style

You know what they say: another day (or week in this case), another discovery. And this week’s discovery was more of a reawakening than a realization. In addition to working on Oxygen’s upcoming fashion-based shows, I’ve been styling my friends and helping them shop for the outfits that I know will make them look best. I’ve always loved shopping and clothes and all that fun stuff that comes with being a girl living 20 minutes from New York. So it’s not like my boyfriend Chris had to twist my arm to get me to help him buy new clothes for the Fall. It’s become a relationship routine of sorts; with every major change in weather, we head to the mall and I pick out some basic pieces and cool accessories to supplement his seasonal wardrobe. He ends up looking quite put-together and handsome, if I do say so myself. This autumn I was going for a sleek look with button-downs, sweaters, and vests (think Justin Timberlake circa 2007), so I was running around the store looking for the clothes and then running back to his dressing room to deliver the next piece for him to try on. Then just a few days later, I hit the mall with my friend Lyss to find her new outfits for Fall. And yes, I must say I enjoyed these shopping outings immensely, especially since I believe that what a person wears says soooo much about him or her.

One glove only

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t love fashion for the reasons that non-fashionistas (is there even a term for people who aren’t into clothes?) may think. I’m not shallow or all that materialistic, and I certainly don’t judge people solely on appearance. But whether or not you’re pretty/plain/rich/poor/disabled/all of the above, you have the freedom to choose exactly how to decorate and present your body to the world. And how awesome is that? As a writer/creative/media professional/artist/20-something/whatever you want to call me, I’m really into personalizing everything. From the background photo of my baby cousins on my iPhone to my hot pink and zebra print bedroom (rawr), it’s all about self-expression. And what better canvas than the body that takes me through every moment and every action to showcase who I am?

Now let’s get one thing straight: I don’t buy into the “ideal figures only” approach to fashion. Having a disability doesn’t preclude me from celebrating the way I look and wearing the clothes I want to wear. And over the past few years I’ve found a handful (haha, I love puns) of ways to highlight and prettify my asymmetrical figure. Sadly, though, the computer that was home to the majority of my photos crashed a while back. So I hope you don’t mind if I post pictures I found on Google or store websites instead of pics of me in the completed looks. Anyway, I type too much. So without further ado:

1) One-Shoulder Tops/Dresses – I LOVE asymmetrical necklines because they mirror the unevenness of my arms and make the statement that strange or different proportions are beautiful. There’s a lot of talk in the science world about beauty and symmetry being synonymous, but this look proves that it’s the unique and the off-kilter that strikes the eye and holds attention.

Subtle but lovely

2) Upper Arm Bracelets/Cuffs – When I’m not wearing my prosthetic hand, I don’t have a wrist on my left arm to wear a bracelet. But I think that arm deserves to wear pretty accessories too, so upper arm cuffs work particularly well. Plus, it’ll go just as great with a party dress as it will with casual jeans and a tank top. If Cleopatra could pull it off waaaaay back when, then I say why not?

3) Opera Gloves – Yes, they look super fancy shmancy over the prosthetic and paired with a cocktail dress, but I think it’s also pretty cool to wear just one on any given day. (Note: For me, it started for practical reasons rather than as a fashion statement. The “skin” on the prosthetic was easily stained by ink on newspapers and books, and I hated how it looked “dirty” so I just wore the glove over it.)

4) Grecian/Roman Goddess-Inspired – The famous Venus de Milo statue has long served as a standard of beauty for all women, in spite of AND due to her lack of arms. So it’s always fun to channel this icon with a Greek/Roman-inspired piece or full outfit.

So there you go – just a few ideas on how I like to use clothes and style to my advantage. I hope this has been an interesting post. And I promise I’ll start taking more pics of what I wear so I can post them on this blog. Do you want to see more style/fashion content on this blog? Let me know what you think.

Peace,
Caitlin 🙂

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undercover

  Hello again, friends. Before we do anything else, let me just ask you this question: what’s the first thing you notice about the above picture? Is it the lovely dress (which I bought on sale at Macy’s for $15, no joke!)? The guitar in the background? The fact that I’m wearing sunglasses indoors? Or maybe that I look quite a bit heavier than I do now (that’s what I’m noticing, at least)? You might even note that I’m wearing long black opera gloves, which I like to think makes me look elegant and oh-so-sophisticated. I highly doubt, however, that the first thing you notice is my lack of a left arm. And of course, that’s no coincidence. 

  Ever since I was a preteen, I’ve tried my best to hide my limb deficiency from the world. Jackets, blazers, and long-sleeved shirts became the staples of my wardrobe. I wanted to completely eradicate people’s awkward stares and ignore the fact that I had one arm. I wore a variety of trendy sweaters on casual days and (like the picture shows) long gloves for more formal occasions. I was so good at hiding it, in fact, that my boyfriend Chris didn’t even realize I was missing a limb when we first met. This was a personal victory for me because I so badly wanted to be seen as normal. It wasn’t until recently that I finally felt the need to break free of all that. 

  Chris actually helped me a lot in that department. He’s very supportive and assures me that my arm doesn’t bother him at all. When we first started dating, I refused to take off my prosthetic arm (which is Myoelectric and freaking awesome, but I’ll get to that in another post) for him. I remember swearing that I would never let him see my short arm, not even if we got married. Looking back, I now see how comically ridiculous I was being. It took me a while, but I eventually warmed up to the idea. So I went for it and removed the prosthesis for the first time, fully expecting him to break up with me immediately afterwards. It’s funny the way life works sometimes, though. It turns out that he thought I was breaking up with him. He was so nervous because he thought that I wanted to end things. I couldn’t believe it. I thought he would freak out when he saw what I really looked like. Instead, he smiled at me and spoke the two words that would make any girl deliriously happy: “You’re beautiful.” 

  Now before I allow this post to get obnoxiously sugar-sweet and mushy, I should mention that I didn’t just drop all my insecurities and suddenly become a hundred percent comfortable with myself. That’s a process, and I’m not totally there yet. But I did start to realize that trying to cover up a part of myself was not working for me. I’m now at the point where I can deal with the stares and the questions, but I can’t deal with being dishonest and ashamed of how I look. And just like a friend put it when I wondered out loud if the average Joe on the street could be attracted to a one-armed girl, at least I don’t weigh 300 pounds. (Okay, I’m aware that that’s not very politically correct at all, but it’s a comforting thought. Fat people, feel free to console yourselves with the fact that at least you have two arms. Whatever works.) Anyway, I’m now well on my way to shedding the remnants of my cocoon to become a butterfly. (In this silly metaphor, the cocoon is the cumbersome fake limb and the butterfly is my perfectly asymmetrical self). One of my New Year’s resolutions, actually, is to finally be able to walk around without the prosthesis and without a care in the world about it. So yeah, I’m looking forward to shedding those unnecessary 10 pounds of metal and plastic this year. Can’t wait to show off that new figure when I get there.

Peace out,

Caitlin 
  

 

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