1985 was a big year for Donna Karan. Her seven easy pieces line changed the fashion industry and empowered the lives of women in the generations since.
I like to think 2015 has been a big year for me. Through my advocacy I have built a model that I call ‘Inclusive Retail’. I believe products made sensitively for impairments will change the fashion industry and empower the lives of people with disabilities for generations to come.
Donna Karan’s ‘Seven Easy Pieces’ line gave millions of women quick and affordable access to an entire wardrobe. For many women, these seven pieces felt like freedom. The original seven easy pieces included a pair of tights, a bodysuit, the classic white shirt, a pair of versatile trousers, a cashmere sweater, a tailored jacket and a skirt.
My friend Anne and I were recently discussing that it is possible curate seven easier pieces. And I can’t wait to share with Ms. Karan how, with a little extra consideration, her seven easy pieces can quite literally work for any body.
I admire you Donna. When you talk about the comfort and versatility of the clothes you make, I know you are of an inclusive mind. And I (and my friend Anne) enthusiastically seek your friendship and thought as I aim to include every body.
1. The Tights
My close friend has Lupus. A common side effect of Lupus is edema, which causes swelling of the ankles. These socks are made, not just for my friend but for frequent fliers, pregnant women, or athletes. Medical grade compression socks often suit every day needs. Think of them as Spanx for your cankles.
2. The Bodysuit
Have you ever tried putting on a swimsuit without twisting? This reality does unfortunately prevent many women from getting in the water. Water exercise can ease arthritis symptoms, so long as the arthritic is able to dress for the occasion. The StepIn2Now Swimsuit is made of two identical pieces, a left and right side that can be put on without any twisting.
3. The White Shirt
My first experience with a MagnaReady shirt made me the hit of the party. It is your every day classic button down with one exception; the buttons are magnetic. These shirts are a blast! The technology was designed by Maura Horton after learning her husband could no longer dress himself after practice. He’s a football coach living with Parkinson’s. And MagnaReady changed his life, but I don’t think you need to have Parkinson’s for it to change your life as well.
4. The Trousers
Have you ever stopped to wonder why jeans are made for a standing body, when we sit nearly 8 hours a day? Commuter jeans have begun addressing this conundrum for bicycle riders. But what about a functional jean for wheelchair users? Many features of commuters also benefit wheelchair users (and visa versa). This jean above is by ABL Denim, but be sure to check out my previous post titled ‘The Newly Competitive Wheelchair Jean Market’.
5. The Sweater
Creative ‘hacks’ are often employed in disability fashion. The most common example may be the classic tennis ball slider on a walker. But society knows all too well that for every hack there is a market. That’s what makes Freddie Robins artistic visions so stunning. Through her art, we are invited to deeply look at and see beauty in the disabled body. It’s stunning, right?
6. The Jacket
Ryan needed a rain jacket. Ryan’s a wheelchair user, so he needed one that covered his lap. Open Style Lab got to work creating the ‘Rayn Jacket’ for Ryan. The best feature? The hoodie pocket is actually a fold out lap cover. This jacket is also great for campfires and football games.
7. The Skirt
Over the years the original 7 pieces have periodically changed. This gave me the opportunity to avoid the skirt, a fashion that is frequently problematic for wheelchair users. Have you ever thought about how hard it is to hold your legs together when you can’t move your legs? Anyway… what I love about this cape was that it was not intended for a person with a disability. It was intended for bicycle commuters. But Cleverhood is truly original in that they didn’t shy away from their disabled consumers, they embraced them. Cleverhood is truly clever. And inclusive.
Liz Jackson, Founder and Chief Advocacy Officer of the Inclusive Fashion & Design Collective, the first fashion trade association serving the needs and wants of people with disabilities.