How do you add style to your look? Most people throw on a scarf, a favorite pair of shoes or grab their bag on their way out the door without a second thought. But for many wheelchair users our accessories can take a little more creativity to make sure they are both stylish AND functional! We've all been there where a lace gets caught in a wheel or a bracelet gets scratched from rubbing on our tires. I recall many times shopping for a chunky bracelet or bag and thinking "I love this! but will I still be able to push myself or use it when out and about in my chair?"
I wanted to share some tips for accessorizing in a wheelchair for both men and women wheelers! Below are some ideas that work great for accessorizing when in your wheelchair:
Jewelry and watches with a soft strap are great for everyday use and are less likely to show damage, scratches or wear when they knock against your wheels. Think about saving your gold and silver for special occasions or when you won't be doing a lot of pushing.
Check out silicon band watches like these from JCP: http://www.jcpenney.com/dotcom/jewelry-watches/explore-shops/the-trend-shop/athletic-watches/converse-rookie-ocean-silicone-watch-/prod.jump?ppId=pp500960901&searchTerm=converse+watch&dimCombo=null&dimComboVal=null&catId=SearchResults)
Rings. Rings that are snug fitting will be less likely to get in the way of pushing your chair. Tungsten is a popular choice for men's bands because the metal is extremely tough. It won't show nicks and you won't have to worry about causing damage if it bangs against your wheels.
(Learn more about tungsten here! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tungsten)
Scarves. Consider avoiding long scarves that could get tangled in your wheels, causing injury. There are tons of great options, including infinity scarves that you can wrap closely around your neck and shoulders so you don't have to worry about the ends getting caught. Experiment with different knots to keep the ends neatly tucked out of the way.
Winter accessories: Look for gloves that come with grips across the palms and fingers (like Isotoners). It will give you more traction when the weather turns wet and snowy.
Boots. Boots that slip on will be one less thing to worry about in the winter. Slip-ons don't require a lot of bending or balancing to lace up, just slide your feet right in! Avoiding laces that can get caught in your front wheels can also help ensure safety. Thanks to the popularity of Uggs, there are now a lot of affordable options.
Shoes. If you primarily use your wheelchair and don't do a lot of walking, you can have a lot of fun with your shoes! Ballerina flats are a great option for ladies in the spring and summer months. You can wear them barefoot or with socks when the weather turns cool.
There are also a lot of slip-on loafer options for guys. You can even tie off the laces on athletic shoes to make them shorter and not have to worry about them coming untied.
Check the soles if you are looking for something with more grip so your feet don't slip around on your footrests. There's so many great shoe websites that make ordering from your home an easy alternative to fighting the crowds at the mall.
Check out zappos.com to shop for women, men and kids.
Bags. Try a cross body bag. Most of them come with an adjustable strap and you can wear it in front of you or slip it behind you when sitting in your chair. It keeps your hands free from pushing and you can even wear a slim style under your jacket for added security!
If you have push handles on the back of your chair, a vertical hanging bag with 2 handles might also work well. You can slip the handles right over your push bars and free up your hands. Just make sure it fully closes to keep wandering hands out.
What's right for some wheelers won't be right for all so have fun experimenting and finding accessories that speak to you and function for your everyday life!