Tag Archives: disabled clothing

To the Garment Industry: Less Polyester, More Cotton, Please

7 Jun
An Arizona cotton plant. Photo from tucsonsentinel.com.

An Arizona cotton plant. Photo from tucsonsentinel.com.

It never fails. Thumbing through a catalogue, I’ll get all excited: “What a stellar outfit! Those colors would be so flattering, and I could get a lot of use out of it!” Then I read the description: “Oh snap! It’s 100% polyester.”

Once again, the garment industry has saved me money. Although the wildly popular synthetic works well in blends, such as poly-rayon-spandex in career pants and poly-cotton interlock in t-shirts, I can’t stand full-strength polyester against my skin. Of course, there’s a backstory here.

Body Odor

My mother used to buy me lovely-looking polyester dresses and skirt outfits. I wore them faithfully. Unfortunately, she tended to call me aside, as she felt a mother should, and tell me I should change deodorants and laundry detergents because she noticed I, and my clothes, didn’t smell nice. I was flummoxed. Having my mom insinuate I stank to high heaven was deflating enough, but I was a clean person who took joy in my daily showers and wore clothing only once before washing it.  Was it my weight or diet? Was I doomed to turn into a garbage can when I tried to look good? Visions of Mom pursuing me with a can of Lysol at family gatherings entered my head.  I sent for Kleinert’s dress shields, which helped a little. I also noticed Mom didn’t comment on my b.o.when I wore cotton or other natural fabrics, but it took awhile to figure out why.

Putting It Together: Stacy and Clinton to the Rescue

Years later, I was watching an episode of What Not To Wear (one of my favorites).  Style experts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly were conducting the customary sort-and-toss of their current client’s wardrobe. Holding up a pair of  dark polyester pants, one of them asked, “Where would you wear these?” “Out dancing,” the lady replied. “You must smell good by the end of the night,” Clinton laughed, explaining that polyester doesn’t breathe.

Bingo!

It wasn’t me; it was the fabric that had trapped my perspiration and not vented my skin, so to speak. I had been shying away from 100%v poly anyway by the time I saw this episode, but now I knew why. Although people perspire in different quantities, eliminating toxins through sweat is normal and bound to happen unless you have a medical condition. Working out? Sweat is desirable. Living in Phoenix, in 100+ degree heat, or New Orleans in 85 degree heat with 85% humidity? Sweat happens. Unless you are wearing one of the newer polyester or nylon garments that wick away moisture, poly keeps sweat next to your skin.  Being disabled and moving more slowly down the sidewalk simply gives one more opportunity to sweat in the summer.  What’s the solution? Mine is wearing cotton.

In Praise of Cotton

Crisp or soft, depending on the treatment, cotton is breathable and comfortable, lending itself to casual, in-between, and dressy outfits with ease. It comprises many fashion classics: jeans, tees, button-down shirts and blouses, shorts, cardigans, summer dresses. That isn’t even a comprehensive list.  Because I live in a warm climate, I focus on staying cool in the spring and summer and layering clothing in the winter, when days start out chilly but grow warmer. Sweat? Cotton both absorbs and vents it.  Admittedly, my love of cotton doesn’t stop with my outer wardrobe. I prefer cotton socks, underwear, pajamas, and sheets (no slinky satin for me). After working in a hospital and seeing their cotton blankets, I was thrilled to find  one in assorted colors in the Brylane Home print catalogue. I am a cotton fan all right. My body says “Don’t fence me in when you cover me,” and cotton fits the bill.

No Knocks To Other Naturals

Other natural fabrics have their benefits, of course. However, silk does not fit my budget.  Wool is fantastic, but  not often needed in Phoenix. Linen? Wrinkle city, although textile designers are blending it with other fabrics to lessen that tendency. Flax and hemp? Getting there, but still a bit expensive for me. More power to anyone designing breathable couture. Who says fabulous clothes have to make you sweat?

Some Clarification

My home state since 1972,  Arizona, grows cotton; however, I am not a spokesperson for the industry. It may sound that way, but  I don’t even know anyone in that business. In addition, I realize my mom spoke out of love. For her generation, cotton meant lots of ironing and effort; polyester and other no-iron synthetics were a godsend. I was a busy young teacher, and she simply wanted to share that godsend with me by helping me look good in pretty, low-maintenance outfits. My intent was not to criticize her, and I was often over-sensitive in those days anyway.

Polyester is popular, or the fashion world wouldn’t be using it. It has a silky hand and probably takes dyes easily to form any patterns designers wish on the fabric. Its no-iron smoothness and drape are appealing. A former colleague wore it often; she also carried a bottle of Febreze to ward off body odor. That worked for her. Me?  I find the stuff aversive. I’ll opt for cotton.

Advertisements

You Thought the Overt Skank Look Was Passe? Not Quite

20 Feb
thong, wefly2, undergarments, fashion statement, disabled shopping,disabled clothing

Photo from Peopleofwalmart.com.

“That’s not a pretty picture,” a nurse whispered to me as I waited for a patient outside a restroom in the ER. As a patient companion (“sitter,”) I see aspects of human nature I never expected to see. This night, it would include fashion as well. Turning my head, I saw a young woman leaving the hospital on crutches. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But wait! My eye caught something else: sweatpants, sagging in back, revealing a thong and most of her derriere.

Nothing Personal

You’ll notice I have included a photo of  a related fashion faux-pas, but not the specific offender. A photo of her would have violated patient confidentiality, as the thong-wearer was still inside the hospital; also, as I said in my first post, wefly2 does not go in for personal attacks. I saw nothing wrong with the woman’s figure, and I am happy her injury was treated and she was able to go home. It was her taste level that provoked me.
The Message: Warning: Graphic Comment

I don’t usually get down and dirty in this blog, but this time I will. Most of us are aware that our clothing, or lack of it, sends messages to those around us. A thong and a mostly-bare butt not only says “I’m super available,” but “I’ll do it in the convenience-store parking lot, and I don’t mind being sloppy seconds!”

Sorry about that. My understated, suggest-rather-than-flaunt aesthetic was offended.  By the way, the nurse and I were not the only ones who noticed, or rolled our eyes.

Everything in its Place

Am I becoming an undergarment censor? Of course not. A friend of mine wears thongs, but, as she says, “You’ll never see them; they are underwear.” It is entirely possible the patient didn’t have the presence of mind to think about her clothing choices in the throes of  her pain.  I will cut her some slack in that event. She may also not have realized that her sweatpants would sag as she adjusted her arms to use the crutches.

On the other hand, if one is not rushing to the ER, there are other, more tasteful ways to show off a nice rear, such as cupping it in well-fitting pants.  If you want the overstated skank look, I will not hold you back; I believe in freedom of speech, no matter how tasteless. But please, be aware of the message you are sending to your audience.

PS–My laptop caught a nasty virus, but I am finally back online (thanks, Jeremy!)

2013: Will I Avoid My Worst Fashion Faux Pas?

1 Jan
pajamas, dogs, wefly2, sleepwear, casual wear, disabled clothing

A representative pair of cotton-blend pajamas, worn to bed, around the house, and on dog walks.

Well…probably not. Yet, of all the habits a blogger on fashion, albeit a partially disabled one, should eliminate in the New Year, this one tops the list. We all know about diet resolutions (chant it with me now: Baconnaise does not exist. I will not buy it or dip potato chips into it) and exercise vows (30 minutes a day, every day!) But my faux pas? Hang on; this is a bad one.

The Confession

I walk my dog in my pajamas. In broad daylight, in a large American city.

The Rationalizations

It might not matter if I were a Victoria’s Secret Angel, but I was far from that even in my youth. Why would I do this? I work at night, but Tucker has to go out during the day, when I sleep. I am too lazy to get dressed, although I do pause to put on a bra before leashing him up as well as a sweater or jacket in cold weather. I should also point out that my pajamas are opaque and provide full coverage. Sometimes, I don a tee-shirt and  pajama bottoms. My ensemble (if you can call it that) may not be flattering, but it exposes nothing beyond ankles and elbows.

Additionally, Tucker is a Basset Hound. Have you ever heard a Basset bark or howl when he wants something? The woofs and aroos may be endearing in a rural setting, but I don’t want to disturb my neighbors. If he needs out, I want to get him there with minimal noise and fuss. My appearance is simply not a priority at these times.

Basset Hounds, Arizona Basset Hound Rescue

Tucker. With a face like that, I scramble to get him what he wants–pajamas or not!

The Switch to Slovenly

Knowing Tucker had to go out, I used to stay in my work clothes from the night before and doze on the couch, but that wreaked havoc with my neck (Ah, the days when I had a house with a doggy door!) Besides, there is something comforting and cathartic about taking off clothes from the office and stepping into cozy jammies for sleep. Fortunately, my complex is enclosed, set back from the street and blessed with large courtyards, so strangers never see me in this disheveled state. My neighbors, a wonderfully tolerant bunch, are cordial whether I am dressed for an evening out or a pajama-clad dog outing. The late landlord (RIP) behaved the same way. I guess the only thing that would change this unstylish habit is a change in work schedule!

You Do What, and Write What?

If you look at all the sleek, beautifully photographed personal-style blogs out there, you may find it hard to believe anyone writing about any aspect of fashion–even a plus-sized 50-something with neuropathy–would stoop to the sartorial depths that I do, let alone confess to it. (You’ll notice I have not posted a photo of myself in pajamas. I respect my audience, and their stomachs, too much for that).  But I like to admit I am human, confess my foibles, and laugh at them, even if I don’t change or eliminate them. This will not change with the New Year!

Finally, Rain in the Desert! TravelSmith Can Help You Weather the Storm

16 Dec
rain coat, TravelSmith, disabled fashion, disabled women, wefly2, disabled shopping, online shopping

My short trench rain coat from TravelSmith.

Rain in Phoenix is a novelty. Seriously. I have seen people run to the windows of their homes and offices when water pours from the sky, as it did yesterday. Some folks are unprepared and don’t even bother to turn on their windshield wipers, let alone purchase rain gear. Me? I carried an umbrella to dinner Friday night, as it had rained earlier in the day, but of course it didn’t in the evening. Last night, however, I was grateful for my TravelSmith short trench raincoat.

Water-Repellant, Handy, and Chic

I finished walking the dog in steady rain and was dry thanks to my coat‘s water-repellent qualities. Polyester with nylon lining, the tan trench-style coat lies somewhere between long jacket and car-coat length. It covers a blazer but does not look odd with any length of skirt. When you sit down while wearing it, it doesn’t pull anywhere–a plus for wheelchair and scooter users, although you may want a longer garment to keep your legs dry, like TravelSmith’s Navy Waterproof Trench Coat.  My TravelSmith coat also features a self-belt, silver-toned buttons, two outside pockets that button and two hidden pockets inside.   TravelSmith always thinks of safety options for travelers; this is their forte.

Current Offerings for Rain or Cool Weather

The most recent travelsmith.com offerings include a white “Nautical Crinkled” version of my coat for $99, the price I paid. This beauty still has the four pockets, self-belt, a crisp appearance and is supposed to shed wrinkles when packed for travel. Prefer another color? TravelSmith also offers a Navy Trench Jacket with similar, but not identical, styling for $149, and the Waterproof Trench Coat in several colors for $129-$179.

rain coats,rain jackets, trench jackets, travelsmith.com, disabled shopping, online shopping

The most recent version of TravelSmith’s trench rain jacket, available at travelsmith.com. Photo from travelsmith.com.

A Note About Fit

My short trench was a little snug in the hips when I first purchased it–I was not able to button the bottom button–but fit perfectly once I dropped a few pounds. I am not pear-shaped, but the tummy got in the way, I think! Sizes run as high as XL (18-20). If you think you might have the same problem I did and can’t order a size up, you might consider the full-length trench coat or some of the shorter jackets travelsmith.com has. Be sure to check the clearance section, too!

Ah, Climate

I love it when it rains here. I used to feel silly having a raincoat in my closet, but not anymore. We Phoenicians may not need hardcore winter wear like our friends in colder climates–we laugh when we see sweaters in department stores in September, and it is still 100 degrees here–but it always pays to be prepared for the rain. The clouds and dampness are a welcome change, and chic coats from TravelSmith can help us enjoy it!

Designer Ann Oliver to Engage Other Designers in New Project

10 Dec
xeni-collection-2-100x100

Pants outfit by Ann Oliver. Part of her Xeni Collection, xenicollection.com.

UK designer Ann Oliver, a pioneer in couture for disabled women, is engaging in a new kind of outreach: she plans to gather talented designers from Not Just a Label and have them design one piece for her Xeni Collection  each season. Doing so, Mrs. Oliver reasons, gives up-and-coming designers greater exposure to the market as well as expanded horizons composing garments for a particular niche.

“The time is right, now, when we have a unique opportunity, established with such guts and determination by sportsmen and women from across the globe. It is time to bring designing for [disabled women] into the mainstream. I have a dream that every designer at London Fashion Week would include one outfit in every collection for women facing our challenges,”  Mrs. Oliver comments in her blog.

Stricken with multiple sclerosis over 20 years ago, Ann Oliver learned firsthand the challenges of battling with buttons, hooks, and other conventional fastenings. She also discovered that standard clothing options were not properly cut for seated wearers: the garments provided neither comfort nor coverage, let alone style. An architect, she enrolled in a London college to learn clothing design, and Xeni took root.

Inspiration

As disabled women, we are well aware of the difficulties our conditions impose on us, whether we are able to work or not. Ann Oliver is one of us, who changed careers in mid-life to work for us: as I commented in an October post, this is a daunting task. This holiday season, give yourself a treat and visit her site at xenicollection.com. It is inspiring to see what Mrs. Oliver does, and you’ll want to add an outfit or two to your wish list.  Spread the word!