The Disabled Dress Code
Fashion Studies (MA)
Disabled, differently abled, handicapped—these are all umbrella terms that cover a wide range of physical disabilities. Though in relation to fashion, these terms translate as accessible and adaptive wear, referencing clothing for people with disabilities. However, going beyond the relationship of fashion and disabilities, is the notion of dressing for a disability. In media, advertisements, and articles, there is an immense push toward inclusiveness in the fashion industry, which includes all body forms, styles, and colors. Despite this push, not everyone is included in this inclusive movement, thereby reasserting the power and representation of able-bodied humans. This power-based phenomenon is showcased not only in the media and consumer activity but also is reflected in everyday conceptions of what is considered to be the normal body. Drawing on theories of normalcy, social oppression, and deviant bodies, my research spurs an engagement between fashion and the disabled body. Not all wearers with disabilities are finding the appropriate attire to create a wardrobe; not all designers are creating for this market; not all stores feature fashion options with specific needs. In order to understand where fashion, consumerism, and disabilities intersect, I examine in my thesis where disabilities fit into the fashion industry and consumer market.