Dressing with an Ostomy: A Guide for Ladies (Part 2)

ladies guide to dressing with an ostomy PART 2 header

Welcome to part two of the lady’s guide to dressing with an ostomy!

Here’s where the fun begins! This article will focus on clothing options for everyday wear.


Miss something or want to skip ahead?

PART 1: Intro, clothing accessories.

PART 2 (You are here): Clothing options for everyday wear.

PART 3: Clothing for intimacy, swimming, and more.

PART 4: Bonus tips, credit


Intro

One of the most asked questions about having an ostomy is whether you’ll need to alter what you wear and how you wear it.

Fortunately, many ostomates don’t need to replace their clothes after surgery. There may be some adjustments, but for the most part this won’t be something you’ll need to worry about all the time.

You’ll see in the examples below just how expansive your options can be! The ladies below are a mix of new ostomates and ostomy veterans, but all have found ways to fit their favorite garments into their lives (no pun intended!).


Dresses

From long, flowing dresses to tight, short ones, know that your ostomy won’t limit you!

If you’d like to some extra comfort, check out this tip:

For dresses that aren’t stretch material, I ensure they are fitted, but with an extra 1″ around the belly. I have tried on dresses in stores about brought an ostomy bag that I stuffed with cotton with me to place over top of my bag, just so I can see how noticeable it would be when filled.

I have had a few dresses altered to accommodate this. Buy a dress that fits, then have the hips let out just a bit to give extra room.

Amanda Andrew
Blue dress - Karin

“This blue dress probably had a maternity band or pants under it, and the pleats really help.” – Karin Miller


PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Kahn of f-64.com

Casual Sundress

“The dress is a casual sundress with a jean jacket and some cowboy boots! I always choose dresses with a tighter waist and flows out to help hide even an extremely full bag! Works every time!” – Neonerinn

Dress – Skater Style

“My favourite style of dress is the Skater Dress. This is because it goes in at the waist and then flows outwards. It flows over your pouch therefore concealing it with no need for any under garment.” – Bethany Purnell

Dress example - Amy

Amy is wearing a dress by Athletica.

Dress – Keely

Keely Wells is wearing a dress by Asos

Formal Dress – Marcie

“This is me in a formal dress while celebrating my wedding anniversary… If you find a dress with ruching, it hides the bag lines, making it much easier to wear a very form-fitting dress.” – Anonymous

Tight White Dress – Amanda

“I wear the same clothing I wore before surgery (2.5yrs ago) I still wear tight/fitted clothes. Dresses like this one are made with a bit of stretch so it will not interfere with my bag filling.” – Amanda Andrew

Purple dress

Wearing a purple dress.

Credit: Bethany Purnell.

Designer Dress – Laura

Wearing Dress by Wayne Cooper


“I was recently invited to a friend’s 40th birthday dinner. I wore this dress by an Australian designer, Wayne by Wayne Cooper. Whilst many of his designs are form-fitting, this dress is loose and flowing, yet flattering with its high-low hem and exposed back zip.

I could comfortably wear this dress without a belt or any other kind of support around my stoma, and I felt secure, relaxed and sexy the whole night! It was also very easy to manage when emptying my ostomy bag throughout the evening!” – Laura Zappulla

Dress – White & Purple

Wearing a white and purple dress.

Credit: Bethany Purnell

Maternity Dress

Wearing a maternity dress.

“The only thing is to hem the front since there’s no belly to pull up the front.” – Amy

Fitted grey dress

“Dresses that aren’t stretch material I make sure it is fitted, but with an extra 1″ around the belly.” – Amanda Andrew

Semi-Formal Dress

“This dress is more formal. It’s very lacy and form-fitting around the top and then gets flowy right below my ribs which conceals the ostomy well.” – Katrina

B&W Dress – Karin

Credit: Karin Miller

Casual Dress over Leggings

Credit: Laura Zappulla

Blue Dress and Boots – Karin

Credit: Karin Miller

And for you gals who will be getting married soon, know that you’ll look beautiful on your special day! Have a look at what these brides have been able to show off!

Wedding Dress – Amanda

“I had it fitted with enough room around the hips/ waist that my bag could fill up without causing a problem. The lines of the dress and the bead work help to distract the eyes and hide the area.” – Amanda Andrew

Wedding Dress - Alison

Credit: Alison of Empowering Patients.

While trying out wedding dressing, Alison of Empowering Patients did nothing special to cover her ostomy and it remained concealed.

Wedding Dress - Thaila

FYI: Thaila Skye had TWO stomas when this photo was taken, yet she can still rock this beautiful dress!

“Non-traditional” Wedding Dress

This photo was taken by Adam Butler on Koh Lanta in Thailand, where Laura Zappulla of the website Stomalicious was married in early 2015! She’s wearing a beautiful, non-traditional wedding dress that easily conceals her pouch!

Thaila Skye also has some great tips on getting married with an ostomy in THIS video.


Shorts

From denim and beyond, shorts can be comfortable and cool in hot weather.

You’ll find that most traditional and high waist shorts will cover some or all of your pouch, but low-rise shorts will reveal your entire bag; feel free to use pouch cover if that makes you more comfortable.

Shorts - Bethany

“I’m wearing ‘cotton’ shorts and because they are soft they and more comfortable, and allow output to fall into the pouch with no problem.” – Bethany Purnell

Shorts w/ Long Top

“My favourite style of shorts are High Waisted Shorts. They go above my ostomy, and therefore, conceals it.” – Bethany Purnell

High-Waisted Shorts

Keely Wells is wearing high-waisted shorts by Topshop.

Jean Shorts w/ Short Top

Credit: Bethany Purnell

One Piece w/ Shorts

“This bathing suit is a one piece with high-waisted shorts.” – Karin Miller, wearing a bathing suit from Old Navy.


PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Kahn of f-64.com


Skirts

Skits are awesome, and you can look great in one with an ostomy!

The length of your skirt doesn’t matter as much as where the waistband is, and if it can come over your appliance, it will be well concealed.

Have a look at the styles below – you’d never know an ostomy bag was under there!

Skater Skirt

“Skater Skirts are also my favourite style of skirt to wear. These are the same as the Skater Dress as it flows out over your pouch.” – Bethany Purnell

Plaid Skirt

Karin wearing a plaid skirt.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Kahn of f-64.com

Maxi Skirt w/ Tank Top & Cardi

“Maxi skirt with tank top tucked in and cardi.” – Katrina

Skirt – Keely

Keely Wells is wearing a skirt from Miss Selfridge.

Knee Length Dress

Credit: Bethany Purnell.

Blue Skirt w/ White Shirt – Karin

“For this blue/white outfit, I wore a target maternity band underneath the shirt and skirt. Another option would have been my Ostomysecrets wrap.” – Karin Miller.


PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Kahn @ F-64.com

Maternity Band under Skirt – Karin

Close up of how Karin wears the maternity band under her skirt and shirt.


PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Kahn @ F-64.com

Skirt example - Bethany

Credit: Bethany Purnell

Skirt – Blue

Credit: Bethany Purnell

Dark Suit – Karin

“For this dark suit, the skirt comes up and sits at my belly button so just the very top part of that bag was showing (see next photo).” – Karin Miller

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Kahn @ F-64.com

Dark Suit Closeup – Karin

Close up of Karin’s dark suit.

As you can see, the pouch can be covered by a high-waisted skirt.


PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Kahn @ F-64.com

Red skirt - Bethany

Credit: Bethany Purnell


Tops

From form-fitting to loose, you’ll be able to find the right top for any occasion.

Many women prefer loose-fitting or flowing tops, as it helps with concealment as the pouch fills.

I choose patterns to hide but also statement items like big jewelry or awesome shoes to draw attention else wear and feel more comfortable! I also dyed my hair red for that reason too! Keeps attention else wear! I’m always wearing my ostomy belt by ostomy secrets to help conceal and give support!

Neonerinn
Cream Cami

“Here’s a cream top with a cami underneath. I normally wear a cami that is tight fitted so it holds the bag closer to the tummy.” – The Front Butt YouTuber

Leggings & Singlet – Laura

This is Laura Zappulla’s “must-have” leggings and singlet attire.

Casual wear - Neonerinn

“The stripped shirt is a casual shirt with wide sleeves. Button up. I’m wearing yoga pants and a pink tank underneath for a little pop of color!” – Neonerinn

Blouse example - Bethany

In this photo is Bethany Purnell.
Because blouses are not form-fitting, they can even conceal a full pouch.

Loose Fitting Top – Laura

Credit: Laura Zappulla

Playsuit - Keely

Keely doesn’t remember if this outfit was from Topshop or Urban Outfitters, but it looks great!

Casual wear - Sue

“Stripy cowel neck t-shirt (my favorite, this is the closest that i come to a patterned top, and it confuses the eye so that you can’t see any tummy or bag around my tummy).” – Sue Hill

Layered top

Credit: The Front Butt YouTuber

Casual wear

“This outfit is black dress pants with a grey crop sleeve silk top with some 4 inch heels and a chunky necklace to draw attention to the neckline.” – Neonerinn

Blouses – Black and White

“Blouses are perfect and light weight for the summer. They’re very loose and flow over your pouch.” – Bethany Purnell

Leggings w/ Short Top

Credit: Bethany Purnell

Jumpers

“I love jumpers, especially oversized jumpers. They are perfect for the winter times. Also, because they are so loose-fitting, there’s no worry about your pouch showing.” – Bethany Purnell


Trousers / Pants

It seems that you gals prefer either low-cut (under the stoma) or high-waisted trousers (over the stoma), and regardless, you wear them well!

There are many options here, and you can get some great ideas by checking out the photos below. Also note that you can have your trousers adjusted, or you may opt for maternity pants, which have a stretchy band across the entire front and are a popular option among ostomates.

Custom Work Clothes – Tracy

“Upon returning to work after my loop colostomy (6 months ago), I struggled to get back into my uniform. I did request to wear work issue maternity trousers, although good and adapted for me initially (the “bump” material was to big but I had it altered to suit me). The material is not that great for the coming winter months though so went back to my normal work trousers.
I normally wear TML lightweights or Artkis trousers, but decided to speak to a seamstress to see if she could alter my trousers (pictures attached). As you can see the alterations are ideal. She used stretchy material with and without a zip. Feel totally confident and comfortable wearing my work trousers.

My next mission is to do something similar with my own personal trousers and jeans.

I’ve also purchased supporting maternity tops to wear underneath my tops so that it keeps my stoma secure and the bulge isn’t overly noticeable.” – Tracy J Ross

High-Waisted Trousers

Keely Wells is wearing trousers by Miss Selfridge

Custom Trousers – Tracy

“I normally wear TML lightweights or Artkis trousers, but decided to speak to a seamstress to see if she could alter my trousers. As you can see the alterations are ideal. She used stretchy material with and without a zip. Feel totally confident and comfortable wearing my work trousers.” – Tracy J Ross

High Waisted Jeans

“These are pretty much the same as Leggings but not as comfortable. They do give a bit more support to your pouch.” – Bethany Purnell

High Waisted Jeans w/ Long T-Shirt

Credit: Bethany Purnell

Maternity Jeans – Amy

“Maternity jeans – only downside to no button and zipper is jeans slide down in crotch a bit since no pregnancy belly. Upside – So COMFORTABLE, and if shirt rides up you’re covered.” – Amy

Maternity Jeans and Top

“Maternity jeans and a maternity top that doesn’t look like maternity clothes.” – Amy

Maternity trousers w/ wrap

Note that Sue is wearing a Comfizz wrap underneath the built-in band for extra support.

Work Clothes

Sue Hill is wearing maternity work trousers(high soft fabric band which goes over the top of the tummy and bag).

Leggings - Bethany

“Leggings are perfect because they are a very stretchy material. You’re able to pull them up over your pouch and that helps conceal and supports it.” – Bethany Purnell

Leggings w/ Short Top

Credit: Bethany Purnell


We Aren’t Done Yet!

As you can see, everything from casual wear to business attire is possible with very little modifications to your wardrobe.

But what about lingerie or swimwear? I haven’t forgotten about that!

In part three you’ll find many examples of what lady ostomates wear at the beach, during intimacy, and even while pregnant!

44 thoughts on “Dressing with an Ostomy: A Guide for Ladies (Part 2)”

  1. Hi Katie, I don’t like belts or wraps, and I wear stretchy leggings with either a flowy pretty shirt or a button-front blouse (not tucked in) over them. Over that, depending on the weather, cardigan sweaters or zip-front hoodie sweatshirts. And I always wear the pouch inside my granny cotton undies. If it gets too hot I wrap a lightweight cotton handkerchief under the back of the bag and tie it in front, at the top (this works because I wear a two-piece system). Welcome, hope you will join permanently, lots of nice people here.
    PS Will add here that I have some stretch camisoles, largest size I could find, that I wear underneath the shirts sometimes, also a few tshirts by Columbia made of some very thin silky polyester, not stretchy – both of these act sort of like a slip and keep the shirts from clinging. When shopping, don’t buy unless they are long, otherwise they can ride up.
    The stoma-side of my stomach sticks out more than the other side, and I am like Laurie, always looking for creative ways to camouflage.

    Reply
  2. I am a new IIIeostomy emergency surgery resipient and was sent home no knowledge it’s been trial and error and tears. Like BOHO STYLES AND OVERALL’S WOULD BE GREAT. LOVE DRESSES AND LEGGINGS.
    DO YOU CARRY ANY. AND NEED TO BUY SOME WRAPS AND BAG COVER. PLEASE
    SEND ME EXAMPLES OF PATTERNS TO PICK FROM AND HOW TO ORDER.

    Reply
    • Hi Robin – If you are an ostomate who likes boho you’re in luck! I often wear leggings with a boho top or short dress, or an oversized denim or plaid flannel shirt (sometimes open, over a t-shirt or boho top; sometimes with a cardigan sweater over the whole thing). My left side, where my stoma is located, sticks out a little and these hide that pretty well. Sometimes I wear a stretchy Jockey brand undershirt to smooth things out.
      I actually enjoy putting together my ostomate outfits!

      Reply
    • I am a plus size gal living in the states. I LOVE your site, but I haven’t seen too many things that would be beneficial for us larger ladies. I’m unable to wear any type of ostomy belts or wraps as they end up twisting or riding up because of my size. I’m really wanting to look my best without my bag hanging out the bottom of my clothes or having it look like I’ve got a inflated balloon hanging off me 🤣. I’m fairly new to having the ostomy as it was a result of life saving surgery. Was supposed to be reversed by now, but they’ve discovered tumors everywhere and now I’m also going to loose my hair. So, anything that you could recommend to draw the attention off of my pouch or that would fit a plus sized woman would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for having this site! It’s got great ideas and product info I never knew about! God 🙌 🥰❤💯😇

      Reply
      • Hi Katie,
        I’m not plus sized, but I do have a hernia, which presents some challenges in dressing. Jeans and T shirt are my uniform now that I am retired. I wear jeans that have some stretch to the fabric – Chico’s is a store I frequent when visiting the US, but I have found jeans at Costco here in Canada that work well too. Buffalo David Britton is a brand that I buy at Costco, and they fit comfortably, but I guess it depends on where your stoma is located. I don’t always wear a hernia belt, but when I do, it tends to smooth the hernia down somewhat, but not completely. I dress in layers  – a vest or sweater that is left open over a top helps to distract the eye. For the same reason, I wear my purse on the same side as my ostomy. Scarves and pashminas also are a great way to camouflage; if I wear a necklace, that draws the eye upwards towards the face. When it’s too hot to wear layers, I wear tops that are slightly flowy, and not made of clingy fabric. Dark colours tend to show less, as do fabrics with large patterns. Bathing suits are a whole different problem. Again, darker colours, at least on the bottom; a skirt or a strategically placed frill can be a distraction too. I found a two piece bathing suit at Costco this spring with a dark navy bottom and a light, patterned top. To be honest, I don’t think any bathing suit is up to the challenge of a hernia, but at least this one didn’t attract attention to it. Hope this is helpful. We ostomates have to be masters of disguise sometimes!🥸
         
        Laurie

        Reply
      • Hi Katie – I too am a big girl. I wear jeans, and leggings with longer tops. I also have a hernia under stoma, so it really sticks out. If you have a Walmart near you, get a white, black and beige camisole. They have them in a girdle type. I was a little nervous about being crammed in one of these; but my surgeon said it was fine.
        These camisoles run around 14 to 16 dollars. If you go to higher end stores they run about 40 dollars.
        I’ve had my ostomy going on 3 years and the vain person that I am, this bag still bothers me. I too have tumors in my spine, so the addition of the bag is one more thing. Keep a good attitude and thank God everyday that you have been blessed with another morning

        Reply

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