Last Updated on September 24, 2023 by Anna Baumann
How to Dress with Graves Disease
I’m not a trendy person. I have very little fashion sense when it comes to clothes. So much so that I’m always worried that someone is going to recommend me for that What Not To Wear show. I’m telling you this so you’ll realize that’s not what this post is about. My tips on how to dress with Graves Disease are about being practical, comfortable, and safe in Graves-related situations.
Dress In Layers
Heat intolerance was one of my most uncomfortable symptoms before getting on anti-thyroid medication. For me, the situation was more like heat surges than a general intolerance. These thyroid-related surges are similar to female-hormone hot flashes. The biggest difference is that the female-hormone flashes seem to surge, peak, and cool down all within about ten minutes. The hyperthyroid surges start and then last for hours before cooling down. I’ve learned from both of them that nothing works for cooling yourself down when the heat comes from within. You just have to grin and bear your way through it. That’s where the layers come in.
These heat surges are so intense that your clothes will get damp and probably show sweat marks. For me, the sweat marks primarily appear in the underarm and ‘breast undercarriage’ areas.
When you’re in public or in any situation where you want to look and feel nice, I recommend wearing two light layers. Plus, bring a light covering such as a sweater, blazer, or hoodie with you wherever you go.
Layers provide three important comforts
- You can’t remove a top unless you have another one underneath. I’m right, right? When the surge starts you will want to take something off.
- They hide the sweat marks. I keep hoodies in my car and cardigans at work.
- After you’re hot, you’ll be cold. Once you come down from the surge and your clothes are damp, you’ll need something to warm you up.
Pockets are lovely because:
- You can stash tissues for wiping sweat off of your face when you’re hot.
- They keep your freezing hands warm when you’re cold. (Since I had my thyroid removed my hands get cold a lot. I’m told it’s a Hypothyroid thing.) **Update on the cold hands: I was recently diagnosed with Raynauds Syndrome.
Be Mindful Of Material
I’ll say again that I have no fashion sense. You can research different fabrics like Bamboo or Chambray, but I stick with the simple stuff.
Cotton is comfortable and practical for sweaty situations. If you’re working in an office and have to look business-like, cotton is the way to go. (Be sure to remember pockets and layers along with a light sweater or blazer.)
Moisture-wicking materials are AWESOME for comfort and for hiding sweat marks. But since it’s mainly used in workout clothes you probably won’t be wearing them to the office. I wear it for casual wear a lot of the time because you can find styles that don’t make you look like you’re on your way to a gym. Under Armour and Hanes make cute and comfortable tops and bottoms.
For sleeping I highly recommend Cool-jams! Whether you’re dealing with hyperthyroidism or are a woman of a certain age, these are life-changing! If you’ve ever woken up with your PJs soaked through to the bed sheets these are for you. I have no idea how they work, but they don’t get wet no matter how wet I get! I wear their two-piece Capri sets. After trying them once when I was first diagnosed, I never looked back. They are the only PJs I wear now.
Save ALL Of Your Sizes
Most of us Gravesters either lose or gain weight. Everyone likes to say that Hyperthyroid means weight loss and Hypothyroid means weight gain, but they are wrong. A lot of us gain weight when we’re hyperthyroid and lose it when we’re hypothyroid. Sometimes we fluctuate when all levels are in a normal range. It doesn’t make sense but, weight change in either direction is pretty much a given with Graves Disease.
If you’re newly diagnosed, I’m guessing you have a closet full of clothes but only like two outfits that you feel comfortable wearing. Whether it’s your size or material, something isn’t working right now and might not work ever again. It will take you a while to accept that.
So treat yourself to some new clothes. I’m not talking about a whole new wardrobe, just a few new things for work and life that you feel good wearing. Your weight is going to keep shifting, probably for the rest of your life. Always keep a few sizes in your closet so you can dress for your current body.
Clothes shopping is stressful when your body feels sick and you don’t feel good about yourself. Online shopping is easy and allows you to try things on in the comfort of your own home. Prime Wardrobe has the option to have clothes sent to you to try before you buy. I love Amazon because even if you buy something outright and it doesn’t fit, returns are super simple! There is also something called Stitch Fix. I’ve never used it but my nieces do and they love it! I guess you tell them your size and any fit issues you have. Then they send you what they think you’ll like. You keep what works and send back the rest.
Even though online shopping is super easy, you might be someone that enjoys the experience of going to a real store. That’s great but in that case, I advise you to not go clothes shopping alone!
A Funny Story
I went shopping alone once when I was still very hyperthyroid. My goal was Summer stuff and sundresses. Kohls was having a sale so I grabbed a few things and went into a dressing room stall. All went fine until I tried on one of those ‘cold-shoulder’ dresses. It was a trendy thing, but I figured anything with extra air holes couldn’t be bad.
I guess I didn’t pay close enough attention to which holes I used for what, but I got myself stuck in the dress. Literally. Stuck. My arm and head were smooshed together with my arm sticking straight up and my face only half exposed. I couldn’t wiggle out my head and my arm wouldn’t budge.
When I realized I couldn’t get out of it myself, I panicked. The panic triggered a heat surge. I flew out of my dressing stall (as best as I could with my pants around my ankles because I was too lazy to take them off before I tried on the dress) and ran into the open dressing room area.
I couldn’t see very well with my arm sticking up and one eye blocked by the dress, but thankfully a woman walked in just as I was about the fly out into the store. I crashed into her and cried, “I’m stuck, you gotta help me!” She grabbed part of the dress and dragged me into a stall. Then she worked on releasing me.
Once I was free, I plopped down on a seat to catch my breath and cool down. I looked up at her, with sweat dripping off my nose, and breathed an exhausted, “Thank you!” That’s when I realized she was laughing hysterically. After she calmed down, she apologized but apparently, I was “the funniest thing that’s happened to her in a very long time.”
I don’t blame her for laughing because it was all so ridiculous. I think the only other time I was more embarrassed was when I took Yoga classes with my glasses off. After that, I left without buying anything and shopped online. So heed my advice and either shop online, or bring a friend. Trying on clothes alone is not safe.
Comfort is subjective. But I hope my advice gives you the inspiration to find what’s comfy for you. As always, try not to let it stress you out. Graves’ symptoms get worse when your stress levels rise.
We Gravesters constantly struggle with how we feel, and how we look. We have to be extra brave and not let it take our self-confidence. I know that initially, it’s a shock to look in the mirror and see that you’re a size or two larger or smaller. But you’re still you; beautiful and fabulous! Use this as an opportunity to treat yourself by trying new styles, colors, and fabrics.
It’s all about compromise. Combine the old with the new and see what you come up with. And, do your best to live in things that make you feel peaceful and comfy.
“Luxury must be comfortable. Otherwise, it is not luxury.” ~ Coco Chanel