Today I’m going to be sharing some of the ways I like to shop for clothes as somone with limited sight – talking about fabrics, styles and accessibility.
You wouldn’t believe the amounts of comments and questions I get from fashion students who are genuinely intrigued about my fashion habits as a legally blind person.
Fabrics and materials are probably one of the top contenders for what I look for when shopping for clothes.
I think that’s largely why I’m not swayed by a great deal of high street fashion, if something feels light and flimsy, I’m probably going to be less inclined to buy it off the hanger.
I always tend to choose velvets, cotton, linen, chiffon, wool and suede to name a few.
For me, clothes must hang well, and fabric is part of they look when worn.
Secondary to fabrics comes shapes and silhouettes, I don’t get so much of a thrill from wearing a shirt and jeans as I would do from say a full skirt or a frilled blouse.
In an ideal world I’d probably wear my beloved selkie dresses or my gold cape every day, but alas my job as a journalist and sense of social decorum forbids me from doing so.
My point being, I think the reason by and large that I love Cottage Core and Princess Core is because of the beautiful dresses with full skirts, flounce and textured details.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it certainly mine.
Fashion is still by large – not accessible to visually impaired people.
Unlike some disabilities that may need clothes to be altered to fit their specific needs for instance if a person is an amputee or a wheelchair user.
From my view, people with sight loss don’t require as many adaptions to the clothing perse but that would benefit from changes to things like the garment care labels and the shop tags.
So often when I’m out I struggle to find the correct size of clothes because I’m unable to see to read the tags.
There’s no easy way to tell them apart without an additional aid like an app on my phone or help from a sighted person.
One of the most common questions I get asked by fashion students is “how can clothes be made more accessible for blind and visually impaired people”.
The short answer is the way information on the purchasing and the care of these items is displayed.
I think having an app where you could scan a QR code to get information on clothes or a tactile symbol to indicate what size they are or if the items are dry clean only.
From my personal experiences, I don’t struggle when it comes to putting clothes on or finding things, I struggle with knowing what’s what.
When I shop for clothes in stores it’s so important to have changing rooms that are big enough for me and my guide dog to fit in.
Which is why it’s so important that accessible changing rooms are always kept clear, free of clutter and accessible.
One of the things I often do when shopping for clothes alone is to facetime my mum when I’m in a clothing store.
I often say it’s like being in some kind of weird gameshow where my mums telling me to pan around the shop so she can see what I might like to try on.
She’ll often say things like: “go left”, “go right”, “no you just passed it”, and “keep going forward there’s a red dress you’ll like”.
I always video call my mum when I’m in the changing room trying things on for her opinion, she knows my style and sometimes the lighting can make it hard to see how things look.
It’s a little technique we’ve developed, but it just means that I can shop when I’m out alone and still find thing that will suit me.
When I shop for clothes, I often tend to shop online. It’s easier for me to sit down with a fully sighted person and have a browse through different websites to find things I like.
However, this isn’t always without its setback.
Some websites are not fully accessible for me with things like adding alt text to images of clothes or describing things like the pattern, style or cut.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some great websites like ASOS that I think do a pretty good job of website accessibility for an iPhone user.
But even so, there’s still a lot of companies that need to work on improving their website for people with visual impairments who use a variety of different voiceover software.
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