Dressing Professionally with a Cast

dressing-professionally-with-a-castReader E has a question that should take us into an interesting discussion of how low the bar can go in terms of professional dressing if circumstances require it…

I broke my leg — in 11 places– over the weekend. I have been on bed rest for almost a week, and probably have another week of it. When I return to work, I will have a hard cast for 8-10 weeks. It goes from toe to knee, and is thicker than average because of all the metal inside from the severity of the fracture.

None of my pants will fit over the cast, and because it is so thick and heavy, it is really affecting my balance, so I have to be careful to not have anything that will hang in my crutches. I also have to sit at my desk with my leg elevated on a chair once I go to work. That eliminates many of my skirt suits, since the skirts are straight.

I am going to have to break some rules but want to know your thoughts on what is reasonable. I have a number of wrap style dresses, and figure I will wear them with a cardi. I have nude, gold and black patent ballet flats that are good quality and supportive, so those will be my shoe options.

I looked at Old Navy online and picked up some yoga pants and a knit a-line skirt. The pants are cropped and will stretch over the cast. As long as they don’t fade, can I wear them to work with a nice T and a drapey cardigan? What about the knit skirt? It is at the knee, and is soft enough to not worry about showing my business with my leg up, but not so soft that it is overly revealing. I am thinking it with the same– nice T and cardi.

Yeooouch. Feel better, Reader E! I just talked to a reporter about how yoga pants are not appropriate for the office, but there are some caveats to that — when I polled the Corporette Facebook page people thought they were fine if you’re in the final stages of pregnancy and can’t find anything else to fit. I think your question is kind of along those lines, but even more poignant because what, exactly, are you going to do? It isn’t a matter of cost — they simply don’t make many outfits intended for a half-leg cast.  (Pictured:  IMG_0866, originally uploaded to Flickr by soccerkrys.)

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Pants are problematic because of the cast, and skirts are problematic because of the “elevated leg.”  Honestly, my gut reaction would be to pick up 1-2 pairs of cheap pants (that you know will fit at the waist and hips) and cut one leg off at the knee to accommodate the cast.  Any tailor should be able to finish the hem for you for $10; if you have some time on bedrest you can do it yourself.   For the dresses, I would suggest wearing actual shorts underneath them — Umbros or other athletic shorts that will lay smoothly when you’re up and moving  around, but be acceptable if your leg is elevated and someone comes into your office without knocking first.  (I am now flashing back to my teenaged summers spent lifeguarding, when I lived in Umbros… good times.)  I would avoid cropped yoga pants at the office, but that’s me — it depends on your office culture, and whether your personal bank of credibility is great enough that you can deviate heavily from office culture.

For my $.02, though, I would suggest you wear blazers whenever possible instead of cardigans.  It shows that you still mean business, and it also keeps your outfits at a certain level.  For example, yoga capris and blazer = comical.  Wrap dress and blazer = great for the office.  While usually blazers from suits look best with their matching bottoms, here you may want to experiment — particularly if the jacket is a solid color it may be a great addition to the outfits.

Readers, what are your tips for dressing with a cast?  Particularly for those of you who’ve done it yourself, or worked with someone who had to wear a cast, chime in!!

Update: Do note that the readers have come up with much better suggestions than either a cut-off leg or yoga pants — check them out in the comments! My favorite suggestion: buy long pants and slit them up the calf. Perfect!

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  1. Valleygirl :

    ouch! feel better! I’d suggest the shorts under dress as mentioned and bringing a pashmina that can go over your lap like a blanket for days you wear a dress.

  2. oh my god PLEASE no don’t buy a pair of pants and hack off one leg! she’ll look so crazy walking around the office like that! makes me cringe just to think about it. i think a much better option is find a couple cheap pairs of pants (i actually love my work pants from target, and they’re only $20!) in a “loose” or “widelegged” style, buy a size or two up, to the point that the cast will fit comfortably, and then have a tailor take in the waist (even my expensive tailor only charges $35). then you have a pair of $55 pants that dont look crazy, and may even look fashionable, considering that wide-legged pants are in right now. easy peasy!
    also feel better soon!

    • just karen :

      This. Way better to have wide leg pants taken in at the waist than one leg cut off!

    • Second this! Tailors can do wonderful amazing things, and you may even be able to have them modified further post-cast to be suitable for everyday wear.

    • Anonymous :

      I agree! I just went on an interview with my cast & crutches! I found a pair of pants at Walmart with a wide leg. If I weren’t on crutches I don’t think she would have noticed! I also put a black sock over the foot of cast to match my shoe!

  3. I hope you are feeling better soon E! Just one quick suggestion to add to what Kat said. If you buy cheap pants, instead of cutting them off at the knee, so it looks like you have shorts on one leg, what about asking the tailor to open them up on the side (sort of like a slit)? This way it will wrap around the cast, and you still look professional and let people know you are trying.

    Take care!

    • The slit idea is a great one. The pants should already have an interior seam that will be easy to open up to the point where you can get the pants over the cast. If E does this with unlined pants, she can probably have them sewn back shut once she gets the cast taken off. Obviously you’ll need to do this with a wide-leg style, as anything that’s tighter in the thigh area probably won’t get over the cast. If you go with cheaper pants, you could see about putting in velcro or a zipper, depending on how high you need the slit to go.

      • Lover the zipper idea. It would make getting them on and off much easier, and may be worth the investment if this will be a problem for a couple of months. Plus, if they survive that time, just rip out the zipper and sew up the seam.

    • I think this suggestion for a slit is the best one yet. I’ve bought Target dress pants before and they do the trick in a pinch. Machine washable, even. They don’t last very long (the fabric starts to pill, particularly between your legs), but if you only need them for a few months and are cutting them up anyway, then they would be perfect.

    • I’ve seen several men do this, even in the courtroom, over casts. I think this is definitely a workable option.

    • Also, if you’re concerned about a wardrobe malfunction with slit pants, you could sew, hot glue, or stitchwitch some elastic to each side of the slit so the pants can’t fall open too far…it wouldn’t be that hard.

    • Mountain Girl :

      If the pants were super cheap you could buy 2 pairs that were identical. Have the tailor use the fabric from one to enlarge the leg on the other. I would think you could get buy with 2 pairs of pants. For me it would be charcoal and brown but ymmv.

  4. Heal quickly!

    I recommended Talbots poplin skirt a few weeks back (note it runs big – I ordered a 2P and am normally a 4 in J.Crew skirts. I am 5’4 with legs on the shorter side, and the 2P hits right at the knee) – it is full enough that it would give you flexibility, but still tailored enough to go with lots of work tops IMO. Here it is:


    • just a thought: have you seen the movie Working Girl? Despite the obvious 80’s fashion, Sigorney Weaver rocks long full skirts over her cast with jackets. It is probably a look that could demonstrate effort and comfort.

  5. I’d wear loose fitting skirts with tight yoga shorts underneath. That way when you put your leg up, it is clear that there is something underneath and it is ok for it to be seen.

    While I like Kat’s suggestion to wear a blazer, only wear it if the structured jacket allows you enough freedom of movement to use your crutches. I think at least in the beginning, you can get away with wearing almost anything. People will be glad to just see you there.

    After a couple days, I think it is good to make an effort to “fit in” with your style as much as possible, but again, you get some leeway. I think skirt w/ short leggings/yoga pants underneath are a great compromise. With all do respect to Kat, I think wearing half a pant would look silly. I wonder what a man would do, since he couldn’t wear a skirt/dress?

    He would probably get large enough pants to go over the cast and then get the waist tailored? I’m not saying you should do that, I’m wondering in all honesty what the heck a man would do in your situation? Gym shorts on bottom, suit on top lol? Hey if you are behind a desk, that might just work :)

    • Also, if you can tell us without outing yourself, how did you break your leg in 11 places!!!! Feel better!

  6. Been There :( :

    Unfortunately, this happened to me a few years ago. WIDE LEG CAPRIS were my friend!!! I picked up a pair in black, khaki and brown at The Limited and they were perfect!!! Since they were wide and only went a little below the knee, they fit over my case, were professional looking and I could elevate my leg wherever I went without worrying about giving anyone a ‘sneak peek.’

    Feel better soon!

  7. I was in your position last year, and even worse it was the winter, so I had the elements to deal with.

    I had one pair of wide legged trousers that were entirely to big for me that I had thankfully not had tailored yet that I managed to squeeze my cast through. Do you have any friends that are bigger than you or might have really wide legged pants you could borrow??

    I wore skirt suits mostly and elevated both of legs under my desk so the skirt opening width wasn’t an issue…I also found this more comfortable. I also found tights had no problem stretching around the cast and didn’t even snag until about 2-3 weeks of wear with Hue tights. At $10 each it was a worthy substitute.

    For casual wear my only option besides sweatpants and yoga pants were my boyfriends pants…depressing.

    Another tip for the crutches – DO NOT let them rest in your armpits, lock your arms instead. You will be sore for the first few days, but not nearly as sore and raw as your pits will be if you don’t lock your arms. Its annoying at first, but really worth it not to have bruises and sores.

    • Oh I also got a black cast everytime…somehow it felt more professional.

    • Get forearm crutches, if you can. It’s mystifying why people with temporary injuries in the US are still being fitted for axillary (underarm) crutches – they’re inefficient, amazingly uncomfortable, and have the potential to do real damage to the nerves under the arm.

      Speedy healing!

    • You may also want to check on renting a knee caddy. I had two surgeries on my ankle in high school and had to use crutches so I know how painful they can be. But when my dad broke his ankle a couple years ago he got one of these. It made life a lot easier because he was able to get around. My parents already had some trips planned so they brought it with them and he was still able to sight see without the pain of crutches.
      If you are wondering what a knee caddy is check out this website. http://www.kneecaddy.com/

  8. I work in a hospital law office (read: conservative). One of my colleagues just went through this and made it by wearing anything w/ an A-line skirt w/ shorts or bike shorts underneath and flats. You can do wrap dresses or shirt dresses .. anything w/ an A-line skirt. just put some gym shorts or bike shorts underneath. With summer right around the corner there are lots of skirt options in stores — and at least you can keep wearing them after the cast comes off (as opposed to the yoga pants or hemmed slacks).

  9. Could you wear the yoga pants underneath a wrap dress with a nice flat shoe? Or yoga pants with a nice tunic and a flat shoe? The pants/dress look is more casual, but I can’t imagine shimmying into a pencil skirt or hacking off a leg of a pant and wearing it to work! If the top or dress is nice enough, then you won’t notice the pants as much. Here’s an article that talks about this particular look: http://youlookfab.com/2008/05/07/wearing-tunics-and-dresses-over-pants/

  10. I actually just helped out a friend who had a big arm cast. Sewed a little “arm-suit” out of some grey flannel and a couple snaps so the ugly cast part could be covered and not-stand out. Pretty simple if you know someone with a sewing machine, for a leg, even easier as basically you just have to hem a straight piece and hand sew a couple snaps. Hell if you took Kat’s crazy half-pants idea, bet you could even have the tailor hem the cut-off part and add a couple snaps to that so it would be pants down to snapped removable pants-like cast cover. Little more work, but if you’re going to be in a cast for a while, might be worth trying.

  11. I do think you have a lot of leeway but I second (third?) the wide leg pants. A coworker of mine bought a bunch of cheap pairs at Old Navy, Filene’s basement, etc. and then slit the cast leg up the inside to her knee so she could get them on and off more easily. You didn’t really notice the slit because it was on the inside and she just wore a ballet flat on the other foot.

    SOOOO sorry to hear about your leg. I was on crutches for a week at work for an ankle injury (which only required an air cast so no clothing issues) and it was a huge pain. Hang in there!!! And get a really big water bottle for your desk so you don’t have to get up too often.

  12. I am reader E. I was teaching my kindergartener to do a backflip in a bouncy house at a birthday party. Not my best moment….
    I am a lobbyist, so I work at the state Capitol, in meetings most times, so I don’t have the luxury of a desk to camp at. I am hoping that having been here for 11 years will give me enough credibility to of set my bad news wardrobe,

    • AnonInfinity :

      Awww man! I never would have thought a bouncy house could have inflicted so many factures. I hope that your leg heals quickly!

    • OMG…possibly the best way to break your leg EVER!

      (Just FYI. ) :-)

      Feel better.

    • Oh, OUCH!

      I think that even if you’ve only been there for one month, having a giant cast on your leg gives you credibility to offset a bad wardrobe. Yoga pants are totally fine in this situation. You’re a trooper for even going to work – many people would just take disability leave in your situation.

      Get well soon!

    • Seriously, this is awesome.

      I can’t imagine your kid is going to attempt a backflip anytime soon though.

    • Wow! Best wishes for healing quickly.

      If you wear a skirt with shorts underneath, just make sure the shorts are long enough that it is CLEAR you are wearing shorts and not a pair of boy-cut underpants ….

      A male colleague of mine was in a similar situation (although from skiing, not bouncy-house gymnastics), and he wore a tennis shoe on the good fit and baggy khakis until he was healed. I work at a pretty stuffy suits-only law firm, and no one batted an eye – everyone understood that comfort and mobility was paramount.

    • Amazing. Thanks for sharing – and I will certainly think twice before doing spontaneous gymnastics again….

    • Wow – hope you feel better soon!

    • AWESOME. So sorry you were hurt, but the fact you coulda done a backflip in a bouncy house is AWESOME. And here I was worried I was the only mom who snuck into the bouncies at parties.

    • Ouch! Best wishes for a speedy and pain free recovery!

      Talbots has a lot of wide-legged pants. I also think a long skirt would work. Knit seems appealing but may catch on the rough side of the cast as you walk and it sways back and forth. A poplin or light-weight gaberdine material might be better.

    • Good Gracious! :

      As much as that must be horrible that is the best injury story I have ever heard!!!

    • I’m so sorry you’re hurt. I just wanted to add a note of damn straight, you’re still a professional, even if you’re temporarily not able to dress the way you wish. Plenty of folks with temporary or permanent disabilities are succesful professionals and you are entitled to the same respect you always get for doing your job well.

  13. I think the cardigan will work better than a blazer on crutches. It will allow more freedeom of movement and also will breathe better. I remember getting all sweaty just from making the trip from the elevator to my desk.

    A nice-looking backpack can be a huge help, too. It’s amazing how much “stuff” you may need to get from one room to another. I ended up using one even around the house.

    • I like the idea of a backpack, but they so often look juvenile and out of place when suits are the norm (I see it sometimes at work and cringe). I would look for a high-end diaper bag, actually. Lots of pockets, large enough to hold papers, bottle of water, snacks, etc.

      Hope that Reader E heals quickly! I would be loopy on pain meds in your place!

      • Anne Shirley :

        I think the point of the backpack is that it is centered on your back, not hanging on a shoulder. Which is hard with crutches.

        • When I was on crutches last winter I found that a messenger style bag was the most practical for me. Carrying something on one shoulder is basically impossible on crutches – it falls off and rests on your wrist. But the messenger bag doesn’t do that. The other bonus of a messenger style bag as opposed to a backpack is that you can twist it around to your front to access the contents without taking it all the way off. That way I could still get to my wallet/keys/work badge. And there are plenty of professional/adult options available.

          • Anonymous :

            I just got a Hobo International Becker backpack off ebay. You can wear it as a sling or as a backpack. I got the nylon version in black, as my purpose was a lightweight version for travel, but it comes in leather and is very attractive.

            My young law partner seriously broke his ankle last November. He wore shorts when he came to the office, but we are very casual and everyone just appreciated his being there. Unfortunately, he got infected, had to have the hardware taken out and now has a HUGE birdcage device externally on it. No way he can wear pants now.

            FYI, they do make athletic type track warmup pants that zip up all the way ot the waist on the outside seam. While not an office approprite look, if it is really cold, they would do for non-office living, lounging around the house, etc.

            Good luck, hope you heal quickly.

          • I second the messenger bag. I am currently also on crutches with a broken leg. The messenger bag stays put, hold a lot and is still cute and fashionable. Many of the guys in my office carry them, so if itis professional enough for the male attorneys for everyday, it is definitely professional enough for me while I am gimpy.

  14. I spent many months in a full leg cast when I was much younger, so I FEEL your pain (I was 11 and the baby doll dress was in then…but somehow I don’t think that’s an option).

    The issue with all the wide-leg trouser suggestions, is that the top is still likely to be too small to pull up over your cast (unless it buttons up the sides or is REALLY big). You could just buy REALLY big pants and belt them, and then wear something long over them.

    You might also try a long work skirt like this one: http://www.losve.com/store/grey-long-work-skirt.html

    Probably not your normal sense of fashion, but it would be work appropriate and provide enough fabric that when you put your leg up, you wouldn’t be flashing the whole office. Also like the dress with short leggings underneath idea!

    Good luck. Get better soon!

  15. I don’t think Kat really thought through the hacking off one leg of a pair of pants – I know how thick casts are, and I just don’t see how you’re going to be able to slide it through the leg opening of any pants, hacked off or not (i.e. the thigh will be to narrow for you to get your leg through to the bottom).

    I’d go for a maxi skirt! You can get a plain black one that you can get a lot of wear out of now, and keep wearing after the cast is gone. This covers the cast (mostly), and gives you lots of fabric to use for arranging and covering when you’ve got your leg elevated – less risk of flashing someone. Or even a nice summer maxi dress with a blazer…

    • I was thinking of this, too – ankle length skirts and dresses in nicer fabrics.

      • Jade Moon :

        I agree as well. Even if long or maxi skirts are not your style, everyone in your office will know you have an extremely bust-up leg. All style faux pas will be understood and forgiven. If your are a courtroom attorney, please notify the clerks: the judge will be so sympathetic.

        One note of caution. No matter how messed up you are, a few of your colleagues will be unsympathetic. Two years ago I got breast cancer — it’s all good, I’m fine now. And then this year I got nearly died from septicemia from an untreated diverticulitis. Was hospitalized for several weeks and then came back to work. Then, when I was over the infection, the docs decided it would be best to remove a few feet of my colon to help prevent recurrence of the diverticulitis. This took a long time to recover from and I’m still having some pretty terrible and painful problems in the morning. Problems beyond my control. . . . I am mostly completely exhausted and have been coming in to the office late, altho stay late to compensate.. I’ve missed no court hearings, and doing well there.

        HOWEVER, my long digression has a point. Even tho I’ve had some bad legitimate medical issues and an unfortunate year, a few of my co-workers are not . . . kind. They are hinting I’m a slacker, or that I’m coming in late some mornings just cuz I’m lazy. I have leave time to cover all this, but I’m so disheartened by the “okay, I was once sympathetic, but now I think you are a lazy person” attitude.
        For modesty reasons I can’t explain why I sometimes come in late — related to meds I take and morning issues that occur without notice. TMI already, but it’s really a serious problem.

        So, please stiffen up your heart against possible mean people, even though you’ve broken your leg in 11 places. Some people think you are seeking sympathy, no matter how cool, how strong, how brave your front.

        Good luck to you, and I hope your co-workers are kinder than mine.

        • Your unsympathetic co-workers are inviting some seriously bad payback karma. All of us are just a distraction away from being hit by a bus and needing the help and sympathy of our friends and colleagues. Take pride in your ability to get through 2 pretty serious medical events and still be a successful professional. I hope that there are more people around you who are understanding rather than clueless.

        • Oh Jade, I hope you feel better soon!

        • Jade – if only we could all have your grace through the tough times. Great advice, and lots of good thoughts to get you through your troubles.

    • Yup, long flowy skirt is the first thing I thought of. If you can’t find them in regular stores, try dance skirts – search online for “dancewear” or “dance skirt”; Capezio and Bloch make a lot of dance attire.


      Most won’t work, but you might find something that won’t look ridiculous with a blazer/cardigan, and they’re all long and full enough to not have to worry about wardrobe malfunctions.

  16. I would definitely be looking into a few pairs of cheap pants with a slit seam (great idea!) and shirt dresses with bike shorts underneath. Yoga pants with a drapey cardigan is going to look too much like workout wear, or like pajamas, in my opinion. The knit skirt could be okay, but it will be easier to get away with the drapey cardigan with something slightly nicer on the bottom. Old Navy’s site is down right now for some reason, but the Gap has some reasonable looking wide leg pants on its site right now for $50, which means Old Navy probably has a version for $30.

    When I was in an air cast many years ago (not as bad, but still difficult to dress comfortably) I lived in a long black skirt. Think about something like this as another option:


    Mostly, I hope you heal up right quick. :)

    • 2 Thoughts:
      1. One of my dogs is black, except the roots of her fur are white (don’t ask me how). Inevitably, no matter what I wear, I look covered in dog hair.

      2. My other dog is white with long hair that sticks to everything. He’s a little spoiled and gets to sit in the passenger seat wherever we go. I had a trial out of town with a senior partner who sat in my passenger seat to ride from the hotel to the courthouse. He got out of the car and the back of suit was covered in dog hair. He was upset (though a good sport all told) and I was mortified.

  17. At first glance, I misread the title as “dressing professionally with a cat” and was looking forward to tips on removing cat hair from my black suits. Ha.

    • i keep a lint roller by the front door of my house and another one in my desk drawer at work. and yet… the cat hair always seems to win!

      • AnonInfinity :

        Ugh. Same here (except with dog hair).

        • kind of curious about this product:

          my thought was that if i could start to combat the fur on my couch/bed/etc maybe the state of my clothes would improve too – it’s so awful to sit down in a black dress then realize your entire back is now covered in a light dusting of fuzz.

          • We have a really sheddy dog, and have taken a lot of steps to try to avoid this problem (leather couches and car interior, for example, means that you can brush it off before you sit- before then, we absolutely had to lay out a towel if we wanted to sit on the couch in nice clothing ). But it’s never enough- it’s pretty much in the air (plus I swear that black pants make the dog decide its a great time to nuzzle your legs!) My only real solution is to change right before I leave and as soon as I get home.

          • AnonInfinity :

            One of my best friends uses this and loves it. It is not very heavy duty, though, so it make take more than one the first time you do it (apparently).

          • I’ve used a sticky roller to get cat hair out of my small rug. It takes an entire roller to get through all the hair, and my fingernails were shredded from peeling off the sheets. Otherwise, it worked great.

          • Jade Moon :

            Lyssa, here in Hawaii “sheddy” is the way local people say “sh**ty. I had to laugh, cuz actually the word works both ways in your tale.

      • Anonymous :

        Cat hair always wins.

        But I actually wondered if the cat gets annoyed with long hair shedding all over the place too. (Mind wanders when I should really be reading!)

        • Anonymous :

          Oh, bleh. Meant to type “my own long, human hair shedding all over the place… “

          • i think my cats like it because it allows them to form ever larger cat hair clumps to hide under the bed!

    • This made me laugh out loud… in class, unfortunately

    • Ha! Fabulous. I, with an affinity for everything black, somehow ended up with a 95% white cat.

    • Ah, this is why I have black cats! Of course, now I always fantasize about dyeing them beige to match the carpet…

      • I have a black and white spotted Great Dane. My solution is pants with a herringbone pattern in warm neutrals and a wool coat in a warm neutral almost plaidish, but not revolting pattern.

        I wish you the best on this never ending battle that you won’t likely win.

        • Jade Moon :

          We adopted an abused great dane. Once he grew comfortable with us, he began sitting on my lap. He just didn’t get that he was twice my size. My lap belongs to him. He also sleeps on our bed. We have a California King, but he likes to rest his head on our stomachs, and altho the bed is huge, he takes up so much space, I feel I’m sleeping on a prison cot. (We indulge him because he was so abused.) I love him beyond measure.

      • Defeatedly, our only criteria for choosing our rugs and slipcovers was: does it match the cat?

        • I have two cats; different colors. I can’t win. I usually try to match to the longhaired one.

          • Anonymous :

            Ah, before I tore out the carpet, does the carpet match the cat puke?

    • My cat is black and white; it shows on everything. Awful. A regular lint roller just doesn’t hack it.

    • We have black and white cats so I wear one of my pairs of heather gray dress pants when I need to look especially polished. The stray cat hair blends right in!

    • Black dog, orange and white cat. I can’t win no matter what I wear.

      • Anonymous :

        Rubber gloves (like dishwashing gloves) work wonders for picking up pet hair. Just rub yours hands along the fabric, and the gloves will pick up the hair. They work for small areas (clothes) and large areas (back seat of a car). I also like that they are re-usable.

    • This thread is making me glad I’m horribly allergic to all furry friends.

  18. Ouch – best wishes for your recovery.

    I second the slit suggestion. I saw a co-worker do this successfully. She bought 2-3 pairs of wider-legged, unlined, black and dark gray pants, had a tailor cut a slit straight up the seam to the knee on the casted leg side, and wore the same few pairs of pants with various jackets and cardigans. She did wear jackets, but she only put those on after sitting down – i.e. she did not like wearing them when using her crutches because they did not afford ease of movement. She also wore wrap dresses and, I assume, some sort of short underneath, but since she elevated her leg behind her desk, flashing someone was not an issue.

    She also worked from home a lot even after her bed rest period, mainly to give her leg as much rest as possible, but also because her commute was super stressful on crutches.

  19. Two tips from someone going through the same (12 weeks with a cast so far): (1) Instead of using crutches, buy or rent a knee scooter (Costco or www.rentakneewalker.com); and (2) Jones New York makes a knit pant that will fit over your cast but is more work-appropriate than yoga pants or leggings. Good luck!!

    • A lawyer in my town had a knee scooter, and he loved it. I’m in criminal, so we go to court almost every day. It was so much easier to scoot around (out of his office, down the street, into the courthouse, and back) than on crutches.

      And I’d second the backpack suggestion. When you’re on crutches, your hands aren’t free to carry anything.

    • Depending on the fracture pattern, she may not be able too (if the fracture is near the knee or through the knee, not an option). But a great idea, and totally more mobile.

      I would just like to add that as long as you are dressed, you should be cut slack. A lot. You probably are in a certain amount of pain, everything is a flail (showering, getting the bathroom, sleeping at night, etc). If theres a day you wear yoga pants, I would hope that people would pretend you didn’t. I think there’s a small place in hell for people who look down on you for that.

    • I was actually wondering if a wheelchair might be easier than navigating the Capitol/Congress buildings on crutches (she said she’s a lobbyist), especially if the cast is up over her knee. Those buildings have miles of hallways. Plus, then she won’t have to readjust every time she gets into a conference room; her leg will already be elevated and she can just wheel up to the table or desk.

  20. Do you have access to a creative tailor? I’m wondering if it’s possible to buy a pair of men’s dress trousers, and then have both sides of the hip area altered so that the waist fits, but with covered buttons closing the pants at each side – then it looks like a design decision, but helps you get in/out of the pants without wearing something horribly ill-fitting. That could get you through important meetings.

  21. I don’t have any personal experience with this issue, but if I were in your shoes (so to speak), I would go with a cardigan for everyday outfits. Obviously certain settings require more formal attire.

    The image of someone struggling on a pair of crutches while wearing a blazer that restricts arm movement and bunches up at the shoulders strikes me as comical. If I were your employer, I’d like to see that you have the sense to wear something attractive that still allows you to move as gracefully as possible.

  22. My first thought on seeing someone in your situation would be–“Oh, no! What happened?” It would not occur to me to be critical of the clothing of someone in your situation. If the weather was warm enough, I’d probably do the a-line skirt with bike shorts or capri leggings short enough that they didn’t show when standing. The wide leg pant option is a good one too.

  23. I am in the same position – broke my ankle in several places, had surgery, then a hard cast and now a bulky walking boot. I work in a law firm and am a senior associate. Prior to the broken ankle, I enjoyed fashion and dressing professionally. I miss wearing heals.

    That said, since the injury I have been wearing black yoga pants to work every day. I bought a few pairs in a size bigger than I typically wear. I wear them with a sweater or shirt and cardigan. Only once have I worn a jacket, which was only because I was speaking in front of a group. If I was going to court, I would wear a skirt suit, but it is not practical in the office when I have my foot up. Also, if I am wearing a skirt, I would need tights/stockings, which would be an issue with the broken ankle.

    Good luck, keep your spirits up, and thanks for asking the question.

  24. I was in this position a few years ago. I think I survived with a lot of wide-leg pants. I think lined pants might be difficult with a cast and the cast would likely shred the lining. Old Navy is your friend for inexpensive plain pants that can work at work. Gap has great unlined black pants right now and they have a wide leg style if I recall correctly. I doubt you’ll even have to roll much if your pants are flared enough. If you do, oh well, its a cast, not a fashion choice. I doubt anyone will be offended. I don’t think you would need bigger pants either, so instead of cutting, maybe buy those little snap hem thingies to keep them up and then add the pants into your non-suit/casual wardrobe once the cast comes off.

    I would not recommend any cute ways of trying to hide your cast. It’s a cast. I am sure the people you come into contact with have seen one before and won’t be offended or confused by it. I also would not recommend cutting your pants. That will just look weird.

    Also, get some cast socks and a bootie from your doc. Even in a cast, nobody wants to see your toes at work (at least I don’t!).

    Good luck! And do be careful with the crutches. Mine were so hard to work and my armpits hurt all the time. You will be so grateful for the motorized carts at Target/grocery stores.

  25. I know the whole point of the inquiry was how to dress professionally when wearing a cast, but honestly I don’t think a lot of people will be judging how you are dressed while your leg is broken in 11 places! I would say stick to dark/neutral colors in comfrotable fabrics and don’t worry about it any more than that.

    I guarantee you that people will beimpressed if you just show up! I mean, did anyone care about the fact that Sonia Sotomayor didn’t wear panty hose on one leg and exposed her toes when she had a sprained ankle during the confirmation meetings?!? And, that was just an ankle!

    Seriously, we need to be a little bit less hard on ourselves, and on each other. Your leg is broken. People will deal with your sartorial choices, whatever they are. Get better :)

    • Good advice re: Sotomayor. Wear whatever you can – people won’t judge you.

  26. I’m so sorry this happened to you, and I commend your efforts to look professional in a monster cast, but I have to honestly say, I wouldn’t be too concerned. I view this the same way I view later-stage pregnancy; anyone who dares to say something regarding your outfit would get some SERIOUS side-eye from me. I don’t even think I would dignify them by saying anything–I would just stare. Judging your outfits in a time like this is beyond inappropriate, and those that do judge you aren’t worth your time.

  27. What about trying someplace like Chico’s? Their clothes aren’t my style, but my mom likes their stuff and I know they have a “travel line” made of stretchy material and usually have a wide-leg pant as part of that collection. It’s not ideal, but probably not the worst option either.

    Something like this: http://www.chicos.com/store/browse/product.jsp?maxRec=40&pageId=3&productId=prod6169278&viewAll=&prd=Travelers+Fluid+Pant&subCatId=&color=&fromSearch=&inSeam=&posId=8&catId=cat40010&cat=Travelers&onSale=&colorFamily=&maxPg=3&size=

  28. AnonInDenver :

    I feel your pain! I was in a full leg brace and crutches for 10 weeks. I did mostly wrap dresses with boyshorts underneath and that worked pretty well. However, you will definitely get bored with your clothes while you’re recovering. I also bought an inflatable hunting cot from Cabelas and stowed that in my office. When I needed to get my leg elevated and rest a bit I just inflated the cot and closed my office door.

    • That’s awesome. I think I need an inflatable hunting cot for my office now.

  29. *Formerly* Preggo Angie :

    Can we please observe a moment of silence for my go-to black heels, which were the perfect height, comfortable, and went through more than one re-heeling procedure and saw me through two pregnancies. Alas, looking at them in the almost-Spring sun, I realized it was time for them to go. Suggestions for replacements would be appreciated, but because of an extremely narrow foot and heel, can only entertain heels with straps or slingbacks. Thank you for your thoughts.

    • Go To Black Heels :

      These Varda shoes are both the highest and the most comfortable pair of pumps I have ever owned (style A350):


      My first pair lasted five years, and I am two years into my second pair.

      FWIW I also have extremely narrow feet and heels. These did the trick.

    • Ill take the moment of silence for the poor OP’s whose leg is broken in 11 places…

  30. Charmed Girl :

    Just want to say hope you heal quickly!

    I went through this several years back and I actually found skirts to work for me. I was fortunate in that I could set up my elevated leg in way that wasn’t openly obvious to those that walked by and could turn myself around and be presentable for them.

    Good luck!

  31. Carol Bradford :

    I’ve just come off of 2 months in a hard cast. Got through it by wearing lots of skirt suits with hose — cut off one leg of a pair. I wore straight skirts — so long as they’re not minis, They’ll work fine with keeping your leg elevated. And, invest in some wider leg pants that will go over your cast in a neutral color, and wear them with your existing suit jackets — you’ll thank yourself. Finally, get yourself a nice, professional backpack you’ll need it!!! It’s really hard to get around on crutches, and wearing pants is a godsend. Good luck — and make sure you let your colleagueas and staff help you at every chance!

    • If you insist on wearing hose with your skirts through this look into stay-up stockings. that way you don’t have to take scissors to a perfectly innocent pair of hose.

      • Hose are not innocent – they twist and bind and shred if you so much as look at them cross-eyed. They deserve the occasional threat of dismemberment, in my opinion.

  32. I had a foot injury one recommendation – the most comfortable way I found to elevate my leg was to have an upside down garbage can under my desk and use a chair under the table at meetings.

  33. As someone who just broke my leg in Jan and had to go through the entire thing, I would say that the only thing that matters is your comfort level. If you like yoga pants, go for it – its ridiculous to suggest she purchases pants and then cuts a leg off! Come onnnnnn

    • And your work should be grateful that you are even there and not sitting at home on disability! Speedy recovery :)

  34. This happened to me in college. I had chemistry lab and we were required to wear pants to lab. The only pants I could find that fit over the cast were exercise pants that snapped up the side–like basketball warm ups. So ugly.

    As some other commenters pointed out you might not be able to fit your cast through the top of even wide-legged pants.

    I saw these online the other day. Attractive pants that snap all the way up.


    They are mens but maybe you could either buy the mens pants or get a taylor to do the same thing with some regular pants.

    • Anonymous :

      I am completely intrigued as to why a man would purchase tear-away chinos.
      But I think this is the perfect solution for Reader E if a tailor can make them, and exactly the solution I had envisioned after reading all the comments to this post.

  35. I know which Old Navy skirt you’re talking about– I have one, too! (though my workplace standards are much more casual) However, I once knew a girl who worked as a hostess at a high-end restaurant who had a similar skirt in a nice print from H&M (I know, restaurant hostess does not equal corporette, but she made it work). She wore the skirt with a belt, nice top, and fitted, casual blazer and it looked really good!

  36. I spent all last summer in double walking casts. I found a couple of pairs of wide-leg dress pants that fit well-enough over my casts. I greatly preferred this look to wearing skirts or dresses, which just seemed to emphasize the ridiculessness of double casts. Also, it is reallly hard to be graceful while in a cast.

  37. AAAAHHHH!! Me too! I can’t believe how timely this is. I broke my leg three weeks ago playing soccer. Thank goodness I ended up in a brace rather than with a cast, but it still is creating a challenge. You should be commended for continuing to work. I work in a fairly conservative in-house environment and am surviving in dresses and cardigans. My feeling is I am showing up to work on crutches, they can forgive the slightly inappropriate wardrobe choice.

    As long as you look pulled together, you are probably ahead of half your co-workers :)

  38. I have to side with not cutting up clothes at all- that seems overly wasteful to me. While yoga pants may be too casual, people should understand. If you are going to make effort to get something new, I like the idea of long or A-line skirts that you can use in the future. The wrap dresses sound perfect.

    Good luck.. what a huge pain.

  39. Oh no! I would recommend dresses with shorts underneath (preferably form fitted biking shorts). I would also keep a pashmina to cover the legs.

  40. what about gap’s maternity wide-legged pants. i haven’t worn maternity pants but the ones for early pregnancy would allow you to get them past the cast because they are stretchy and look wide enough to accommodate the cast. they’d also be super comfy for sitting.

  41. With all due respect to many of these suggestions, as someone who has been through this (in a cast 8 months), you have to understand that you will be continually exhausted just getting out of bed, bathing yourself, doing makeup/hair, etc. If you don’t have a partner, as I didn’t, it is difficult to do something as simple as make yourself a plate of food when you are on crutches. I had to buy a plastic chair to put in my tub, and install a long shower-head thingy just to take a shower. Everything is going to be more physically challenging, take three times as long and the constant fatigue from dragging that thing around will be hard on your mood.

    Please make this easy on yourself. I would not have had the energy, especially in the early days, to buy a bunch of new clothes and take them to a tailor.

    I went with a friend to Target, and bought five pair of the Merona fold-over wide-leg black pants. Not really yoga pants, more like leisure pants. The wide leg fits easily over a cast, you don’t have to struggle with buttons, zippers, belts, etc., and you don’t have to wear pantyhose, slips or worry about people seeing up your skirt. (A long skirt would work, too.) Then I was able to wear a bunch of tops with them. With a nice top, cardigan, some jewelry, you will look just fine. For the weekends, t-shirts, hoodies, knit tops, etc. I had mine in winter so also bought several black turtlenecks I wore everywhere. I also bought a pair of fancier-fabric wide black fold-over pants (J. Jill maybe? Eileen Fisher?) and used those for more dressy occasions like a board meeting or going out.

    Try not to fret over this. We are much more aware of how we look than others are. Remember, most people couldn’t remember what you wore yesterday to save their lives. They can’t even remember what *they* wore. We all walk around pretty much thinking about ourselves! Be kind to yourself, stay comfortable, and I hope you heal fast! :-)

    • Thanks for your support, EMJ!
      I had no idea how tired I would be from the crutches, the schlepping, yada yada.
      I have a messenger bag with my firm logo I have started using. It works better for me than the backpack — I can get keys and such out of the end pocket without having to take it off, and it is small — just a few files and the IPad and my wallet, so I am not overburdening myself.
      None of my capris fit over, but i do have two pairs of bermuda shorts that are nice, black and a trouser denim. I am wearing them with a white button down and a jacket and belt. My top looks totally professional, bottom is practical. I am too tired to worry about what anyone thinks now that I am actually moving around!

  42. I had such a case after the ACL surgery (although it was when I was a student, I worked already for NGO, had meetings, etc.).
    I worked with ballet flats, no bags, but stylish rucksack (I know it’s terrible, but otherwise you’re going to fall from stairs. The other solution is to have someone to carry your bag). Dress as formal as possible on the upper part – always wear either shirt with buttons or conservative blazer – and even better both of them. My solution was to wear these terribly office inapropriate dressy shorts. I mean the ones which look like ordinary suit trousers, but are short (so end just above your cast). Joga pants in natural colour (black) would make a great job as well, I guess.
    Don’t try with skirts or dresses, when you sit with the leg on the chair they would be revealing your underwear and the ankle lenght skirts are both office inappropriate and terrible uncomfortable if you walk with injured leg.

  43. I feel your pain. I was 9 months pregnant, fell and broke my ankle in 3 places; I have a plate and lots of pins. It’s not a time I care to repeat. I had to elevate that leg or the swelling was excruciating. I tried one day at the office and after an hour or so I worked from home with my foot in the air a bit like the princess and the pea. I had some very understanding partners. A dress is my vote if you can move around, but you have some serious healing to do. Don’t rush it.

  44. As someone who also works in a state capitol building and has been dealing with a broken bone in my foot for the past few months, I would second the recommendation of a knee scooter. Mine has a basket, so I can carry paperwork around the building. (I tried carrying it with crutches, but if it was more than a few pages, it was hard to grip). Also, the crutches tended to slip occasionally on the marble floor.
    I don’t know that I ever really figured out how to dress fashionably with the cast on. I couldn’t drive with the cast on, and the unknown amount of the medical bills made me nervous to buy much new clothes.
    Now that I’m out of the cast, and going through physical therapy to walk again, my question is, what should I do about my wardrobe that has mainly been based on wearing heels? I’m required to wear suits most days of the week. The pantsuits are all too long without heels on, but I’m not eager to spend money on tailoring when I hope to be back to heels in a few months. My legs look sort of weird in skirt suits without heels on. Any suggestions?

  45. I have had 3 ACL replacements and a 4th knee procedure done in the past 5 years, so you know I’m speaking from experience here. At the time of the first one, gaucho pants were in style anyway. I bought a couple pairs at Ann Taylor and pretty much wore them every day for the first few weeks after each surgery. I was stuck in bulky ankle – to – upper thigh braces, and I was also on crutches. The gauchos look professional in the right fabrics, are wide legged enough to fit over anything, will preserve your modesty when you prop your leg up, and are generally extremely comfortable.

    I did some quick googling -they are available still online, and Target actually sells them for $12! http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/178-6755659-8758122?asin=B004QF7OC2&AFID=Froogle_df&LNM=|B004QF7OC2&CPNG=&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=B004QF7OC2&ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001

  46. Oh no, I’m so sorry. I quite literally feel your pain — I broke my leg last January and went through the whole cast and crutches debacle. Some advice:

    Get a temp handicapped parking permit, NOW. Your doctor will sign for it, you WILL need it. It was a lifesaver once I started driving but could not hop very far.

    I did not wear skirts or dresses with my cast/crutches. Is was too much of a PITA; too much risk of flashing, too many times I wiped out in my crutches and landed on my butt. Yoga pants or any kind of stretchy pants are the way to go. If you’re on the shorter side, capris are better. Anything that fits more like a flood pant is better. Wide-legged is NOT your friend, and neither are long skirts. You cannot risk landing your crutch on fabric, or some fabric catching on your crutch. You will wipe out.

    Shoes: wear a tennis shoe and forget about it. You need every bit of support and safety you can get. Again, you slip — you wipe out. Once I got an air cast, I needed extra-wide sneakers to be able to fit the cast into it. Easy Spirit’s sling-back sneakers were basically the only thing that fit since they had enough stretch to go around the air cast.

    A backpack was a lifesaver; I could not carry files around the office without it. At home, I spent my days on our main level in a rolling office chair since our mail level has hardwood floors. This didn’t work as well on the carpeted office floors, but was a handy trick here and there.

  47. Not to be too obvious about my 70s roots, but has anyone suggested coulottes? and I don’t mean the tacky ones we did actually wear in the 70s lol. But I remember my mom (a teacher) wanted to dress nice but still be able to sit on the floor with her kids and had several pair made of nice material – when she was standing it looked like she had a full skirt on. I don’t even know if anyone makes these anymore but they would be pretty simple for a seamstress to whip up if you know anyone with sewing skills.

  48. Molly Fanning :

    Due to so many comments someone may have mentioned availability of nice quality ponte knits, especially wide leg pants. Also, was just recently at a wedding with father of the bride in a cast. Tux pants sliced up the outside leg seam as needed with edges finished so not sloppy or frayed but also not flapping as he walked so must have been connected in a few places. Best wishes for an easy as possible recovery.

  49. just wanted to suggest padded bicycle gloves for using the crutches (they are not expensive, and, conveniently, come in black) — this is from my own experience with forearm crutches and trying to get across the street in time for the traffic lights, catching trains etc. All the best for an excellent recovery!

  50. I just broke my leg two weeks ago and have found that my walking shorts (to the knee) that look just like suit pants, with that same professional material, from The Limited and Target are a great option with my cardigans. Dressy cotton cardigans with dress tees have been easier to manuever with my crutches also. I also found a small messenger bag that crosses across body easy to use since I have access to it in the front. Good Luck and make up for your temporary casual dress when you get out of your cast by dressing ultra professional!

  51. When I broke my foot I had a similar set of imperatives. Most short solutions I tried tended to ride up with my leg elevated. Thongs were the only under-garment that worked for me. The only comment I got about my corporate dress was a request that I trim back my private hedge. I eventually tried laser hair removal and that made it all more convenient.

  52. Shater skirt

  53. I went to high school in Colorado. In three years there, four kids broke their legs skiing. The standard thing to do was slit your jeans at the side seam so they fit over the cast. This would work for dress slacks also. The pants can be sewn up when the cast is removed.

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