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For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.

Adaptive Clothing

December 2021 | Katie Frank, PhD, OTR/L - Occupational Therapist, Adult Down Syndrome Center

Dressing can be difficult for some individuals with Down syndrome, in part because bilateral coordination and dexterity skills can be challenging for many individuals with Down syndrome. I have shared information about adaptive tops & pants, belts, and shoes & shoelaces below. 


long sleeve shirtTOPS & PANTS

There are (stylish!) options to promote independence with dressing.

Options may:

  • Eliminate the need for fastening or zipping closures, which may speed up dressing and alleviate frustration

  • Provide easy-close alternatives

  • Be available in petite sizes or short lengths

  • Resemble standard clothing including shirts, sweatshirts, pants, jeans, khakis, or other tops and pants


While not an exhaustive list, some examples of tops include:

  • Pullover shirts or t-shirts

  • Shirts with magnetic and/or Velcro closures



  • Attaching Velcro to existing shirts (i.e., over buttonholes)



While not an exhaustive list, some examples of pants include:

  • Pants with an elastic waist

  • Pull-on pants, jeans, or khakis


  • Pants with magnetic and/or Velcro closures

pants with magnetic and velcro closure

The terms in the lists above may be helpful to use in search engines or when online shopping. Prices, fabrics, and availability vary, although options can be found at many common retailers such as Kohls, Target, Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Amazon.

Some specific lines and brands include (listed alphabetically, not in order of preference): 



Two "buckle-less" belt options are: 





Many brands offer adaptive styles (prices and availability vary). Some features of adaptive shoes include: 

  • No tying required

  • Wraparound zippers


  • Adjustable straps


  • Slip-on



The following are several examples of adaptive shoes (listed alphabetically, not in order of preference): 


Rather than buying a new pair of shoes, adaptive shoelaces can be used with an existing pair of shoes. They replace or attach to standard laces and turn lace-up shoes into slip-ons. Options include: 

  • Elastic shoelaces (available at many retailers)

  • HICKIES Laces The preceding link opens in a new tab or window.




**Please note: We are sharing information about these products for educational purposes only. The Adult Down Syndrome Center does not receive financial support or compensation for sharing information about these products.


Additional resources can be found in the Self-Care and Hygiene section of our Resource Library. 

Please note: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a medical, psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment plan by a qualified professional. We recommend you review the educational material with your health providers regarding the specifics of your health care needs.