Sunday, 21 June 2015

Summer Trends – Ballerina Girl

Those who know me best wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear my favourite of all the summer trends this year has got to be the Ballerina trend.

My dream career, had I the necessary control of my muscles, would have been a toss-up between gymnastics or ballet, or a combination of both even.

Mostly for their poise and grace, but the pretty outfits and shoes were an extra attraction.

Not surprisingly though, my ability for pirouettes and cartwheels extended only as far as my Barbie doll’s flexibility allowed. Barbie had it all, the strength, control, poise, dance studio, and all the outfits her heart desired. Ok, all the outfits my heart desired.
Image credit:   

Anyway, now that Barbie has been relegated to the attic, and my capacity for exercise extends as far as a treadmill or cross trainer, the ballerina in me has to depend on the fashion industry for inspiration.

Now, I’m not talking leotards and legwarmers here. Although I do have a vague recollection of pink legwarmers at some point during my 80s childhood.
Not ideal for every day wear though really, or adult life in 2015..

So, I’m thinking more adaptable pieces as those we’ve seen on the catwalks, such as sheer pretty fabrics, delicate colours and flowing silhouettes.

From the catwalks to the highstreet, this trend comprises so many elements to appeal to the inner ballerina in the likes of me who can only but dream.
The fluid floating gowns of the Valentino and Giorgio Armani SS15 catwalks set the scene for this graceful trend.

Valentino SS15 image credit: Pinterest
From chiffon maxi dresses, to full tulle midi skirts, with wrap-over crop tops or sweaters for occasion wear.  Or for the off-duty look, how about slouchy sweatshirts with leggings or loose print joggers? Wide legged trousers in delicate fabrics and colours could also pass for this trend, if you keep the shape and silhouette simple.

For those who prefer the less girly and more edgy styles, these delicate pieces can be mixed with leather or denim jackets, metallics, chunky leather boots, or trainers.

My favourite piece of this trend at the moment, is a pale pink pleated skirt from Penneys – now available in coral or blue.

If pink seems a little too sugary, other colours in this trend’s palette include nudes, neutrals such as creams or whites, pale greys or other pastels such as baby blue.

My choice of shoe for this trend is a little limited as always, to the brogue, flat mary jane pump or trainer.  But feel free to experiment with as high a heel as your balance allows.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Maxi skirts

Such a genius invention in my opinion. Despite my shortcomings in the height department, I love the maxi skirt for a number of reasons.

  • They can be casual or dressy
  • Great for hiding less than attractive orthotics
  • Can be worn during the day with my trainers – essential for said orthotics
  • Can be practical for the Irish summer or winter, as they can be layered with tights or leggings underneath if needed. 

As I’ve already mentioned, being petite in stature can pose a bit of a challenge when it comes to the long flowing maxi skirt or dress, but I’ve found a few ways around this obstacle..

Alterations these days are good value for simple tasks such as shortening the skirt hem, and some places offer special deals from time to time – I use the Zip Yard in Dun Laoghaire for example, very professional service and great value for money.

Sometimes I use a wide belt to pull in the waist, gather the fabric and adjust the height of the hem so its off the ground and out from under my feet.

Even wearing orthotics in this case can be an advantage, as they provide the same effect as wearing a pair of wedges, adding a little height as well as support.

Maxi skirts can be styled in so many different ways.  My current favourites are from Penneys, surprise surprise.

I got two of the same type, one in black and one in grey.  Not very summery colours granted, but grand for the “Irish” summer and they mix well with most of my wardrobe, so pretty great value for just €10 each.

I tend to opt for simplicity in style and pattern for the maxi skirt, as anything too full or flouncy can be overwhelming unless you have the height to carry it off.

These ones are nice and simple in soft jersey fabric, straight shape with side pockets.  They have an elasticated waist as well, and so are very comfortable if sitting in a wheelchair.

In terms of styling, the maxi skirt is a flexible choice, mixing well with a simple tee, sheer summer blouse, denim jacket or shirt, or a smart summer blazer.


Sunday, 14 June 2015

What are you looking at?

The unfortunate side effect of growing up with a visible physical disability is the regular every day issue of the glaring eyes of passers by.  Sure, we’re all human, we all have our positive and negative features.  We’re all attracted to difference, we get curious, we observe others around us.  It’s only natural.

Call it what you will, whether down to interest, curiosity, empathy, sympathy or just plain ignorance, the end result is all the same – to the recipient, it doesn’t feel too good.

Turning heads due to a show-stopping fashion or beauty choice is one thing, and considered positive by many.  But it’s another when you’re just going about your daily business with what can sometimes feel like the eyes of the world upon you.

These may be fleeting glances from one out of four people passing by, but the effects over time can be lasting.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that one would get used to these situations over the course of a lifetime, but believe me, that’s easier said than done.

We all know how hard it can be to get through teenage life unscathed and come out the other side as a self-assured, confident young adult.  Throw in a few negative comments, disapproving glances or even bit of bullying and you’ve got yourself a whopper of a hurdle to get over.

Obviously, I realise there are worse things in life to deal with than the opinions of random strangers, but for a child or teen in the process of figuring out their identity, these negative vibes are an extra hindrance we could all do without.

Having dealt with my share of these situations over the years, some I managed to shrug off and put down to experience, while others remained in the background to surprise me every now and then.  

So frequent were the incidents during those troublesome teenage years, it was not uncommon to hear my sister or a friend coming to my defence.

So regular, in fact, said sister bought me a pink (of course) t-shirt to do talking for us – “what are you staring at?”.

I’m ashamed to say this well-worn piece of fashion history is still lurking somewhere at the back of my wardrobe.  The fact I no longer wear it, may indicate either a change in attitudes or a lessening of the impact they have? Jury’s still out on that one.

I guess what I’ve been learning over the years is that there will always be situations we can’t control.  We can’t change how others behave, but we can control how that behaviour affects us.

So, if people are going to stare, we may as well give them something to stare at.  So whether that is a co-ordinated outfit, statement accessory, or pair of bright purple crutches, these small details can allow us to express ourselves and maybe remind those doing the staring that there is more to us than meets the eye.


Friday, 12 June 2015

Styling a denim shirt

Styling a denim shirt

Levi s western shirt
€96 -

Rochas long skirt
€6.525 -

River Island skirt
€44 -

Maurices pencil skirt
€30 -

Long skirt
€14 -


Monday, 8 June 2015

Uncomplicated Underwear

Another query I’ve received recently, and a sensitive issue for many ladies, is finding practical yet attractive underwear.  Mobility limitations can cause difficulties that many would perhaps take for granted, myself included.
How many times have you cursed the bra clasps as you fumble to get dressed in a hurry? Until a recent conversation with an OT, it had never occurred to me how I would deal with this if I had limited dexterity in my hands.

So it got me thinking, I wonder how many options are out there in the lingerie departments that look pretty but can be negotiated with ease?

The foundation for any outfit, your choice of underwear is generally based on support, comfort and appearance.  But if upper body mobility is restricted, this can make fiddly fastenings or straps an obstacle to choosing something stylish.

Depending on the outfit, some alternatives to the standard back-fastening bra can include the crop top, racer back sports style, bandeau, strapless or front fastening.

Stick-on bra, Next

A possible solution could be be to replace the catch on a front fastening style with an easier to manage choice such as poppers, a zip or Velcro.

Zip up bikini top, Dunnes Stores

Racer back crop top, Dunnes Stores

For those who find wandering straps an issue, gadgets are available to keep straps together at the back – or could also be made with a strip of Velcro.  

I’ve also used body tape strips (available widely, mine from Penneys) to help control any slipping.  Halter neck options or racer-back styles can also help with this problem. 

Self-adhesive bra cups may work for special occasions, but may be less supportive for everyday use.  

Some garments now feature built-in bra support, such as camisole or vest tops, swimwear and evening dresses. 

Perhaps another solution could be to alter specific items by inserting bra cups permanently into the garment, to eliminate difficulty getting dressed.


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Afternoon Tea for Two - Review


Being the Bank Holiday weekend, the typical Irish weather ruled out any outdoor activities once again, but the occasion could not go unmarked. 

Having seen advertisements for a local Vintage Afternoon Tea, the longing for caffeine, sugar and pretty things set in, so I sent off an email requesting a reservation.
Should really have put two-and-two together as the combination of “vintage” tea in a “historical” building really doesn’t scream accessibility does it?

Sure enough, the tasty treats would have to be earned by climbing a flight of vintage stairs, so that was the end of that one.
Not one to give up on a quest though, the search continued and revealed a higher than expected popularity for afternoon tea of a bank holiday Sunday with many places booked up already in advance.

All was not lost though, as the lovely folk of the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire came to the rescue. 

Most definitely worth the research! Beautiful surroundings, complete with sparkling chandeliers, comfy (if deceptively low) armchairs and an amazing view of Dun Laoghaire bay. 

Following slight confusion over our booking, and the ousting of some other guests from our pre-booked pretty table, the menu search settled on a classic afternoon tea.  I’ll let the photo do the talking on that one..
For a nice relaxing afternoon, I’d definitely recommend giving this a go, and will no doubt be returning when these calories have been adequately obliterated. 

Beautiful location, with a buzzing yet relaxing atmosphere, and helpful staff.  In terms of accessibility, parking is underground with accessible spaces close to the door, and complimentary when you avail of hotel’s services. 

The accessible bathroom is close to the cafe/lobby area and reception, and there is an accessible entrance to the hotel with a ramp, at the side of the lobby area. 

This would be the perfect location for a summer’s afternoon, if and when the Irish summer finally arrives.. If not, we’ll just stick with the afternoon tea by the fireplace.

For some Afternoon Tea inspired outfits, check out these styling suggestions below.  

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