Business & Blogging & Stores, Oh My

Description is in the body of the post.
Abigale (Abby)

I am probably in the midst of a meltdown but I want to assure you it’s a good thing! If you recall I mentioned a while back that Bold Blind Beauty would be undergoing some changes and as I write this I’m knee-deep techy heaven.

I’m not going to bore you will all the details but today I was able to integrate an e-commerce component into Bold Blind Beauty (it’s not up and running yet) so I’ll be tinkering around for an indeterminate amount of time testing and tweaking. In the interim, I wanted to share sample merchandise which eventually will be carried in the store. Please keep in mind I am not a photographer and not seeing very well can produce some weird outcomes that look semi alright to me but perhaps not as well to the public.

Description is in the body of the post.One of the things that keep me up at night is how to make life a little more accessible for my blind and visually impaired friends. Depending on our level of sight loss, many of us rely on our other senses to consume information which in turn enables us to view the world a little differently from those who can see.

Providing tactile products is high on my list of priorities and one of many ways to do this is with embroidery, embossing, beading, and other methods. I’m so excited at the prospect of what can be achieved even when I’m sleeping I’m constantly envisioning greater possibilities.

I’m saying all of this to say, if you notice some strange goings-on not too worry, I’ve got it under control.

Image Descriptions:

  1. Abby is wearing a stylish hat, black cold shoulder dress & heels with ankle straps. She is holding a cute teal dress on a hanger in her right hand while her white cane is in her left hand.
  2. White baseball cap and white Polo shirt with Bold Blind Beauty embroidered logo featuring Abby.Who is Abby? Abby is a fashionista who radiates an attitude of hip, laid-back sophistication with a pinch of bravura. Forever on the move, Abby walks boldly in confidence – and of course always with her white cane – providing tips and techniques about the latest styles and fashions exclusively for Bold Blind Beauty.

 

Go With Your Heart & Keep Moving

Bold Blind Beauty Means Business

Since I began blogging three years ago there have been many twists, turns, and deviations. Many times I thought “I can’t do this” and each time unbeknownst to you, one of you would reach out to me with an encouraging word that I’d latch onto.

I admit the cliché ‘it hasn’t been easy but it’s been very worthwhile’ because of the people who I’ve encountered. You are the reason for this community and I’m so grateful for the relationships we’ve built.

In the attached audio file from Reid My Mind Radio, I talk about Bold Blind Beauty, Abby, and the development process. I hope you can find encouragement in this piece as I’ve received encouragement from you! Thank you!!

Women on the Move: Fashion & Blindness?

I was blessed to be the recipient of an unexpected surprise from Australia in the form of the following post located At the Gateway to Blindness. The author of the post, Maribel Steel, is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. Her positivity resonates so clearly you can hear it in the manner in which she strings words together in her exquisite writing.

Maribel has graciously given me permission to re-post the article on one of my favorite topics. Remember how I mentioned the vast range of vision loss? To give you an example, if 1 is perfect vision and 10 is total blindness, (Maribel please correct me if I’m wrong) I would guess Maribel’s would be about a 9.5. In today’s post Maribel invites us to experience the world of fashion through the eyes of one who is almost totally blind.

Why be Fashionable if You Can’t See

Picture of buttons stored in cylinders - Photo Courtesy of Harry Williamson
Photo Courtesy of
Harry Williamson

When I give presentations to interested groups on what it is like to be visually-impaired, I can guarantee one question will ALWAYS be asked at the end of my talk – “How do you know what you are wearing?” Women especially, are surprised that I can be colour-coordinated from top to toe. There is no great mystery involved, there is no other person dressing me in the morning. The simple answer is – choosing one’s clothing is a matter of FEELING first, then seeing how it all fits together. When you feel good in what you wear, you will look great!

The other reason why I love clothes shopping is because browsing with my hands is an exquisite experience. Feeling textures of clothing or gliding my hands over jewellery is not always because I want to buy it but is a curious desire on my part to see the choices at my fingertips.

Here are some fashion questions I was asked recently, so let’s take a closer look why being fashionable is not just about seeing, but about feeling. Oh, and a little warning too, the photos, well, yes, they were taken a few years ago, funny how one can think one is being fashionable at the time!

How important is fashion and style to you?

Picture of Maribel wearing a rich colored top and accessorized with a scarf.
Photo Courtesy of
Harry Williamson

Fashion is fun and I enjoy feeling garments which allows me to visualise the world of ever-changing trends. I think it’s a ‘girlie’ thing – taking delight in touching clothes, lingerie, shoes, dabbing on perfumes or smelling leather hand bags because it is highly enjoyable to ‘see’ what’s in fashion.

The other reason for my ever-readiness to touch the world around me is because it is not normally permitted in galleries or museums so when I am in a store or market place, it allows me to touch all sorts of objects I can’t see and by doing so, I feel less excluded from the visual world.

What sort of fabrics do you enjoy the most?

Soft fabrics, satin trims, things with buttons and bows. I also enjoy knitting and making luxurious scarves for friends as winter gifts. In summer, I look for soft undergarments and layer my outfits with flowing chiffon tops. Lingerie is another one of my touchy-feely delights – as it is worn close to the skin, I won’t compromise the feel of luxury by purchasing cheap underwear – it has to be soft and silky (including hosery).

I believe that when you begin the first layer of clothing feeling feminine, you will wear the dress with an upright back and carry an air of chic – like a proud Spanish Lipizzaner!

What are your considerations when choosing garments?

Picture of Maribel wearing a pleated skirt, blouse that ties at the neck, patterned sweater vest and a tam. Colored coordinated in shades of tan, oranges & browns
Photo Courtesy of
Harry Williamson

Apart from seeking comfort and prettiness of garment, even in casual wear, I am fussy about colour and design. When on my own, I take quite a while to scout out an item as I examine the texture carefully and the cut by feeling the collar, shape etc. I know what styles suit me by past experience and many times, a garment falls off the hanger as if to grab my attention and often, it is a good choice – could this be intuition helping? Then I quiz the shop assistant for the colour and price and if it passes these two questions, I will buy it.

Colours seem to have a certain ‘vibe’ for instance, as soon as I put grey near my face, my skin begins to feel drained. My favourite colours are strong and bold as in red, orange, colbalt blue, sunshine yellow and hot pink as these tones not only feel ‘right’ for me, I can see them in natural daylight.

At home, I hang clothing in groups so that matching items are placed together to be colour co-ordinated.

What shops do you frequent the most and why?

I enjoy being independent and setting my own pace as well as going out with friends to meander into the odd gift or fashion store. I often end up buying things because my girlfriends or partner point out items on special I wouldn’t have seen.

Picture of handbags
Photo Courtesy of
Harry Williamson

I go to the same clothing stores because it is easier to get around the shop without feeling overwhelmed. I visit the local stores where the shop keepers know me and are quick to offer help – even though it might be more expensive, the price of being looked after is well worth it.

But I do have to be in the right mood as it takes a lot of concentration to keep track of my movement around the store, to avoid prams and other obstacles. Sometimes the bumping from one object off another can feel like being inside a live pinball machine and if I can’t cope I will leave the store.

I particularly love feeling shoes! As I have no idea what people wear on their feet, a shoe shop is a lovely place to wander. I get to understand the different types of heels, shape of shoes and just adore this sort of shopping.

My partner, Harry, takes a particular delight in bringing objects closer into my reach and we often take time to enjoy the experience together (unless it is a cactus plant, which he has accidentally done on one occasion, misunderstanding my fondness for feeling flowers!

What challenges do you face when shopping?

On the whole, people are pretty helpful and understanding if I ask for assistance. A few pointers however, when a person is training to work in a department store or fashion counter, it would be extremely beneficial to know not to do the following –  as the store assistant, don’t ask my friend, “Would she like this?” It is kinder to ask me personally.

Some of the main challenges are:

  • first is to locate the right shop and entrance, sometimes blaring music indicates a clothing store plus sense of smell helps me to sniff out the correct place
  • manoeuvring around a shop I have not been in before and avoiding the racks while keeping the cane tight in one hand, the other loose to stray over fabrics to give me some sort of clue as to what I am ‘looking’ for
  • main disadvantage is in not being able to see the size and price on tags, colour of garment
  • must be very careful that the clothing I am feeling is on a mannequin and not the clothing of another shopper!
  • have no idea where the ‘specials’ rack is unless I ask for assistance
  • indoor shopping centres are a nightmare to navigate through especially as there is a bombardment of clashing sound coming from all quarters that hinders my hearing and can be very stressful (so I tend to shop in places that I know or are on a street front)
  • a fashion item that is hard to choose on my own are sunglasses. Often whoever is with me will pick the style they like and then when I wear them, my family will comment “who helped you to buy those sunglasses?” which means – they wouldn’t have chosen them for me so needless to say, I have a few dead pairs in my drawer.

How important to you are the perceptions of others of you fashion wise?

Picture of Maribel posing with her cane, dressed in a black skirt, black lacy sleeved top, black flats and multi-colored handbag.
Photo Courtesy of
Harry Williamson

I like to demonstrate that blind or vision-impaired women can enjoy being colour co-ordinated, wear smart and trendy gear with high heels and enjoy fashion just as much as our sighted friends do. People are often surprised to see me turn up at a function with matching jewellery, fashionable dress with lovely bag and jacket and I am surprised by their reaction – why wouldn’t a vision-impaired woman be dressed well?

I also have a passion for smelling fragrances at perfume counters and put my nose to the test to pinpoint individual scent molecules from cleverly concocted blends. The art of wearing fragrance – mmm, that’s another story…

If you want to be bold and beautiful, you can – let Stephanae (Steph) McCoy, the Blind Style Blogger show you how to strut your stuff at:

Bold Blind Beauty: Style Concepts for the Visually Impaired

AND, in the UK, Emily Davison speaks the language of fashion That Comes From the Heart and Soul at

Fashioneyesta: Bridging the Gap between Fashion and Sight
fashioneyesta.com/

Copyright © Maribel Steel 2014

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” ~Rachel Zoe

Possibilities

Impacting Positive Change

Image of a heart drawn with crayon
February is National Heart Healthy Month

Today there is so much going on in my brain I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start with an article a blogger friend of mine, Alicia Searcy, passed on to me yesterday. Alicia has an intimate understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities. Her blog Spashionista, focuses on “the trials and tribulations of a 50+ fashionista with cerebral palsy who wants women of all ages and abilities to look and feel beautiful.”

The article Alicia shared was about the first model in a wheelchair to ever take to the runway at New York’s Fashion Week on February 6, 2014. I love what the model, Danielle Sheypuk, had to say about how she felt as she approached the runway. “I felt sexy and glamorous. Most importantly, I felt like all of the other models there. We were all women who have achieved significantly and made outstanding contributions to our community. I just happened to use a wheelchair.”

Model Danielle Sheypuk 'People with disabilities are consumers of fashion' Photograph: Peter Hurley
Model Danielle Sheypuk
‘People with disabilities are consumers of fashion’
Photograph: Peter Hurley

The designer, Carrie Hammer debuted her collection with “Role Models, Not Runway Models” which, when you think about it, the majority of women out here are not runway models. I needed to share this with you today as it speaks to the heart of my message which is simply impacting positive change. I really do “trust my vision of possibilities regardless of universal skepticism.” If you would like to check out the article on Danielle and Carrie you can see it www.theguardian.com.

Jessica Howard Sleeveless Dot Collar Shirt Dress - JCPenney this mock wrap dress is ideal for the pear shape.
Jessica Howard Sleeveless Dot Collar Shirt Dress
JC Penney

Remember on Saturday’s post how I was telling you about my miserable attempt at a radio interview? Well, today I get confirmation that I needn’t worry so much as Bold Blind Beauty and another fantastic blog were featured on VisionAware. This was so unexpected and wholeheartedly welcome I can’t adequately express how good it felt to receive the news that my blog is gaining some traction. To read the post you can get to it by clicking this link Meet a Bold Blind Beauty and a Deafblind Mother.

Bisou Bisou® Cowlneck Knit Tank - Fashion - JCPenney. This sleeveless cowl-neck also works very well for the pear.
Bisou Bisou® Cowlneck Knit Tank
JC Penney

The Pleasant Pear

Now I can focus on today’s body shape which is the Pear or sometimes referred to as Triangle of which I am one. Roughly 20 percent of women fall into this category. The simplest description of the Pear shape is narrow shoulders and full hips/thighs.

Black & White Striped Pocket Dress front
Black & White Striped Pocket Dress front

Since looking good in your clothes is a matter of highlighting your positives and downplaying your weaknesses it’s really all about illusion. Wearing clothes for your specific body shape help to maintain the illusion as well as proper fitting clothes help you to look good in your chosen outfits.

Black & White Striped Pocket Dress
Black & White Striped Pocket Dress

How do we camouflage our hips/thighs while at the same time draw attention to our upper body?

  • Tops: Scooped and square necklines visually widen the shoulders, as will embellishments along the neckline. Exposing one or both shoulders also draws attention to your upper body. I have 2 very comfortable ruched cowl-necked tops that I typically pair with a cami underneath and expose one shoulder.
  • Waistlines: The empire waistline displays your small waist while minimizing the hips. Choose dresses that gently taper at the waist and slightly flare out over the hips and thighs. An A-line or pleated skirt, nipped at the waist will balance out your bottom half and give a leaner look.
  • Pants: Pants that minimize hips by slimming or elongating as well as tailored darker colors are ideal for the pear shape.
  • Jeans: Boot cut with a slight flare at the bottom work best for our shape.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave a note in the comments section or you can email me direct at boldblindbeauty@gmail.com.

“People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”  ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross