Braille Monitor                                                 May 2012

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Fun with Fashion

by Ron and Jean Brown

Ron and Jean BrownFrom the Editor: The way we act and what we say has a lot to do with the way we are perceived, but so do the clothes we wear. How does a blind woman determine the colors that make her look her best? How does a blind man follow current styles to ensure that his wardrobe is appropriate in 2012 and not a classic from the 1990s? To answer some of these questions, we sought out two of the most stylish dressers we know, people who dress appropriately in every situation, both of whom are totally blind. Here is their advice about dressing for leisure, fun, and success:

The fashion do’s and don’ts can be as simple or as complex as we make them, and to the inexperienced blind clothes shopper walking into a mall, it can be a nightmare. Our advice: just determine to have fun shopping and enjoy it for the special treat it is.

We like shopping with people who know the styles we wear, and Ron and I are thankful for family members with good fashion sense and the ability to coordinate clothing. Stand your ground. If someone has no fashion sense, don’t let him or her select your clothes. Some clothing is beautifully designed, but the pattern or the colors are atrocious--don’t make the awful mistake of bringing a piece home just because you like its texture, for everything that’s pleasing to the touch is not necessarily pleasing to the eye, and everything that has a high price tag is not necessarily beautiful.

As you plan your day, make plans to wear the right attire. Can you divide your clothing into casual wear, business/business casual, sportswear, and evening wear? If so, you have already won half the battle. Be sure that the style you choose compliments your figure, your complexion, and your personality. Ladies, don’t be afraid to accessorize your outfits; add a scarf or a piece of jewelry to give it a touch of class.

Men, let your clothes compliment your physique. For most men selecting the appropriate business wear is a challenge; just remember no written rule says you must wear a tie with a sports jacket. A blazer is also very fashionable with a turtleneck sweater or a collarless shirt and dress slacks.

Many of the rules that apply to men also apply to women. Go ahead--dress up your jeans with a dressy blouse or cowl-neck sweater, your favorite heels, and a blazer. Evening wear has certainly changed over the years; it’s no longer just a flowing gown; it can be a tea-length skirt or dress or an elegant suit. Once again, don’t overlook accessories if needed.

Men, take your pick—a suit, a three-quarter-length jacket, or a basic cut jacket, as long as the shirt and tie colors are coordinated. I am tempted to stop there but should point out that your shoes and socks should match your suit for a finished look--now you’ve got it going on.

Casual wear is what you are comfortable in away from home; it can be the same as sportswear. Clothing in this category should not be mixed with anything in your business casual suits unless it is a weekender. Sportswear is a category by itself, and it seems that the list keeps growing as our fashion designers create more and more looks. Have fun with this category, but keep in mind what is age appropriate and what accentuates the positive.

Don’t hold back by being shy or reserved; ask what the latest fashions are, touch materials so you will know what they are, take someone with you who loves to shop so that you are not rushed; and remember, ladies and gentlemen, that our sighted public can see us coming long before we can hear them speak, so let’s put our best look forward. A central tenet of our philosophy is that it is respectable to be blind, so leave your home with pride, with confidence, and with style.

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