and buy a few items before my surgery

Below are some tips on what to look out for in your post surgery clothing, shoes and accessories

pants & skirts


Look for loose pants or skirts with an elasticised waistband which you can pull up easily

Avoid buttons and zips during the time you’re wearing a sling

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Target & Kmart have a good selection of pants and sleepwear with elasticised waistbands




Wear loose t-shirts with a wide crew neck or front opening shirts (go up a couple of sizes)

Before you leave the hospital, get advice from an occupational therapist on how to put on a shirt or t-shirt

As mentioned in previous blog posts – always check with your own health professionals for advice on what you can and can’t do after surgery and how to get dressed

If you’re dressing yourself, the general rule for t-shirts and tops is dress your operated arm first

Click here for a patient guide from St Vincent’s SportsMed Clinic which has instructions on how to put on a t-shirt or shirt after shoulder surgery

University Health Network also have a visual guide titled How to get dressed after surgery with a sling

On cooler days wear loose fitting long sleeved front opening track tops or soft fabric cardigan style tops

When wearing long sleeves avoid bulky or scratchy material as it will irritate your skin once you’ve put your sling on

An easy to slip on loose dress is also an option although lots of fabric can lead to tangles when dressing if you’re using one arm

outfit ideas

A couple of casual outfit ideas where skirts can be interchanged with pants or leggings





Opt for a lightweight oversize coat

A hood is useful if it starts raining as you may not be able to put up an umbrella with one arm if you’re on your own

If you’re wearing a coat and it covers your sling, be extra careful when out as people may bump into you as they do not have a visual clue that you are vunerable

Your coat may be too bulky to wear in your sling. In that case wear the sleeve on your ‘good’ arm and drape the coat over the operated side


If you have trouble getting on a coat, a cape or shawl are other options to keep warm

It doesn’t get very cold in Perth or Sydney where I’ve had surgeries so if you have any suggestions for coping in a very cold climate after shoulder surgery I’d love to hear from you in the comments section



I didn’t bother wearing a bra when I was wearing a sling as the sling covered most of my chest anyway

I covered the other half of my chest with a light scarf if I was wearing a t-shirt or sleeveless top

If you feel you have to wear a bra, go for one that is made from a soft fabric with no fastenings

Rather than trying to get it on over your head, sit down, slip your feet and legs through the bra and pull it up like you would a pair of pants

You can wear a tank top instead of a bra and get it on the same way

As far as underwear goes, avoid skimpy tight briefs as surprisingly they tend to twist and tangle as you pull them up using one arm

I found Soho Modal Full Brief and Soho Modal Bikini unbelievably hassle free to get on and off with one arm (hint: stock up when they’re on sale at half price)


tank top
Soho Bikini Briefs


You can find comfortable fabric bras at Kmart, Target, variety and department stores

footwear, socks & stockings



If it’s summer, wear thongs (flip flops) or sandals that have velcro fastenings

In winter, slip on covered shoes are the best option

If your a sneaker lover, you can put elastic laces on your favourite pair

Boots with zips are easier to put on

If you have sore joints in the hands or wrists, there are various zipper aids designed to make pulling up zippers in shoes and clothing easier

Type ‘zipper aids’ or ‘shoe zipper aids’ into your favourite search engine to see what is available (an OT can also help)

There are also numerous aids for putting on socks and stockings

Click here to view a wide range of aids and devices available for putting on socks or stockings on the Independent Living Centre Australia Database

I have personally used this type of aid which I found easy to use for putting on socks and stockings after a hip replacement

If you have had a hip replacement recently you must follow precautions when putting on shoes and socks (Check these with your health professional team)


Use a long handled shoe horn to put on closed shoes, sneakers or boots

You can easily find long handled shoe horns at variety stores or online (the one I own is from Ikea)

When I had a shoulder replacement in winter, rather than wearing opaque stockings I found it easier to wear long leggings & socks if I was wearing boots

These are a lot easier to get on rather than trying to manouvre stockings around into the right position with one arm (don’t you also find that seam at your toes never sits quite right first try?)


One word – minimise

Carry only the essentials


I found the bag above which is very lightweight and has a flat bottom so it stands upright on it’s own the most functional to use when I could only use one arm

I was able to pop it on a counter in a store or supermarket where I could then easily see and pull out whatever I needed

I could also wear it on the crook of my elbow on my ‘good’ arm and hold onto hand rails when I was going down stairs




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Make sure items such as your wallet and sunglasses case are easy to open and use with one hand

2 days after surgery
a couple of weeks later


For suggestions on showering and grooming click here to read my blog post Tips not trips – tips for the bathroom after joint replacement

blog and website recommendations

If you have arthritis or another chronic illness that makes dressing difficult,  browse through the Personal Care & Dressing category on the ILC  (Independent Living Centre) Australia website for aids and devices designed to help you get dressed

Click here for a blog post from Lesley who documents her shoulder surgery on her site My Shoulder Recovery

Emily from Rich with Life also has some suggestions. Click here for her post Shoulder Surgery: What to wear

As always, I would love to hear any suggestions you have in the comments section



Carrying medications overseas


A couple of my early blog posts were about travelling with medications and the importance of checking to see if any of the medications, medical devices or complementary medicines you are taking are restricted or even legal in the country/countries you are visiting Continue reading

Thursday doors – Tiong Bahru

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Tiong Bahru is one of the most delightful areas to go for a stroll in when you’re in Singapore

It’s one of the oldest public housing estates in Singapore which was developed by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) in the 1930s

If you ever get to Singapore make sure you check out this neighbourhood with it art deco buildings (Streamline Moderne), palm trees and metal doors and door grills with geometric designs Continue reading

Playlist : Summer Nights 2018


I’ve put together a playlist which I think is perfect to listen to when you’re getting ready to go out on a hot summer night, you’re at a party or when you want to get into a good mood

There’s a bit of eurodisco, electroclash, electronic, dancepunk as well as  a couple of 70s classic tunes

The one thing they all have in common is some seductive beats

I started preparing this playlist a while ago and when I was adding some final touches to it I saw an article online about how clubbercise is the next big thing coming to Perth

Well if that’s your thing, put on your lycra and this playlist and dance away




Hello 2018!

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Wow 16 days into 2018 already!

2017 wasn’t too bad a year for me. How did it go for you?

I spent most of the year doing exercise on my new left shoulder joint which was replaced in October 2016

I’ve mentioned before that it’s a long, slow process recovering from shoulder replacement surgery and during that time it’s important to maintain an exercise routine every day

I’m so happy with the result as you can see in the photo above and look at that range! Continue reading

Thursday Doors – a step back in time


Hello everyone

It’s been too long between Thursday Doors posts however if you follow my blog or Instagram account you’ll know that I had a shoulder replacement last October so things like exercise and looking after myself have taken priority

I thought I’d combine my surgery and arthritis pain manage techniques and love of doors in the one post today

Have you heard of the use of guided imagery to manage stress, pain etc.?

I use a similar technique (except I’m my own guide) when I have to have injections, blood tests or if I’m in pain as a distraction technique

Most guided imagery relaxation scenarios that I’ve experienced focus on beaches, lakes and beautiful peaceful places which I enjoy

I do however also like to relive walks I’ve taken in some of the beautiful cities and towns I’ve visited

I hope you enjoy some of the doors I’ve seen and taken a peek into on my travels between the years 1986 and 1998 Continue reading

Tips not trips – tips for the bathroom after joint replacement

audrey bath

I know …. I promised I was going to do a followup on tips for the kitchen after shoulder surgery however as my bathroom was tidier than my kitchen, I decided to do tips for the bathroom instead

After a joint replacement, it’s going to take a few weeks before you look or feel as glamorous as Audrey Hepburn in the bathroom however I hope you find these tips useful after your joint replacement on your way to recovery

Many of the tips outlined below I found really useful after my shoulder replacement late last year and when I had hip and knee replacements a few years ago Continue reading