Dressed to the Nines…

I love to look good when I’m out and about. I’m no fashion plate, but I’d say I probably pay more attention to my outfits these days than I did when I could see them.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, when I leave my house with dark glasses and cane, like it or not for some people I become the face of all blind people everywhere. The last thing I want is to come across as if I literally got dressed in the dark.

The second is a little more personal. Shortly after I came home from the hospital, I had a stunning realization. I nearly died, I thought to myself, because that’s usually who I do my thinking to. I have all this cool stuff in the closet I almost never wear. What the heck am I saving it for?

I haven’t spent a lot of money on clothes since I was a teenager, but years of mining thrift stores and consignment shops, along with some very nice gifts and hand-me-downs, have come together into a look that’s uniquely “me”.

And Now, A Sad Story

In the weeks following my brain surgery, in a misplaced impulse to atone for the cleaning and organizing I had left undone for years, I went through every item in my closet and dresser, ultimately discarding two big boxes’ worth – perhaps a third to half of what I’d accumulated over the years.

Some of the items truly didn’t fit any more or just weren’t my style. But in many cases, I just thought, “Well, this is really cool, but I’ll probably never have a chance to wear it again, so it might as well go to someone who can.”

Man, I wish I hadn’t done that!

Learn from my mistake: If you ever survive a brain tumor, lose your eyesight suddenly, or both, give yourself a six- to twelve-month cooling-off period before you get rid of anything. Even if you’re sure you won’t need or want it any more, wait. Trust me on this one.

On the plus side, MrH took the boxes and donated them to the thrift store that supports the local domestic violence shelter, so at least something good came of it. And there was still plenty of good stuff left.

What (This) Well-Dressed Blind Chick Is Wearing

It would be impossible to pick out one definitive outfit that defines it, but my wardrobe has some definite trends.

Skirts! I get plenty of wear out of my pants and shorts, but there’s nothing quite like the swirl of fabric around my calves to make me feel gorgeous. I have lengths ranging from just above the knee to almost my ankles, but my favorites seem to hit about mid-calf. And the more fabric, the better!

Chunky necklaces, natural beads or semiprecious stones. Let’s face it – I’m a chunky kind of gal. Anything wispy or delicate is going to get lost in the background. Give me something big and bold, something that catches the eye and is interesting enough to keep it. Or…

Bugs! (And other pins.) I’ve collected an eclectic assortment of brooches through the years, and for no discernable reason, a good number of them represent insects. I have a dragonfly, a wasp, an adorable blue enameled ladybug, a butterfly, a housefly, and maybe one or two others I can’t think of right now. I also have cats and an autumn leaf and a gorgeous silver thistle my husband designed and cast – but the bugs are a definite theme.

Fall colors and jewel tones. Lots of greens and purples. Some reds and browns. Orange accents. A few blues, usually lightish, say, turquoise or dark sky blue or darkish, like navy. Throw in the odd black or gray or cream, and you’ve pretty well got it. What’s really amazing to me is that over years of picking up random pieces here, there, and everywhere, I’ve put together a wardrobe that coordinates pretty darn well.

Natural fibers. Yes, I’m a fabric snob! I’ve got my fair share of cotton/poly blends, rayon, and acrylic, but given a choice I’ll opt for cotton, linen, wool, or silk (especially raw silk) any day of the week. They drape better, wear better, breathe better and just plain feel better. What’s not to love?

What I’d Like To Wear More Of

Strictly speaking, the clothes I already have could probably carry me through the next decade or so. A few have small spots or snags or are beginning to show their age and will eventually be relegated to around the house, But there’s plenty left for me to work with.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t need or want new (or new to me!) clothes. It just means I can afford to be picky about what I need or want and how much I’m willing to spend on it.

So, what am I craving?

A few specific items. A short-sleeved white shell. A couple pairs of sweat pants. A couple pairs of loose knit capris. Some jeans and jean shorts with a fit I like. A new nightgown or two. Before, these are things I’d have kept an eye out for at thrift and consignment stores. Now, I may have to bite the bullet and pay retail somewhere – but I’m in no particular hurry, either.

Printed tees. I don’t wear tee shirts as much as I’d like to, because most of my tees are either set aside for special, or are torn or stained and worn only around the house. I’d love to have more tees with snarky sayings or ones that support organizations or causes or reflect places I’ve been. Also far from a priority, just a thing that would be nice to have.

Fancy socks. In days of old, I had colorful socks and took great delight in coordinating them with the outfit of the day. Now, I usually wear white or black socks. Boring! I’d love to liven things up with striped socks or argyle socks or socks embroidered with cute little motifs. Of course, then I’d have to keep track of them all…

More bugs! Or other cute pins or necklaces. Because who doesn’t need more cute bugs in their life?

Ear wraps and ear cuffs. I haven’t had pierced ears since high school, but sometimes it’s fun to turn heads with a little bit of sparkle. Unfortunately, I have no idea where to shop for such things, either the finished product or the findings to make them.

And finally, my #1 most wanted…

Clothing as Costume

I’m not talking about wearing actual costumes here, though that could be fun. What I’m thinking about is more along the lines of using clothing and accessories to evoke a time, place, or mood.

Blame it on my time in the Society for Creative Anachronism, or maybe the years I spent noodling around Second Life, or even MrH’s new business venture, but I’m increasingly in love with the idea of clothing that stands out, that doesn’t quite conform to our everyday expectations.

Think of the possibilities…

A poodle skirt. A peasant blouse. A vest modeled on a Renaissance bodice pattern. A 50s-style shirt dress. A tunic or caftan with a handwoven belt.

Any of those should be relatively easy to make, and most of them would pair nicely with things I already have. Yes, there’s the small matter of learning to sew again, but I know it can be done. We’ve certainly got plenty of fabric to work with.

What about you? What defines your sense of style? Do you like to stand out, or blend in with the crowd? Do you ever make your own clothes?


2 thoughts on “Dressed to the Nines…

  1. I think it’s wonderful you’re still with us. I can’t imagine going through something like that. I hate to say it but a lot of people judge by appearances! We live in a very visual society and it’s getting more visual by the day. I wear a lot of khakis and casual shirts but probably that is due to being in college.

    I’d love to be able to afford nice clothes once I graduate. I’d love to make my own clothes one day in addition to buying them. I’d like to buy a sewing machine and have a hobby room for this.


    1. Hi, Jaime, and thanks for dropping by
      ! Nothing wrong with a good, basic wardrobe – most of what I wear isn’t particularly flamboyant or special, just curated to feel like “me”. I think it was being in Second Life back when I could see that really made me aware of clothes (and hairstyles!) that could be worn and the messages they sent. Easy to experiment when you can have a new outfit for pennies!

      I agree that our society is very visual! Various estimates I’ve read say that we get 80-85% of our information about the world through our vision. I have to wonder if our society reinforces that by the emphasis we place on visual symbols. We rely so much on signs, icons, print and so on that I wonder if we’re not stinting our other senses in the process. I know that after 43+ years of sight and 3 years of blindness, I still think in very visual terms, even as I’ve come to rely more on my other senses.


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