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Mindfully Battling The Cold While Looking Chic

Today’s post is a two-fold fashion and mindfulness article. Since I’ve been practicing mindfulness it makes sense to me to incorporate messages related to it whenever possible.

I Don’t Do Cold

Facing right image is described in the body of the post.
Facing Right

It seems a little odd that someone from Pittsburgh would say “I don’t do cold” but seriously I can’t. One would think someone from this area of the country would be used to our arctic-like winters. But not me, nope. Nah uh! As a matter of fact, my gauge for cold is anything under 75 degrees. Could it be that my skin has gotten thinner with age? Or is it a matter of I’ve reached the point where looking cute when it’s cold is no longer a priority? We may never know the answers to these questions but I finally traded in my old parka for a new one that I adore.

I’ve had many different winter coats in my lifetime but I honestly can’t remember having a parka until a few years ago. Part of my reasoning I think was a mindset that parkas didn’t fit within my definition of chic. To give you a little insight my previous fashion sense dictated a strict protocol of dress pants, skirts, dresses and ALWAYS heels. Thankfully as I’ve gotten older and hopefully a little wiser I’ve also expanded my viewpoints even within my sense of style.

The Parka Casual/Chic Look

The warmest coat I’ve ever owned believe it or not I got from Costco eons ago. It was an ankle-length suede coat lined with faux fur and I gotta tell ya if coats had a soul this one was my true soulmate. But sadly that coat expired to be replaced with newer models. However, this post isn’t about coats gone by, nay, it’s about the parka and it’s cool features.

Facing forward image is described in the body of the post.
Facing Forward

In the featured and two additional photos, I’m standing outside with my white cane. I’m wearing jeans, brown hiking boots, brown gloves, and my army green parka. Even with this casual gear on I felt so darn fabulous could it be because I was actually comfortable in the cold? Who knows? But I want to take a moment to run through some of the features of this coat with you.

  • First, it’s army green!
  • It has metal hardware (silver zipper, snaps, drawstring tips)
  • Sherpa lining
  • Removable faux fur trim on the hood
  • 2 chest pockets
  • 2 fleece-lined waist zip pockets 
  • Cinch waist
  • Ribbed knit cuffs
  • Water-resistant
  • Mid-length & cute detail in the rear hem

Though my previous parka was the same color, length, and basic style as this one it wasn’t as warm as the new jacket. But it had gold metal hardware and faux leather trim accenting the zipper and pockets. Also, the hood was trimmed with faux fur but it wasn’t detachable and cuffs were not ribbed. Ribbed cuffs may seem like minor details but they are an absolute necessity for someone who requires significant warmth.

Way before I began blogging I’ve always maintained that real beauty isn’t so much about appearance as it is about substance. In my opinion, beauty without character is meaningless. There’s nothing more empowering than real beauty that doesn’t rely on outer appearance.

Being Grounded In Mindfulness

Mindfulness isn’t a passing fancy. It isn’t something we do now then continue with our day. Being mindful requires us to be present, to be aware. Our frenzied pace worries me.

In an age of unbelievable gadgets, apps, and technology, I think we can be easily fooled into believing we can be everywhere and do everything at once. Sure, we can appear to do more but are we really? How efficient are we when our attention is so divided among the many distractions we’re constantly exposed to?

A good friend of mine recently said this to me: “I love how you can make yourself focus in on things and ignore the shiny objects until they fit your schedule.” Ignoring the shiny objects has become a serious practice in my self-care. Setting up boundaries, saying no, and religiously guarding my time is essential. I’ve realized I do not HAVE to do, NOR do I want to be good at EVERYTHING. Doing the best I can with what I have is enough.

It’s taken me a lifetime to reject other’s definition of who I am and to finally be content with myself, imperfections and all. I’m not perfect, never claimed to be but I know this for sure, I’m finally on the right track and really always was I just doubted myself. Getting back to basics and basking in simplicity brings me so much joy.

All of us feel a little lost from time to time and I think the pressure to be “in the know” and “on 24/7/365” is too much for us. The good news is our minds are unmatched simply because we have the power of CHOICE. If you’re feeling overwhelmed take an inventory of your life and whittle down what isn’t serving you any longer.

Image Descriptions:

  • Featured photo – I’m standing outside with my white cane. I’m wearing jeans, brown hiking boots, brown gloves, and my army green parka. My face is turned up to the sky facing left.
  • 2 Additional photos – In these pictures I’m in the same outfit just posing facing forward and facing right.
  • Gallery of 8 photos detailing the bulleted features listed.
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Accessibility Meets Fashion In Clothing Identification Solutions

Accessibility Meets Fashion Featured image description is in the body of the post.

Accessibility Meets Fashion In Clothing Identification Solutions

Improving accessibility for blind and visually impaired (B&VI) people is a critical and ongoing process. Thanks to my role in Bold Blind Beauty, I have participated in many research projects on the topic of accessibility. The most recent ‘creating accessible makeup packaging for (B&VI) people’ was so exciting I could barely contain myself. Exchanging ideas and coming up with novel approaches to creating more accessible makeup is huge. What this means, in a nutshell, is we are moving in the right direction.

So a few days ago, I was thrilled when Faye, contacted me. Faye, a recent fashion and textile designer graduate, working on her Master’s dissertation asked if I could put feelers out in my network. She needs to collect anonymous data to move forward with the project.

What was interesting to me is Faye’s reason behind her research. I found out her passion for her work was borne as a result of her mom’s chronic illness. Her mom wanted to look beautiful even when she was at her worst.
What influenced Faye to make a difference was her mom’s clothes didn’t last long because of her disability.

Faye’s Message

Hi, my name is Faye and I’m a mature Masters student from the University of Portsmouth. I am writing a paper to identify areas that need improvement in the clothing identification of (B&VI) people. Creating digital labeling solutions will follow. I am looking for participants to complete my survey or just to comment. This will help me understand the processes and what people actually want to know about their clothes for easier identification. The data will be transferred into the labels.

Here is the link to the survey https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/Z8TLZ/

Thanks for all your help!

Accessibility Meets Fashion In Clothing Identification Featured Image Description:

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay. Striking black and white photo of a silver key in mid-air aimed at a keyhole.

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Directing Your Show: Where Fashion & Disability Meet

Directing Your Show: Where Fashion & Disability Meet

“How we are perceived is determined by how we present ourselves. We direct our own show.” 

~George Rector, Popping Wheelies

Introduction: Today I’m thrilled to present to you a friend and fellow warrior, George Rector of Popping Wheelies. Like many of you I’ve befriended, I met George through blogging and found we have some shared interests. One of these interests is our passion for inclusion in the world of fashion for those of us living with disabilities. ~Steph

Disability, Fashion, Style & Confidence

Image 1 photo description is in the body of the post
Image 1

The elephants in my room are paraplegia and the ever-present wheelchair. The disability in my life is Multiple Sclerosis. The important things in my life are my family and friends.

When I first had to use a wheelchair, a nurse told me that she was confident I’d quickly learn how to make it enhance my life. As a Peer Counselor/Peer Support Volunteer, I have talked about embracing whatever piece of technology works for us. “If it makes your life better, don’t be afraid to use it.”

How we are perceived is determined by how we present ourselves. We direct our own show. What are we going to show to the public? Of course, they are going to look at our white canes, our wheelchairs, our crutches, but then they are going to look at us.

This is where disability meets fashion. Where disability meets style. Fashion makes the first impression; style makes the lasting one. It is style that determines how we perceive ourselves, and it determines how we are received in public. They are vital to the person who has a disability.

Your Life, Your Production

Directing Your Show Featured Image description is in the body of the post
Image 2

I am interested in both men’s and women’s fashion. And style. Lots of designers are men. My personal style is simple, basic design with classic colors. If we pick a style that fits our personality and then stick to it, things get easier to manage. What works with your skin and hair color? What works with your daily activities? I am learning to stick with combinations of blue, green, and white. They fit my personality and with my light skin, blue eyes, and blond hair.

My advice is to think about our interests, think about ourselves, and stick with it. I’m getting better at it. I gave away half of the things in my closet and still have twice what I need.

And if you are wondering where I fit into the Bold Blind Beauty Community, I am a “retired” eye doc due to MS. Vision is my training and experience, but I am also a patient. Vision and MS are closely related. I am extremely light sensitive and have a tint for every need. I select a tint based on what I am doing and not by what I am wearing. While my distance vision is good, I have difficulty reading. For that, I have specific reading glasses, enlarge the print on my Kindle, and change its illumination.

Fashion, style, confidence. You can direct your show about how you feel and how others feel about you. And remember that the best fashion accessory is a genuine smile.

Directing Your Show Featured Image Description:

George is sitting on a wooden bench with his left leg propped atop his wheelchair which is next to the bench. He is wearing a green tee paired with khaki shorts and flip-flops. A camera is around his neck and he’s sporting sunglasses. In the background are lush green tropical plants.

Additional Images:

  • Image 1: George is sitting on a wooden bench at Flagler Beach. He is smiling for the camera wearing a yellow tee, dark sunglasses, and minimal jewelry. In the background, waves are washing up against the beach and a pier is jutting out into the ocean.
  • Image 2: In this photo, George is looking stylish in a short-sleeved black dress shirt and black pants. He is sitting on the arm of a sofa and his gold necklace and bracelet are nice accents.

Connecting with George:

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Inclusive Online Shopping & Fashion Technology

Inclusive Online Shopping featured image description is in the body of the post.

 Inclusive Online Shopping & Fashion Technology

“Create inclusion – with simple mindfulness that others might have a different reality from your own.” 

~Patti Digh
Abby is on the job sitting cross legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar) with a teal Abby logo laptop on her lap. Sporting her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.

Recently Steph was asked to take part in a project on the accessibility of online fashion shopping. Collette Costello, creator of Kiku Girl Accessibility Fashion Technology Blog spoke with Steph and two others for comments. From the responses she received, Collette made a video on what makes a good inclusive online shopping experience.

Introduction

Abby: Hi Collette, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Can you tell our readers what Kiku Girl Accessibility Fashion Technology Blog is about?

Collette: My blog and Kiku Girl You-Tube Channel are about making the future of fashion and wearable technology more fun and accessible to young people. I started by looking at new technologies like 3D printed dresses and machines that fold your clothes for you. When I recognized a gap, I began to focus on how to make the world of fashion more inclusive by using technology. Ultimately a more inclusive fashion environment will lead to improving the online shopping experience for everybody.

Abby: I noticed on your ‘About‘ page that you educate women interested in STEM. What was the driving force behind your decision to work with this particular group?

Image is a simple black and white photo of a silver key approaching a black keyhole
Image #1

Collette: I’ve spent many years working in and lecturing about the fashion industry with an interest in the future of fashion and wearable technology. I found many of the designs for fashion technology clothing are not fashionable. There seemed to be this divide between the technology people and the people most interested in fashion—young women. This is because lots of young women don’t choose STEM careers and are more interested in creative subjects. I wanted to show that fashion technology could be fun, exciting, and inspiring. Should they desire, they could have a future career in STEM.  

Inclusion In Fashion & Beauty 

Abby: Historically the beauty and fashion industries are not inclusive. Have you noticed a shift in how these industries are looking at people with disabilities (PWDs) as a market segment?

Collette: The fashion industry is all about making money with mainstream products, and advertisements. The majority of which target the masses, not the individual. We’re beginning to see more niche markets with PWDs included in fashion advertisements. While this still more about making a statement, meanwhile, a quiet revolution of ordinary people is occurring. Beauty and fashion bloggers living with disabilities are defining what it means to have an interest in fashion and beauty.

A big issue is the more specialised an item of clothing the more expensive it is to make. With technological advancements such as 3D printing, it’s becoming cheaper to make more personalised products. Because of this,  we may see more fashion items for PWDs in the future.

Technology In The Lives Of PWDs

Abby: Technology is making a dramatic improvement in the lives of PWDs. Do you envision more employment opportunities within the field of fashion for PWDs because of some of the technological advances?

Collette: The focus at the moment is more about what fashion technology can do, like your bracelet turning into a phone. I began to feel the needs of the consumer were being compromised because everyone was so focused on the future. They weren’t looking at how the technology we have now can be used to benefit the user. This is the reason I made the “How Accessible is Fashion Shopping On-line?” video to highlight this issue.

I see accessibility as being the future of technology and it is this which I think will create employment opportunities for PWDs within fashion. Imagine PWDs working with fashion companies to make sure their websites, shops, and products are accessible and usable. Also, I think companies will gain a better understanding of disabilities and break down some of the prejudices around the hiring practices of PWDs.

Fashion Resource Recommendations

Abby: Can you recommend a few fashion resources for PWDs such as books, websites, designers, etc.?

Collette: A great blog that is giving style and beauty advice in the form of podcasts is Inclusive Style, they are pioneers in this area as I have never heard an audio fashion blog before. Blue Badge Style is another blog dedicated to highlighting accessible venues and products that are also stylish and fashionable. Open Style Lab is an organisation that design innovative clothing personal to each person’s disability, projects include speakers built into clothing to help people with speech problems, other ideas are using conductive fibers so wearers can control their wheelchairs by touching their pocket.

Abby: Thank you, Collette, for stopping by and taking the time to chat with me.

Inclusive Online Shopping Featured Image Description:

The image is twelve online shopping cart icons in various shades of blue and green. Each of the icons are square, circle and hexagon shaped.

Image #1:

The image is a simple black and white photo of a silver key approaching a black keyhole.

You can connect with Collette on: