Spring Is Coming and It’s Time to Think about Your Clothes

Safety pin with triangular pink button is pinned through the side seam of a sweater near the hem, so it doesn't show.
Safety pin with triangular pink button is pinned through the side seam of a sweater near the hem, so it doesn’t show.

The snow is melting here, and though it’s still bundle-up-cold, it’s a good time to plan your spring and summer clothes, so you have a few outfits ready on the hangers for outings and events.

In the early years of losing good sight it can be tough to think much about your clothes. Maybe you are still dressing as you used to, or maybe you don’t care how you look. Why change out of your sweats? You can’t see the difference when you look your best. And the thought that everyone else is looking at you when you can’t look back, makes you feel exposed. Many of the clients at the Carroll Center feel like this for a time, and so did I.

There are a few clients who seem to have an understanding of “dressing for success” from the start. Some of them had a dress code or uniform at work – salesman, bank employees, nurses, and of course anyone in the military. They were accustomed to wearing clothes that weren’t personal but professional. It’s helpful if you can begin to think like this too.

You want to put together a wardrobe that is half a grade up from how you dressed before, so as to kill any idea that someone with vision impairment can’t dress well.

With a little help, you can gradually build a wardrobe that:

– helps you feel confident about yourself

– has colors that suit your skin, hair and eyes, and styles that set off your body type

– are safe in laundry machines

Getting to be a confident shopper without good sight will take time. How do you get there? First you find a friend who loves to shop. Then you invite her or him over to your house. Lay out your spring and summer clothes on your bed or hang them up around the room. Have your friend look over your going-out clothes and decide what still looks good. And what has a stain, is faded, or is not flattering.  Downgrade these items to home or yard use, and keep them in a drawer away from your good stuff.

Most important, your shopping friend will put together a few outfits for warm weather. One shirt may look good with two or three pairs of pants or shorts, and vice versa. Put  these outfits together on hangers.

Then you can discuss what pieces of clothing you need to add. A few items that mix and match can have a big impact.

How do you put the parts of your outfits back together after they’ve been washed? You can pin small safety pins through one side seams of the shirts that look good with one pair of pants, and the same kind of safety pin, inside the pocket of the pants. Then use medium safety pins for the next set of clothes, etc.

Colormates is a box of 166 safety pins with colored buttons on them. Each color of button is a different shape. You can use them either to tell the color of your sweater or to mark outfits just like the plain safety pins. Check out the photo and the caption at the top of this blog post.

You may not have much to spend just now.  Vision loss often brings on a big financial hit. Go shopping with your friend anyway, whether it’s to the Salvation Army, the discount outlet or the mall. There are plenty of good quality clothes in every price range. Maybe with a couple of summer shirts or a pretty dress or skirt you will feel better, and your wardrobe will have its first breath of summer.

How do you shop for clothes, and how did you choose a shopping friend? Whose opinion about how you look do you trust? Let us all benefit from what you know.

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