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Friday 4 August 2017

Wheelchair Vintage: Which era? Part 1

I get quite a few questions about wearing vintage in a wheelchair so I'm starting a series, 'Wheelchair Vintage' which will aim to answer some of those questions.

Vintage has been quite a journey for me. Originally it was a by-product of trying to find full/circle skirts. What I needed was quite specific, I wanted a long skirt but not maxi, I wanted more volume than I could find in midi skirt & I wanted, I wanted something quite subtle which wasn't really in style at the time. So I found vintage which is all about the kind of skirts I was wanting & it actually helped me fall back in love with clothes & my body & blogging. So thank you to lindy bop for having affordable vintage style clothing.

I'm still pretty close to a total newb in this whole vintage thing but I have gotten a lot better at styling & also knowing what works best on my weird, plus size, wheelchair using body. So, inspired by a post that Jacqueline did on her blog salamistinkt (it was about skirt shapes in wheelchair) I am starting with a post of what eras/styles of 'vintage' work best in a wheelchair....or at least on my wheelchair using body.


So I'm starting in the 1930s. 1930s are a period that I have a love hate relationship with. I love the clothes but they don't love me lol.
Fashion in the 1930s was very feminine, quite modest, quite plain & honestly very different to the 1920s (I'm actually not a fan of the 1920s, my boobs are too big for that period of fashion). There were lots of almost pencil skirts. Not modern pencil skirts, more like a tighter, straighter, longer and more tailored version of the skirts from the 1920s. The skirts often had kick pleats & these skirt were balanced by outfits having a lot of volume at the top. whether in larger sleeves, blouse-y tops or furs.

So how does it wear on me?

Well, honestly, not that well. The fullest possible 1930s style skirt is not that full, I really had to search to find this dress (the heart of haute Manhattan dress btw). Without a lot of fullness in my skirt my stomach is way too visible for my liking. I am kind of awkward & lumpy looking & I wear a corset to help me have the shape I used to have the vintage silhouette & 30s style clothes show where the fat sticks out at the end of my corset, plus all my other weird lumps. Also the detailing on the shoulders makes my already large shoulders look like I'm padded up to play american football. Don't get me wrong this is actually one of my favourite dresses & I wear it often but, on me, it photographs terribly. I mean I took loads of photos & I basically only got this one & I had to get out of my chair to do it.

How does it wear in wheelchair?

There are lots of factors to this but I'm going to say not great. If you can find 30s style clothes more like this I would say pretty good. Depending on your bodyshape 30s can be a great style for you but it won't take you long to run out of 30s style clothes with the fuller skirt. When that happens pencil skirts are your next best bet & they are much harder to wear in a chair for mobility, comfort & them just fitting the way they are supposed to. Plus true vintage is hard to find & super expensive.

I'm giving it a 2/5

My look:

Dress: Heart of Haute
Gloves: Vintage

Places to look for clothes:

Top Vintage: 30's era
20th Century Foxy: 30's era
Unique Vintage: 30's era
Emmy Design: 30's era


I'm so happy for this one. Clothes that don't hate my body lol.
1940's fashion is, amazingly enough, very much split by the war. In Britain clothing rationing continued until 1949 (apparently only ending because of the distribution of forged clothing coupons) so the clothes here didn't really change much after the war, although obviously after the war Chanel's New Look debuted.
There was also a massive separation between European fashion in the 1940s & American fashion in the 1940s. America in the 1940s is pinup & wartime but there weren't the same limited resources there were in the rest of the world (there was more fabric, it was possible to buy proper stockings & makeup was more readily available) so a lot of what we think of as 1940s fashion is American 1940's fashion.

How does it wear on me?

I'm plus size & that wouldn't have been exactly the norm in the 1940s & there is an element to which I feel like I don't look particularly 1940s just because of that. The clothes in the 1940s are also very plain & simple, the fabrics are soft & the skirts don't have a lot of volume. This makes it both forgiving & not forgiving. It softens me & is subtlety feminine (it would make awesome work wear) but it also has a tendency to cling slightly & make me feel conscious that I look lumpy & large.
Quite honestly though, having grown up watching the Chronicles of Narnia tv series (my brother & I borrowed the VHS of those from blockbusters every time we went, gosh that sentence made me feel OLD) it would take a lot to dissuade me from wearing 1940s style clothes.

How does it wear in a wheelchair?

As I said, the skirts in 1940s clothes don't always have a lot of volume & even the reproduction stuff tends to be made of quite soft fabrics so I would recommend a slip or a very thin petticoat under the skirts to stop them dipping between your legs but honestly I think this is a win. I know a lot of wheelchair users find the fuller, 1950's style skirts that I prefer too big & honestly they can be, especially if you have a manual chair. The 1940s style skirts strike a good balance, they are narrower but not so narrow that it makes movement difficult.
I also think that the 1940s are a good place to start a vintage wardrobe. A lot of the pieces are basics & can cross over into other eras & it's also an era that doesn't look 'too vintage' you know? A shirt dress looks vintage or not depending on how you wear it but a poodle skirt is always going to be a poodle skirt you know?

I'm giving it a 4.5/5

My outfit:

Hat: Etsy
Gloves: Vintage
Blouse: Collectif Clothing
Skirt: 20th Century Foxy
Shoes: B.A.I.T. Footwear

Some places to look for clothes:

Unique Vintage: 40's era
20th Century Foxy: 40's era
Top Vintage: 40's era
Emmy Design: 40's era
Miss Candyfloss

My other 40's looks:

Autumn Pinup, more the top than the skirt but I think it counts
Hurricane Plaid


So the 1950's was a big era, fashion wise. There are so so many kinds of fashion from the 50's, it's kind of the era when fashion started to boom (I know people credit that to the 60's but I call bull). Anyway, so 50's gives vintage lovers a lot of scope so look out for part two, there'll be more 50's stuff in that one. So, this is new look-ish 1950's. New look style fashion is iconic for the full skirts & tailored, almost peplum jackets, The tailoring look transitioned into clothes that were not suits much like this dress.
Unsurprisingly the 1950's in Britain were much more subdued, fabric was still hard to come by & most people had very little disposable income, so skirts were narrower & petticoats less voluminous.

How does it wear on me?

50's fashion, in all it's forms, is designed for a woman with a more ample figure, ample for the times at least (you wouldn't believe how much vintage 50's clothing has a 24 inch waist...that's about the size of my thigh....). This means that the repro clothing I wear lends it's self to my very ample figure much better than some other styles. I also find that petticoats make outfits easier to photograph as the skirts don't dip between my legs & the volume gives the feel of movement that sitting down takes away from me. I also like that this style of 50's gives me back my hourglass silhouette, all in all 50's works for me.

How does it work in a wheelchair?

Honestly, it depends on your wheelchair. If you use a manual chair I would say badly. Petticoats are key to this kind of 1950's silhouette & they can be very bulky in a wheelchair (I can not count the number of times I've had petticoat caught in my chair or bunching weirdly). For me it works & I like how dressy they make me feel but I know that they can get to be a touch impractical. There are a few options like getting a smaller petticoat (I have the Zooey petticoat from Malco Modes & I really like it) or stiffened underskirts like this one from pinup girl clothing.
In a powerchair or on a mobility scooter 1950's clothes are still bulky but less of a problem as they won't get in your way as much, whilst a skirt could get stuck in the wheels of a manual chair it's unlikely that it's going to get stuck in anything important on a powerchair. 1950's clothes aren't great for transferring to the chair, just because there can be some rearranging needed in order to get the skirt & petticoat settled & that can be tricky to do on your own &/or annoying if you have to do it a couple of times a day.

I'm giving it a 3.5/5


Hat: Etsy
Sunglasses: Collectif Clothing
Dress: Collectif Clothing
Gloves: Vintage
Shoes: B.A.I.T. Footwear

Places to look for clothes:

Unique Vintage: 50's era
20th Century Foxy: 50's era
Top Vintage: 50's era
Emmydesign: 50's era

My other 50's looks:

Watercolour Roses
Lilac Snowdrops: Let's call this 50's, it's kind of 1958-1962-ish... so I guess it counts.

There will be a part 2 to this post so if you have any suggestions or styles you would like to see please let me know :)


  1. You look gorgeous in all three styles Sally. If you don't mind me asking, how do you keep your skirts from flying up? Almost every time I wear a skirt the smallest breeze grabs it and I don't want the world to see my knickers!

    1. Hi. I'm actually terrible & keeping my skirt from flying up... When I'm not taking photos I usually have something on my lap (a camera or two, my handbag...that kind of thing) & that helps a lot. I remember hearing that the queen has those curtain weights sewn into the hem of her skirts to stop them from flying up....that always seemed like a good idea 😊 Sorry I can't be more helpful....

  2. Thank you for mentioning me. 😘
    I love the 40's and 50's fashion. But you look great in all of your outfits!

  3. Thank you for mentioning me. 😘
    I love the 40's and 50's fashion. But you look great in all of your outfits!

  4. I know it's been a few months since this post, but thought I'd add some comments, as a wheelchair user myself who likes vintage style clothes. It's true that not all styles look as great when you're in a wheelchair. I wear both the more pencil-like skirts/dresses and the big 50s style skirts/dresses. I do use a manual chair and it's true that the voluminous skirts can be awkward. For me they don't so much get caught in the chair as they get dirty from contact with the tires. So they are not something I wear every day. When I do I tuck them in a bit at the sides, especially when I am pushing the chair. I have to try some kinds of inserts to provide more protection from dirt. My biggest fashion problem is shoes - many don't stay on my feet. Pretty much I just wear flats without straps only in photos. I don't wear long coats and I have to watch the puffy ones. They tend to look really unflattering in a wheelchair if they are too puffy, like you are sitting in a pool of material.

  5. oh, and the skirts blowing up.. my skirts don't often blow up but they do ride up. Once a lady came running over to me on the street and started yanking my skirt down. Yikes! It wasn't that high up. I asked her if she would do that to someone who was walking.


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