Dressing with an Ostomy: A Guide for Ladies (Part 4)

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Hey, you made it to part four of my lady’s guide to dressing with an ostomy!

This is the last part in the series, but it includes loads of tips and advice from women like you!

Miss something or Want to skip ahead?


If you’ve been through the other parts of this series, I’m sure that by now you can see that dressing with an ostomy shouldn’t be something to worry about.

Below you’ll find some additional tips to make life easier.

Bonus Clothing Tips

  • Use patterns help to distract the eye from any bumps caused by your bag.
  • Ruched clothing also helps to hide your appliance.
  • Layering clothing can help make your pouch less noticeable.
  • Scarves are a great fashion accessory that can double up as a way to conceal your pouch.
  • A one-piece appliance (or two-piece with an adhesive coupling) will have a lower profile compared to two-piece systems, and that can make it less noticeable under your clothing.
  • Consider smaller bags if you don’t empty your pouch very often or irrigate your ostomy (i.e. colostomates); there’s no reason to wear a maxi-sized bag when all you need is a mini!
Well fitting camisoles with slight stretch & high-waisted panties and pants have become my go to items under any outfit. And I always bring a sweater or jacket, even if you don’t need it, it could come in handy for hiding a bulge while going to the bathroom or in the unfortunate case of a leak.Breia
Whilst there is no reason not to wear tighter fitting tops, my personal preference is to wear longer length looser fitting tops (for work and casual) over pants or skirts. It makes me feel more at ease that my bag isn’t hanging out and less obvious when it starts to fill up.Laura Zappulla
Singlets and leggings are a must-have in my wardrobe! I wear fitted singlets under just about everything. They are cheap, comfortable alternative to a support belt or wrap, and help keep everything snugly in place, plus you don’t even notice the singlet under most other tops. The leggings are great too especially in the colder months under a dress or skirt.Laura Zappulla

In Your Words

Here are quotes that I hope you will find inspiring.

My husband was more ok with the bag than I was. In other words, I was always worried about what he would think, but honestly, he told me he loved me for me and he likes my scars because it shows what I’ve been through and that I survived an evil colon.Colitis Ninja
Just because you can see the bag outline doesn’t mean everyone else can. I ask my friends all the time if they can see the bag or not and 90% of the time they say can’t.Anonymous.
Having an ostomy really hasn’t made any major difference to my wardrobe or clothing choices. In fact, my weight fluctuations due to IBD as well as having an ostomy have encouraged me to get out and expand my clothing repertoire. What girl doesn’t love an excuse for a shopping spree!?Laura Zappulla
There’s no reason at all an ostomy should limit your clothing or jeopardise style. Mix and match and use it as a reason to be adventurous and play around with different styles and options so you look and feel great! Stomas can be sharp, sleek and sassy too! Laura Zappulla
I’m by no means a ‘fashionista’, and my fashion motto has always been COMFORT over EVERYTHING! If I am comfortable in what I am wearing, that helps me feel cool, calm, cute and confident! I’m sure I am way more conscious of my bag than anyone else around me is. My husband often tells me how beautiful I look (both with clothes or just donning my birthday suit and bag!), and that helps with my confidence too :) For me though, comfort is definitely the key!Laura Zappulla


I hope that this guide has at least given you some ideas on what you can wear when you’ve got an ostomy. From interacting with the women who participated in this series, it seems that nearly all of them were able to wear their pre-surgery wardrobe without having to throw anything away!

There are some things you can do to help you feel more secure, or to help support your pouch better, but that’s mostly a matter of preference.

Additional Resources

  • A list of ostomy clothing manufacturers can be found HERE.
  • For various ostomy accessory reviews on products that work for both men and women, check out THIS page.

Special Thanks / Credits

There are so many amazing women to thank, not only for their photos, but their feedback, patience and support.

Harriet WilliamsProvided photos.
Harriet has been a superstar for ostomy advocacy on both Instagram and YouTube!
Karin MillerProvided photos.
Karin runs the website NewbieOstomy.com and has been an online penpal of mine since early 2014.
MeganProvided photos.
Megan is YOUR Front Butt YouTuber! She’s been an online friend of mine since the beginning of my blog, and not only does she have some awesome YouTube videos, but we’ve even collaborated in a few!
Laura ZappullaProvided photos and tips.
“Laura is new to the blogging world starting her blog Stoma-licious in May 2015. After having ileostomy surgery for Crohn’s disease in 2013, she has since travelled the world with ostomy in tow. She started her blog Stoma-licious to raise awareness of IBD and ostomies in her home country of Australia, and share her stories of travelling with an ostomy, showing there is life after surgery and much, much more”!
Stephanie HughesAllowed me to use her swimsuit video.
Stephanie is the brains and beauty behind one of my favorite blogs, The Stolen Colon. She’s a fellow advocate and one of my personal heroes.
Colitis NinjaProvided photos.
Amber (a.k.a. Colitis Ninja) has been a friend and fellow advocate for a while now. She’s a talented artist who has put some amazing IBD information out there on her blog Colitis Ninja.
Thaila SkyeProvided photos and links.
Thaila is one of my ostomy heroes, and she’s a prolific YouTuber with many ostomy-related videos on her CHANNEL.
Alison R.Provided photos.
Alison is a friend an incredible advocate. We’ve laughed over GIFs, even while discussing the most serious topics. She’s the force behind Empowering Patients LLC
Keely WellsProvided photos.
I’ve been following Keely on Instagram for a while, and she helped so much by providing a bunch of great photos!
AmyProvided photos.
Amy has helped with photos and has given some great tips! If you’d like to get in touch with her, she can be reached at [email protected]
Bethany PurnellProvided photos.
Bethany was one of the first ladies to send in photos, and I’m grateful for all the helpful images she supplied.
Neonerinn (Erin Laura)Provided photos.
Erin has provided some great photos, and is open to giving advice about living with an ostomy, so feel free to connect with her.
Beth Belle AireProvided photos.
Beth Belle Aire has provided quite a few very useful photos, and she invites women to check out her pinup page on Facebook.
KatrinaProvided photos.
Katrina is a new ileostomate who sent in some great photos for this guide!
Tracy J RossProvided photos.
Tracy provided some great photos of her modified trousers, and I’m glad that she’s been able to adapt well to her ostomy!
Michael KhanPhotographer for several of Karin Miller's photos.
Mike has been the photographer in several of the photos provided by Karin Miller of NewbieOstomy.com
BreiaProvided tips.
Thanks for the tips, Breia!
Allison OskinProvided tips.
Thanks for the tip, Allison!
AnonymousProvided photos.
She’s been a great help, and I thank her for sending in a few photos for this guide!
Amanda AndrewProvided photos.
Amanda sent some great photos! Thank you!
Sue HillProvided photos.
Sue has been a great help providing photos with detailed info.
Colleen ZavodnyProvided tips.
Colleen offered up several tips for the maternity section!
Question: Do you have any fashion tips to share with other ladies?
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1 year ago

Hi Alison, Welcome to the forum and some great tips for the ladies.

1 year ago

Last summer I found that a pair of loose capris, with matching suspenders worked very well. Also, a long loose vest for those of us trying to hide the buldge.

1 year ago

I wear leggings or yoga pants in a size or sometimes two sizes bigger, which gives me room in the waist and they don’t look like tights. The larger size also makes for enough room that they sit right above my stoma (like your mother, I am short). If the waist is too big I thread a long shoelace through the waistband and tie it on the inside.

1 year ago

My mother now has an ileostomy and having trouble finding pants she can wear. She is 5ft 1in tall so her stoma sits right at her natural waist. Everything today is made low waisted or spandexy tight fitting which she doesnt like. Suggestions?

1 year ago
Reply to  Mary

@MaryHi Mary,I am just a little taller, and short-waisted, so have the same issue with waistbands of mid-rise pants actually pressing on stoma.  Just not enough room for low-cut pants, while high-cut have to be up over the ribs to work!  I was about to embark on a life of sewing dresses when I came upon Maternity pants, with a stretchy fabric panel above the hips.  I started with a pair of capris from Thyme Maternity.  This was when my abdomen was still very sore about 8 weeks after surgery, and only loose dresses had been bearable.  In the fall I had great success at Motherhood Maternity, purchasing jeans, dressier pants, and leggings.  At both these Canadian shops the staff were amazingly helpful; apparently many surgical patients find these clothes useful.  Online shopping is also an option.  I recently ordered doubles of the products I liked best from Motherhood; excellent deals, great service.  Tips:  As I don’t have a “bump” the size of a pregnant woman, sometimes slippage is an issue.  Wearing a vest or camisole, or T-shirt as a base layer, over the pouch, I pull the stretchy fabric up over top, and that provides enough friction to keep things in place.  The illusion is completed by wearing a longer shirt, sweater or tunic overtop.  Here too I found maternity tops worked well, though not essential, because they are thoughtfully made to be cosy and easy-care.  Note that Motherhood Maternity offers some styles in Petite, a great help to shorter folks.  I say folks, because there must be a few male ostomates who would benefit, whether just during healing stage, or generally.  To conclude – no one can tell these are maternity clothes!  The stretchy panel is essentially a “bandeau”, keeping the pouch secure.Hope this helps,Atom (Alison)

pink alpaca
2 years ago

Just wanted to say how helpful this guide is. I had my ileostomy in February 2019, so I’m still a newbie. I favour slightly loose fitting tops and find dresses with a pattern detract attention from the pouch. I recently purchased some lingerie from Vanilla Blush (UK) as I wanted to have some light/medium support. I’ve tried the 3 pack (black, navy, white), everyday mixed ostomy underwear which has a handy internal ostomy pocket that runs from right to left, so you can position your pouch whichever side is convenient for you. They are very comfortable and the pouch remains secure in the pocket. They look good and make me feel more confident. I also purchased a white hernia support vest. I haven’t got a hernia but find it useful support as a preventive measure against developing one. It’s very comfortable to wear, looks good, can be difficult to get on and off – similar to compression socks, but offers great support and stays in place If you live in the UK these items are available on prescription.