Beauty, Fashion & Style

The OTHER FORGOTTEN: Fashion frustrations of the disabled

Beauty, Fashion & Style

Posted by: the rack

16th Nov 2010 09:37pm

We find it very hard to find suitable clothing for my paraplegic daughter and when we do there is usually no wheelchair sized fitting room. She has to have any fashionable clothes specially made to fit her needs. Does anyone else have any other fashion frustrations of any kind?

Comments 11

  • 3rd Aug 2012 12:29pm

thats very true the shops are small and not very wide giving access for wheelchairs

the rack
  • 4th Oct 2011 10:49pm

Thanks Nita. I also didn't realise the difficulties until my daughter became a paraplegic. I guess the best we can do is create awareness to the problems. However, it still is quite depressing for a teenage girl to buy clothes when her chest, legs, arms and shoulders are a size 10 but due to no muscle tone her tummy and hips are a size 16. I have resorted to splitting open the seams on the bottom hemline of smaller tops to ensure the tops cover her bust decently , but fit over her back and tummy in the sitting position.
All she wants is to be able to buy a dress, but it's not doable.

Thanks for your reply.

  • 4th Oct 2011 12:48pm

That's so disappointing to hear. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't ever thought about the troubles of dressing the disabled. These days every retail outlet, no matter what it sells, should be wheelchair friendly and have disabled services, there's no excuse. I mean life for those with disabilities is hard enough we don't need to make things more difficult. I have problems finding clothes for myself as I am a larger sized woman and retailers and designers seem to think because some of us are bigger, that we like to dress in tablecloths and garish patterns. I don't think they really care about those groups who don't fit their "ideal" shape. They need to get more in touch with todays society.

  • 17th Sep 2011 08:58pm

I hate it so much when i go to the shops and try on the size i think i am and its to small so i go to get 1 size bigger and its too big ! it annoys me!

the rack
  • 5th Apr 2011 01:54pm

Yes ma, this does happen in some stores. My daughter recently went into a surf type store in her wheelchair and found a hat she liked. She tried it on and asked where a mirror was only to be rudely told is was "back there (pointing to back of store)" which was clearly inaccessible for the wheelchair to pass through. So I had to pull out from my handbag an tiny old dirty makeup mirror for her to look in.
It is hard, as not everything fits her different head and body shape due to the ravages of the cancer she has. I think we should let retailers know to train staff in customer care for disabled, as they are as human as the rest of us and have fashion sense, wants and needs, just as we all do. I think some shop assistants assume that a disability = no feelings, and that is actually the furthest from the truth. Thanks for your comments and lets see what we can all achieve for our disabled friends and families.

  • 5th Apr 2011 06:22am

yes i agree i have a handicap friend who likes to shop for new clothes but cant try them on due to her handicap..sometimes shop assistants can be quite rude..we went into a mall in st lukes and as soon as we walked in the shop assistant asked if we were gonna buy or i replied we would like to buy an outfit for my friend to wear to a be rudely told Sorry we cant help you cause your friend is handicapped..and we dont cater for people like her..Shame on you..

  • 29th Dec 2010 11:56am

i always find it hard to find any clothes that i would actually wear, mainly because i have a strange style and dont find many things in big name stores like kmart or target that suit me. other than that, for your daughter i would suggest taking clothes to a good dressmaker to get them altered to suit her, there should even be local dressamakers in your area who dont own shops who would be happy to help you out

the rack
  • 18th Dec 2010 12:56pm

Looks like we all have experienced the inconveniences of shopping in one way or another.

I have noticed that some updated Kmart stores have installed wheelchair appropriate fitting rooms complete with solid handrails and bed to roll a paraplegic (it's the only way to dress a paraplegic).
I have noticed that upmarket stores have made an attempt, but KMart seems to have looked further into the real needs of the disabled.
Also wouldn't it be nice to find clothes appropirate for different body shapes and sizes so "the forgotten"people didn't have to buy childrens wear or mens clothes or shoes just to fit.
I must say that the staff at Peter Alexander stores, although not disabled equipped, do go out of their way to accomodate us. My daughter is large and has a larger wheelchair and they really do help us.
Thanks for keeping the discussion going.
It would be great to get the awareness out there, not just shops but movie theatres, entertainment venues and all sorts of places. My daughter was 19 when diagnosed and had just ventured out into the world and wants to venture further, like everyone else.
So these discussions gives those who weren't aware of simple changes the information and the opportunity to make appropriate changes without disrupting the whole community.

Thanks guys.

  • 18th Dec 2010 12:48am

Not quite the same thing, but most dressing rooms are not big enough to take a pram into either. This means I can only go shopping for clothes when my partner is with me, which is not always convenient. I went into a shop a couple of weeks ago and tried on a couple of things, I had sort of manouvered the pram so my son was sort of in the cubicle with me. This however left the curtain not fitting as well as I wanted. After I had gotten a shirt on I realised that anyone walking past the store in the mall could see me and there was an elderly gentleman standing in front of the store watching me. So I decided I did not want any clothes from that store and left in a hurry.

And if I can't get between the racks with a pram there is no way a wheelchair is getting through.

On a happy note, there is a lovely homewares/giftwares type store on the Northside of Canberra which is both wheelchair and pram friendly - including the entrance door which I have noticed is sometimes forgotten. But in the same shopping precinct there is a baby clothing store with a big sign out the front proudly proclaiming they have a room in the back of the store where you can feed your baby - but again good luck getting the pram though.

It seems to me that often stores forget the practicality of actually getting into the store and shopping there. The above mentioned baby clothing store has no room to manouvre inside the store with a pram, and getting through the heavy door with a step is not that easy either.

Also, large shopping centres often have lifts in strange places and it is difficult to find them and the store you want is always at the opposite end to where the lift is. Before I had my son I did not realise how difficult it can be to go and do something as simple as shopping for some people.

  • 17th Dec 2010 11:14pm

I feel your frustration! I'm in a never ending struggle to find clothes. My disability results in a severely curved spine and short stature. Being in my early 20's I find it near impossible to find clothes that fit me, don't make me look like a 5 year old, and that I feel comfortable in. I dread special occasions as all I can think about is the weeks of trying on clothes.
In regards to no wheelchair sized fitting rooms, I was in a wheel chair for a short time once, and my sister would ask if we could use their back rooms as a dressing room. Most stores were more then happy to allow this. It might be worth asking for your daughter.
All the best.

  • 16th Nov 2010 11:20pm

Yes I have this problem and the fact that certain stores now are not allowing you to change items of clothing.
My problem is I only have my husband to help me and he is not allowed in the change rooms. I cannot dress and undress myself although not as badly disabled as your daughter. There is little help or understanding.
It is also embarrassing to have to have stranger help, mostly they are not strong enough, do not know how to help. They are also not given the time no matter how helpful they want to be.
I find as I was saying in an earlier answer that I shop on the Internet, I can get almost everything now either there or on the telephone. They are always helpful. I know that there is postage on returning but to be able to shop about, deal with very experienced staff, these stores rely on these means for their business.
I have very large breasts and it was impossible to buy locally, my husband said for the first time ever that he could understand me wanting a boob reduction. I have found everything I wanted in a bra, people even willing to fit me with measurement over the phone,
You are lucky if you go to a lingerie shop if they have more than one assistant. If the phone rings with an inquiry or another customer comes in you can be there for hours.
I really feel for you

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