Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Fashionable Compression Stockings 2016 Update: Options and New Tips.

[Image: I stand in my chicken run wearing a short black dress, red cardigan and fabulous hot pink tie-dye compression stockings from the Juzo Soft range. Freyja, my Great Dane, peaks through the fence longingly while she holds her Rhode Island Red chook, Jolene. It's a beautiful sunny day.]

This is not a sponsored post  just my personal research after hours spent procrastinating looking for pretty compression stockings.

My Instagram is full of fashionable compression stockings and ways I style them.

In this post I'll only be discussing compression stockings (full pantyhose and thigh high). Compression stockings, in particular waist high 30mmHg+ are the most commonly recommended lower limb compression garment recommended for Dysautonomia patients. Some patients do find below knee compression socks provide them with therapeutic compression. However, for many patients such as myself there is a need for higher length graduated compression, especially if venous return is particularly poor (I end up with a painful compressed calf and large all round verandah of fluid-filled flesh hanging over the top like a bizarre pasty leg-shaped mushroom. Bringing sexy back, yeah!) Additionally, medical grade compression socks come in a plethora of awesome patterns and colours (check out brands such as Rejuvahealth, or even just search on Amazon or Zulily for options, or a quality sportswear company such as 2XU) so fashion options are more readily available. For those of us needing thigh high or full-length pantyhose fashion can be far harder to come by.



As I've written previously I tend to wear thigh high compression as I can no longer stand stomach compression. The fashionable options available in thigh high and waist high medical grade compression have remained limited compared to compression socks and even arm sleeves and gauntlets (check out Juzo and LympheDiva). Although there have been in improvements over the years.

When I first began looking at compression stockings back in 2007/2008 I was confronted with a catalogue at my local pharmacy which gave me the options of beige/nude, white, navy blue and black. As I was to find 'Opaque' and 'Sheer' were terms thrown on the page with wild abandon and didn't match my experience with regular fashion hosiery. Equally 'fashionable' was used to represent that the band on a pair of thigh highs had some dodgy scratchy 'lace' rather than plain black. Thankfully times have changed and fashion and compression stockings can actually coexist and thrive.

Brands such as Rejuvahealth, Juzo, Jobst, Sigvaris, Mediven, Therafirm and Bauerfeind (VenoTrain) offer a range of fashion colours and in some cases patterns, both coloured and sheer. Colours and patterns vary by season and it is worth signing up to brand newsletters, or social media accounts from some of the major compression stocking distributors such as BrightLife Direct and CompressionStockings.com to make sure you don't miss out.

Brands such as Juzo offer their colours in both an opaque and sheer option. It's important to note that Juzo colours can differ between country eg German and US colours are different and it can be worth checking out the different options to find a shade that suits your fashion needs. Therafirm even offers a Preggers line with a variety of colour options specifically for pregnancy.

Two options I hadn't come across until this year are the Bauerfeind VenoTrain Stylist (German) and the Tramps Hoisery.

Bauerfeind offer a customised option in VenoTrain Stylist, though I am yet to work out how to access that from Australia (still waiting on a reply to my email). The picture below gives you an idea of the options available, and a picture of what the end product will look like. I love the idea that we can customise compressionwear beyond height or colour. Given that for many of us compression stockings are an everyday item and will be for the foreseeable future, the idea of being able to personalise is very appealing. I'll keep you posted.


There are other brands offering fashionable compression eg Tramps (picture below) offer a 25-30mmHg waist high in Bryanna Cheetah Jacquard with thong toe in Grey and Natural (which are a similar pattern to ones offered by Rejuvahealth a few years back), but you do have to search. 


Mediven also offer a Swarovski embellished version of their stockings in the Mediven Designs range, though they can be hard to source (the UK arm of the company offer 3 designs whilst the French arm offers 6) and I suggest contacting the company directly to see if they are sold in your particular country. Crystal embellished compression stockings have come up over the years but sourcing them has always been problematic, plus they are fairly pricey. But for a special event they'd be fantastic.

 (So cute, source)
 (UK designs)


That pesky thing called 'cost'.

Quality compressionwear is a significant financial investment. The more unique the item the more the cost. Items manufactured to specific individual measurements can be incredibly expensive. The financial burden of compressionwear continues to be a major factor for patients as not all insurance companies or government suppliers will pay for compression wear, or will only provide the most basic of styles. But there are a number of ways to cut costs.

Sign up and First purchase discounts: A number of sites will offer buyers a discount on their first purchase. These discounts can range from 15-20% which can be a considerable benefit on a tight budget.

Coupons: There are a wide range of coupon sites offering discounts for various compressionwear websites and specific brands. Simply Google coupons and the brand or company you prefer and see what comes up. Most coupons are time limited so if you find a good one get on it pronto!

Sales: Most websites will have a sale section These can provide you with considerable savings (50-70% in some cases). For example at the time of writing, Rejuvahealth have some lower strength, 15-20mmHg, patterned pantyhose down to $30US score! Get on that people. End of season colours often come up in the sales a month or two after the change over. You sometimes have to put in the hard yards and search but if you have a colour or style you like for the last season pop it in Google and see who has any left. It can be pot luck as to sizes, styles and lengths available but I've scored some bargains over the years. If you're after a pair of stockings to wear under jeans or long skirts the world's your oyster with well known sites like Zulily having reputable brands at bargain basement prices.

Shop around for postage: Postage is the nemesis of anyone living in the Southern Hemisphere. Current rates can be highly prohibitive even if the stockings themselves are a bargain. Sometimes it is worth contacting a company to see if they will take pity on us poor folk down under and be willing to wave their postage or at the least provide a discount.

Shop local: Related to the postage issue is the currency exchange rate. Our piddly little AU$ is doing it tough when ordering from OS. However, sometimes local distributors can provide a cheaper option. For example here in Australia The Appliance and Limb Centre can source Juzo Softs from both Germany and the US at a much cheaper rate than using OS suppliers at present. Always keep an eye on exchange rates. Given the uncertainty of world events such as the recent Brexit, exchange rates can change rapidly. 

You get what you pay for: There are many companies selling compression stockings for next to nothing. I saw some fabulous Beetlejuice-style black and white ones out of China for $10US be still my heart! But alas, when I contacted the company it became clear that we differed on the definition of 'compression'. With cheaper versions it is often hard to find out the exact compression rate and if the compression is graduated. Many companies wont respond or respond with automated emails with little to no detail.

Whilst compression stockings can be fashionable they are first and foremost a medical device and like any medical device you shouldn't scrimp on quality. If the compression is poorly designed it may not perform properly and can lead to problems in how fluids are returned. Remember we are buying these stockings to help with a medical problem. It is better to save up and buy one good quality pair of stockings from a reputable brand, than to have five cheap, but dodgy, pairs.

Sizing.

Brightlife Direct now have a size/brand calculator the Brightlife Direct Size Calculator which I tried out the other day. It's a great option if you are just starting out looking at compression stockings and are feeling overwhelmed at what to buy. You simply put in your measurements and style you're after and it pumps out a list of brands that may suit. To give you an idea of how it works I popped in my measurements and usual length and compression. As you can see below it suggested a number of products that may work for me. I would always recommend double checking a brands individual sizing to be sure, simply because it can be such an expensive outlay, but this is a great starting point.




For more on compression wear 
check out:


Compressions Stockings from Beige to Brilliant Guide. My basic guide to selecting and buying compressionwear. I wrote this way back in 2012 and it's still one of my most popular posts.


Below are a few reviews for different brands I have purchased over the years and a bit of a tongue in cheek post about how I style my compression stockings.

Rejuvahealth Review.

Allegro, Microfibre 20-30mmHg Black Thigh High Compression Stocking Review

LympheDiva Gauntlet Review.


Fashion blogging is not for the faint of heart

Michelle

Bringing sexy back. Sing it JT.

1 comment:

  1. Your style is incredible and inspiring to all of us who are chronically ill and fabulous! Thank you for the info and the encouragement to let our own personal style shine through!

    ReplyDelete

All who are lovely enough to comment should be showered with cup cakes, glitter and macarons. I promise to use my spoon bending mind powers to try and get that happening for all who are lovely enough to share their words. Those who go the extra step to share posts should really get a free unicorn. Or at least the gift of finding the shortest and quickest line at the supermarket on a regular basis. xx