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Wheelin' in Style: Change Your Clothes, Change Your World
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Wheelin' in Style: Change Your Clothes, Change Your World

Fashion. For people with disabilities, fashion can help us present ourselves to the world in a way that we would like to be seen. Fashion can allow us to help others see the person rather than the stereotype.

Now more than ever fashion is a great way for people with disabilities to brand themselves! Though our disabilities pose challenges, ask yourself how you want to market yourself to those around whether it be at work, out to dinner with your spouse, a night out with your friends, a church service, volunteering, etc.

How do you want to project yourself in these different situations? Want to market yourself as confident, trustworthy or professional at work? Need an outfit that says you're approachable and friendly while volunteering? Looking for something special to spice up a romantic dinner with your spouse?

Before getting dressed in the morning, think about the people you are going to see that day. Do you have a meeting or will you need to be doing a lot of moving around or traveling? Be sure to walk through your day to choose an outfit that not only is functional for your adaptive equipment but also for how you want to project yourself.

As a woman in a wheelchair and less than 4 feet tall, I know all about getting creative with fashion choices! But the most important rule I have learned is that fashion can be fun and does not need to be expensive! Here are some of my favorite things:

Capes. Capes made a comeback this year and are GREAT for wheelchair users! They are roomy and allow flexilibity for pushing and transfering in and out of the chair. They are also very easy to get on and off without constraining. Check out this great cape from Forever 21. http://www.forever21.com/Product/Product.aspx?category=Outerwear&ProductID=2000021402&utm_source=google&utm_medium=base&utm_campaign=product_feed&gclid=CJv-1NzawLQCFYKPPAodPTYASQ

Cardigans are great for both men and women wheelers because of their versatility and their comfy factor. Layering is a great technique to use especially if your body temperature changes easily throughout the day. Keep a cardigan at work to slip on and off when it gets chilly or use one to dress up a business outfit or add some class to a jeans and tshirt. Cropped cardigans like these from the Gap ensure they won't get caught in the way. http://www.gap.com/products/cropped-cardigan.jsp

Comfy pants are a must for spending long hours sitting. Look for long waisted pants and jeans especially if you are going to be sitting in a wheelchair to ensure you don't have any wardrobe malfunctions or underwear peeking over the top. 

Leggings are super versatile and easy to wear. Most have elastic waist so there's no messing with buttons or zippers and can be worn with a cute pair of flats or boots and with long, flowy blouses. This is a much more fashionable alternative to sweatpants but provide the same comfort. Try a pair of jeggings, combining both jeans and leggings, like these from Walmart. http://www.walmart.com/ip/20862922?adid=22222222227015213095&wmlspartner=wlpa&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=&wl3=17430536950&wl4=&wl5=pla&veh=sem

Never underestimate the power of creativity when shopping for fashion with a disability. I have found some of my best deals and most loved outfits shopping in the kids department, petities and even the young men's department. You can find huge savings and the same styles buying in the kids rather than the women's department. Many girls' shoes go up to a women's size 5 or 6 and even bigger if shopping in the junior's department, but you will pay much less! Like these boots I recently bought in the Sear's girls department - adult style in kids' size and price: http://www.sears.com/canyon-river-blues-girl-s-patty-fashion-boot-black/p-036VA50813501P?prdNo=3&blockNo=3&blockType=G3  

Need clothes in smaller sizes? Many kids and Juniors departments offer the same adult fashions in smaller sizes, such as GapKids, Aeropostale, Justice and Forever 21.

Don't be afraid to try things on! It will save you a trip back to the store to return it if it doesn't fit when you get home.

Never underestimate the power of online shopping. It will save you a trip to the store and fighting the crowds and you can take your time to find the styles you want to fit your lifestyle.

Don't forget to have fun with fashion! Change starts with us. Change your clothes. Change the world's perception. Change your life. Happy shopping!

Leave a Comment

  1. shumes
    Excellent post! Though appearances aren't everything, nice clothes certainly can make someone feel more confident in many aspects of their lives. I voted you up! :)
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  2. Lil Nana
    Lil Nana
    #5 Great blog, when we feel good about ourselves it shows
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  3. Admin
    Admin
    What a fun surprise! Loved it!
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  4. FashionRuth
    FashionRuth
    Thanks for writing such a detailed article. Clothing is important for everyone and the Fashion/Garment Industry is finally starting to recognize this niche. There are two Global Competitions, to encourage tomorrow's designers to start to create purpose designed Fashion for Individuals with disabilities. Slowly good changes are coming. FashionRuth www.fashionmoves.org
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  5. lefthandstyle
    Hi WheelerWife, Great Article! Steph www.lefthandstyle.com...style in its right mind!
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  6. Nonniebee
    Nonniebee
    Excellent post! I only wish there were clothing designers to work with wheelchair users. I would love to find some stylish tops that did not crawl up in the back(maybe a bit longer) or jackets, sweaters or blazers that will not bunch in the middle when buttoned. I always feel so rumpled! Most of the time when I look into a mirror, I look like a pair of breasts sitting on top of two knees. I love to keep up with the latest fashions but really get discouraged. Any designers up for the challenge to design for someone like me?
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    1. lefthandstyle
      Hi, My name is Stephanie and Im a disability stylist. Fortunately there are a few designers that create amazing clothing for people like you with seated body types: www.agapparel.com www.izaddaptive.com www.wheeliechix-chic.com To name a few and here is a link to my blog for a few more http://www.lefthandstyle.com/category/lhs/links/ Also, if you're looking for stores with shirts that have longer backs, look at the following links on my page: Mango, Zara, Eileen Fischer Also, Ruth of Fashion Moves may have some other suggestions. To address your other issue, "breasts sitting on knees... It can be tough creating a waistline in a wheelchair, especially if your bigger on top or your injury causes your body to lean forward or to the side. I'm not sure where you live, but I suggest going to a bra fitter, try Nordstrom. Wearing the right bra size instantly creates a waistline. Also depending on your injury trying belting you jackets with a wide stretchy-belt that has a magnetic closure or something simpler. NOTE: After your bra fitting make sure you look for bras that fastens in the front if you are not already using one. I know wheeliechix-chic and JC Penny sell some nice options. I hope this helps, if you have any other questions please shoot me an email: questions@lefthandstyle.com. Let me know how it goes. Steph
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      1. Nonniebee
        Nonniebee
        Thank you for the information Stephanie! I'm so happy for your suggestions and will definitely be checking out your website and the others.
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        1. FashionRuth
          FashionRuth
          Great information from Steph. Please let us know if you are able to follow up with any of these and how they work for you. Nonniebee, one of our problems, as we speak with student and working Designers, is that they are not always aware of the issues that need to be addressed and improved. Your input here is very helpful as it provides the Designers with a concrete issue to design a solution for. Thanks for being open with this problem and please feel free to get in touch with either Steph or myself directly with any other clothing/textile related issues you face, so we can put the word out. Ruth Ruth J Clark Fashion Moves Inclusive Designs www.fashionmoves.org fashionmoves@earthlink.net
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        2. FashionRuth
          FashionRuth
          Great information from Steph. Please let us know if you are able to follow up with any of these and how they work for you. Nonniebee, one of our problems, as we speak with student and working Designers, is that they are not always aware of the issues that need to be addressed and improved. Your input here is very helpful as it provides the Designers with a concrete issue to design a solution for. Thanks for being open with this problem and please feel free to get in touch with either Steph or myself directly with any other clothing/textile related issues you face, so we can put the word out. Ruth Ruth J Clark Fashion Moves Inclusive Designs www.fashionmoves.org fashionmoves@earthlink.net
          Log in to reply.
        3. FashionRuth
          FashionRuth
          Great information from Steph. Please let us know if you are able to follow up with any of these and how they work for you. Nonniebee, one of our problems, as we speak with student and working Designers, is that they are not always aware of the issues that need to be addressed and improved. Your input here is very helpful as it provides the Designers with a concrete issue to design a solution for. Thanks for being open with this problem and please feel free to get in touch with either Steph or myself directly with any other clothing/textile related issues you face, so we can put the word out. Ruth Ruth J Clark Fashion Moves Inclusive Designs www.fashionmoves.org fashionmoves@earthlink.net
          Log in to reply.
          1. Nonniebee
            Nonniebee
            Thank you Ruth! I will be more than happy to provide input about styling issues.
            Log in to reply.
        4. lefthandstyle
          Hi, I'm so glad I could help.
          Log in to reply.

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