Fashionistas take on wheelchair fashionMay 22 01:11
Girls who can walk may not have the fashion dilemmas we do, but when they were asked to come up with stylish outfit ideas for a female wheelchair-user who‘s new to being in a chair, they were actually not that bad.
Maybe it’s because they’re looking at the situation with fresh eyes, and I’ve been hashing and rehashing the subject for years, but the outfits this contingent of fashionistas came up with at Polyvore, a popular style and trend community, are definitely worth a look
One of the main garments they recommended were leggings, and they’re right on target. Leggings are great for all-day sitting. They’re comfy, won’t leave marks and they come in different lengths (long, capri-length, etc). Wear leggings with a dress or a long top to complete the look. But as I know all too well, they only work if you don’t have a leg bag. If anyone out there has figured out a way to wear legging with a leg bag, please let me know, so we can spread the knowledge
Another garment these ladies recommended were flowy tops and lightweight dresses, to help with easy movement. Again, right on the mark, but only as long as it looks flowy and not baggy. This can be a tricky line to follow when you‘re sitting, so definitely buy a full-length mirror to analyze your look. They also recommended buying a slough of cardigans to throw on in case you get cold, and they go with everything, not to mention are very flattering when sitting down.
Print tights, cute flats, as well as crazy kick-ass heels were offered as possible ideas. Several of the fashionistas couldn’t stress enough about how the querent should take advantage of the whole not walking thing, and wear the loudest most amazing heels ever. And they’re damn right. You can wear 5” heels and not get sore feet. The only kicker is that many girls in wheelchairs can’t wear heels; due to ankles that turn in or footrests that simply don’t work. Start with Kitten heels (tiny ½” heels), and work your way up to see how it goes.
And lastly - accessories, accessories and more accessories. You may not be able to wear leggings, or you may not feel comfortable in shorts or a dress, but anyone, no matter who you are, can go all out with accessories. Scarves are totally hot right now, the same goes for funky hats (do you have a Fedora yet?), hair jewelry, and statement jewelry pieces.
To read the rest of the 20+ answers from these fashionistas, and get inspired (oh yes!) visit, Wheelchair fashion…
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1. luvslife | Jun 03 05:28
hey Ms Carlson, I absolutely love that finally able-bodied people not only think women in chairs can be fashionable, but are taking time to consider how.... I can't help agree with your point about the leggins, and another point is the time it takes to undress & redress with toileting. With regard to heels, I have found that wedge heels sit the best on my footplate. And, while the flowy shirts might suit you, for a para (like myself) they just make me look pregnant. Something I have found handy, is 'shirring'. You will need a seamstress to do it but it is mad - it allows for stretch, yet fits snuggly at the same time. I have been in a chair 12 yrs now and because I have always been into fashion design, I have even been able to continue sewing post injury. I have also trained with the best of image consultants, both in the USA and Australia (my home country).
2. RikiD | Jun 09 01:16
wanted to let you know about the leg bag thing. i'm male and deal with this too in the summertime when i wear shorts. i get small 9oz. to medium 16oz. bags and plug them directly into the catheter with no extension tubing. I can then just let them hang loose right in my shorts next to my groin very inconspicuously. You just have to watch you empty it more frequently and be aware of your transfers. i've had the whole package come out before while transferring with a full load. :-)
3. Jeannee | Feb 01 05:41
I think this is a great subject, and I'm grateful it is now open to discussion! Altho I am disabled, I am not (yet) in a wheelchair - that said, I do have fashions I can't wear because of said disabilities. I wanted to say u make a great point about the mirror! How different clothes look between sitting & standing!!!
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.