I regularly browse Instagram and several fashion sites, getting excited about the new trends on show. I look at the colours on offer, choose my size and almost click the ‘buy’ button. Almost. But I never quite bring myself to do it. Why? Because the clothing I buy rarely suits my disability. I know exactly how I want to look, and the patterns and cuts that suit me. Whether or not they suit my wheelchair, however, is a different story. Welcome to the world of disability fashion – a realm that needs much more coverage and opportunity to thrive. Until then, let me take you through my top tips for looking foxy and not frumpy when you’re sat down.
Low rise = No point.
Up until my mid-teens, jeans weren’t a problem as I didn’t wear them. Instead, I had three very memorable and equally delightful pairs of trousers to choose from. Khaki, baggy, army pants, banana yellow tracksuit bottoms with the added bonus of navy blue poppers up the side that gave me enough self-esteem to think I was Sporty Spice, and, my personal favourites, fluorescent pink trousers with huge tassles coming from every inch of them… classy, I know. Looking back, it’s no wonder I found the dating game a bit of a drag. I did eventually find the Holy Grail that was a good pair of jeans, but they were all low rise. Never great when you’re sitting down with them digging into your hips, deciding to slide down just as you need to transfer or crawl up a flight of stairs. Not good at all. I stick to maxi dresses and high-rise pencil skirts now. A tucked-in tummy and no builders bum. Result!
Zips: the Bane of all that’s Beauty.
I recently bought an incredible 1950s circle dress that I just HAD to have. This was stupid for two reasons. Firstly, it broke the bank and secondly it zips all the way up the back and I can’t fasten the bloody thing without some help. And the cherry on top is that, although it gives me hourglass curves, I struggle to breathe when sat down in it. As a result, it comes out on extremely special occasions, aka never. The only advice I can give in this situation is that, if your arms are pretty limited like mine and you struggle to use hidden zips, just go for comfy over-your- head dresses that you’ll look just as gorgeous in as you’ll be able to relax and smile.
Giving those Assets some Attention
I am relatively unfortunate that, unlike the familiar phrase, I actually look like I have two right feet. No matter how many times I tell them, they just won’t keep straight! So more often than not I wear a comfy pair of Converse and a long dress that will not draw attention to them. I also wear tights and dolly shoes because I couldn’t really care less what my feet look like most of the time, but my fool proof method is there if ever I’m having a self-conscious day. I also try to go bright with my hair, make up and top or dress, so that the attention is drawn up my body, instead of down to the rubbish bits. This tip applies to everyone: know what your good bits are and flaunt them (but ladies in chairs; watch out if you have a killer cleavage; that 6ft guy will be able to see three times as much of it as you can…. But maybe that’s a good thing?!)