The New Diaper Primer

Chapter 11: What To Wear

If you are only wearing cloth diapers to bed, and wearing disposable diapers during the day, your choice of clothing is really not seriously affected. You may need to enlarge by one waist size for your trousers to accommodate a decent disposable, a doubled disposable or a disposable with insert pads. A lot of folks will not have to go up even one waist size, but it'll depend on what you find comfortable. Don't choose any snug or tight-fit fashions because the diaper may ghost thru, especially if/when you squat down. The seat bulk will tend to make a prominent line along the back side of your legs. The bagginess of current fashion is a big help for those of us trying to conceal diapers!

Pleats are also wonderful in this regard! You may consider discovering pleated front trousers if you have not already done so. Let us also point out there are different "rises" available, if not in the stores on the ready to wear racks, they are certainly available in the mail order catalogs such as Lands' End. Depending on your physique, choose a longer rise than you otherwise would. That will help accommodate the diaper, especially since the diaper will droop somewhat in the crotch as it gets wet.

Remember that dark colors hide wet spots much more readily than light colors. The dark blue denim jeans won't show a minor leg band leak while the same leak would be disastrous if you're wearing light colored chinos or the light faded look denim jeans.

Now for the real challenge; cloth diapers

Let's say we've sold you on cloth and you've done your homework wearing cloth at night and around the privacy of your house. Now you want the security of cloth by day and are willing to make concessions to live with the serious bulkiness of cloth as compared with the minor bulkiness of disposables. First of all, let's go slow, and pick the time and place! There will be less stress that way! Start with a week end: casual clothes...or the "bum look" if you will. Practice wearing your cloth diapers on the week ends doing chores.

Sweats may work for some and not for others, depending on your build. If you pull on the sweat pants with the waist band coming above your diaper, the bulge may show no matter how baggy sweats are. If you pull the sweats waist band up onto the diaper, just below the diaper's waist line, the bulge will not be very noticeable.

Discover two things! Suspenders and bib overalls! Yeah, the Farmer Brown image. I don't mind that. You may or may not take to bib overalls, but they are perfect for concealing diapers. There's no waist nothing to attract attention to the bulk that starts right at our waist lines. Bib overalls are naturally baggy! They are also remarkably functional with all their pockets. You may find you will really like them. You will have to up-size probably two sizes to accommodate thick cloth diapers.

For the guys who just won't be caught dead in Farmer Brown overalls; the jeans enthusiasts ... select pleated fronts whenever you can and select a tall "rise" along with up sizing your waist to get the jeans to pull on over your diapers and fasten over your diapers; not above the diapers! Suspenders are back in fashion, so take advantage of that! Suspenders will keep your jeans up (that's important) while not pulling in the waist (which is bigger than you would otherwise wear) to draw attention to the flare-out caused by your diapers. Again, very important: park the waist of the jeans on your diapered waist; don't try to pull the jeans waist up over your diaper in order to get the waist of your jeans above the diapers. If you are following the suggestions we made in the "pinning on diapers" section, your diaper should be high-waisted enough that it should be impossible to place the jeans waist line above the diaper waist line. That gives you more diaper particles - which is good, and forces the outer wear pants to land or park over the diaper so the shirt bridges and hides the thickness of the diapers at the waist.

Yeah, I know, you can wear the shirt "out", and that will conceal a lot. Many shirts are designed with squared-off tails so they can be worn "out". There is also the "barber shirt" complete with lower pockets which must be worn "out". I have a collection of them! Yes, I get taunts about looking like a barber, but so what? If that works for you, then go for it, and enjoy the security of cloth without the tension of wondering if people are noticing.

But there are going to be times when wearing the shirt "out" just won't cut it, so while that's a great idea, most of us will need to be comfortable wearing the shirt tucked in ... and that's where suspenders come in. You can use the heavy-duty suspenders for jeans; they look right and work very well with the rugged and casual look of jeans. For dressier situations you'll need the narrow dress suspenders, sometimes called braces, especially by the British. In either situation, the suspenders avoid the "pulling in" of waist line which would accentuate the diaper bulge.

Even with high- or deep-rise trousers, the waist line will most likely fall on your diapers, not above them. That is just fine from the standpoint that there will be no flare or bulge below your pants waist. The bulge occurs above the waist line and is fully concealed by your shirt! But a belt won't work because it will cinch into the diapers and tend to give you the "sack tied at the top" look. Even if your trousers are deep enough OR if you are wearing shorter diapers that ride lower, allowing the trouser waist and belt line to fall above your diapers, wearing a belt is not going to work. First you will have the "sack tied at the top" look; second, you will accentuate the diaper bulge; third, you don't need to hang the pants with their weight (keys, wallet, change and what not) on your diapers which are going to get heavy and hang on your hips themselves. Your hips need a break! Hang the pants weight from your shoulders with suspenders.

Summer-time shorts

I love shorts and gave up wearing them for many years thinking there was no way I could conceal diapers. I wore shorts only when wearing a disposable! Well, I missed out on several years of comfort with that self-imposed hardship. You have to wear a tee shirt; that's just not negotiable. Then you pull on shorts (bigger than your normal size) and park the elastic waist band of the shorts on your diaper at the very top but never above the diaper. The worst diaper bulge is at the waist-hips, and that is easy to hide under the shirt! You'll most likely find this is the only way to wear men's shorts over cloth diapers. None will allow you to pull the waist band up above the diapers, assuming you are using our method of diaper sizing and pinning, of course. You could experiment with shorter diapers and a lighter diaper for wear under shorts.

I know we all figure our rear end looks like a Mack truck when we are diapered. But I say take a look around at other folks. Tell me about the variety you see in physiques! Rear ends come in all shapes and sizes. Now, even though you know there are lots of us incontinent folks out there, only a few brave souls are wearing cloth diapers; so as you look around you it is quite safe to assume none of those people is wearing diapers, and yet I'm sure you'll find some rear ends that sure look like it. Therefore! no one knows what your rear-end actually looks like. You'll no doubt be the subject of the silent thought about being a "fat ass" but, I can practically guarantee that people will not be looking at you and thinking: "Gee, look at that guy wearing diapers!" That may be what we think of ourselves! That's how we torture ourselves. And that may be one of the hardest things to get over - you may not get over it. If that's the case, you won't be wearing cloth diapers out in public. But you will be wearing disposables, and you may as well feel comfortable that people don't know you have to wear diapers!

Now, for my controversial fashion advice for men only. Yeah, the ladies are going to kill me! But, take this for what it's worth; it may be worth your considering.

I purchase most of my clothes by mail order, as I said, primarily because of the extra requirements of rise and pleats that are common by mail order but hard to find in stores. One day I was scanning the size guide in the LL Bean or Lands' End catalog where they had a silhouette of a man and a woman side by side. Suddenly I noted how the silhouette of the woman, with wider hips and more rise than the male figure, looked something like a male in bulky cloth diapers. Diapers add to the hips and drop the crotch requiring more rise. From there I looked at the sizes and ordered my first pair of women's jeans, size 20, in the "relaxed fit" version. With the same 5 pocket styling as men's jeans; you could not tell they were women's instead of men's jeans! The fit was fantastic! I've worn nothing but women's jeans since then, usually size 18 for work when I wear a trimmer diaper and size 20 for weekends when I choose a heavier diaper. And no one knows I'm wearing women's jeans or diapers so I don't have to take any "cross dressing" wisecracks! You will find you have lots of choices for fit and when you get past the guilt of feeling as though you are "cross dressing", the practicality and virtually perfect fit of women's jeans for men who have to wear diapers is very hard to beat.

For dressier requirements, I have had good success with women's chinos and other pants, such as twill pants. Pay attention to details like pockets! Typically women's pants often lack rear pockets but even they can be found, so just pay attention when reading descriptions! Women's pants have really come to mimic men's look so I feel comfortable that no one can possibly tell I'm wearing women's pants!


For suits, for the occasional times I need one, I buy off-the-rack, and I'll try on the pants to make sure of adequate room around the hip so that the side pockets don't "pull" and show their lining. This will result in a waist size possibly two sizes over what you would otherwise need, but suspenders to the rescue. Also, with a suit, the jacket will hide the suspenders, and you can wear a belt as a fashion accessory; just don't pull it in as you would if it were to be functional in holding up your pants. If you going to be fitted for leg length and cuffs, be sure to use your suspenders to get the new suit pants to ride at the correct point before the tailor marks and pins the legs for cuffing. Your inseam will measure a couple inches less than your "normal" inseam due to the diaper thickness in the crotch.

Back to disposables: They probably won't make much difference in your girth and will allow you to wear your existing suits. But if you are a stickler for fit, wear the disposable (double diaper or boosted double diaper) you would normally wear under a suit and check whether any adjustments are needed. You may find your actual waist size or, at the most, one size up will suffice. And the inseam may be OK or at the worst, it may need to be -inch shorter for the pants cuffs to ride where you want them. Even if you are a stickler for a good fit and great look, if you intend to wear the suit only for a short time, say four hours or less, then you could wear a single premium diaper that will safely protect you for that short time and it won't add any significant bulk so you can wear your unaltered, well-fitted suit.


For disposable diapers, cotton boxer briefs work well to cut down on rustling noise while helping to keep the undershirt tucked in. Without the underpants, the undershirt slides up easily on the slippery plastic diaper and ends up in a lump above your belt line, under your shirt.

For disposable or cloth diapers, a combination, one-piece garment is a great wearable. Bear Bottom makes them to your supplied measurements. They are ideal for the summertime-and-shorts situation because there will be no "pull out" of the undershirt when you bend over or squat down that will display your diapers for all to see. They snap in the crotch but the snaps are well forward so they are easy to reach and they don't rub and chafe on your thighs as you walk. Let me caution at this point that these "onesie" type garments are commonly found at lots of sites, and in my opinion many fall short in fit and function. While we recommend Adult Cloth Diaper for basic prefold diapers and good basic vinyl pants, the one-piece underwear offered does NOT meet our standards because of skimpy fit and inadequate snap-fasteners, whereas the Bear Bottom shirts certainly do. Kins manufactures a garment with mid-thigh legs that offers fuller coverage though the snap fasteners pose some difficulty.

For those in winter climates, look for one-piece "long-johns". They are available at various internet suppliers and in every Canadian clothing outlet under the Stanfields label. They allow complete coverage - diapers are completely hidden. In addition to real comfort, their absorbent fabric will catch any minor leaks from disposables before becoming visible on your trousers.

Suspender Briefs: Ordinary cotton-knit underwear (boxer) briefs are less expensive and perfectly adequate when you are wearing a good undershirt with long tails that cannot pull out to expose your diapers at the rear waist. It can help fight wet diaper sag! I have made "suspender briefs" by buying 1-inch wide elastics at the fabric store and sewing the elastics to the underpants waistband in a suspenders fashion. I pull the briefs over my diapers, then pull the elastics up over my shoulders, and the elastic tension keeps a constant up pressure on the diaper. This works equally well for disposables or cloth diapers. Without a sewing machine, you can still try this out by pinning the elastics to the underpants waist band using small brass safety pins bought at the same fabric or sewing supply store where you got the elastic band material.


Yes, wearing diapers affects clothing choices! Diapers add girth and depth around the torso and crotch, so that pants need to be re-sized. Special adaptations for diapers, such as "onesies" and suspender briefs, make day-to-day diaper wear easier and more comfortable.

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