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by Dana Ard
Reprinted from the Summer 2000, Gem State Milestones a publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho.
Dana Ard, with the help of her well-behaved guide dog, models an outfit for a local fashion show in Boise, Idaho.
Editorís Note: Readers may recognize Danaís name from the article about labeling clothes in the previous issue. Dana is a rehabilitation teacher and counselor with the Idaho Commission for the Blind, and an active member of the NFB. Dana is also blind from birth, and has mild cerebral palsy.
I never asked Dana about her parents, but my guess is that they took an unsentimental, no-nonsense approach to her upbringing. Certainly Dana does not view her disabilities as an excuse for a sloppy appearance, poor manners, or inferior performance. She holds herself Ė and her blind clients Ė to the same standards expected of others in our society.
Here is what Dana has to say about the techniques blind women can use to look their fashionable best:
In this issue, I will discuss ways that we as blind people can get information about fashion trends and offer some suggestions for managing our wardrobes. Let me say first that I think women are far more concerned with fashion than men. At least, thatís how it is in our family. My husband watches the weather forecast to find out what the temperature will be in order to know whether to wear a long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirt to work. I concern myself with such burning fashion issues as whether the blouse Iím wearing looks better on the outside or the inside, whether the shoes I plan to wear will complement my ensemble, or whether the panty lines are really that serious.
There are several ways of getting fashion information. Going to a clothing store that carries the styles of clothes you like and checking out the racks, either with a trusted sighted friend or a competent sales clerk, is one way.
Reading fashion articles in womenís magazines, such as Ladiesí Home Journal (available in Braille), Good Housekeeping (available on tape) or Our Special (a Braille publication produced solely for the blind) is a second source of information.
found watching the fashions displayed on QVC, a cable shopping network, to be
very helpful. Garments are presented and described in full detail: including
color, length, styles, and comments about whether the item is appropriate for
office or for casual wear. General comments are often made about current clothing
styles. Many of these fashion designers have a mix-and-match clothing line to
assist in building a coordinated wardrobe. My roommate at guide dog school bought most of her clothes from The Fashion Network, and she was the best-dressed woman in our class.
To assist me in coordinating the colors of my outfits with other clothes in my closet, I have purchased the services of a wardrobe consultant, Mary Ann Wilcox, who offers this service as part of her business, Beauty for All Seasons. She put together new outfits using my existing wardrobe. I numbered each outfit and described it in Braille. Now, if I want ideas for something different to wear, I consult my list of outfits. Mary Ann will also take photos of the outfits, which can be used as reference. If you donít live in the Boise, Idaho area and want to find a wardrobe consultant, you might contact a clothing store or the national office of Beauty for All Seasons for the name of someone who could provide this service locally.
By the way, in response to this column in the last Milestones, I received this tidbit. Delaine Exley of the Panhandle Chapter called to let people know that tying or buckling pairs of shoes together helps to keep the right shoe from being separated from the left.
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