How to dress with a knee brace?
July 16, 2013 12:26 PM   Subscribe

I broke my leg 10 days ago, and had surgery on it this past weekend. While I've been fine hopping around the house and to doctor's offices in shorty-shorts or mens basketball shorts I've started thinking about what I should wear back to the office.

My office isn't super conservative, and no one would really give me a hard time about wearing what I need to with the brace, but at the same time I've had a pretty good blow to my self-esteem with the accident. I also broke two teeth (temporary crowns are in now) and gave myself a pretty good black eye and road rash on my face. I want to feel as pretty as I can with a giant velcro monstrosity strapped to my left leg.

Any tips from women who've been there? I wear about a XXL or size 18. Are loose skirts the answer? I've found crutches to be the least tiring when I have a very shock-absorbing shoe on the good foot. Any suggestions for these qualities in a dressier package?

Online ordering is obviously preferred.
posted by fontophilic to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Someone in my building broke an ankle or something and was in a brace for a while last summer. She worked in a different elevator bank than me, but I saw her hobbling in to work every morning--she always had some pretty color of ribbon woven through her brace and tied in a decorative bow. A little silly, but once she was out of the brace I realized she was a Fancy Shoes lady, and that must have been her way to compensate.
posted by phunniemee at 12:29 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

I love Macabi skirts for flexibility. A little pricey, but big pockets; you might need those for phones and such while you're hopping around on crutches.

I've also had good luck with microfiber stretchy skirts from Lane Bryant and Cato and Dress Barn; no pockets but you can grab a sweater with pockets or light jacket.
posted by tilde at 12:29 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Poor thing. That's gotta hurt.

How about this genius and inexpensive "skort"? Comes in a ton of colors, and will look good with a sneaker. Also, if it rides up, no harm, you have shorts underneath. Plus, plus, no 'chub rub'.

Have a nice T over the skort, with a pretty scarf tie at the waist, or tuck in a polo. The sizing there is weird! It's some kind of vanity thing, so double check. I ordered a 1X and it was the equivalent of a 3X! (Night shirts, who cares?)

Hang in there. It's temporary.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:33 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Depending on how large the brace is, I've worn plenty of fairly loose fitting pants over my various braces over the years. Maybe some of the pants over at Title 9 would work? They also have a selection of skirts and skorts that are very friendly to those of us of the more oval or large bodied persuasion, and their stuff tends to fit like a dream.
posted by strixus at 12:45 PM on July 16, 2013

Best answer: Oh, I feel you-- I had to use one of those shoe/semi-boot things for a couple of months with a broken metatarsal, and it was tough. Maxi dresses are in, if you like those, so pair that with a pretty scarf or bigger statement necklace or earrings. If you wear a more tame skirt in khaki or another neutral color, try more detailed blouses/shirts to focus away from the brace? Something with a bit of military hardware also might play off the brace well.

shock-absorbing shoe-- dansko, camper, aerosoles, or clarks, maybe? Some of that will just depend on your personal style. Insoles might help with more dressy shoes without that much padding. Maybe a very small wedge? I have some braided wedges with very low heels that are better than normal heels in terms of weight distribution throughout my feet.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:45 PM on July 16, 2013

Best answer: I recently had knee surgery (ACL repair) and had to wear one of those huge ass leg braces for a month at work. I wore loose skirts and dresses, sometimes with leggings. It was not optimal, and I went back to jeans as soon as I was mobile enough, but it worked.
posted by kendrak at 12:54 PM on July 16, 2013

Best answer: Oh, you poor thing.

I shattered my patella in a scooter vs. car accident (I was the scooter), and was non weight bearing and in a huge robo-brace for 16 weeks. I do, so much, feel your pain.

My accident was in October, in Maine, so the weather is a little different, but I ultimately ended up wearing long skirts about 90% of the time (including to my PT appointments). It just made everything easier -- including going to the bathroom. As it got colder, I bought some tights and just cut the leg off on the side the brace was.

So, my recommendation would absolutely be long, loose skirts or maxi dresses. Both Lane Bryant and Old Navy have a decent, inexpensive selection. For shoes, I swore by these velcro closure Mary Janes which I didn't start wearing until I broke my leg, and which I continue to wear until this very day. They are stable, shock absorbing, easy on/off, and can be worn with basically any style you can imagine.

Also, this might sound weird, but get a small backpack to carry around the office with you, along with a cup or mug with a screw on, water-tight lid. I returned to work 9 days after my accident and was constantly amazed at what a pain it was to carry stuff around (even small stuff) and my "office backpack" was a lifesaver. The backpack/cup combo enabled me to get a cup of coffee without asking for help, which made me feel surprisingly better about myself.
posted by anastasiav at 1:19 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't know how long you're on crutches, but I spent the first 3 months of the the year in a cast and on cructhes with a broken leg.
And I commute via metro.
So, some things that saved me and might help you out.
[I was amazed how having no hands to hold anything while "crutchin'" really messed with my daily life.]
The krutch kaddy-no, i don't know why it's spelled with k's.
the armpit and handle fleece covers
the fleecey crutch pocket.
A lidded bonne maman jar of coffee fits perfectly in this one. I had to break my leg to become a hipster.
Heal quickly!
posted by atomicstone at 1:24 PM on July 16, 2013

atomicstone, your second and third links are the same, oops!
posted by annsunny at 1:56 PM on July 16, 2013

Ask about getting arm braces instead of crutches. They make it easier to stand and do things because the braces remain attached to your arm, instead of having to put the crutches awkwardly to the side, or that weird tuck-under-armpit-lean thing. They don't work for every situation but they are great options if possible.

A hip bag (aka "fanny pack") is also really useful. You can keep your phone, keys, a pen, wallet, etc., readily accessible without having to balance to open a backpack or purse.
posted by barnone at 2:01 PM on July 16, 2013

I had ACL surgery. A line skirts are your answer
posted by superfille at 2:19 PM on July 16, 2013

Best answer: Ouch! Good luck with the healing. Agree with those above who recommend some sort of fanny pack/shoulder bag/pouch on crutches.

If you get loose skirts, make sure they're not too thin and that they don't stick to the velcro on the brace. Dresses and skirts lined with a silky fabric probably won't get stuck on your brace or hitch the skirt up. Or you could just wear a slip.

You'll also want to have something between your leg and the brace. If you don't want to wear leggings every day because it's hot, you can do what my friend did: get some cheap leggings and cut the legs off to fit the brace. The brace is probably tight enough to prevent slipping. Because sweat + brace + time = stank.

Skirt with lining from Target, comes in 18.
Dresses with pockets!
More dress with pockets
posted by stompadour at 2:23 PM on July 16, 2013

I'm so sorry. How about loose maxi skirts and wide legged (palazzo) pants?
posted by michellenoel at 2:32 PM on July 16, 2013

Oops! That's what I get for metafilter-ing while working.
These are the crutch pads
posted by atomicstone at 2:42 PM on July 16, 2013

Best answer: My daughter dislocated her patella in December. She did really well wearing thin leggings under a shortish dress most days. Actually got a little cute going on, but I'm biased.
posted by SLC Mom at 3:45 PM on July 16, 2013

Best answer: I was like this in 2009-2010! I broke my tibia + fibula and I was a size 16 then. I wore a "Darth boot" as the broken leg community calls them. (See for a great resource on questions like this and others.)

I found wearing tights + a loose dress or skirt that hit above the knee was my best bet. The velcro on the boot would catch anything hanging over it, like a longer skirt/dress. Alternately, I'd occasionally wear jeans or pants with the offending leg rolled up, but sometimes that didn't work because the leg opening was to narrow, and I didn't want to cut up a bunch of pants.

I'd already had a collection of Danskos when I broke my leg, and the heel height was nearly perfect to match the boot's height. It also provided lots of stability when I wasn't feeling so stable. When it got snowy, I wore an Ariat boot on my non-broken foot for extra surface area on the ground and extra stability.

Good luck!
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 5:02 PM on July 16, 2013

Best answer: I wore a lot of loose wide leg pants when I broke my ankle since I had surgery in December. Baggy enough to fit over the darth boot worked pretty well for me. Given the time of year loose skirts sound like a win though. Seconding the recommendations about a small pack. And I'm sorry - it's really easy to feel blue after that kind of injury - the mybrokenleg site was a lifesaver for me during a very long healing period. I wore a lace-up ankle high (LLBean) book on my unbroken leg - probably not a win in the summer though. Are you good in walking sandals for the office? I live in a pair of Merrills that are reasonably respectable but supportive and confortable. And sending hugs - healing from this sort of thing is a drag and can feel like it takes forever!
posted by leslies at 5:09 PM on July 16, 2013

My mother did something similar and wore loose pants because she had to keep her leg elevated and skirts left too little to the imagination. You might be okay with long skirts, though not too long so you don't trip on them going up or down stairs.
posted by jeather at 8:42 PM on July 16, 2013

Best answer: I wore a brace for a patella tendon tear. It went from the top of my thigh to the ankle. I wore a pair of bike shorts under the brace and a skirt over the brace when at work. The bike shorts ensured my modesty when my leg was elevated.

This apron was a real lifesaver when I was at home.
posted by JujuB at 9:32 PM on July 16, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks all! I've got a few pairs of loose jersey skirts, a bunch of leggings, and a few skorts on order. Part of me was hoping my regular skirts (mostly pencil skirts) would work, but they absolutely won't. I'm going to test dress pants under the brace, but theres no way any pants are going over it.

I've got a robo-brace that goes from ankle to upper thigh. For right now I mostly need to keep it elevated, though I've been dialed in to allow 30° of flex (which doesn't quite get me a normal chair *grumble*).

I was hoping my regular cross body purse would work well for going out, but a test run last night proved it was too big and heavy. I'm considering DIYing a crutch pocket thingie, (mostly to have something to do) but have those pre-made ones in my amazon cart.

Jam and mason jars were an awesome tip. We're planning a week of self-sufficient lunches that I can grab from the fridge, put in a crutch pouch, and hop back to my chair to eat.

I'm also going to take a few old t-shirts and make them into brace liners just to keep it from getting too sweaty. Wearing full on leggings makes it a bit annoying to go to the bathroom, but I'm adapting.

Thanks again everyone!
posted by fontophilic at 5:17 AM on July 20, 2013

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