Tag Archives: shopping

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.


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!)

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!

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!”

Straps vs. Handles: Getting Personal about Purses

4 Dec
Coach,clutch, purses, handbags, Coldwater Creek, Basset Rescue

Clockwise, from top: Coach, gift, 2011; clutch, 1970; Coldwater Creek, 2008; purse from Arizona Basset Hound Rescue Basset Ball, 2010.

Anyone who has seen the 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives, a tale of three American World War II veterans’ readjustment to civilian life, remembers Homer (Harold Russell). A Navy vet, Homer is a double amputee, skilled in the use of his prosthetic arms; he can open a bottle of beer, smoke a cigarette, and dabble on the piano. Most importantly, he eventually  learns that his fiancee, Wilma, loves him the same as she did before he was injured. It’s an uplifting story.

What we can’t ask Homer is the kind of handbag he would prefer if he were a woman in 2012 (not that men don’t carry them, of course, but this blog focuses on women. Sorry, guys). Would a woman with two prosthetic arms, or one, want to bother with a purse, or would she choose one in a style she liked and have a friend carry it for her? I cannot answer that question; I can only speak from my own perspective. Taste in handbags is highly individualistic anyway, whether the consumer is disabled or non-disabled. But thinking about your preferences can make life easier.

Stressing about Straps: Day bag Dilemmas

Even before I developed chronic back pain, shoulder bags and across-the-body bags were out to get me. As long as I stood still, a shoulder bag worked well; once I leaned over, for example, to look at something in a store, Whoosh! my bag careened forward like a wrecking ball. Then I would be locked in battle with it, pushing it back onto my hip as it kept falling forward, distracting me and coming close to smashing heaven knows what. I realize some shoulder bags have adjustable straps, but they still aren’t as easy to carry as other purses with handles or–best of both worlds, for many–handles plus detachable straps.

Across-the-body styles stay put but seem to hit my body in the wrong places.  Seriously, when you put the purse on, is the strap supposed to go above, directly across, or under your breast?   When the strap crosses my body above it, near my neck, I feel like I’m going to choke (the same reason I avoid wearing turtlenecks). Directly across the chest? Squish–no go. Below? I feel like a failed advertisement for Playtex: ” She’s crossing her heart…one side at a time.”  You thought the fanny pack was bad for symmetry? Cross-body purses may sit more securely and prevent the wrecking-ball effect, but the proximity of the strap to my neck, shoulder, and breast does not work for me on a day-to-day basis.  I’ve never found one that tucked comfortably against my side, either. For evening occasions, though, smaller shoulder- and cross-body bags suit me. It must be the size and added bulk I stuff into a day bag that irritate me. C’est la vie.

Hear, Hear: Handles and Clutches

From about sixth grade on, I thought shoulder bags were it for day wear if a girl wanted to avoid the granny look. Now I’m granny age, and in some respects it’s nice to be wrong! Although I’ve had the zippered clutch pictured above since my early teens, if I pack light enough for evening (always a challenge for me!), it still works. If I can’t streamline my stuff, the clutch works as a makeup case or as storage for other small items. The Coldwater Creek purse and Basset Rescue purse hold more items; the Coldwater Creek purse, in a neutral grey, is especially versatile. On my wish list? A black or metallic clutch. For day, there is my rounded, handled Coach (thanks, Sis!) What is there to say about this style that hasn’t already been said? Roomy, stylish, functional–it will remain a favorite.  All of the above are easy to carry and cause no discomfort unless I cram too much stuff in them–my fault.

What Works for You?

I will not prescribe, or proscribe, anything fashion-related; I will leave that to the pros. My friends at spashionistareport and luvwhatuwear.com give wonderful advice, and Stephanie Thomas of luvwhatuwear even describes a bra with a hidden compartment for gals who would like to enjoy outings without having to carry purses. Alicia the Spashionista has even found a small, light shoulder bag for evening that I’m considering! Deciding on a handbag is based on personal needs and preferences; may your favorite style meet your needs.

Say What? A Disabled Woman’s Defense of Fanny Packs

27 Nov


Keely, after batting around two fanny packs. Some fashionistas would applaud her! Left, a flatter leather model; right, black nylon in a deeper, three-dimensional shape.

The fanny pack is reviled by many in the fashion world, including the excellent Tim Gunn. These critics say the pack interferes with the lines of an ensemble and ruins the wearer’s silhouette. I see their point: a woman walking erect, in pencil skirt or trousers and heels, might appear to cut her body in half or add girth, detracting from her efforts to look and feel her best. However, they are not writing about disabled women. “Silhouette”? Do I even have one?  I hobble with a cane sometimes, or, on good days, walk slowly and a bit “differently.” If my clothes, hair, and makeup look decent, I’m happy. I can’t imagine anyone thinking, “Yowza! That plus-sized, 50-something lady has a wicked-sexy limp! What a turn-on! Oops, I take that back.  She’s wearing a fanny pack, and it just wrecks her silhouette!”

Utility and Security on the Job

I first wore a fanny pack about 20 years ago, when I taught at an inner-city high school. My desk didn’t lock, and there was nowhere else on campus to secure a purse except for my car, which wasn’t too convenient. Where was I to stash my keys, if I wasn’t wearing an outfit with pockets? The fanny pack saved the day, allowing me to safely stow keys, extra whiteboard markers, cash, lipstick, anything I needed. Knowing where my belongings were, I could move freely about the classroom and focus on my job. Interestingly, the only negative comment I received about my fanny pack was from a good friend, long after I had stopped wearing it (my next classroom had a locking file cabinet). My students didn’t seem to notice, although, like most teenagers, they were quick to comment on their teachers’ fashions!

Out and About Hands-Free

Attending sporting events such as dog shows or arena football games also gave me the yen to be hands-free. Maybe I wanted to pet a dog with one hand while holding a Coke in the other, or stand up and cheer without tripping over my purse or worrying about theft. Although the fanny pack works in these contexts, these days I tend to carry more conventional handbags (more about these in an upcoming post). For one thing, my purse is likely to be large enough to hold a water or soda bottle; also, I know the other season ticket holders who sit near me at the Rattlers’ (arena football) games and am therefore unconcerned about the safety of my bag, which fits under my seat. Go Rattlers!

A Decoy Purse?

Let’s face it: Purse snatchers and pick-pockets exist, and the disabled are particularly vulnerable. We can’t run or fight back the way other people might. The fanny pack might be a helpful tool in this situation. A flatter one like the leather pack in the photo could carry your keys, cash and/or credit card–the valuables a thief is after. Wear the fanny pack so it is out of sight under a coat, long sweater or tunic. Then use a purse to carry your other items, such as hairbrush, lip gloss, and  tissues. If someone demands your purse, throw it to him, and move away, yelling. I hope this never happens to you, but who knows? The unfashionable fanny pack may help you save your valuables! As Tim Gunn says in his Fashion Bible, every item has a history and purpose. Perhaps all the fanny pack needs is a little respect and some tweaking in design!

Not Sure What That Outfit Needs? Slip on a Scarf

25 Nov

Few accessories add more panache to an outfit than a scarf. Available in a multitude of colors, patterns, and fabrics, scarves are lighter than jewelry and give the wearer a dapper, heads-up demeanor.  There’s no need to spring for an ultra-expensive Hermes square, either, unless you want to. Scarves fall into every price range, and DIYers can make their own.  The hang-up? Many women, myself included, aren’t sure how to tie scarves. We are afraid we will look like victims of “static cling” stuck to a forgotten item of laundry, or rowdy drunks who have just left a party sporting someone else’s tights around our necks (no, I’m not here to judge if you like that look, or that reputation!)  Fortunately for us,  blogger Wendy of wendyslookbook has a video to help us out. Whether you put on your own scarf or need someone to help you, Wendy has the options covered.

Don’t forget the tutorials if you want a refresher on your favorite looks. With a little practice, we should be able to don our favorite scarves with more confidence–and what is style without confidence? Thanks, Wendy!