Ausnew Home Care | Styling yourself when you are blind

Styling yourself when you are blind

disability Disability Employment Services disability law disability stereotypes intellectual disability Living With a Disability NDIS NDIS Aged Care Approved no ‘dis’ in disability. Seeing the ability in disability umbrella of disability

When I was designing my wedding dress two years ago, I really only knew one thing.

It didn't just have to look good. It had to feel good as well.

I wanted to be able to experience the dress with my other senses because I'm blind and I wouldn't be able to see it.

I met with a couple of designers. Only one took the time to make sure she understood how to work with someone with a vision impairment. She let me feel dozens of fabrics, try on other dresses she'd made and thought deeply about how to explain colour.

The end result was a rose pink fabric with 3D flowers, lace and beads along the bodice so I could touch the patterns. The skirt was four layers of soft tulle, which gave it a floaty feel, and a short, bouncy train.

The clothes we wear reflect our personality and are often a big part of how people first judge us.

In an ABC Everyday article about harnessing the power of clothes, author of The Psychology of Fashion Carolyn Mair says if you're already feeling good about yourself, you're more likely to reflect that in your outfit, but also that clothes might even help us change our mood and improve our performance.

"When we're feeling confident, positive and motivated to make things happen, we often choose clothes that emphasise or enable this," she says.

"When we 'feel' we look good, we can believe we look good."

Journalist Catherine Mahony is blind and agrees that clothes and appearance are an important part of professional and personal life.

"It's not so much that I'm into style and fashion, it's more that I want to know that I look 'good', whatever that means, in whatever situation I'm in," she says.

So how do you style when you are blind? Here are some things Catherine and I have learnt along the way that help us feel confident that we look good.

Newsreader and journalist Nas Campanella with her husband. Ausnew Home Care, NDIS registered provider, My Aged Care
"I might be blind but I still like fashion and care about my physical appearance," says newsreader and journalist Nas Campanella, pictured here with her husband.(

Supplied: Instagram


Stylists can be really helpful

Some major Australian department stores have styling sections, where you can book appointments for free. But stylists also do work across Australia for a fee.

Catherine says the services of a stylist has made getting ready less stressful.

"The stylist gives me a written document with suggested outfits, indicating the categories and other tactile things I use to know what's what in my wardrobe," she says.

"She also prepares a photo book for support workers or others if I want to double-check anything."

Catherine says that while using a stylist isn't cheap, it's been totally worth it.

"I often get people wanting to give me makeovers which made me feel like there was something wrong with my appearance," she says.

"Using a stylist has removed all that anxiety and given me confidence when getting ready."

I've also found stylists valuable. They can help you step out of your comfort zone, introducing you to brands, fabrics and colour combinations you've never considered.

This article contains external content that failed to load. It may have been removed or is no longer available.

You don't have to see to know your personal style

Catherine says for most of her life she didn't think she could have a fashion style because she couldn't see.

"Now I think about other areas of my life in which I have a style like music, food or books, and talk to the stylist about wanting those personality attributes in what I wear," she says.

"I'm not someone who likes to blend into a crowd … I don't do beige in my life so don't want it in clothes either."

Trust yourself about what works for you

Like anyone else, I know what parts of my body I like and what I'd rather hide.

Even if someone tells me something looks good, if I don't feel 100 per cent comfortable I won't wear it.

You might not be able to see the colours, but choose things you can enjoy like the way a flowing skirt makes you feel or tactile features with fabrics like lace, linen or brocade.

Ask the right questions when shopping

Try to remember the styles and colours you've worn in the past that have attracted positive comments. That feedback will help on future shopping trips.

If you do need a shop assistant's help, ask: "How does this look on me? Does this suit me?" Asking specific questions in relation to yourself rather than the item of clothing means you're more likely to get an honest answer. The dress might be beautiful on the rack but that doesn't mean it suits you.

If it makes you feel uncomfortable, say so. Explain what about it makes you feel that way. I find that when I express concerns about a particular element that doesn't sit right, they'll start to think of other outfits that are similar but avoid the parts you don't like.

Online shopping is possible but easier with a sighted friend

Online shopping can be tough. Websites aren't always accessible and it's something I find difficult to do independently.

I've only found a handful of labels that describe garments on their websites. They'll explain the fabrics, colours and cuts. Some suggest what shoes or hair style to wear with the outfit. Others describe what event you might wear it to or the body type it might suit. However, many brands will simply post pictures.

Some designers give their pieces fun names and colour descriptions which might sound great but don't really tell me much about what it actually looks like. "Lace mini" means more than, for example, "Act Like Me Dress". And sometimes I need clarification on colours because I'm not sure what moss or dandelion looks like.

I'm more likely to buy from brands that make an effort to create accessible websites, describe their products or from brands I've worn before. But if I do buy online I always get a sighted friend to double-check the pieces before I head to the virtual checkout.

Know which accessories suit which outfit

Accessorising is the one area where I struggle and often ask for advice.

I generally keep things simple. Thin necklaces in gold or silver are much easier to style over patterned clothes. But I do love quirky earrings that I can feel. You'll regularly see me wearing teapots, flamingos or pineapples.

As a general rule, if I'm wearing clothes with lots of prints and patterns I don't wear a lot of jewellery, and vice versa.

Don't take it too seriously

Of course, I sometimes get it wrong with fashion. Everyone does. We can overthink it sometimes and lose sight of how fun it can be to dress up.

I just give it a go, and when in doubt I ask for help. I try to dress with the knowledge that if I feel good and confident, hopefully I look that way too.

Nas Campanella is a newsreader and journalist with triple j.


Source: ABC

Older Post Newer Post