Thursday, November 13, 2014

#disabilitystyle: Let's make it a thing

Pain face, pain pose
This is quite possibly one of the weirdest shirts I've ever owned, though it might not look that way from afar. It's also one of the most comfortable and is, therefore, a great candidate for what I'm calling Disability Style. If you're able-bodied, you may not think about it, but, if you're disabled and/or suffer from chronic pain, you know all the little and big ways you choose what you wear to accommodate your limitations.

I'm working to start a new hashtag trend: #disabilitystyle. Won't you join me?

Jeans: Reitman's; Hair clip: Stylize; Shirt, boots, brooch, and earrings: vintage; Bracelet: a gift from Beau; Engagement ring: Britton Diamonds; Coloured ring: boutique
Close up, can you see the shirt's odd accordion pleating?  I'm pretty sure it would fit and flatter the curves of any woman from about a 6 to about a size 26; the pleating is that giving. It's also both soft and silky.

I got it from someone selling used clothing on the street and its tag is long gone so I can't tell you what size it is, what fabric, or what brand. I can only tell you that it's fun, comfortable as pyjamas, and I get a lot of compliments on it.

Because it's so comfortable and yet also flattering and even cheerful, it's a good shirt to wear on a bad back day, of which I have many. Of course, my every day is what most would call a bad back day so you can only imagine how much it hurts if even I say it's a bad back day!
A sure sign that my back is hurting particularly badly? I'm pressing my lower back into the wall, as you can see in a few of the photos in this post. It provides just a little relief, temporarily. I call it one of my Pain Poses.

What I notice most about this photo though is my triceps! With many disabilities, the arms take over for the tasks that the back cannot manage. I use my arms for a lot -- walking with the cane, getting in and out of bed, getting on and off the toilet -- and I realize now that it actually shows.

Just imagine what my arms, and the rest of my body, looked like when I was able to weight lift! This little mesomorph was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. I guess, given all the physical struggles I face, I still am impressive, right? I need to remind myself of that about 1,000 times a day.

In keeping with my need for comfort, I wore these old "granny" boots that I think I got in a free bin somewhere. Such boots used to be part of my standard uniform in the late 80s and early 90s. I wore them with everything -- skirts, dresses, slacks, jeans, shorts. I'd forgotten how comfortable and versatile they are. They are pretty hard for me to lace up with my disability so I don't always bother but I think that can convey a certain insouciance that seems intentional, even when it's not.

Recently, I've noticed that they've come back in style, which is what prompted me to dig in the back of my closet to find mine. All the young gals are wearing them and they too seem to have quickly realized their versatility, wearing them with their many grunge-revival outfits. I wonder if they still call them granny boots.

(Yes, grunge is back. How do you feel about that?)

Naturally, given its pleats, I had to pose in front of this mural of an accordion player. The colours of the mural echo those in the shirt ...

... though the shirt's vibrancy of colour far surpasses that of the mural. I think it's the colours that garner the compliments. It's almost like an acid dream of a lush garden, a place you might want to visit but never quite can in real life, perhaps like that "happy place" you go to in your mind when your pain is bad? Do you have one? I have a few.

It's a shirt that can hold its own amidst a lot of very colourful accessories so I had fun piling on the colour.

All four of these pieces have fun stories behind them. I found the Sherman brooch for $10 at the Salvation Army! If you know Sherman, you know that's about 10% of what you'd usually expect to pay for these sparklers. In "real life," they sparkle like you just can't imagine when seeing a mere photo.

The coloured ring was a present to myself many years ago. I'd had a good job as a college instructor for about a year and, used to being poor, I'd saved quite a lot of money. I talked to a financial advisor to ask for advice and he kept expressing amazement at my good money management skills. I left his office and bought myself this ring for an extravagant $40. It was utterly liberating. I'd been poor for so long! Now that my disability claim has finally been approved, I am again garnering the benefits, quite literally, of the good job I strove so hard to attain.

The bracelet was a Valentine's Day gift from Beau. Pink and green is one my new favourite combos.

And, the engagement ring, well, that got its own post, which you can read here.

I also added a new favourite pair of clip-on earrings, and a casual hair clip that matches the shirt.

Even still, the shirt did not seem overwhelmed by my accessories!

I've never thought of neon green as my colour, but I think it's working ...

What do you think? Do you have any go-to outfits for days when you're just not up to wearing anything "fancy"? If you're physically disabled, how does your disability affect what you wear? If you suffer from chronic pain, what do you wear on those brave, bad pain days when you go out into the world anyway?

I'm trying to start a new hashtag trend: #disabilitystyle. Tell me about yours. Should I make a blog post with photos of you to show the world what disability style can be? Oh do let's!

(I'm linking this up to Visible Mondays on Not Dead Yet.)


  1. That colour is really your friend. Top looks AMAZING on you! LOVE the jewellery as well. So pretty

  2. I know i dont qualify, but i have certain sensory issues which affect my style. Nothing too stimulating, scratchy labels, itchy wool on skin, flappy fabric, tight waists or arms. Otherwise i have to use precious brain energy processing this stimulation which can cause overload in other areas of my life. I also find my autistic brain sees no problems in pushing the boundaries, and puts together unusual outfits that others would baulk at.
    I do love this acid green and pink shirt. Its great that there are clothes out there that look good and are comfortable. xo JJ

  3. Beautiful top! You look gorgeous in that color and the accessories are perfect with it.

  4. I will absolutely join you, Charlotte! I'm going to load the hashtag into my instagram tonight and we'll start the movement. BTW, your boots are de riguer right now here in Nashville and that shirt is just divine.


    1. Excellent, Alicia. The irony is that I don't even use instagram or twitter -- yet. But I use hashtags on facebook, pinterest, and google+.

      Yeah, that style of boot has just resurfaced way up here too. I'd forgotten how comfortable they are.

  5. Charlotte, the colors of this shirt are great and they are WONDERFUL ON YOU! I loved the accessories ad I am huge fan of such boots too. You and Alicia are very inspiring for any people, able or disable. Smart, beautiful women who have a lot to say and to express. I wish you all the best with your new idea, I am sure you will be successful to start a movement - you have already started it when you started blogging! I am so behind modern technology - I am not even sure what hashtag means, but I wish you luck! :) xxx