Fashion isn’t something I usually think about in terms of access and disability, to be fair fashion isn’t something I really think about full stop. But I realised in a recent shopping trip that I actually make a lot of fashion choices based on how my disability and that being a wheelchair user plays into wearing certain things.
With that in mind, this is going to be a head to toe run through (pun intended) of what I tend to where and the things I have to consider when buying new clothes.
Before you read about my fashion choices, why not check this out?
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When it comes to shirts and t-shirts, buttons and fasteners are difficult due to the fine motor control issues that come with cerebral palsy. This means that t-shirts are my usual style as there are no buttons involved. Mostly I wear either band tees or MMA tees (see a small selection of my MMA tees below). Oddly enough, my other regular choice is a plaid shirt. These are usually worn open over a t-shirt, so I don’t have to deal with the buttons, or I’ll just deal with the struggle of doing the buttons for the fashion and wear it buttoned up.
These are not something I often wear for 2 reasons: a) those who know me personally will know I dress in what you’d probably call tomboy style where it’s basically jeans and t shirt regardless of anything, but maybe that’s to do with b) how dresses look when you’re stood in them is different to how they look or sit when you’re sat down, which is kind of important considering I spend most of my time sat down. They also tend to ride up which means they have to be longer than they usually would be if I was stood up , which is not difficult given that I’m quite short so things generally tend to be long on me. It also means I’m constantly pulling dresses down or wondering how they look to everyone else which can make me quite self-conscious.
Shorts, Skirts & Jeans
Similarly, to dresses, shorts and skirts tend to ride a little higher when sitting down, which again leads to constantly having to pull them down. There’s also the issue of buttons (particularly on shorts) that I mentioned earlier in the Shirts section. A secondary point here is also issues with belts, mostly the issues of hand eye coordination when it comes to threading a belt through belt loops. The amount of times I accidentally miss a belt loop is ridiculous! My go to in this section would be jeans, specifically soft skinny jeggings type coloured jeans (red, burgundy (both pictured) green, and I’m pretty sure I had some purple ones at one point too). I prefer these as they’re comfier material to be physically sat in all day and involve no buttons. They also avoid the problem of heavy denim when wet (I’m a “jeans in all weathers” kind of girl!).
Once I’d gotten out of foot splints and therefore out of Velcro strap shoes (the only type that would fit over the splints) I said I would never wear those kind of shoes again . Nowadays, you’ll most likely find me in Converse style shoes, but not the high top sort as a lack of ankle flexion makes it difficult for me to bend my feet into the shoes. Similarly, with boots or sandals, those need to have a zip all the way down otherwise I can’t get my foot in (again because ankle flex issues). With dolly shoes, it’s a question of how often I’m going to walk in them as I have to be careful about whether they’ll slip off without an ankle strap to keep them on my feet.
It’s not often you’ll see me wearing necklaces or bracelets as the chains and clasps can be difficult with the fine motor control issues I mentioned earlier. However, there is one I do wear often which a bracelet with a ball which you push and pull to loosen or tighten the chain (pictured below). I’m also developing a small baseball cap collection (see below). I prefer these over sunglasses for keeping the sun out of my eyes because, being someone who already wears glasses, I’d have to have prescription sunglasses and I KNOW I’d forget to switch between the two when necessary. The other item, particularly worth talking about now we’re heading into the summer holiday season is bikinis. I can’t use most bikinis by myself as they involve straps you have to tie behind your back which is an absolute NIGHTMARE if you have hand eye coordination issues as I’ve already mentioned I do. This means bikinis for me have to either have a clasp at the back like a standard bra or a clasp at the front like the one I just purchased!
I hope you enjoyed this rundown of how accessibility and disability affects my fashion choices. I could probably go into the accessibility of changing rooms here as well, but I feel that deserves its own post, let me know if that’s something you’d like me to discuss.
Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)