New Year, New You: Rocking Your Personal Fashion from a Wheelchair

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Rocking Your Personal Fashion from a Wheelchair

Imagine being a fashion-loving 18-year-old. Now imagine you are newly-paralyzed with a huge back brace and your fashion choices dwindle down to the t-shirts and sweatpants your step-mom brings you after the doctors finally let you out of the hospital gown. It gets even worse when everything you try on doesn’t fit and you have to get dressed lying down or someone has to pull your pants up for you.

That was me 20 years ago and that’s probably the reality for many who are newly-paralyzed, but it doesn’t have to be that way forever. In fact, I was in the mall with my sisters just weeks after leaving the hospital! It was obvious that I needed to dress the part of being a confident, young woman who happened to use a wheelchair.

And that’s what I did. I found clothes that made me feel like me again. I immediately was overtaken with a positive mindset. In spite of this new normal, my self-esteem took the reins and convinced me that I needed to share my journey with the world. I quickly ditched t-shirts and sweats and was able to find clothes that fit the new, “seated” me. 

For anyone in The Driving Force community that’s looking for ideas for holiday outfits or even everyday wear, I’m excited to be able to share a few tips and tricks to help you feel confident to “find your go” this holiday season:

Priscilla Hedlin showing off her black suede jacket

Now, let's move on to dressing for the holiday season and all the festivities that come with it! I’ve rounded up some of my favorite outfits over the past few years and I’m excited to share my tips and tricks to help put your own outfits together this year.

There are no hard and fast rules on what does or doesn’t equate to “festive,” but the holidays are a great time to experiment with sparkle and texture. I love to mix lace, sequins, leather satin and velvet. 

Pro tip: I usually only pick two textures at a time - you don’t want to overdo it! But, there’s always an exception to rules...

Like this outfit! This is proof that all rules are meant to be broken. While I clearly bent my own rule here, somehow it all worked together. 

  • Look for Items with a little stretch: Lycra Spandex is your friend! This makes it so much easier to pull up your pants and gives you extra room when you’re sitting. We all know clothes tend to tug and twist, and if they have a little (or a lot) of stretch, it makes it easier to adjust if needed. There’s nothing worse than needing to ask your best friend to pull up your pants, or even worse, your date.
  • Stay loyal to brands that work: It can be hard to find brands and clothes that fit, so when you discover the brands that work for you, stay loyal. Some of my favorite, easy-to-find brands right now are White House Black Market, Ann Taylor, and Banana Republic. I also love Spanx! They have really cute faux leather leggings that make for a great addition to your fall and winter wardrobe.
  • Avoid side zippers: I always make it a point to avoid side zippers. Front zippers are totally fine, but it’s way more difficult to zip something on the side of your body than from the front - especially when you’re trying to grab that other side from behind and hold while zipping. Pro tip: Like I said, I love White House Black Market, but they’re known for their side zippers. Always be careful when you’re online shopping and always make sure to read the clothing/item description.
  • Confidence: Most of all, remember that EVERYBODY struggles to find the “perfect fit.” Yes, most clothes are designed for standing frames, but able-bodied women and men also struggle to find clothes that fit the right way and make them feel confident. It’s all about your mindset!

I'm wearing sparkles, faux fur, and faux leather, and it ended up being the coolest New Year's Eve outfit. Two of my able-bodied neighbors even bought the same pair and we all coordinated our outfits! The leggings are by Spanx, the tank was from a local boutique and the cardigan is a piece I’ve had in my closet for years. You can always mix new items in with your old to spice up your wardrobe.

This next one was incredibly bold. I paired purple sequins with Kelly green corduroy! The green was incredibly festive and perfect for a holiday Wine Stroll. I understand this is not everyone's taste but I loved it! Now if only I could still wear those pants. My top is Nordstrom and the pants are from one of my go-to brands - Banana Republic. 

The holidays are also a great time to add seasonal colors like red and green if you celebrate Christmas or blue and silver for Hanukkah. This red dress is a seasonal favorite, time and time again. It's lightweight and doesn't feel hot under a coat, which is amazing for when it’s 70 degrees in December - like in this photo. This is a brand that I picked up at Ross Stores for around $12, many years ago. I’m always up for a bargain!

Priscilla Hedlin is wearing a sparkly purple shirt, green pants and black leather boots
Priscilla Hedlin is modeling her pretty red dress that she paired with a gold necklace, black tights and black boots

Priscilla Hedlin is the author of the WheelchairMommy blog and writes about living a fabulous life and raising an even more fabulous family without letting her disability stand in the way.

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