Yep, it’s true. There are all kinds of clothes that can harm your health! Here’s what to look out for
By Diane Small
Your skin is breaking out in a rash. Must be stress, you think. You always seem to have a toenail fungus. Probably something genetic. You’ve got a terrible pain in your shoulder. It must have been your hardcore workout this week, right?
Wrong. The surprising truth is that the reason you may be feeling under the weather could possibly be blamed on your wardrobe.
We often give great consideration to what we eat, and even what we put on our skin. But after reading about these different kinds of clothes that can harm your health, you’ll probably start thinking twice about what you wear, too.
10 Kinds Of Clothes That Can Harm Your Health
1. Underwire Bras
They may work a treat to ‘lift and separate’, but underwire bras come with a range of potential health risks, including skin problems, such as cuts and punctures from the wire, headache and neck pains, blocked milk ducts for nursing mothers, indigestion and chest pain, and other problems.
Even Chinese traditional medicine practitioners advise against underwire bras as the metal impedes the flow of energy or chi in the body’s meridians, and there’s also concern that the underwires may attract EMF’s (electromagnetic frequencies) and increase your exposure to radiation. But perhaps worst of all, studies have shown that women who wear bras very frequently (even to bed!) increase their risk of breast cancer significantly. You can see the studies here.
Try this instead: Organic Basics makes comfy, sexy, organic bras that let your lolas breathe!
2. Vegan Shoes
Vegan shoes may be cruelty-free for animals, but not so much for your feet. Most of the materials that comprise vegan shoes is made of basically plastic, which, unlike leather, doesn’t breathe. The resulting dark, warm, moist environment is the perfect place for bacterial and fungal growth.
Another deterrent to wearing plasticky shoes is the fact that they are so rigid. With a plastic shoe, you don’t have flexibility. Feet naturally swell in the afternoon – a person can go from a size 7 to a size 9 – and plastic shoes don’t expand, so they end up cutting off circulation to the foot.
Try this instead: If you can’t stand the idea of wearing leather and want a healthy shoe, consider purchasing one in a breathable fabric like cork or Piñatex. Or even better, cactus leather. CLAE, pictured below, makes great, breathable kicks!
3. Oversized Bags
While they might be convenient, oversized tote bags can cause a lot of back and shoulder problems.
When walking with a big, bulky handbag, we tend to raise our opposite shoulder to compensate for the weight. According to the Express Tribune, this may throw your sway off-kilter, and lead to a collapsed foot arch corresponding to your weighted shoulder, and a curved spine.
But constantly using such heavy bags can also lead to shoulder and neck pain, a trapped nerve, radiating pain into the arms, arthritis, chronic back pain and carpel tunnel syndrome. The solution is easy, though: swap your tote for a backpack instead.
Try this instead: The gorgeous vegan backpacks by JW PEI are big enough for all your stuff, but since they sit evenly on your back, they do no damage.
4. Heavy Earrings
When it comes to statement pieces and eye-catching jewellery, today’s fashion philosophy seems to be: bigger is better. But when you bedazzle yourself with huge earrings, a number of consequences may be heading your way.
Many of today’s trendiest earrings are so heavy and large that women can end up inadvertently stretching or tearing their earlobes as a result. In fact, these giant earrings have a tendency to get hooked onto objects or can even be easily ripped out when you brush your hair. Unless you’re interested in going from the jewellery store to the doctor’s office, it’s in your best interest to accessorise with something small.
Try this instead: You can still make a statement in earrings without them having to be huge. Just check out these ethical sparklers by Anita Ko below, for example!
5. Outdoor Shoes Indoors
Once again, shoes are one of the worst kinds of clothes that can harm your health. There’s a reason many cultures around the world insist you take your outdoor shoes off in a house and put on some slippers instead. When you tread in your home with outdoor shoes, you’re dragging in toxic chemicals from car pollution, chewed gum, traces of fecal matter, spit, vomit and other horrors that litter the streets. Even if they seem to be clean, there’s more grossness out there than you’d think! And whatever you track inside resides on your floor, where kids and pets play.
Try this instead: Taking off outdoor shoes indoors and putting on slippers instead! We love these handmade woolen ones, below, by Made Trade.
6. Skinny Jeans
Skinny jeans have been on trend for years, but it’s now time to opt for something looser – and even cooler. After all, the compressing effect of tight denims can inhibit blood circulation, trigger swelling and numbness, and cause muscle and nerve damage. The skinnies just aren’t worth the health risks!
And they can be pretty serious. Check this out: according to a 2015 article in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, a woman spent four days in the hospital after she spent a long day of squatting and moving in tight skinny jeans.
Try this instead: Reformation makes some of the coolest jeans in town! Slim and comfy, yes. Skinny and suffocating, no. Check them out here.
7. Synthetic Skimpies
Lacy and diaphanous undies may look sexy, but what they can do to you ‘down there’ is far from it! Non-breathable materials like polyester and Spandex trap moisture and can lead to urinary tract and yeast infections. And a cotton crotch alone isn’t enough to allow evaporation of moisture that breeds bacteria and helps maintain a healthy vaginal acidity. If you’re prone to urinary and yeast infections, make all of your undies (organic) cotton ones.
Try this instead: Organic basics makes organic skivvies of all shapes, colours and sizes that are super healthy for all your bits.
8. Vintage Clothing
Thrift shopping may be fun, but it’s not always sanitary. In fact, some vintage clothing can be the worst kinds of clothes that can harm your health.
Whilst some upscale ‘retro’ stores will wash or steam clean clothing before putting it on display, the average thrift store will not. So, when you’re digging through the bins of used garments, you’re potentially exposing yourself to a plethora of bacteria, parasites, and fungi, which can cause a variety of diseases.
Buying vintage clothing is a great, earth friendly way to shop. But note: substantial heat is typically required to kill off any organisms. Experts recommend tumbling clothing with suspected ticks and other bugs in the dryer for 45 minutes before tossing them into the washer.
Try this instead: Well, nothing really. Keep buying vintage! Just make sure you wash it well when you get home.
9. Anything Made Of Toxic Fabric
Man-made fabrics like polyester, nylon, rayon, and acrylic simply cannot be made without loads of toxic dyes and chemicals. Anything that claims to be stain resistant, insect-repelling, flame-retarding, waterproof, anti-static, anti-cling, or anti-shrink is very likely to be highly toxic indeed. Wrinkle-free clothing may be finished with formaldehyde, a known carcinogen that’s not regulated in the USA.
“Those chemicals may separate from the clothes, set up shop on your skin, and eventually enter your bloodstream,” says Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. The very least damage such clothing can cause would be itching or rashes, but some chemicals in clothing (such as dimethylformamide) could be linked to liver damage, and the pesticides you absorb from wearing non-organic cotton (especially if it’s worn close to your breasts) can potentially even lead to breast cancer.
Try this instead: Opt for natural fibers, ideally organic, such as cotton, wool, silk, flax, and hemp instead. Don’t these hemp pants by Patagonia, below, look comfy?
10. High Heels
Probably one of the worst kinds of clothes that can harm your health are high heels. Most women who have worn them know that high heels don’t feel great. They’re a major cause of bunions, ingrown toenails, calluses, and sprained ankles. But did you know they can also cause chronic health issues, too? These include things like shortened Achilles tendons and lower back pain.
Yeah, we know they can look awesome, so if you’re really a lover of the higher heel, ensure you only wear the shoes for a few hours at a time. Remember to take a few breaks to stretch your calf muscles.
Try this instead: Honestly? Spiky heels are kinda on the way out. If you want a bit of height, go for a wedge, sneaker, or platform boot, like these ones below by Stella McCartney.