Tag Archives: Outfit

Clothes and Shoes

Using Less Stuff: How My Blindness Supports a Minimalist Lifestyle

Empish selecting clothes in closet

For most of my life I was a visual shopper. If I saw it then I had to have it. I also practiced retail therapy, buying stuff to feel better instead of dealing with my issues. I was one of those people who always had to leave the mall with a purchase. It didn’t matter if I needed the item or not. It was just the thought of buying something new. This behavior  resulted  in accumulating a lot of stuff over the years.

Then something strange and unexpected  happen. I went blind. I could no longer see the  items brightly displayed in stores calling my name. Sometimes I struggled with transportation  to even get there. And online shopping was not even  an option back then. I strained to keep up with trends and my stockpile of stuff  was becoming too much.

Use Less Stuff Day

Empish placing items in blue recycle bag

As a society we are accumulating too much stuff. People pay for storage, don’t always donate or recycle. Then there are landfills  that are filling up with all kinds of things we have thrown away. Thursday, Nov. 17 is Use Less Stuff Day. This day is a gentle reminder to  clean and declutter.

Clothes and Shoes

After going blind, I quickly realized I needed to make a mental change and trim down my stuff. First I started with my wardrobe. I focused on functional  not trendy pieces of clothing and jewelry.

Empish selecting shoes in shoe boxes

I kept my shoes down to a couple of pairs. The essentials of black, brown and navy dress   styles with 2 pairs of tennis. These simple colors  and styles  can go with any outfit. It also made it easier to find and keep them organized.

Home and Office

Empish Crawling to Chair

To avoid falls, stumbles and bumping into furniture I downsized. I went to a modest layout, keeping furniture  mostly on the perimeter of the room. Ask yourself, how much stuff in your home is a show piece? You know that sofa you never sit on because it is for those guest that  don’t come over. Less is more and  better. Having too much furniture  can be a physical hazard and danger especially with vision loss.

Working from home has  motivated me to scale down more. I don’t have to wear professional clothes  to a job but I have several business suits  I need to figure out what to do. I know I want to keep  some pieces for videoconference  calls or meeting in person.

I am an introvert  so don’t mix and mingle too much in crowds. So, even my casual  wardrobe  has been scaled down. Just a couple of slacks and skirts  with interchangeable  tops to match.

Use Less Paper

A paper shredder and a clear bin with paper being shredded.

I have also  reduced my paper footprint. What I mean is  paying bills online instead of using printed statements  and envelopes  for mailing. I fill out forms online  and receive the majority of my info via desktop computer or smartphone. I read books from the library instead of purchasing them and  watch movies  through streaming verses DVDs.

Lack of Emotional Attachment

Another interesting yet peculiar thing  that came with my blindness was the lack of emotional attachment to things. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a sentimental person. Like Marie Kondo, I do want to keep items that spark joy. Still, because I don’t physically see I don’t have that same level of emotional attachment.

The statement, “out of sight is out of mind” is really true. I do forget  and/or lack interest in things I can’t  see. This mentality  leads me to constantly  take inventory of my belongings. Do I still cherish it or  have lost that lovin’ feeling? Every couple of months I check out what I have and what I can give away.

More Doesn’t Mean Less

Empish sitting on mat in a yoga prayer pose

However, I come from a place  where more communicates  prosperity, value and self-worth  . When people have less the assumption is they are not doing well. But this is not necessarily true. Having less or should I say, the basic  necessities of life, is  peaceful and not burdensome. I know  for a fact the more things I own the more I have to worry. The more I have to track and keep organized. The more stressed out  I get.

A minimalist lifestyle is a work in progress. I have not perfected it yet  because I live in a world of consumerism. The call to shop and buy is ever present. However, I work on it and do my best. Writing this post has energized me to do another walk through and declutter my home. Looking at what I need to keep and what I can remove. Plus, the holiday season is coming up and the perfect time to give.

Do you have a minimalist lifestyle? If not, what ways can you scale back your stuff?

Dressing in the Dark? Here’s My 5 Tips to Organize Fashion Accessories for the Blind

Empish selecting clothes in closet

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

Empish is selecting a scarf from her hanging scarf organizer. It has several small pouches and some have braille labeling with a scarf inside.

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

Empish selecting shoes in shoe boxes

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

A small plastic rectangular box with an assortment of jewerly. It has several pieces of costume jewerly in bright colors. Hands are in the box selecting a necklace.

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

Five tubes of lipsticks standing up in a line with one tube laying down in front.

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.

A black and white braille label gun with turn dial displaying both braille and print letters and numbers.

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.