Fashion is often considered to be a visual concept, something that can’t be appreciated if you can’t see but in all honesty, it’s so much more than that. To me, fashion is all about the fabrics, the textures and how I feel when wearing a specific item or outfit.
I haven’t always been interested in fashion. In fact, I used to hate shopping for clothes (oh how times change) but I finally decided to branch out of living in hoodies and straight leg jeans when I was about 14 years old and from then, my love for fashion has increased dramatically and I’m now battling with a wardrobe that is bursting at the seams.
When I first started gaining an interest in fashion, I never thought that I couldn’t express that interest because of my vision impairment, I just knew that I had to do things such as shopping a little bit differently to how a fully sighted person would.
Of course, I always have someone with me to say ‘that’s a nice top’, ‘that colour suits you’, or even just to say ‘well actually, you know what Els, I’d leave that if I was you’. Sighted people could see and determine these things for themselves but even those who can need a second opinion from time to time, right?
A question I often get asked is ‘how can you be fashionable or pick out an outfit if you’re visually impaired?’ and people are also curious to know how I determine if an outfit looks presentable or not. As I said, I normally have to ask for a second opinion but I know of so many fully sighted people who feel skeptical about walking out the door in some outfits without someone else reassuring them, telling them if it looks right or not so in my eyes, me needing a second opinion isn’t any different to that. I feel like everyone needs someone else’s input sometimes, visually impaired or not.
I can’t do the things that some sighted people might take for granted, things such as opening the wardrobe doors and being able to see what you’re looking for straight away. I have to go by the sense of touch, remember what my clothes feel like and this is how I normally locate them in my ever-growing wardrobe. I love the aspect of picking out an outfit, matching pieces together and taking elements of the latest fashion and trends and incorporating them into my own personal style. To me, there’s something really exciting and rewarding about that.
Being visually impaired and not fully knowing how an item of clothing looks on me definitely doesn’t stop me from spending £££ at my favourite shops… People don’t expect me to have a range of clothes that some consider to be stylish or ‘on trend’ but I love challenging this misconception and proving to people that fashion can be appreciated by anyone, even those who are blind/VI.
I’m quite a creative person and to me, fashion is merely just another form of expressing that creativity. It’s a way of expressing individuality. Fashion gives me the opportunity to express myself and the kind of person I am through what I choose to wear. As I said, it’s a creative outlet, something that can always change and improve, your style doesn’t always have to stay the same and I love that aspect of it.
To me, fashion is a way of expressing one’s personality, it’s a way of giving people who can see an idea of who you are without having to say anything. It gives people a glimpse into who you are. I don’t want that way of expression to be taken away from me just because of the fact I’m visually impaired.
I find so much enjoyment in shopping for clothes, putting outfits together and walking out in an outfit that makes me feel comfortable and confident within myself. I believe that fashion can be made accessible for everyone and I know of so many bloggers and individuals who are passionate about advocating this message. I talked a little more in-depth about how I make fashion accessible to me as a visually impaired person in this post if you fancy giving that a read.
I believe that- fashion goes far beyond sight. It’s a creative outlet, a way for everyone to express their uniqueness, a form of expression and innovation, something that I think everyone deserves to embrace, disability or not.
Do you have an interest in fashion? If so, what does it mean to you and how do you embrace your love for it? I’d love to hear from you.