Tag Archives: disabled women

Sundance Channel’s “Push Girls”:”When You Can’t Stand Up, Stand Out”

27 Jun
intro1pushgirls

Photo from sundancechannel.com.

“If you can’t stand up, stand out!” is the motto of Push Girls, the Sundance Channel‘s reality program focusing on five wheelchair-bound women in Los Angeles. (The fifth, Chelsie Hill, makes her debut this season).  None was born disabled; all encountered traumatic accidents or medical conditions as young women. As a result, each is either paraplegic or quadriplegic. It’s an attractive group; in fact, a couple are downright gorgeous as well as gutsy. If you’re feeling down and need something to make you believe in the resilience of humankind, this just might be the show for you.

Models, Wives, Athletes

Like non-seated women, the stars of Push Girls–Auti Angel, Angela Rockwood, Tiphany Adams, and Mia Schakewitz–have been wives, athletes, and models.  As season two begins, Auti and her husband are struggling to keep their marriage together. Model Angela and her ex, who have divorced amicably, have decided that she will keep her lovely Los Angeles house; adaptive athlete Tiphany, along with Mia, practices going down stairs in her chair in case of fire–an instructive scene for anyone who is fully ambulatory and may not realize the difficulties involved. In a girls’ night out scene, Tiphany even rides a mechanical bull.

Aside from the ladies’ being confined to wheelchairs, the situations they face are very much like those other women face. That’s the point.

A Healthy Dose of ‘Tude

Unlike the stars of other reality shows, the Push Girls show us the challenges and victories of their lives, without becoming Debbie Downers on the one hand or demanding that viewers worship them as heroes on the other. Nor do they expect every gesture they make (“Hey! I just tweezed my eyebrows!” ) to become newsworthy. They simply are what they are, with a whole lot of attitude to help them along and lift up the hearts of their audience. As the season progresses, you’ll find there isn’t much the ladies won’t try. Limitations? Not too evident.

Thanks, Sundance

Not since the 2005 documentary film Murderball has there been a video presentation about the disabled evoking this level of inspiration. My only excuse for missing the first season of Push Girls is that my basic-expanded cable lineup doesn’t include the Sundance Channel, but I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the show while researching something else. No worries:  we can all watch it at sundancechannel.com.  With Sundance’s help,  disabled women are gaining more constructive time in the spotlight. Hear, hear!

Hats: Add Sun Protection to Your Warm-Weather Fashion Statement

8 May
sunn protection, disabled shopping, summer hats, disabled accesssories, wefly2,hats

Straw hat, no brand available, regifted from a neighbor.

Self-portrait in straw hat.

Self-portrait in straw hat.

Living in the skin cancer capital of the US (Arizona), I am always concerned with avoiding harmful rays and staying relatively cool. While using sunblock is important, donning a hat that keeps the sun off both the face and back of the neck is also helpful. For disabled women who may be waiting for public transportation or otherwise spending time outdoors in sunny climates, wide-brimmed hats are useful as well as stylish in the heat. I recommend straw or cotton for breathability.

While my own recently acquired straw hat came from a former neighbor who never wore it and  no longer wanted it, I have noticed straw and canvas broad-brims displayed in unusual places, such as Walgreens and Sprouts. When I thought about this, I asked myself, why not? These stores do cater to our health. Other venues and catalogs, of course, carry them as well.

Baseball Caps Won’t Cut It

As popular as they are, baseball caps keep the sun off only the face, not the back of the neck. Landscapers and other outdoor workers may tuck a short towel under the backs of their caps to ward off the sunlight and absorb perspiration, but if you want a more stylish look, these hats just won’t cut it. I also saw a rapper on MTV sporting a baseball cap with a hoodie pulled over it, but I confess the look didn’t do much for me. Practically speaking, however, the hoodie-cap ensemble would keep the sun off. It depends on your aesthetic, and my age may be showing here.

But I Don’t Look Good in Hats

You probably aren’t used to wearing a hat and feel more self-conscious than you need to.  But despite America’s love of hatless freedom (except for the baseball cap), fashion history has had many periods in which everybody wore a chapeau of some kind, regardless of how they looked. You are going to remove your hat when you go inside for that lunch date, movie, or sporting event anyway. If it makes you feel better, look at my pic and have a giggle. I may look as if I have fallen off a 19th-century hay wagon, but I am melanoma-free. Chortle away!

Heeding the Wake-Up Call

Bicyclists and light-rail riders in Phoenix have been putting on hats during their trips, so the trend seems to be taking hold. Good job, ladies! For light-skinned people of Northern European extraction, like me, the Arizona sun can wreak havoc with our pale complexions. A hat is a necessity as well as a fashion statement. Olive-skinned people are not exempt from skin cancer, and even those of African descent carry a slight risk of contracting it. In addition, our bright sun poses another problem in late spring and summer, no matter how you travel: visibility!  The light is so piercing that at certain times of the day, you cannot see well, even with sunglasses. The extra shade of a hat brim helps here too, especially if you don’t have a hand to put up to shield your eyes. So if you are outside during the day for any reason, you really need protection. Plop on that hat and rub on some sunblock, or have your caregiver do it, even on a cloudy day. Your skin, eyes, and hair will thank you.

Sis, My Fashion Friend: Christmas All Year Long

25 Dec
CABI, Christmas, wefly2, jackets

CABI jacket from Sis. Add a cami or sweater plus trouser jeans, and it tops a go-to outfit for many occasions.

Few of us are lucky enough to benefit from a friend’s shopping habit (I don’t mean addiction). But my beautiful sister, Carol F., brings me bags of clothes several times a year, with brands ranging from Merona to Fresh Produce to Michael Kors. Anything that doesn’t work is donated or taken to our favorite consignment store, Poor Little Rich Girl. Even though Sis is taller than I and trendy in her tastes while I tend to be classic, many of her garments are terrific for me, and I believe she reads my mind. For example, I was thinking I needed a nice jacket, and voila! she came up with the great CABI pictured above. Uncanny!

We like to think the donated and consigned clothes are one small way to keep on giving to our community, something our mom, our first fashion teacher, taught us. Although we are generally involved in different non-profits, clothing is the bond we share.  I love you, Sis; thanks for your generosity, to me and to others.

May all of you have a Merry Christmas!

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
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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!

Stephanie Thomas and Luvwhatuwear.com: Answers for Disabled Women

7 Dec

Media personality Stephanie Thomas has been advising disabled women on fashion for 20 years. Disabled herself, she has been a beauty pageant contestant as well as a dancer for the Chicago Bulls. Like many of us, she became frustrated with clothing choices that failed to address the needs of disabled consumers, and she decided to do something about it. Her site, luvwhatuwear.com, is replete with ideas for people with specific conditions as well as a “Make Some Noise” section featuring stories of disabled consumers who spoke out about their needs and got results. Her site also has forums categorized by disability. Stephanie’s APOSH philosophy of personal style encourages women to make smart fashion choices, with her help; the site has an “Ask Stephanie” button for those seeking advice.   But enough: I’ll let Stephanie introduce herself.

We have an articulate, intelligent advocate speaking for us in the fashion world–something we disabled women need if we are to be heard and have our needs met. As Stephanie said in her video, other niches, such as maternity and plus-size, have the ear of designers and retailers and have clothing options now. It’s our turn. We are fortunate to have Stephanie Thomas out there clearing a path for us. Do visit her site at luvwhatuwear.com and “make some noise!”

Expert Style Advice: My BODS Profile from the Spashionista

5 Dec
disabled fashion, Spashionista, wefly2, sweater, dress, jeans, low-heeled shoes, mary janes, Old Navy, Payless

The Spashionista’s recommendations for outfits for me. The occasion was a happy-hour meeting. I sent her specs on my figure and foot needs as well.

Fellow fashion blogger Alicia of spashionistareport has developed her own spot-on system of personal shopping for disabled women. She calls it BODS, for Budget, Occasion, Disability, and Shape (or figure type). Provide her with the necessary information, and she researches an outfit for you–including purse and footwear! With her subjects’ permission, she includes her findings in her Friday Fashion posts. On a recent Friday, she completed a BODS profile for me.  Above are the outfit options she came up with, for a happy-hour meeting to discuss disabled fashion. I requested she follow a budget of $100 or less.  Her analysis and commentary appear below:

The Spashionista’s Analysis

” I’ve given Laura two options here. Both share a very similar upper body shape and focus bold, solid color near her face….

Let’s start with option one. The cardinal purple medium weight cotton blend cowl neck sweater dress is from Old Navy. It has an empire waist, hits just above the knee, and is priced at $39.

Because she has to wear orthotics in her shoes they must have a rounded toe and an athletic shoe style heel. These Lower East Side Alex side bow Mary Janes from Payless have a slight heel that mimics athletic shoes,  a rounded toe, and hidden elastic in the strap. These shoes are very comfy – I know this because I own them – and they are a steal at $17.

Laura has expressed a preference for fanny packs but I thought I’d show her a different option. The small Mossimo Supply Co. quilted chain crossbody black bag is from Target; it’s also $17.

Finally, stylesforless.com has these black and silver stacked 6-piece bangles for $9.

Option two replaces the dress with a top and pants. The top is also from Old Navy, a fuchsia, medium weight jersey with a natural waist and cowl neckline that sells for $32. The pants are from Amazon.com. They are Lee’s Comfort Waist straight leg pant in an indigo rinse, essentially a crisp-looking, more comfortable version of jeans. They sell for $28.

If you add up the totals you’ll see that option one comes in at $82. Option two is slightly over-budget at $103, but Laura can skip the bracelets and bring the grand total down to $94.”

There you have it! Online personal shopping, tailored to figure, finance, occasion, and disability. How uplifting is that? Without going into details about my figure, I’ll just say that the Spashionista has nailed it. From the comments her readers make on Fashion Friday, she has an eye for this endeavor. Also, she is always looking for subjects who want BODS profiles. Check her out at spashionistareport.wordpress.com!