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My name is alison and i am doing a project on fashion for disabled people. i am looking to design a system to help disabled people design there own clothes, but at the moment i am in the research stage. what i am looking for is anybody who could help me out, give me details on how difficult or easy it is to find clothes that fit or suit them, or if they design there own clothes etc. it would be good if i could contact any individuals who would be willing to answer any questions. thank you very much.  
alison 
alison.miller@quista.net


From Sharon

Hi, Tiffiny, Loved your column!  I, too, was fourteen when I had my C5-6 injury (waterskiing)--back in 1970.   Now I'm a married lady, lawyer, and mom of two adorable kids--lots of goodies post-SCI.  But you're right, clothes can be challenging.   Here are my tips, learned over many years of trial & error:

Make sure your clothes  are comfortable, make you feel attractive, are easy to maintain, stay cool (as in temperature) and are non-binding. Remember, anything tight could set off a bout of autonomic dysreflexia, resulting in having to wear an unfashionable hospital gown.  Go for pretty, comfortable, and easy to put on and take off. If you're worried about any leakage or accidents, wear a skirt in a dark color that day.  Travel & fishing vests, the kind with lots of little pockets are great for carrying your portable phone, wallet, meds, pens, etc.  I have them in several colors.

My favorite source for clothes right now is TravelSmith, you can check out their clothes at http://www.travelsmith.com   These clothes are rather expensive, but well worth the price.  They wear well and last forever.  I have two Supplex skirts that I've worn hundreds of times and they still look great.  They have some nice Tropical  women's suits that are fabulous.  Most of the TS skirts have pockets and elastic waistbands.

All the clothes I buy from them are machine washable, with no ironing required, and the high-tech fabrics breathe and stay cool, very important for us SCI girls. Look for the Cool-Max and Supplex fabrics. Be forewarned--many items are  currently unavailable- it's a small company that is trying to meet a  huge demand.

Anyway, I love their stuff and recommend it for every woman, SCI or not. I wear their skirts and T-tops and vary my look with lots of scarves and cool jewelry. 

My final clothes tip today is nylon track pants with zippers down both sides--easy to get on & off quickly, easy to wash & dry. 

Final tip--get pedicures- it's a real boost to see pretty toes.    

Keep up the good work, I was happy to find your column! --Sharon Phillips

Sharon can be reached through Ma-Chine


From Jenny

Tiffiny, I have a C-7 spinal cord injury that I sustained when I was 16; I'm now 27. I have a couple of tips to pass along... 

1. Tummy Tips--Even though I'm thin, I still have a belly.   A "girdle" (or "tummy sucker" as I like to call it) really works great.  It is difficult to put on, so I only wear it on special occasions or when the outfits really needs it.  The seams are thicker, so you need to watch your skin closely--or even cut the seam off over bony areas like your bottom.  Also, if you have a tendency for low blood pressure, this helps keep the blood pressure from dropping. 

 2. Clothing specially made for people who use chairs.  The clothing is high quality.  I love their jeans and pants.  I have had mine for several years and they are still in great condition.  The jeans are $50, but well worth it for their great fit--the front is made lower so you don't have a lot of extra material, and the back has an extra couple inches to prevent underwear from showing.  The pant legs come really long so you can have them hemmed to fit your leg length.  Go to www.rolli-moden.com for more information or to get a catalogue.  If you are thin, you might getting the men's straight leg pants which are thinner through the legs.  

3. Hide Your Leg Bag--Medical professionals may not like this idea, but I've never had a problem.  I don't put my leg bag on my leg--I lay the bag on my hip in my underwear.  This way I can empty the bag myself and wear shorts and skirts without having to worry about the bag.  People don't even know I have the bag.  Hope these are helpful. --Jenny Smith

Jenny can be reached through Ma-Chine


From Paraspice

I'm a t-6 para, and I agree skirts are easier (especially for cathing!). One problem I found when I first was injured, is that my legs sat wide open when I wore a skirt, I looked like I was about to go in labor! So to remedy the situation, I now loosely tie my thighs together with an ace bandage, so my legs stay shut.  I  have also purchased a jay rave cushion that has inclines on the sides to push your legs together more (but one disadvantage is that its harder on transfers).

Another great tip:

When I was first injured,  I had an awfully hard time pulling up and down my jeans when I had to go to the bathroom, it would take me for ever!  But then I met a friend that taught me a lifesaver.  She told me to sew a zipper in the crotch of my jeans, so when I had to cath just throw one leg over the wheel, unzip, pull your underwear to one side and cath.  This was an excellent idea! No more pulling up and down my jeans!  I was kinda worried about the zipper though cause of pressure sores or even getting my skin caught, so I first tried Velcro.  It worked great, but after several washes the Velcro wore off and would not stay shut.  So then I tried zippers and I liked them better.  Don't worry no one can tell that the zipper is even there.  Any dry cleaner can install the zipper for a small fee. I also like to shop at thrift stores for my jeans....jeans that are already worn in side on much easier than new stiff tight jeans...and you don't have to worry about returns if they don't fit right cause you only pay a dollar or so.  Sunny Wood

Sunny can be reached through Ma-Chine


Tiffiny

After spending 2 yrs. in a haze of depression, I finally looked in the mirror and realized that I was pretty cute. In fact, I had an epiphany! Just because you use a wheelchair doesn't mean you're ugly. I like to think that you're beautiful because you've become such a strong woman since your accident, as well in addition to your outstanding physical beauty. 

So that's why I\We have created this page. To spread the word to all you SCI women out there that you are as beautiful as any of those other girls who use their legs to get around, instead of a chair like you. So listen up ladies! You should care about your looks too! Like doing your hair, makeup, and paying attention and dressing in style just like everyone else! You're all beautiful. I'm telling you the truth! 

For starters, my name is Tiffiny and I have a C5-6 spinal cord injury (SCI).  I was 14 when I broke my neck back in 1993, and I don't know about you but after my injury, I felt terribly unattractive. But again, Who said "life was easy"? 

Tips I've Discovered

After a day of shopping, I sometimes would come home feeling discouraged. Small isles in the Gap, inaccessible dressing rooms, and other annoying tid-bits, I felt like screaming! But alas there's hope! Have no fear! I have some tips to share. Here now are some tips on clothes that look good when sitting 24/7, shoes that do too, and other fun things! 

Pants: First tip, buy your pants long. High-waters are not attractive. This tip is the best way to avoid showing anything that may be strapped to your leg, like the infamous "leg bag." Jeans look great if they're not super tight around the ankle, boot cut or flare ladies! They look great in a seated position.

Jackets: Don't buy long jackets. Waist length jackets look best. Soft leather ones look really cute! I have one. Get compliments all the time. And if you're a low quad, you can get discrete Velcro put where the buttons are on the jacket. 

If you push your chair, remember don't have baggy sleeves on your shirts or jackets. Dirty cuffs are not very sexy ;-)

Winter wear:  I have cute black mittens with elastic wrists so they don't slip off. A matching scarf looks really cute, especially if it's warm and fuzzy. I just bought a matching light purple scarf and mittens from Old Navy. How utterly cute! 

Skirts, Dresses, Formal Attire: I love wearing skirts! Easy to put on, and easy to take off (that's what my boyfriends says. he he he). Long, tight fitting skirts are totally IN and look great sitting down. If you want a short skirt, remember that when you sit the skirt WILL be shorter. I bought a knee length skirt, but in my chair, its mid thigh :) Sexy mama!

DON'T WEAR HIGH HEELS. They look so inappropriate. Cute flats are a wonderful alternative and are sold everywhere. And forget the pantyhose. Instead, go for thigh highs. Victoria's Secret has a great selection. They're easy for you, or your attendant, to put on. As for dresses, I advise a skirt and top outfit instead of a dress if possible. Dresses bunch up at the waist when you sit. That's so frustrating! I'm looking for designers out there who create formal dresses, like wedding dresses, etc, especially for wheelchair users. E-mail me if you are one!

Lingerie: I love lingerie. Don't feel you can't wear any piece of lingerie out there, and that includes thongs. I feel sexy, so sexy in lingerie and you should too! I love bustiers because they don't shift as easy as bras. Since I use my upper body for EVERYTHING, I've noticed my bras move a lot more. Bustiers- They work! 

Swimsuits: Bikinis are an option, if you have a nice tummy. If not, sexy one pieces are just as cute. You can wear one in the hot weather, with a nice pair of sandals, and a skirt. It's possible and it looks great! And men will notice you ladies. Just in case you were wondering.

Accessories: Purses are good but don't have one with long straps. The wheels will eat them up. Backpacks on the back are great but don't have a big, flashy, one. That looks very tacky. And wear those hats! I have immense fun with hats. They give you style and personality. 

Remember! You are just as beautiful, and can be as stylish as anyone else! Take care of yourself. You're worth it! 

NEW TIP! 

From a lovely young woman in Texas (sorry I forgot your name!), who happens to be a para, recently e-mailed me and gave me a cool new tip! So here it is:

"I love wearing a long skirt with my matching Tommy vest. It looks really cool on me. I've been having trouble finding suits that look good though, any pointers?" If any of you have an answer to that question, please e-mail me! I unfortunately haven't entered the suit phase of my life yet.

Give me any suggestions you may have! I love to update this informative article with ever better tips. But they must come from you. So please, contact me ladies! I hope to hear from all of you soon. 

Final Thoughts and Suggestions 

Being spinal cord injured really sucks. And I am a STRONG advocate of spinal cord injury research. However, in the meantime, I feel we still need to try our best at life, and that entails looks too. I was lost after my injury at age 14. I hope to inform all the young women out there with recent SCI with these valuable tips, that I had to discover myself. 

I would love, and actually need your feedback and thoughts! This article is just the beginning. If all you smart and beautiful SCI women out there can tell me your discoveries too, imagine what an even more informative article this would be? Especially for the newly injured!

Beauty isn't everything. But it can help you feel better about yourself, and that is what is truly important! I love you all, and am looking forward to your e-mail! 
Tiffianna can be reached through Ma-Chine

Much love and luck, Tiffiny


Letter from Nellie

Hello, I was surfing the web and came upon this website for the first time.  Wish I had learned to use a computer long before now.  

Anyway, I am a 22-year T-8 SCI who completed veterinary school in 1998 and I'm now working in cancer research.  Seems kind of different, a SCI female fresh out of vet school doing research instead of healing all the sick cats and dogs belonging to pet lovers.  

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.  I am desperately seeking stylish yet comfortable (and reasonably priced) clothes to accommodate my professional lifestyle.  Is it possible to add to your website a clothing store for the physically challenged?  

My opinion is that sweats are tacky and butt cracks aren't attractive.  All the fashion magazines and store 'mannequins' present fashions while the models are standing or sitting with legs extended.  Or the fashions for disabled are more geared for the much more mature (okay, old) women and those fashions have little more attraction than the sweats.  

One would think that after 22 years of being wheelchair bound that I would have at least learned to dress for success.  I guess I have but I'm always looking for more comfortable solutions. 

Thank you for allowing me to voice myself and I hope to hear more from you in the future.   

Gratefully yours,  from a sister SCI, Nellie K. Owen, DVM   


What's What With the W.W.C