Advice about fashion for ostomates

Having an ostomy doesn’t mean that you have to change your personal style. You may feel like wearing big baggy clothes straight after surgery – but once you’ve fully healed, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go back to wearing clothes that make you look and feel good. Stoma bag manufacturers have created a whole range of more body conscious products, designed to provide a better, more discreet fit for added privacy.

Clothing made for ostomates

You should be able to continue wearing your clothes as usual, so don’t feel that you will need to change the way you dress or rush out and buy a whole new wardrobe. However, if you are looking for things that are designed for ostomates, there are many brands that specialise in all types of clothing, from swimwear and underwear to casual clothing and accessories.

Looking good starts with self-confidence

The way other people view us is based on how we look and feel. Once you feel confident about your ostomy in private, you can show this confidence in public.  Here are some general tips on clothing for ostomates, we hope that these may help you whilst you are getting comfortable with your ostomy and finding what suits you:

  • If you are particularly self-conscious to begin with, you could try wearing clothes that distract from the abdomen. Some people prefer to wear loose fitting clothing but it’s completely up to you, the most important thing is for you to feel comfortable
  • Some people find that dark colours make them feel safer while they are getting to grips with their new ostomy care products and regime, in case of any leaks
  • Front fastening trousers or skirts generally make it much easier to care for your ostomy


Looking good isn’t about your shape, size (or ostomy!)

When it comes to looking good, it’s not your shape or size that matters, but the fit of your clothes and how confident you are in wearing them. It’s important to choose clothes that suit you, accentuate your good features and minimise areas that you might think are less than perfect. This will help you feel less self-conscious and more confident in your body after ostomy surgery.

If you have an ostomy, then your waist is probably the area you worry about most.  There is no reason not to wear tight-fitting clothing if you used to before your ostomy operation. Most modern ostomy pouches are not even noticeable through the majority of materials unless they are particularly thin or see-through: in these cases, layering is an option that some choose.

Ostomy clothing tips to suit your body shape

If you are high waisted, to lengthen your profile, try wearing long jackets, tops and skirts. You can distract the eye from a high waist with:

  • Clothes with low waistlines
  • Skirts and trousers without waist bands
  • Low slung belts

If you are high waisted and have short legs, lengthen your silhouette by wearing:

  • High heels
  • Long jackets or tops
  • Skinny leg trousers or pencil skirts

Create the illusion of lowering your waist, without shortening your legs with:

  • Clothes with low waistlines
  • Skirts and trousers without waist bands
  • Low slung belts

If you are low waisted and have average-to-short legs, give the impression of a higher waist and longer legs with:

  • Belts
  • Short tops
  • Minimal detail around your ostomy area
  • Short jackets with long or short skirts
  • Long jackets with short skirts or skinny leg trousers
  • Straight waisted or belted dresses
  • High heels


If you are petite to average-sized, you’ll look best in narrow and lightweight belts. Average-sized to tall ladies will suit wide statement belts. If you don’t have an obvious waist, it is best to avoid belts.


Heel height

The most important thing to remember when picking heel height is to go for comfort – statement stilettos just look ridiculous if you can barely walk! Here are tips on how you can make your legs appear longer or shorter, using the height of your heels:

  • You can make your legs look longer with high or narrow heels, or by wearing a short skirt with a lower heel
  • Low fronted shoes give the illusion of longer legs and narrower ankles
  • Closed shoes shorten the length of the feet and legs


Shoes that have low T straps work well on most people. Shoes with an ankle strap tend to only suit long legs and slim ankles. When buying boots, ensure that the boot stops at the narrow part of the leg. Ballet pumps are good for anyone with average-to-long legs and thin ankles.

Underwear and swimwear

Some companies make attractive, modern underwear and swimwear especially for people who have an ostomy.  It is entirely up to you whether you prefer wearing your ostomy pouch inside or on the outside of your underwear. If you prefer it on the inside, higher elastic underwear is likely to be more practical in order to keep the pouch completely tucked away. If you are happy with your bag on the outside, then you should be able to wear all styles of underwear. Bear in mind that one-piece swimsuits, particularly those with busy patterns, are best for disguising ostomy pouches if this is something that concerns you. Wearing a tight garment under your swimsuit can help to hold your pouch in place.


Worried your ostomy will look obvious under your clothes?

Although there is no reason why you should not continue wearing the clothes you have always worn after your ostomy operation, you may initially feel more self-conscious. You might worry that your ostomy will show up under your clothes and look obvious. Here are some tips to help prevent this happening:

  • Wearing a fitted vest under your shirt can disguise any lumps
  • Pushing your belt lower down your actual waist can create the impression that your waist is narrower than it really is
  • Matching colours are also good with vertical necklines, such as V-necks
  • Pleated trousers provide added room for movement and give room for expansion when your bag fills
  • Belts with large buckles can provide a flattering detraction from other areas of the waist
  • Wide necklines can also detract from the waist
  • You might want to try fairly high-waisted boxer-type shorts to disguise the bag

Belts too tight / uncomfortable over your stoma pouch? Why not try braces instead (they’ve had a bit of a hipster revival lately, so aren’t just for older men!)

Finding the right colour or pattern

Many male ostomates typically prefer patterned tops with dark trousers or patterned shorts / swim shorts if they are going topless in Summer. This is because patterns do a great job of distracting attention away from the ostomy area – but it’s purely a matter of personal taste and you will soon find what you are comfortable with. You can tell if a colour doesn’t suit you as your complexion will look uneven, or the colour of the clothing stands out more than you do.

Underwear and swimwear

Some companies make attractive underwear and swimwear especially for people who have an ostomy. These ranges and others produce men’s swimming shorts and underwear with inner linings which are very good for ostomy pouch privacy. Some designs even have pockets to tuck your ostomy pouch into.