From the Editor: Shawn is a junior at University of Maryland Baltimore County, majoring in political science with an interest in international relations. He is passionate about his job as a resident assistant as well as his involvement with cultural events on campus. His hobbies include fashion, writing, and Learning new languages. You can usually catch him either hanging out with friends and his free time, or curled up with a good book or podcast.
So you’re blind, and want to level up your style? If you're reading this, I'm assuming you want a crash course on how to do that. Best to jump in, then, no beating around the bush. I would say that whether you can see or you can't, it doesn't really matter. The basics are the basics are the basics, and most of them don't require vision. So let's start with the basics. First, fit. Different fits say different things about you. Looser fits are more casual. It is the reason why a hoodie can be baggy, while blazers should be tighter. There is a big difference, however, between a T-shirt two sizes too big and a streetwear style shirt that was cut in the right places to be bigger. One makes you look like a bum, the other cool and trendy. I would advise the novice to stay away from these for now, since The classic, well fitted crewneck T-shirt is more versatile. So to start out, try to find pieces that are perfect for your size, whatever that may be. Second,simple coordination. All it takes is matching the black in your shoes to the black in your shirt, to come across as stylish. If your blindness is such that you can't see colors, just make sure to remember what each of your pieces look like. There are plenty of apps to identify color, and you could come up with other systems of labeling. It's actually quite simple. Coordination includes matching dark colors with dark colors, contrasting light with dark, and using colors that complement each other. Brown doesn't go with burgundy, but it does with navy, and so on. You can also match materials, wearing leather boots with a leather jacket. Balance the formalities of pieces, meaning you would never wear those casual boots with a formal blazer. That's coordination. There are plenty of articles on the Internet that can help you with this. Third. Pay attention to the material and its construction. Leather is edgy, whether it’s in your bracelet or line in your jacket. Normal cotton is simple and durable. Bamboo cotton is going to make a T-shirt that feels luxurious and quality to the touch, but is more expensive and harder to clean. Raw, selvedge denim jeans will also be more expensive, but be higher in quality and last much longer. My personal philosophy is that it’s better to buy fewer quality items rather than more but cheaper items , but that's a matter of perspective. It’s just that I want you to feel things first, before asking what they look like. Wear it, stretch it, rub the material between your fingers before asking for a friend's opinion. Most every cited person has probably made you feel like the visual way of doing things is the most important way. And the only way. Forgive them, They don’t know better. I emphasize the basics because people think that there is something essentially different in the way that a blind person lives their life. And those basic high-level ideas are the same for everyone, whether you can see or not. There's the basics of looking at your closet and saying, what are the pieces that I actually need? I started out a couple years ago, by googling what the basics of fashion were. There are endless articles, so I read them. T-shirts, jeans, sneakers. Black, navy, white. Chinos, joggers, polos. For someone trying to have a traditionally masculine sense of style, everyone can agree that these are the basics. Whatever your personal slant may be, it can be good to start out with pieces that are versatile, mixable and matchible. They are safe. But that is where you begin. And as you continue on this journey, there are a couple more ideas to keep in mind. First, style is different from fashion. A mentor of mine once said to me, it's quite simply this: something could look great on you but horrible on someone else, something could look great on someone else but horrible on you. End of story. Fashion is about other people, society, styles about who you are. Next, fashion is also about being patient, accepting the process. now I look at my closet. Two of the bamboo cotton T-shirts that I bought got ruined in the washer. So now I'm missing shirts. So even though there's a cool pair of sneakers that I want to buy, a sexy set of burgundy jeans, a buttery suede jacket, I ignore those things, for now, in favor of the basic and more necessary T-shirt. With that T-shirt I can put together more fits, have a bigger variety of things to wear. It will improve my style in the long term and once I buy that piece that I really want, I have a taste to fit it into.. Really ask yourself, what are the basics? You know the answer. Sometimes the answer to this question is actually not buying any thing at all. Sometimes it is reading up on aspects of fashion you want to learn more about. Other times it can be taken care of the clothes you do have. It's learning about the best techniques for washing and drying to make sure that these quality clothes that you buy will last the longest. For example, I found out that for mySelvedge denim jeans, that the best thing to do is not wash them at all, and if you do only rarely. When you do wash them, turn them inside out, cold tumble low dry, and then air dry off a hanger. Most days just toss them in the freezer and that will kill the bacteria. This kind of care really does have an effect in a long term.. When it comes to this care, the details are important. Only use wooden and plastic hangers. Why?wire hangers tend to sag and that wrinkles your clothes. Nearly all my clothes I turn inside out when I wash, and the ones I really love, like the bamboo cotton, have to be air dried. . As for jewelry, different things have different cleaning processes. Gold for example, requires a cleaning solution applied about once a month. Shoes also require cleaning, but honestly I find that a washcloth rung in hot water and a little bit of scrubbing almost always does the trick. If you need more you could always use soap, and then there's magic erasers and an entire industry to help you clean your sneakers.. So of course it's important to learn all these basic rules, but then there's a lot about fashion that follows no rhyme or reason logically. Completely independent of every roule of fashion, something might just look good because Marlon Brando wore it in the 20s and it has a sort of cultural nostalgia that people have subliminally absorbed over decades of their life without actually entirely knowing why. I realized early that the classic bad boy fit is a leather jacket over a white T-shirt, and light blue skinny jeans. Why? Because James Dean,. No actual reason, it's just a celebrity wore it and now it's in the hearts and minds of millions of people. That accumulated visual imagery is actually a good deal of fashion, at least when you're trying to achieve a certain look. It's about what other people think about that look. There is literally nothing inherently cool about a leather jacket, at least for the most part. I mean there is a little bit, but most of that is Hollywood. A big part of fashion is going to be visual, I'm not going to deny that. So what kind of techniques can you use to account for this? Here are my personal favorites. There are certain apps to describe images and color. Be my eyes is a great app to connect with volunteers who can describe things, this is great because you can just keep switching from person to person and get multiple perspectives. They're usually really excited to help and have great ideas. Aira is it much more professional service, the agents are a lot more descriptive, but you need to pay for a plan that's more than five minutes today. Both are useful. I also just like to ask people in my life. I do this through conversation. I ask people what a certain piece reminds them of, what a certain Fit reminds them of. Why? That's an important question, can you be more specific? That's an even more important question. Most people struggle to articulate why they think something is cooler than another. On some level they know that one leather jacket looks edgier than another, even though they can't tell you that it's because the second one is too baggy and the first one has zippers on the breast pockets and silver to match. Some people can, however. You want to keep those people around and keep going back to them. You also want to survey multiple people for their opinions. As a general rule, you want to always ask people about fashion. Most cited people can walk around and get inspiration all day long from the people around them. I can't, so I asked people what they're wearing, what other people are wearing, what do you think looks good together. And if you ask me, that's a better way to do fashion anyway. Blindness isn't a death sentence for being stylish, or for living your life. No matter what most uneducated sided people may assume. If you insist on forging a different path to get where others reach so easily, so one dimensionally, this can be an immense source of creativity. In doing so you may just find that the gems you find along the way are genuinely so much more enriching, enlightening, and magical. I certainly have.