Stephanie Thomas (@disabilityfashionstylist) is a disability stylist and founder of Cur8able, a styling consultancy that helps people who are disabled, chronically ill and injured find stylish clothing without the extra layers of stress that people in those groups often face when shopping for clothes. Through her brand and strong online presence, Thomas is leading the charge for a more inclusive fashion world.
As an amputee herself, Thomas knows firsthand how difficult it can be for members of the disabled community to shop for clothes. “I have three toes on one foot and four on the other. I was born without toes, and I had surgery on my arm where they took bones in order to develop toes for me, and so I have to have closed-toe shoes,” says Thomas. “I know what it’s like to go into a store and not be able to find footwear, and have this gorgeous dress in mind but just not be able to find sexy closed-toe sandals,” says Thomas.
Thomas has developed a general styling system that she uses for clients, as well as for herself. “My styling system guides me,” she says. “Make sure it’s accessible, make sure you’re not hurting yourself, and make sure you love it. It’s not just something that I made for other people; it also helps me. And it helps everyone from a person with dwarfism to a person with chronic illness. It can help anyone.”
When Thomas searches for clothes for her clients, she has a strong sense of what qualities to look for. For example, clothes without fasteners work well, while clothes with zippers in the back are more difficult for her clients. Thomas views clothing through an inclusive lens, constantly seeking items and products that suit her clients’ specific needs.
Shifting the perspective on disability
Despite Thomas’s efforts and expertise, the fashion world can be unforgiving. “People in fashion often consider the pulls or the looks that I put together to be pedestrian, [and] that’s kind of an insult. It’s one that I wear with honor, though,” says Thomas. “People want to get dressed in what they want to get dressed in. And even if it doesn’t meet the standards of the industry, if I can make someone happy, if a shirt makes someone smile, if a frickin’ pair of shoes where their swollen foot is not hanging out the shoe and they feel like they have dignity and they can straighten their back, I don’t care what other people have to say. I’ll be ‘pedestrian’ all day.”
Thomas’s goal and brand is all about fashion, but she views her consultancy as a small step toward a larger goal. “We need to change how disability is viewed,” Thomas says. “And that’s what I hope, more so than anything, my work is doing.”
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