Elle, Stiletto Wheels

Women like me?

Elle, Stiletto Wheels
Elle, Stiletto Wheels

I am a wheelchair user but, you know, that term simply does not define me or my style.  I have about as much in common with other wheelchair users as I do with other blonde people – it’s a shared attribute not a lifestyle indicator.

PlusBlack is not a concept focussed on the ‘wheelchair market’ but on changing lifestyles – and the kind of life changes that may cause a stutter in your confident step or in the face you present to the world.  I’ve summarised these as: ageing, size issues, health problems, career changes and combinations of all or some of these which has also led me to think that women over 40-45 are probably where any interest in +Black will lie.

Of course some women will sail through such changes without any need to re-think their life, style or look just as some of us cantered happily through the transition from teen to grown up and beyond.  For those of us who can exercise, take advantage of modern science – in therapies and surgeries – don’t suffer serious health, personal or career traumas, mid-life and beyond probably holds no fears.

However, lots of us will not be living lives like that and whilst the issues we face will detract our attention and focus from style and our appearance, most of us will still care to some degree how we look while we get on with our lives.  Physical changes might even mean some style adjustment and, I’m guessing, many of us will fall back on black as the confidence colour of choice.  This, from the Stiletto Wheels Archive, is my style adjustment to living life from a wheelchair:

Style used to mean clothing by Issey Miyake, Eskandar and other niche designers who fashion outfits as works of art.  However, as my precious wardrobe was bunched, trapped, wrenched, ripped and destroyed around me – call me a slow learner – a light bulb flicked on in my head and I accepted my new reality. Having concluded that the physical handling of a severely paralysed body, the awkward and unforgiving design of wheelchairs and the changes in physical shape imposed by illness and medication are not conducive to the wearing of precious fabrics and unique styling, I abandoned my old wardrobe.  Heart breaking, but, hey, my wardrobe bills are a lot lower.  I am now mostly to be found in a plain uniform of black, natural fibre, pants and tops – a sober backdrop to the dazzle of my personality – shhhh, quiet, no giggling out there!  The originality of my personal style statement is now manifest in my wrappings, dahlings.  I wrap up, when I want to, in my collection of wraps, throws and scarves, used for both decoration and warmth.  Quickly and easily draped around me, in my wheelchair, my wraps instantly express the uniqueness of me …  Struggling in and out of coats and jackets – gone.  Despairing over that special occasion – no problem.  Destroying beautiful outfits – no more.  Peace at last.  Simple, satisfying: problem solved for me.

I wrote this some years ago, not realising at all how difficult it would be to source stylish plain black clothing in my – new, unwelcome and somewhat larger than previously – size.  So, here I am back on to the +Black concept.

I’d be interested to know of others who have had to make style adjustments for lifestyle changes and what direction that took you in.  If you have any comments or advice please do pass it on to me.  Many thanks for your interest.

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