What is the Most Suitable Clothing for Your Relative in a Nursing Home?

Once the arrangements are made, and plans are underway to move your relative in to a nursing home, your mind can turn to packing. One of the most frequent questions we get at this stage is ‘what are the most suitable clothes for elderly in nursing homes?’ It’s not a question you’ve likely thought about before, so what are the problems, and how are clothing choices affected? 

Importantly, we consider types of clothing you may not have considered. If your loved one is moving into a care home and they have particular care needs, such as using a stoma bag, there is special clothing which can make life easier and more comfortable for them. 

The Needs of Care

If your relative is moving to a nursing home this will mean they need some specialised nursing care to help them with the tasks of daily living. The precise nature of their needs will vary from person to person. However, there are some common issues: 

1Help with Dressing
If your family member needs assistance with dressing then clothes with easy fastenings, and complete opening are appropriate. Buttoned shirts and blouses, and button front dresses are good examples. Well-chosen clothing can help an individual maintain as much independence as possible.
2Delicate Skin
Many elderly residents have thin or fragile skin which is a normal part of ageing. However, it can mean that elasticated socks, for example, are too constricting and can cause damage. This is particularly important if your loved one is at risk of pressure sores.
3Help with Toileting
Elderly residents in care homes may have additional needs, or require assistance, when toileting. Clothing should be as easy to undo as possible to allow for speed, but also serve to ensure your loved one’s dignity as much as possible. Fiddly fastenings, such as buckles, can cause distress and unnecessary accidents.
If incontinence is an issue then you will need to ensure that your relative has plenty of sets of underwear and nightwear to allow for changes as needed.
5A Word on Shoes
Many elderly nursing home residents find shoes particularly tricky. Steer clear of lace-up shoes which at best pose a trip hazard, and instead choose slip-ons, elasticated shoes, or Velcro fastenings.


Comfort should be a primary consideration when choosing clothes for elderly in nursing home. Residents have limited mobility, and may be unsteady on their feet. Their clothes should be suitable for sitting for extended periods of time, and not pose trip hazards. Stretchy fabrics are ideal, in soft materials which are largely natural. 

We also suggest, for comfort, that you plan clothing in terms of layers which are easy to put on and take off. Generally, care homes are warm environments, but elderly individuals with restricted mobility may feel the cold more easily. Therefore, ensure vests are packed alongside comfortable warmer layers such as cardigans. 

Practicalities of Care Home Living

Furthermore, care homes need to be able to cycle clothes through a more intensive washing process than in domestic environments. Clothes need to be machine-washable, and preferably non-iron. They should also be plentiful enough to allow for both choice and ample turn-around time. However, they should also fit within the wardrobes and drawers available. If in doubt, ask the nursing care home exactly what storage furniture your loved one will have. 

We highly recommend labelling all items of clothing. This ensures that items are returned quickly and easily, and the washing process is more reliable. 

In addition, residents should have a bathrobe and slippers. Ensuring dignity in the tasks of daily living is essential to our ethos. Many residents need to take breaks during the tasks of bathing and dressing. A bathrobe makes this possible. 

The Needs of the Individual

Just because your relative needs help with the tasks of daily living does not mean they have to sacrifice their sense of individuality and style. In fact, for the mental wellbeing of an individual in a care home, it is essential that they do still feel ‘themselves’ as much as possible, and retain some ability to make their own choices. 

Therefore, whilst clothing should be practical and plentiful, it should also reflect the individual. Favourite colours, patterns, and style can all be considered as you compile their wardrobe. 

Specialist Care Home Clothing

If your loved one has particular care needs – such as a colostomy bag, PEG, or breathing tube, you may find that there are extra challenges when it comes to clothing choices. The good news is that adaptive clothing is gaining momentum. Indeed, we’ve seen care home clothing change considerably in the last decade. We’ve seen the introduction of adaptive clothing ranges, but now those ranges are increasingly stylish and discrete. This means that your loved one can feel comfortable and stylish, whatever their unique needs. 

Take a look at the wonderful range of clothing for men and women available from The Able Label, just for example.  

If your loved one uses a colostomy bag, you need to choose underwear that is high-waisted with no pressure on the bag. There are options for specific stoma bag underwear which makes things comfortable and easier to manage. 

It’s Not a One-Off Task!

Unfortunately, ensuring your elderly relative has all of the clothes they need for life in a nursing home is rarely a completed task. Whilst the task should never take as long as the first packing, you will need to update their wardrobe from time to time, much like you do for yourself. Elderly individuals typically lose weight with ageing, and needs change over time. However, a good nursing home should seek to communicate with you regularly about your loved one’s needs, including their clothes! 

Top Tips for Clothing for Elderly Women

1Shirts or Slacks?
The choices with clothing for elderly women means that they can choose between skirts or trousers. It’s usually a personal choice, but we find many of our female residents prefer soft, elasticated waistband skirts. Ensure they don’t have too much fabric which can post a mobility hazard.
2Choosing Underwear
When choosing clothing for elderly women take more time thinking about underwear. Front-closing bras can help an individual maintain their dignity, while also being easier to manage. Choose comfortable underwear that doesn’t sit too tightly on fragile skin.
3Cardigans & Shawls
We find that many of our ladies benefit from having layers to help them manage their fluctuating comfort levels. Cardigans and shawls work very well.
4Choosing Shoes
Give careful thought to women’s shoes. Heels and loose slip on shoes can cause trip hazards. However, many women are used to a low heel and may find no heel at all also difficult. Choose well-fitting shoes that stay on.

Top Tips for Clothing for Elderly Men

1Velcro is Great
Our gents like to wear stylish shirts, but fiddly buttons can be problematic. You can now get shirts that look to be buttoned, but are actually Velcro which makes them easy to put on and take off.
2Elasticated Trousers
Fiddly belts and buttons are difficult and can pose challenges, especially when toileting. It may be better to choose elasticated waistbands for trousers and underpants.
Men too often prefer to switch from jumpers to cardigans for nursing home living. They are easier to put on and take off as required.
4Choosing Shoes
Choose shoes which are well-fitting with non-slip soles. Many men’s slippers are somewhat smooth on the underside which can be tricky. Look for ones with a gentle soft grip.

Where to Shop

If this all sounds like a tricky set of criteria, that’s understandable. The good news is that there are many retailers catering for clothing for the elderly and care home individuals. You may like to start your shopping expedition at one of a number of specialist online retailers such as: Clouds Clothing; Rival Clothing; and, the Classic Clothing Shop  

5 Must-Have Care Home Clothing Items

If you’re ready to get shopping and get packing, then don’t forget these 5 must-have care home clothing items: 

  • 1. Dignified nightwear: Nightwear should balance comfort and dignity. Choose pyjamas or nightgowns with easy-to-fasten closures and soft, breathable fabrics to ensure a good night's sleep.
  • 2. Non-Slip Slippers: Non-slip slippers provide safety and comfort within care home environments. They reduce the risk of falls and can be worn indoors, offering traction on a variety of surfaces.
  • 3. Plenty of underwear: Pack more underwear than you think your loved one will need. The wash cycle means that this way your loved one will always have clean items. This is particularly important if your loved one experiences continence issues.
  • 4. Outdoor coat: Many forget to pack an outdoor coat. However, if your family member will attend hospital appointments, or go on outings, they will need a comfortable coat.
  • 5. Front opening items: From shirts and cardigans to bras and nightdresses, front opening clothing makes it much easier to help your loved one with their dressing.

If you’re at all in doubt about the clothes for elderly in nursing homes need,  then please give us a call on 01769 573166.