Reading a recent article about New York Fashion Week in the Daily Beast, got me thinking. The article noted the increase in disabled models and designers. It stressed the importance of diversity and accessibility. How representation matters in the fashion industry. Although, the event just ended on Sept. 14, it reminded me of my early years of vision loss. I knew how vital it was to look my best and be stylish. I wanted to represent my community in the best possible way.
Reorganizing After Vision Loss
This meant reorganizing my accessories and wardrobe. Nothing was really accessible for me. I couldn’t just go in my closet and grab an outfit without sighted help. I had to figure out a way.
Why is this important to me? I have always been an accessory conscious woman, matching shoes with handbag, lipstick with nail polish and necklace with earrings. I was trained by very fashion-savvy parents and female relatives. They were always impeccably dressed in colorful-coordinated attire.
As a young adult, I perused fashion magazines constantly. I even pursued a fashion design and merchandising degree but lost too much vision to finish. Understanding that first impressions are critical, I accessorized my clothing purposefully.
When I went totally blind dressing and accessorizing became very challenging. At first I pondered how to keep up with new trends, fabric selections and eye-catching colors. Determined to not allow my blindness to be an excuse to be a fashion misfit, I learned valuable techniques on how to organize my accessories to complete any outfit in my closet. I don’t profess to be a traffic stopping fashion diva. Yet, I find that paying close attention to my accessories and wardrobe goes a long way in erasing stereotypes and commanding respect.
1. Organizing Scarfs
I began by organizing my scarves. Before my vision loss I had scarves all over the bedroom hung on outfits, stuffed in dresser drawers and tied to doorknobs. Scarves are a great accessory and can add flavor to an outfit. They make a simple, drab outfit look colorful and stylish.
With the help of a vision rehabilitation teacher, I found a hanging bag with multiple pouches perfect for storing scarves. I put one scarf in each pouch. On the front is a Braille label description for the color and design . To conserve space, I use abbreviations like “bk for black, “rd” for red or “pk” for pink. For scarves that matched specific outfits, I tied the scarf around the outfit’s hanger so it is ready to go.
2. Organizing Shoes
In the past, I was a fancy foot wearing female. Shoes were such a vital part of my outfits. I had shoes in multiple colors for dress and casual wear. Pumps, sandals, stacked heels and mules – I had them all. I kept shoes in rows on the closet floor in no particular arrangement. Now because of my disability and working from home I have scaled back to a couple of pairs. Yes, I know I am not the typical female but less is better. I keep track with little worry about disorganization. I tell the difference by touch, feeling for shape, texture and style.
3. Organize Jewelry in Small Boxes
It has been said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. For me it is diamonds, pearls, gold, silver, and all kinds of costume jewelry. I love jewelry and always had it setting out on my dresser. Pearl necklaces, gold bracelets, lapel pins and colorful earrings were arranged randomly. I discovered a brilliant way to recycle mini jewelry boxes. I store earrings, necklaces and bracelets in sets. If this wasn’t feasible, I organized according to similar color and design. For example, all red earrings were placed in one box and all pearl jewelry in another. I use touch to distinguish between smooth round earrings and fabric-covered lapel pins. I store the boxes in a large plastic container, so all my jewelry is in one place.
4. Organize Lipsticks with Braille Labeling
Once I had my accessories organized, my next challenge was establishing a similar system for lipsticks. I love lipsticks and don’t wear any other fascial cosmetic . Before learning Braille, I determined lipstick by touch. Manufacturers use different tube designs. Some tubes are round with ridges while others are square and smooth. Today, since I know Braille, I placed a label on each tube. This helps me to know the differences in color.
5. Organizing Clothes in Closet
Accessories add flair to an outfit completing the ensemble. But I needed to focus on my clothing too. In my closet I have my clothes organized in sections. Short sleeve tops, then long sleeve. Next is skirts and pants. Finally, is two-piece outfits . They all have Braille color labels. This system makes it easy to find what I want to wear.
These techniques have been very successful, resulting in numerous awe-inspiring compliments from friends, co-workers and even strangers. People always ask me how I do it, and it gives me the opportunity to share my creative fashion organizing tips. It has also been a big boost to my self confidence as a blind woman.