Is there a particular JA style for teenagers? Never! Teenagers reinvent their style every week, month and year. Influenced by rock stars, TV  stars, teenage movie stars, athletes and most important by their friends; fads and trends can and do change constantly. Part of being a teenager is finding the style that you see on others and adapting it to yourself.

styletipsmemeThat said, when you add another equation into the mix, like juvenile arthritis, it changes many things. Suddenly those shoes you saved for are no longer comfortable. Your hottest pair of tight jeans adds to your flare. And those short skirts or shorts you love reveal red swollen knees. Your soccer uniform hangs in your closet because your meds are making you so exhausted you can no longer participate in the game.

I understand. Being a fashion reporter on TV who was expected to wear the latest styles challenged me at every appearance. There was no way I could wear heels, so I made sneakers my trademark. Short skirts were out of the question when my ankles and knees were swollen, so I went for loose, men’s style trouser pants worn with the latest top.

Basically it’s all about realizing what is comfortable and wearable that doesn’t aggravate or expose more than you want to about your medical condition. I’m sure you can relate with wanting to be treated normal instead of like a sick person. So here are some tips to keep you  stylish and feeling better.

For Girls:

Shoes– They must be comfortable! Sneakers, flats, whatever you choose, make sure you buy it on a flared day. Shoes have to work when your feet are at their worst. Usually a softer type of shoe with a flexible, thicker sole works best. Buy a half size bigger; just don’t try to squeeze your feet into anything. It’s not worth the aggravation to your feet nor the pain.

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Jeans- Regardless how important tight jeans are, they are neither comfortable nor healthy for sore joints. Don’t aggravate an already tough situation, opt for slightly loser jeans with some stretch or soft fabric leggings. You can get almost the same look, especially if you buy denim leggings with stretch.

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Tops or Dresses- Two main issues to consider, how easy it is to get into and how comfortable it is to stay in on a bad day. You can’t buy for the good days, you need to buy for all kinds of days. Nothing adds to frustration more than your favorite top having ten tiny buttons that you can’t work on a flare day. Buy a top that has bigger buttons, zippers, snaps or a wide neckline that is easy to get on and off. As much as you might love the one that you can only wear on the good days, you will resent it when it hangs in your closet as you put on the ones that are comfortable.

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Skirts Have some maxi skirts in your wardrobe. They are wonderfully comfortable and stylish and hide any redness or swelling. The key is to wear them with tanks or slim tops.

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For Boys:

Shoes- Sneakers, sneakers and more sneakers are the hottest shoes for boys and also the most comfortable. You can wear them laced or unlaced; high tops can add support to ankles. The key here is to never go with sneakers that “just fit” because swollen feet take up more room, feet that have played all day need room, so go up half a size and try inserts, they can make even the best sneakers more comfortable on your feet.

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Pants- It’s easier to choose pants for boys because you can wear any fabric as long as it’s not too tight. Tight rubs against sore joints, restricts them when they swell, so think soft, flexible fabrics and looser pants. Make sure your belt is a little bigger so you can put it on a more comfortable notch when your body is aching. Wash new jeans, cords or any pants so they are soft instead of stiff for added ease.

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Shirts- and tops are all about getting in and out of. Try on clothes when you are flared, or not feeling your best. It’s aggravating but you will save a lot of time and money buying things that work all the time, not just on the good days. Take into consideration the amount and size of buttons and neck width for easy dressing.

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For Girls & Boys:

Bags- Backpacks, Messenger Bags, or Purses, the key is to keep them lightweight. Anything heavy only makes shoulders, backs and hands hurt more. First make the bag lightweight by choosing fabric over leather or heavy plastics and keep sizes smaller without heavy metal industrial trims or details.

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Then check what you put in the bag and take as much weight out as possible. iPads have become a lifesaver for JA because you can get all your schoolbooks and pleasure reading, plus assignments on one lightweight device. Hard cover books are twice as heavy as paperbacks. Use small, lightweight mesh bags to hold keys, pens, credit cards, money, etc. instead of heavy wallets and make up bags.

Clothing Fabrics- Natural fabrics breath: cotton, linen, flannel and silk. Fabrics with  a lot of synthetic in them do not. Look at the percentage of synthetic fabric in every garment. On warm days when your body is flaring you don’t need the aggravation of sweaty fabrics.

Accessories- Don’t focus on what you can’t wear. For any one thing you have to give up that you love in fashion, add an accessory. If you can’t wear tight jeans, wear a jean skirt or vest. You can’t carry the “it” oversized bag or backpack, wear a cool hat instead. You can’t wear the difficult to get in and out of tops, wear a stylish pair of sunglasses.

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Style is not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can. And if there is one thing we learn having this disease, it’s to not dwell on what we can’t do, but to focus on what we can do!