Disability Horizons Fashion Guru

Disability Horizons Fashion Guru

I am very excited to announce I am now a Fashion and Disability #DHGuru for Disability Horizons: A 21st Century View of Disability. I'll be writing a bimonthly piece about Disability and Fashion, and I hope you'll check out my debut entry, Disability and fashion: a spashionista’s guide to shopping. Although some of it is disability specific the majority speaks to strategies that are useful to anyone. Please check it out - and share, share, share with your friends!

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Love Is Love When It Alteration Finds

Shakespeare was wrong.

No conversation about renewal and graceful adaptation would be complete without discussing the most important element of any successful wardrobe. Clothes that have been altered to fit your body like a glove. If you don't have a good seamstress you're missing out on the difference between looking good and looking great. For someone like me who is short, round, and physically limited a tailor is indispensable.

Need proof? I often need to have long sleeves shortened on coats and jackets, even if they are Petite. My grey Petite Jessica Simpson coat in Where's That Groundhog? has had the sleeves shortened by a considerable 5". Here it is before the alteration.

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So has the green jacket in Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. I have trouble doing up buttoned cuffs so I had them removed to make it easier for me to wear.

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And this trench coat in Fashion Friday: #23 had to have 8" of sleeve shortened and the cuff reconstructed. I challenge you to see any flaw in the alteration.

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Then there are the pants that need hemming, the button-down and V-necked tops that need sewing up so I don't "burst" out of them. If I posted a picture of every garment my seamstress has made a perfect fit we'd be here all day. Instead, I'll post this one and tell you about this very special lady.

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Meet Ann Rich, proud owner of Rich's Alterations on the outskirts of Ashland City. She's been instrumental in insuring my clothes suit my particularly hard-to-fit shape for a number of years now. She knows exactly what to do to make any garment fit me like a glove.

I have yet to walk into her shop and find her relaxing with nothing to do. Although there are always lots of garments stacked up behind her counter waiting to be altered Ann always makes time to talk to me. This little wisp of a lady is smart, witty, and no-nonsense - just what I like in other people.  Every time I come in she tells me a story from her past or shares some of her views about the world that confirm my assessment.

The 81 year old has seen her share of hardships. She lost her husband years ago to pancreatic cancer and is a cancer survivor herself. But there have been lots of high points in Ann's life as well. Fourteen years ago her grandson helped her secure the space that is her shop. Those are his shirts to my right waiting to be tailored. "John's picky about how he wears his shirts," she confessed. "He brought me one that fits him just right and he wants the rest fixed up just like that one."

Have you figured out who her grandson is yet? That poster over her right shoulder with the gold record is a clue. Ann's grandson is one half of the country music duo Big & Rich. The rest of her shop walls are covered in Big & Rich swag and autographed pictures of other country music stars. What's really endearing is he helped her get into business before he made it big.  That's how much he loves his Grandmother. That's really saying something.

I owe him a debt of gratitude for it. Now I know if I find a piece I really love that doesn't quite fit chances are Ann Rich can make it look like it was made for me. She enjoys her life and her work, and she likes me because I'm "so colorful".

Rich's Design & Alterations is located at 1100 N Main St  in Ashland City, Tn. Her number is 615 792-1234.

Do you have a tailor you go to regularly to have your clothes altered? If not, why not?

Vamping Up A Storm

Can there be any grace in being a vamp?

The answer is yes, of course, provided that vamp is an extension of a gorgeous shoe.

I've talked about my obsession with shoes before, and I know that I'm not alone in my weakness for beautiful footwear. Who can resist a slinky strapped sandal, a revealing d'orsay pump, or a scandalous vamp that exposes tons of toe cleavage? Who hasn't teetered on a heel too high, stuffed themselves into a shoe too narrow, or wobbled on a poorly constructed stiletto?

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Guilty, guilty, and guilty.

A beautiful shoe renders me momentarily incapable of rational thought. It is in those moments of weakness, impulse, or stubbornness that I have made most of my regrettable shoe purchases. I used to think if I really loved a pair of shoes I would somehow make them work on my wide, palsied feet. I carried on with this delusion for most of my life, until one day I caught myself looking for a pair of shoes to wear, nixing one after the other because of fit or comfort issues. I had a closet full of beautiful shoes I didn't want to wear.

The solution was obvious. I had to let go of my outdated thinking about shoes and replace it with a practical, elegant philosophy that would truly serve me. I donated all of the absolute "unwearables" at once.

The most delicate kitten heels that made my ankles turn with a single misstep.

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The slingbacks that perpetually slipped off.

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The flats with such a low vamp they couldn't conceal my foot curling up.

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Anything too tight or uncomfortable to endure for more than an hour. They all left my closet, but I was by no means done.

Since then I've really paid attention to what works for me as well as what doesn't. Oxfords and brogues work well and they're de rigueur right now so I'm snatching them up as fast as I can. Styles range from ultra-feminine to uber eccentric and I love most of them.

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Anything with a high, wide vamp like certain espadrilles works, too. So do Mary Janes and T-straps. I'd kill for the perfect pair of T-Strap shoes; they're my very favorite style!

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Boots must have a wide calf or laces for adjustment. When I'm on crutches heels for walking may not exceed 1.5", but if I'm in my chair I can double that number.

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I was actually told by a Physical Therapist that it's good for your foot to vary your heel heights within reason.

One pair at a time I replaced shoes that were "okay" looking or fit "so-so" with shoes that were beautiful and comfortable - because I refuse to wear ugly shoes unless I'm exercising or there's a zombie apocalypse. Actually, I can probably scare up some attractive boots if there's a zombie apocalypse.

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I can certainly pull it together better than the ladies on "The Walking Dead". Never have so many needed a bath and a makeover so badly. But I digress.

Although this post is autobiographical I must tell you that this is a clarion call for all of you lovely ladies reading it. Some of you are already experiencing some form of physical disability that requires you to be creative with your footwear. I'm here to tell you that nowadays even supportive shoes are available in attractive styles, and if you are unable to wear shoes you can certainly find some stylish socks or embellish some slippers with Sworovski crystals. Whatever you can manage, own it, rock it, make it yours!

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For the rest of you I'm here to give you a reality check. Sooner or later you'll have to abandon the towering and torturous footwear you have for a wider variety. The padding on the ball and heel of your foot begins to diminish as you approach 40 and the delicate bones in your feet become more malleable with age. This leaves you with increasing discomfort in those shoes that pinch and push your foot forward and at increased risk for permanent deformities such as hammer toes. I'm never anxious to welcome anyone else into the crippled community, especially a self-inflicted disability. Start putting some less extreme, but still stylish,  footwear into your rotation, please.

Okay, I confess; I still consider myself to be a bigger vamp than any of my shoes can contain.  So much for the "sensible shoe"!

All images courtesy of Pinterest

Goodnight Moon

I'm not referring to the bedtime story.

I'm fed up with ill-fitting, unflattering jeans that are prone to exposing more than I ever intended them to. I don't mind being called "cheeky" but I don't want the nickname to be a literal comment.

You know what I'm talking about. If you have to constantly tug on your jeans because they are migrating South without taking you with them. If you're perpetually shifting in your seat in a desperate attempt to cover your ass; literally. If your pants only feel like they're pulled all the way up when you're sporting a camel toe. If you can't take a full breath without your gut spilling out of your waistband. If the prospect of bending down to pick something up off of the floor is more terrifying than a shower in prison. If you can identify with any of these statements it's time for you to admit that you're no longer the teenager most jeans are built for and marketed towards. It's time to step away from the low-rise, ladies.

For me this has been a long time coming. I thought that some significant weight loss and getting fit would resolve all my denim dilemmas. But the fact is that because I'm in my 50's my body will always be rounder and less toned than when I was 30. When I walk with my crutches I don't want to stop every 20 feet and pull my jeans up, and when I'm wheeling around I don't want to back up so far in my seat that I back out of my britches.

So I went through my closet and donated every girly, junior, low-rise, too tight in the rear, too loose in the gut pair of jeans I owned. That left very few pairs - too few by Nashville standards. At the very least I wanted to acquire a crisp, white pair and a dark wash companion.

A quick trip to the thrift stores was a waste of time. The next step up the clothing chain yielded a white and dark wash, Michael Kors and DKNY respectively. Unfortunately they didn't fit any better than the ones I had just discarded. My last resort was the Opry Mills outlet mall. I had bought jeans from some of the major names like Old Navy and Gap before. I felt confident I could just waltz in and get what I came for.

Wrong.

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The jeans that had served me well were a thing of the past. The styles that worked for me had either been discontinued or redesigned - to sit even lower on the body! Mid-rise or even natural waisted cuts seemed to have disappeared.

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You can't really see it but every Calvin Klein style in the photo above says it sits "below the waist". Now, none of us want to wear the dreaded "Mom jean" but every style I came across barely covered my assets. Okay, I had clearly outgrown the well-known brands. Time to think outside the box.

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I had never shopped at Chico's before. I thought them to be too "old" for my taste and too pricey. But the sign above pulled me into their store, and a trip to their fitting room won me over.

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Finally, denim for grown-ups! No fading, acid-washing, whiskering, or distressing. No body parts suffocated, sausage encased, muffin topped, or mooned over. Just classy jeans in a contemporary cut that fit!

They need to be hemmed, of course, even the "short" length tends to be too long for me. As far as price goes, they were buy one, get one 50% off, which made them comparable to the Gap and several other stores in the mall. I couldn't resist and promptly snatched up a white pair as well.

Goodnight, moon. Go back to the night sky where you belong. Mine will stay stylishly encased in the indigo of my new jeans.

Fashion Friday: Just Do It - Always

Indulge me; I'm going to carry the fitness theme into this week's Fashion Friday because I have a few thought's to add to my previous post.

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The outfit here, which would be fine either at the gym or at your house, is really not nearly as important as the idea. These are just basic activewear pieces; yoga pants, biker shorts, sports bra top, zip up hoodie, and athletic shoes. If you're me the only two items to be picky about are the sports bra top and the footwear. Most of you will have no trouble (and some of you no need) finding a well-fitting sports bra. I have yet to find one, and it's not from lack of trying, so I just wear a regular bra and tee. Your athletic shoes should be where you spend your cash. Make sure they fit well and are geared towards the activities for which you are wearing them.

The exercise equipment pictured aren't just props. I use all of these at some point during the week in my workouts. Instead of a bicycle I use a stationary peddler but the workout is comparable. The point I want to make, especially to those of you with physical limitations, is you have to tailor the concept of exercise to your own abilities. Only you know the difference between possibilities and excuses.

Do it today, then do it tomorrow, then the next day. After a month you'll be able to see yourself always doing some form of physical activity.

Spashionistas Wanted

The outfits that I put together for Fashion Friday are based on my BODS profile. Sure, some of the items I use are beyond my price range but I’m certain I can find reasonable equivalents within my budget. I would love the opportunity to put some together for you for the next installment of Fashion Friday. If you’re interested email me with your BODS profile and we’ll make it happen!

A Month To Be Passionate About

How cliche would it be to go all Cupidy-Bonbon-and-Red-Rosey this time of year?

So cliche that I'm not going to do it. Well, not literally, anyway. Lots of my fellow bloggers are doing a fine job with traditional Valentine's Day iconography so I'm going to focus on the most intense, undistilled facet of love.

I want to talk about passion. Passion is more compulsion than emotion. It focuses our attention on how something or someone makes us feel and compels us to act. It pushes any rational thought out of our minds and replaces it with a never-ending quest for fulfillment of that compulsion. Addiction is passion taken to the extreme. Extremes are usually ultimately negative and rarely a good thing.

But passion is always a good thing. It's about living instead of merely existing. So this month I'm going to share some of my passions with you, and some of them may raise an eyebrow or two.

For example, take a look at this outfit.

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If any of you find this attractive please turn in your "Fashionista" card immediately. It's a hideous outfit; $8 velour hoodie from Old Navy, $3 Victoria's Secret sweatpants via Music City Thrift, white wool knee socks, and 2007 model Ecco Mary Janes via EBay. The only redeeming article of clothing here is the black tee with Mr Spashionista's logo on it - and it's only appropriate outside of this application when worn underneath a jacket. For the longest time I thought the lettering across the back of the sweats read, "Oink" instead of "Pink". I'm not making that up.

But I'm passionate about this outfit and wouldn't part with it for the world. This is my workout wear for the winter months. Because I am a 51 year old woman with CP being as fit as possible is important to me. Several years ago I had a leg injury that required I go through physical therapy. While I was there I learned how to stretch and exercise and began getting stronger. Now I exercise every day. I also walk around my back yard with my two dogs as often as I can. That's the reason I'm so particular about my footwear.  It's very difficult for me to walk outdoors, even with my crutches, and I've found these shoes have the best fit for that specific activity. However, they don't work well for indoor exercises or even the stationary peddler I've been using since Christmas so I usually lose them before I  work out indoors.

None of this will cancel out the fact that I have Cerebral Palsy, but it does make me healthier in other ways, and I am healthy compared to a large number of my peers. If I have to forego my workout for a day I find my body craves it. Who knew that it would take me almost a half century to become passionate about exercise?

By the way, If you think this getup is bad I actually have a Muppet-pelt parka I add if it's hovering around freezing when I go for my walk. I'm not going to show you that gem - just think Snufflecripagus.