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!