I know you know that there is more to thriving during (peri)menopause than eating well, moving your body, taking supplements, and slapping potions and lotions on your skin. I began experiencing perimenopause twelve years ago, at thirty-eight, and I’m currently counting down to the anniversary of my last period, which means I’ll officially be in menopause on November 23rd. That said, I’ve learned a few things along the way, including some best dress practices. This post is all about how to dress during (peri)menopause so you can be comfortable in your skin and whatever you’re wearing.
Gone are the days (hope they will come back) where I can wear whatever I want without consideration for my internal thermostat, which at this point is operating on it’s own accord. Hot flashes are unpredictable and can show up at any time and any place. And even with all the tools I have at my disposal, I still have to deal with the flashes, and that’s just the way it is for many. To that end, you want to be strategic about how you dress so you don’t overheat and feel uncomfortable and miserable.
I’ll start with seasons because every season will make you feel different, especially if you’re living in a temperate climate. I’m not getting into what’s flattering because what’s flattering for me may not be for others. Do you. The focus is on staying cool and comfortable. Here are some dressing tips to consider.
Seasonal Dressing Tips
Dress in layers. I know. Layers on top of having to deal with hot flashes. But hot flashes don’t last very long, at least they don’t for me. I’ve never had one longer than one minute. Think thirty to ninety seconds. So it’s not as if you’ll feel overheated for long periods. Layering is the smartest thing to do because you’ll be able to remove and replace as your body temperature fluctuates. I mean, think about it. People who aren’t even going through menopause layer in the fall. Trust me. Layering is the way to go.
Autumn is in-between weather, so day-to-day patterns are unpredictable, much like the flashes. I know you already know this, but it won’t hurt to reiterate. Put on very light layers, like cotton tees, vests or shirts and then put on heavier pieces like sweater cardigans, and jackets. The day can start off very cool and by midday temperatures climb. So if you’re having a hot flash midday or early afternoon, stripping off those outer layers and remaining in your comfy, cool tee or shirt will help your body cool down, quickly.
You can follow the same process for autumn/fall. But instead of one light layer and then a heavier outer layer, I’d suggest you do three layers, perhaps even four. A light layer like your cotton tee or vest, then a light shirt or sweater, and then your outermost layer like a coat. I say this because it’s very cold in the winter and if you have a hot flash, stripping off the outermost layer will leave you with two other layers to comfortably cool down without your body being exposed to the cold temperatures.
Dress the same way you did in the fall. Just like autumn runs into unpredictable day-to-day patterns, so does spring, which is unpredictable moving into summer. In my opinion, spring and autumn have ideal temperatures for the hot-flashing, menopausal body. What do you think?
It gets hot, hot, hot. So you know, hot flashes on top of summer heat is almost equivalent to fire! This is when you’ll need all the coolest fabrics to feel your freshest. Pull out the cotton and cool linens. Wear shorts and flowy, airy skirts and palazzos. And if you’re like me, distressed denim works wonders. Some feel that distressed denim is tacky on older folks. I don’t care what anyone thinks about what I wear, nor should you. I’d rather look tacky and be cool and comfortable than “presentable” and pouring our sweat.
Fabrics To Wear
Cotton is natural, light, soft, and breathable. It’s also moisture-wicking, which means it absorbs moisture from the body. However, it cannot handle excessive perspiration like athleisure clothing, which is treated with moisture-wicking to keep you dry while working out or sweating excessively.
Muslin is made from cotton, which means that it’s very breathable and a great option for keeping cool.
Chambray a derivative of cotton is uber-lightweight and breathable. And as you might have guessed by now, breathable is key for keeping cool.
Hemp is porous, which makes it breathable and will keep you cool and comfy.
Linen is very breathable due to its large fiber. So it’ll keep you dry and cool. On the flip side, it wrinkles easily and does not absorb moisture.
Bamboo obviously is natural and sustainable. The verdict is still out on how it holds up against cotton. Nonetheless, it’s a great option for keeping cool. The problem with bamboo, however, lies with the conversion to fabric. I explain a bit more toward the end.
Jersey is popular in the summertime, for good reason. It’s made from cotton and a combination of cotton and polyester, which gives it breathability. And though it’s a bit heavier than cotton, it still has the ability to keep you cool.
Rayon is a very thin, man-made fiber derived from regenerative cellulose by natural plants like eucalyptus, soy, bamboo, etc. However, in order to produce the fabric it has to be treated with chemicals. Rayon can also irritate the skin.
If you are sweating excessively be mindful of the color fabrics that you purchase as some can show sweat stains more than others. Also consider how much the fabric wrinkles, as is the case with linen and how you will care for and clean it.
Fabrics Can Irritate The Skin
During the menopausal phase, some people develop skin sensitivity and experience irritation when wearing certain fabrics. I cannot wear wool scarves because the material causes my neck to itch. I can only use them if I’m wearing a cotton turtle neck, which protects my neck. Also, I have to remove all the tags from the inside of my tops as they also irritate the back of my neck. All so weird but true.
Some fabrics tend to irritate more than others. Polyesters, acrylic, nylon, rayon, and other synthetic fabrics can trap moisture and cause itching and irritation. Of course, everyone is different so you have to pay attention to how your skin responds to certain fabrics.
The Problem With Some Fabrics
I know for some, it’s important to choose materials based on their values. That said, some fabrics can be very harmful to the environment due to excessive tree cutting/deforestation, and also the treatment process that includes heavy chemicals. One example is Rayon which uses heavy solvents that can be harmful to the human body and the environment. Another is bamboo. Though very sustainable and marketed as such, converting bamboo into fabric requires dangerous chemical treatment which can be harmful to the environment, people handling the garments in factories and end-user, like us who wears them.
For more sustainable options consider recycled, cotton, organic cotton, organic hemp, organic bamboo, organic linen, recycled wool, TENCEL, ECONYL, BANANATEX. Basically, recycled anything is considered a good sustainable option.
Wear Loose Fitting
Remember, different strokes for different folks. Some people can survive wearing tight clothing during (peri)menopause, while for others, it’s pure torture. There were moments in the past when I’ve worn leggings and wanted to rip them off because my skin started to itch. The fabric clung to my skin, absorbing moisture and drying it out, which then caused my skin to itch.
Also, some people’s skin becomes more sensitive due to hormone decline, so washing with certain detergents can cause further irritation and itching. The last thing you want is a hot flash or skin itching while wearing tight clothing, and you cannot take them off. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve gotten away with wearing leggings comfortably sometimes. But on the wrong day, my skin paid a heavy price.
Of course, the hope is that these, like many menopausal symptoms, are temporary. In the meantime, we do the best we can to thrive through them. How do you dress to make yourself comfortable? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below.
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