Tag: fashion

Friday fashion 2: the second question

I know I’ve been a bit slack here. Lots going on and not. Sorry. J


What it is about achieving a professional effect which causes problems for you (such as the stockings/tights issue we talked about)?

  • Clothes that are easy to get on and manage eg pull up from a sitting position, tops that allow enough shoulder movement to operate the electric wheelchair are often not the right size for my body. So in the right size clothes I risk looking less dressed after going to the bathroom at lunch than I did before.The clothes that work best practically are bigger which means they don’t sit as well. If they are the right size they tend to get caught in the wrong places. Knee length skirts ride up when you sit, but the alternative length is a less professional cut and looks dowdy as do elastic waisted slacks. It’s a balancing act and a greater game of compromise than for the average bear.
  • Centre back zips are great for the shape of the clothes and for keeping things in place but rotten to get on by myself, Part of the 10% we talked about. (we talked on the phone call about the fact that in most cases I feel like I can do 90% of my own dressing/styling, but that the 10% i can’t do myself is pivotal to the rest of the process). 
  • Jewellery is another example. The stuff that looks better on me tends to be smaller and posts with backs rather than hook in earrings. I also only have only good use of one hand so this falls into the 10%.
  • I wear a bra because it improves the way clothes sit but being one-handed this falls into the “sleep in it after you get help with a shower the night before category”

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Friday fashion: the first question

Recently, I volunteered to be part of a media or research project on disability and fashion. The co-ordination was done by a Dr Jill Bamforth a social research academic from Melbourne with an eye for fashion and an awareness that there must be challenges finding clothes that work on any number of levels for people with disabilities. She was also aware that there would be an unmet market that wasn’t necessarily being served currently.

After at least two brief phone calls that had technically or timing issues in which we established among other things, that; I didn’t like centre-back zips, can’t wear pantyhose, but can do thigh highs but don’t like the limited range (even now when there is a decent range in pantyhose as there has been recently in Australia). She then sent me 11 insightful questions, inviting me to answer without the pressure to answer them all. After that was an equally insightful hour-long phone call.

As with most well-written surveys on topics you have at least a passing interest in, the process of thinking that went into the preparation of my answers was fascinating.

Here was the first Q and A

1. You say (as others do) that it is important to dress in a professional way in order to be taken seriously at work. What does this kind of dressing entail – a suit/make up/ heels/hair cuts and colour, for instance?

How long have you got…. It involves all of those things above and balancing them out for an overall effect, based not only on the event you are planning for and the impact you want to make (same for everyone I guess) but how physically you are feeling (energy) and what parts of your body are working and what sort of movement you are anticipating — transfers etc.

For example I have two pairs of very different work shoes, that from the top(the way most people will see my feet) look very similar. This is deliberate. However, if I wear the higher heels (which are more comfy on my footplate) and my foot goes into spasm, my ankle gets twisted and it becomes a painful and visual distraction tht can last hours.

In addition as a wheelchair user I am viewed as sitting even when I’m moving which changes the parts of my outfits and body that are visually apparent.My breasts and my shins are more visible than my waist or whether I’m a pear or apple. So traditional fashion advice or mannequins are only so useful.

Also the wheelchair in one way is a fashion accessory and frames me so I dress to either not clash with it, or to complement it. Trying to igbnore it has not worked in the past. Keep in mind though that you want to be distinguishable from the chair at all times.

In the more traditional version of your question, yes all these things you mention contribute. I always tend to up dress because I get judged already on the fact I sit. I don’t wear a tracksuit at all except in bed. I always wear foundation. It might be vanity but the logic is to come over as a grown up, let alone a professional. I’m in my 30’s.

She was interested in the wheelchair as accessory bit, which I might go into on another occasion.


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Late to this too

I’m not known as a trend setter. I tried as a younger woman and as a teen and gave up pretty quickly and became a “classic” dresser which, when I was younger, looked a little “old” perhaps, but now I think it works (I hope).

All this by way of introduction that just as the cold season that I have dreaded abates and we are all wandering around in spring wear I manage to, having bravely avoided it all season, come down with a head cold as well as my persistent cough. I think I’m on the mend though. I just found it amusing that the curse continues and crosses fields of endeavour!

At least its sunny.

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