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Fashion Trends Surge Among Blind and Visually Impaired Community

Tri collage of me posing in front of my counter with my white cane wearing a black off the shoulder choker top, white jeans, black suede chunky high heels and silver jewelry..

Fashion Trends Surge Among Blind and Visually Impaired Community

I wrote the following article (posted 3/14/2018) for VisionAware.org:   

Editor’s Note: The week of March 11 was World Glaucoma Week. Peer advisor Steph McCoy, Founder, and CEO of Bold Blind Beauty, has written eloquently about her journey with this eye condition. As a real fashionista, in this post, she shares her thoughts on fashion trends, an important topic as Spring approaches. 

Does Loss of Vision Equal Frumpy?

There’s a misconception that sight loss equals frumpy and unfashionable. Likewise, there’s a silent societal expectation where people with sight loss shouldn’t be fashionable.

The truth is, there are people with sight who either have no interest in or lack fashion sense. Also true, there are people who are blind or have sight loss, and they are fashionistas.

Thankfully, maintaining a sense of style and keeping a finger on the pulse of trends isn’t wholly reliant on eyesight. Like anything else, we can continue to enjoy and immerse ourselves in the world of fashion if we desire.

While the fashion industry still has a way to go where inclusion is concerned, the Internet has improved access to information. The Internet has made it possible for individuals with disabilities to become mouthpieces for change.

Fashion Trends Resources with Persons Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired In Mind

Today, there are many blind and visually impaired fashion content creators with plenty room for more. With this in mind, here are few tips to help a person who is blind or visually impaired remain connected to fashion.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

  • When you know your style, stick with it.
  • Keep it simple and classic.
  • For trendsetters, taking risks is part of the fun in fashion, continue doing what you do.

Expand Your Fashion Resource Network

  • Follow and engage with fashion bloggers, vloggers, and writers. You can find them on blogging platforms, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
  • Read about and discuss the latest trends, styles, and seasonal colors with friends who have similar tastes and interests.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone you trust who will give you honest feedback.
  • Testing new looks? Take photos and share with your trusted online community or friends and family for feedback.

Easy Low Tech Fashion Resources

QVC does a remarkable job in describing their merchandise. Following is a small sampling of their fashion segments.

  • Morning Q Live – Style Edition
  • Amy’s Closet (Amy Stran)
  • Denim & Co.
  • Susan Graver Style

Seek Professional Assistance

  • Professional consultants develop in-depth personal profiles to suit individual needs
  • Personal Shopper/Styling Service
  • Beauty Consultant
  • Image Consultant

Final Note

As blind and visually impaired people, we face our share of barriers. We are not what’s happened to us, and we have the power of choice. Thankfully, we can choose how to move forward with our lives and allow fashion to play a role.

Featured Image Description:

Tri collage of “yours truly” posing in front of my counter with my white cane wearing a black off the shoulder choker top, white jeans, black suede chunky high heels and silver jewelry.

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Fashion Expertise After Total Sight Loss

Fashion expertise featured image description is in the body of the post.

Fashion Expertise & Blindness

Abby is 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.Question On Fashion Expertise: I am a vision rehab therapist working with an individual who has recently lost all of her eyesight. She has always been very clothes and style conscious and would like to be able to stay that way. While she has an iPhone, she is not a computer user and does not plan to become one. Do you have suggestions for how someone who is blind can stay current on fashions – especially those new fashions seen in New York City, but not necessarily in the “boonies” where we live? ~Eileen B.

Thank you, Eileen, for your question, on behalf of your client. There can be unique challenges faced by people who are, or who become blind or visually impaired in many areas of life. However, here at Bold Blind Beauty, we believe there is always a way.

Based on what I can glean from your comment, it sounds like your client is new to sight loss and wants non-technological solutions to remain informed. Following are a few things she might consider:

  1. Going shopping with close friends or relatives who are familiar with her style
  2. Consultants will develop an in-depth personal profile to suit the individual needs of their client
    • Personal Shopper/Styling Service
    • Beauty Consultant
    • Image Consultant
  3. Shop or sales assistants can help her choose outfits based on her comments. It might be a good idea to call ahead first to make sure the store will have staff on duty to help.
  4. QVC does a remarkable job in describing the products they sell. Following is a small sampling of their fashion segments
    • Morning Q Live – Style Edition
    • Amy’s Closet (Amy Stran)
    • Denim & Co.
    • Inspired Style® – Late Night Edition (Courtney Cason)

Summary

Hopefully, with time your client will reconsider using technology as an option to keep up with the world of fashion as this will enable her to become more independent. There are so many resources online from blogs, YouTube videos, tutorials, and subscription services, to social media groups who are leveraging these platforms to get their message out to many diverse groups of people. Technology opens up an entire world of opportunities previously unavailable to those who are blind or visually impaired.

Featured Image Description:

The photo is a storefront with five fashionably dressed mannequins in various model poses. There is clothing hanging on racks around the mannequins and cool spotlight fixtures hanging from the ceiling. The clothing (skirts, tops, pants, and dresses) is varying shades of blue, white, and gray.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have more questions.

Have a fabulous day!!

~Abby

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Virtual Beauty For Blind & VI Women

Abby's Corner image is described in the body of the post.
Created by Jessica Marano

Hello My Friends,

Can you believe another week has passed? It seems like it was just yesterday we were moving into this past week.

One might think that life as a cartoon character is boring but I have to say my life pretty phenomenal. I mean, think about it, who I am, what I do and who I become is only limited by my creator’s imagination. So if the imagination is boundless there is absolutely nothing I cannot do.

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.” ~Muhammad Ali

Technology has made what was once impossible possible. Take clothes shopping, for example, gone are the days where we have to go to a physical store to fulfill our retail therapy goals. Don’t get me wrong I still enjoy shopping excursions with my gal pals but with such a busy schedule it can be just as convenient to shop online.

As technology continues to evolve it’s my hope that retail websites will become more inclusive from a disability standpoint. For example, many of us who are blind or visually impaired use special tools to assist us in navigating the internet however if a site is poorly designed, inaccessible or there is only minimal description these things make the buying experience less than ideal.

A dream product of mine is a “Mirror Mirror” like in Snow White. Once programmed with data needed to produce a verbal output it could help blind and visually impaired women with the ability to become as adept at makeup application as they so choose.

With adjustments to make them more accessible, virtual dressing rooms like tri Mirror or Dressing Room by Gap, can, in the long run, be beneficial to everyone. Being able to create a personalized avatar, inputting measurements, then trying on clothes, makes the tri Mirror an interesting tool but I’d love to hear input from my totally blind friends. Afterall if verbal feedback isn’t an option this will be an opportunity for us to make our mark.

Image Description: The Abby’s Corner illustration was created by Jessica Marano. I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor with my laptop (complete with my Abby logo on the cover) in my jammies and slippers. On my head, with signature explosive hairstyle intact, is a headset and microphone to allow me to use my accessibility features on my laptop.  My white cane is propped up next to me.

Au revoir! ~Abby

 

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Abby’s Corner #1

Girl’s Holiday Weekend Getaway

Hello, Hello,

Welcome to Abby’s Corner!

After my Bold Blind Beauty introductory interview on Friday, several of my girlfriends and I took a road trip to the beach. Lifelong friends who’ve taken different paths we make an extra effort for the five of us to get together at least several times a year.

From the moment we met up and piled into the vehicle the good times began. By the time we reached our destination we had laughed so hard for so long I swear all of us were going to wake up with laryngitis.

Description of the outfit pieces are in the body of the post.
White Cane Chic

On the first day of our getaway, we spent some time shopping, sightseeing, and dining. Most of day two was spent at the beach basking in the sun until it was time for our makeovers in preparation for the evening activities.

I always look forward to our ‘evening of glam’ especially when I get to unveil my latest seasonal ensemble. An off-the-shoulder top paired with bold multi-colored striped palazzo pants and ankle-tie suede sandals finished off with gold accessories and my white cane was waiting for me to don them.

The feminine appeal of the off-the-shoulder top (bare shoulders are always sexy) and the wide-legged pants combo cannot be denied as the fabric on the pants gently swishes from side to side as I walk. Another bonus, totally by accident, is how the red on my white cane coordinates with the red stripes on the pants which inspired me to call this look “White Cane Chic”.

Image Description:

  • White off-the-shoulder blousy top has a wide banded neckline and gathered cuffs
  • Palazzo pants with thick & thin red, navy, orange, and green stripes
  • Nude ankle-tie suede sandals, chunky block heel
  • Goldtone 2.6″ Cuff bracelet
  • Geometric earrings with round mauve patina brass piece and brass triangle

The Abby’s Corner illustration was created by Jessica Marano. I’m in my jammies and slippers, sitting cross-legged on the floor with my laptop (complete with my Abby logo on the cover) and my signature hairstyle floating about my head. My white cane is propped up next to me. I am wearing my headset and microphone to allow me to use my accessibility features on my laptop.  The final illustration is currently in the works.

As Steph mentioned on Friday, our site will be undergoing some changes in the coming weeks one of which will be, fingers crossed, moving to a self-hosted platform. We’ll also be moving some things around so please bear with us during this transition.

Ciao

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Featuring Emily Davison

Featuring Fashioneyesta – Prepare to be Awed!

I find it interesting how we can meet people in this high-tech virtual world we live in and feel a kindred spirit that can’t be duplicated even in face-to-face interactions. For me Emily Davison is one of those people who, while there is a span of decades between us, we share common philosophies.

Collage of 6 Images of Emily Davison Fashioneyesta.com
Emily Davison
Fashioneyesta

Emily, who spent her entire life in South East London, is currently studying for a degree in English Literature at Goldsmiths University, London. As a Journalist on the Huffington Post UK, Emily simultaneously works at the University as a paid Student Ambassador. In July 2012 she founded Fashioneyesta an online Fashion and Lifestyle resource for blind and partially sighted people.

Fashioneyesta.com serves to present visually impaired people with the tools, the skills and, the knowledge of fashion, beauty and, style to enable them to use their remaining senses to gauge the world of fashion and to create their own unique style.

An advocate at her core, Emily also works with a number of different charities and organizations to raise awareness of Fashioneyesta. She functions as a fashion correspondent alongside the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB’s) Insight Radio and Able Radio.

Being blind or visually impaired does not automatically mean that you have to be unfashionable. That is the message at the crux of my blog “Fashioneyesta.”

Fashion has always been a huge element of Emily’s life. When she was growing up, she was captivated by old Hollywood films and style icons like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. The fashion houses, vintage stores and many delightful chic-lits were the inspiration for her to delve into the history and the beauty of fashion. By the time she was 14, her mother bought Emily her first designer bag and the rest as they say, is History!

“Fashioneyesta” aims at giving visually impaired people the right set of knowledge and skills to be able to develop their own unique style.

Emily describes her style as feminine, with exotic flares, vintage twists and a lot of costume jewelry. She’s very versatile and changes her look as her mood dictates. One day, she may step out in an Asian inspired outfit and on another day go full-out Vintage with Victory Rolls and a 1940s inspired tea dress.

My thesis as a fashion blogger is that style should reflect your own personality and that you should put your own stamp on an outfit.

Septo-optic dysplasia, a rare congenital anomaly, is the condition responsible for Emily’s visual impairment. The condition has disabled her optic nerves, leaving her with no sight in her right eye and 10 percent central vision in her left. Even with this debilitating disability Emily has not allowed it to hinder her love for fashion.

Now, with her beautiful Guide Dog, Unity, in tow, Emily is exploring the world and expanding her blog. A blog that she hopes will inspire other visually impaired people to embrace fashion, old and new, to find their own unique style.

Always remember to be daring and don’t conform to what society expects you to be!

Mainstream media is good for bombarding the public with news of gloom and doom. In such a fast-paced world as we live in today I am always overjoyed to hear about young people taking it upon themselves to make positive change happen. Emily you are to be commended for your selfless volunteerism and your dedication to banishing the aged-old stereotypes of blind and vision impaired people. Thank you Emily for all you do. Because of you we are one step closer to eliminating the erroneous misconceptions by education and building awareness.

For more information on Fashioneyesta or Emily Davison please see links to her social networks at the end of this post.

“The best way to gain self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do.” ~Author Unknown

Social Links

“My blog is featured every week on RNIB’s Insight Radio at 2:15 pm on the Daily Lunch every Friday. I have also been featured on BBC4’s inTouch radio. I do regular blog posts every week, they cover different topics from certain styles and how to achieve them to a selection of my top picks for a particular month.”

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Color 4

It’s a Wrap!

I've got 99 problems and 86 of them are completely made up scenarios in my head that i'm stressing about for absolutely no logical reason.
kushandwizdom.tumblr.com

Today is my final entry on the trending colors for 2014. When I went back to review the previous colors from the last 2 Tuesdays I realized that I made a major faux pas. Keeping things in perspective, major might be a stretch after-all I’m not saving lives here, but as a perfectionist when I make a mistake no matter how small, I am consumed with an overwhelming desire to right the wrong.

Once I recognized my error I was nauseous and kept wondering how I could have made such a blunder and with every fiber of my being I wanted to retreat to my secluded hideaway. This proved very challenging with my little 1-year-old grandson over for the day, who I might add was not content to play in his playpen, my dog Mollie (a lovable psycho dog with the attention span of a gnat) barking at the naughty washing machine, and finally my brother, whose sole mission in life, I believe, is to get on my nerves (he does it so amazingly well). If this weren’t enough, then my mother calls.

By now I’m a completely frazzled jumble of nerves. My mind is going hither and yon since my sanctuary continues to evade me and I just want to scream…but then I forget why I’m so upset. This is one of the advantages of being in the 50+ club, one minute you feel yourself slipping away and in the very next you can’t remember why. At any rate…

Drumroll Please

Dazzling Blue, not to be confused with Placid Blue, is the only color for this week (I previously said there were 4). Pantone describes Dazzling Blue as a scintillating, polar opposite to Placid Blue.

Blue flower with blue butterfly
via Pinterest

Without getting too technical on the different shades or hues, my favorite color has always been blue. I tend to lean towards teal, turquoise and azure with my least favorite being powder blue. And then there’s the blues that for me are indescribable, like this handbag that I got from sammydress.com. The color was so striking and every time I carry it I get all kinds of compliments, even though it doesn’t have a designer label.

Blue handbag from sammydress.com
Blue Handbag
sammydress.com

I will always love black with any other color combination when it comes to clothing. As the ensemble pictured presents; the jacket, handbag and boot accent pieces are prominent against the black shirt and pants. With the exception of the boots (I’d probably break my neck on the heels) I would add silver earrings & bracelets and I could definitely see myself in this outfit.  

Black short-sleeved blouse & pants, Blue jacket with 3 large black buttons, blue handbag and boots.
Black & Blue Outfit
Visit vanesa-klopic.polyvore.com

Colors for many people (including those of us with blindness/vision loss) are just words. As I’ve said before and I will say many more times, confidence is the most important thing a person can wear. With confidence you can wear just about whatever you please and carry it off.

“While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

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The Black Blazer

Making doing without, do!

"...always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ― A.A. Milne
Quote by ― A.A. Milne
Picture from Pinterest

If a situation arose that caused you to lose most of your worldly possessions what would you do? How would you cope? More importantly how would you recover?

About 20 some years ago I was faced with such a quandary and due to the circumstances I immediately went into survival mode. I had three small children who were wholly dependent on me to get us through this dilemma. While I would not describe myself as a street-smart person when I’m cornered I’ve always relied on 3 key things:

  1. My resourcefulness
  2. My ability to not only adapt to but thrive in just about any given situation
  3. My belief that there is always a way

During this particular situation I had to look at the big picture, project out into the future and ask myself if I could honestly continue on this current path. Once I had the answer to this question the planning began and then the most critical piece was the execution. My plans may not have been perfect but as problems beyond my control arose I would adjust it to suit the obstacles.

When you’re in a difficult place, and it seems like there is no way out, you can be so overwhelmed with feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy that you can succumb to giving up. This was the place where I eventually ended up after getting me and my boys out of our difficulty. I managed to keep a few personal possessions but everything else (including some precious mementoes) was gone.

Things take on a whole new meaning when you’ve lost just about everything you worked so hard for and some of the smallest, then, become the most important. A navy suit, consisting of a jacket, skirt and slacks, given to me by my grandma in the mid 80’s was one of the items I was able to keep and I still have it to this day. While it no longer fits me I treasure it as a small reminder of my grandma who bought it for my very first real job interview.

6 Different types of black blazers from Pinterest via Visit glittersgold.com
Black Blazer
Pinterest via Visit glittersgold.com

One of the other items I kept was a black blazer. When you hear fashion gurus say that a black blazer is an absolute must-have, take it from me, it’s true. Anyone who has lots of resources can make themselves look like a “million bucks” but it takes real creativity and a certain attitude to pull it off with very little.

Versatility is the thing I like most about the black blazer and following are some of my favorite ways to wear it:

  • Wear it with black slacks, white button down shirt, black pumps (I love wearing red pumps with this outfit) and subdued jewelry for a classic business look.
  • Wear it with blue jeans, white T-shirt, boots, a long necklace and scarf for a dressy/casual look.
  • Wear it with just about any dress, roll up the sleeves, add bracelets, necklace, earrings, and pumps for a chic look.
Black Blazer/Grey Pants, Sleeveless Blouse Pinterest via Visit riddlechick.polyvore.com
Black Blazer/Grey Pants, Sleeveless Blouse
Pinterest via Visit riddlechick.polyvore.com

Your options when pairing a black blazer with anything are limitless. I wear mine buttoned, unbuttoned, sleeves up, sleeves down or any combination. I like to wear it with different colored tank tops (which can average anywhere between $5.00 on up), button down shirts, T-shirts, sweaters, jeans, slacks, leggings, skirts and dresses. Since jewelry is something I never go without I almost always wear a necklace and/or scarf, pendants, bangles, cuff bracelets and earrings.

Provided you have a good fitting black blazer specific to your body type there is almost no way you can go wrong.

Have a wonderful day!

“Fashion is made to become unfashionable.” ~Coco Chanel

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Color 2

Hear No Color, Speak No Color, See No Color

Color for the totally blind is an abstract concept. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary Hear, Speak, See No Evil Imagedescribes color as “the aspect of the appearance of objects and light sources that may be described in terms of hue, lightness, and saturation for objects and hue, brightness, and saturation for light…” So based upon this definition if one is totally devoid of light then they cannot experience color in the true sense of the word. I also think that it bears mentioning that even for sighted people, color is very subjective to a specific person’s taste. So how then can I get past this barrier to help my blind female friends understand color as it relates to current fashion trends?

I know it’s a thought-provoking question and it’s also a challenge to all of us to think outside of what we know from experience and develop a way in which everyone can enjoy this thing called color. In last week’s Trending Tuesdays post I talked about the color of the year which is Radiant Orchid, and I also provided Pantone’s splendid description of what this color represents. This week I promised to follow-up with additional information on 2014 color trends and how you can incorporate some of these colors into your wardrobe to add a little panache. I think the easiest approach would be to list the colors and then we can talk about specific items of clothing and accessories. Since there are 13 total colors I chose 5 for today and I’ll list the remaining over the course of the next two Tuesdays. I pulled the following colors and descriptions from Pantone’s Fashion Color Report Spring 2014:

  1. Placid Blue – like a picture-perfect, tranquil and reassuring sky, induces a sense of peaceful calmness
  2. Violet Tulip – a romantic, vintage purple, evokes wistful nostalgia
  3. Hemlock – Similar to the verdant shade of springtime foliage, Hemlock, a summery, ornamental green, provides a decorative touch that’s very different from the greens of recent seasons
  4. Paloma – serves as a quintessential neutral, interesting enough to be worn alone or combined with any color for sophisticated poise.
  5. Sand – a lightly toasted and amiable neutral, conjures images of the beach and the carefree days of summer. Try pairing Sand with Hemlock for perfect, natural balance.

Okay, there you have it, the first 5 colors for Spring 2014 and while I have some functional vision and I like the overall palette, there are at least 3 of the 14 13 total that I’m not crazy about as standalone colors. To be completely objective though, there definitely is a difference in viewing colors on a computer screen as opposed to seeing them in a store. Also, keeping my blind friends in mind, the colors mean little without outside guidance as to what colors works best together and for a specific person.

Out of the 5 I’ve listed, the color that really speaks to me is Hemlock and I would probably use it as an accent color in perhaps shoes, scarf and a piece of jewelry.

Next week I’ll list the next 4 colors from Pantone’s Fashion Color Report Spring 2014, and give ideas on how you can enhance your spring wardrobe. Until then I have one request and that is to think of more meaningful ways to describe colors for those who cannot see.

Thank you

“The difference between style and fashion is quality”. ~Giorgio Armani

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2014 Color Of The Year Radiant Orchid

Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” ~Wassily Kandinsky

It’s New Year’s Eve and everyone I talk to recently is so ready for this year to be over. 2013 was the first year in recent memory where I wanted each day to last a little longer.

Turmoil in the form of losing my joy, downsizing my apartment, and having two eye surgeries were a little stressful. Nothing beat the joyful moments of the birth of my first grandchild and treasuring the people in my life.

If there’s one takeaway from this year it’s this: I will continue to live in the present moment. So while anticipating the coming of 2014 I’m going to savor today, the last day of 2013.

How Can A Blind Person Appreciate Color?

Radiant Orchid, if you don’t know already, is the color of the year for 2014. According to Pantone, Radiant Orchid is described as: “An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones.

Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love, and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”

The description of Radiant Orchid is such a lovely portrayal of the color. However, what does this mean to someone who cannot see? When I think of explaining color to someone who has never seen it, I think of the adage “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

It’s true some of us with vision impairments can still see and appreciate color, It’s also true that some of us have no concept of color. For a person who is born totally blind (without light perception), color is an abstract theory. While there are no easy answers, I like how Tommy Edison attempts to describe color in this video: What color means to blind people.

If we can agree on feelings evoked by descriptions of color, this gives those of us in the blind community a starting point to appreciate color on a different level. Color plays a major role in fashion and being aware of colors can be helpful when buying apparel, cosmetics, jewelry, and accessories.

You can have so much fun enhancing what you already have in wardrobe with pieces that incorporate trending colors. While all colors and types of clothing do not work for everyone, you should go with what works best for you.

Next week I’ll continue the discussion on color and how you can include various colored pieces into your wardrobe.

Have a Safe & Happy New Year!