A business casual paper doll outfit, a comfy paper doll outfit, and a woman wearing comfy casual clothes with a hand on her stomach

Getting Dressed with IBS

Last updated: January 2023

We all know the physical discomfort we face during an IBS flare-up, but one of the worst feelings for me is when it happens while traveling for work, and I suddenly don't fit in my pants anymore.

Work travel clothing

I get to fly a lot and work in different countries, which does not help my gut, even though I try my best to maintain some habits. Being in different time zones, food I'm not used to, and very stressful work situations sharpen my symptoms.

The environments I visit for work are usually very formal and require a specific appearance.

I always carry my regular office clothing, as the minimalist that I am (or try to be!), and the fact that I've been in the same weight span for the past 10 years, I don't buy new clothing unless I'm forced to.

My issue is that I don't fit in my trousers during an IBS attack, or I feel like I'm exploding in them. The pain is real, it extends up to my abdomen, and I feel like I'm suffocating.

It is such an unpleasant feeling. In my job, when I meet business partners and clients, I have to be focused and attentive, and IBS gets in the way of my productivity.

And if the discomfort is not enough, I look and feel SO bloated in my face, my chest, my arms, my legs. I have this image in my head where I'm like one of those salamis I've always seen hanging from my grandma's cellar. At least I laugh about it!

Getting dressed with IBS

When I'm sitting in the office, it's the worst feeling. I feel cut in half, my gut grumbles, and I sweat like I'm feeling sick soon.

Getting dressed with IBS has become such a nightmare. At the beginning of my journey with this condition, when I did not know what I had and how to fix it, I ended up in baggy and unflattering clothes.

I am petite, and I looked ridiculous. My parents didn't recognize me. In Italy, we are unconsciously always "stylish," and I wasn't myself anymore.

IBS just changed me. I did not feel comfortable and confident leaving the house anymore, and I did not fit in my clothes as I had for 10 years. I then decided to renew a whole section of my wardrobe: more oversized shirts and trousers with elastic waists.

But this just bothered me. I always paid attention to maintaining a healthy weight and life and wanted to feel good in my skin until IBS appeared and changed everything.

Now I learned to embrace this new part of my life as I try my best to avoid new flares, I found clothing that might not make me look my best, but at least they are good looking comfortable.

It has been – and still is – a journey of getting to know my body, rhythm, and needs, but I'm open to it now. Instead of complaining and getting angry at myself (making the situation worse), I breathe through it to remind myself that I'm doing a great job and I won't let IBS define me.

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