24 Minutes with disability fashion stylist, Stephanie Thomas


By Joan Kong

24 Minutes with disability fashion stylist, Stephanie Thomas

Think of stylists and a throng of famous celebrity stylists or editorial stylists will most likely come to mind, but here’s a name that should also be on your radar—disability styling expert, Stephanie Thomas.

With 28 years of experience under her belt, she has championed a more diverse and inclusive fashion industry over the years, and as a congenital amputee (she was born with missing digits on her right hand and feet), she also uses fashion to advocate. Stephanie recently renewed the trademark on her styling system. Called the ‘Disability Fashion Styling System: Accessible, Smart, Fashionable’, it focuses on clothes that are easy to put on and take off, clothes that are medically safe, and clothes that people will love.

Below, Stephanie Thomas lets us in on her work (and advocacy) as a disability fashion stylist:

How did your career as a disability fashion stylist come about?

My career actually began as a community service project while competing in a local scholarship pageant in the Miss America pageant system. That community service project became a hobby, and 28 years later, that hobby is my life’s work.


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Tell us more about adaptive clothing.

Adaptive clothing is clothing re-imagined to make dressing easy. For instance, pants made for wheelchair users, or as I refer to it in my lexicon, people with seated body types, since the clothing is designed for sitting. Also, footwear that accommodates AFO braces, alternative fasteners for button-down dress shirts and more. These are all examples of adaptive clothing.

As a disability fashion stylist—a title I coined to educate the fashion industry on my work—I use adaptive clothing and universally designed (aka human-centered) clothing to style my clients. All pieces I select must meet the standards of my Disability Fashion Styling System: Accessible, Smart, Fashionable. I curate a lot of pieces from Tommy Adaptive. Norma Komali and COS don’t design adaptive clothing, but their design principles meet the standards of my styling system so they work. I also love brands like FFORA that understands luxury and human-centered design.


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What are some of the adaptive clothing brands people should know?

Many of the adaptive brands that people should know are not sold on a global scale yet. Tommy Adaptive and Germany-based Rolli Moden are two of the biggest names, but there are also UK-based online store Samanta Bullock (that sells brands that also focus on sustainability), EveryHuman in Australia, IZ Adaptive in Canada, and FFORA in the US.


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As a stylist, I have the opportunity to hear directly from people with disability who actually wear the clothing, and the reason Tommy Adaptive and IZ Adaptive are so popular is because they are well-known brands that also design non-adaptive lines. Here’s a fact that I’ve learned over the last 28 year as a person with a disability—people want to wear brands that they already know and love. They want to be a part of the fashion community, and they want to go into their favourite stores and shop with their friends and family.

Could you name us a few disabled fashion influencers we should know and follow?

Absolutely! Lauren Wasser (@ImpossibleMuse) is a model; Jourdie Zhang (@east.and.west) is not only one of my @Cur8able Cur8tors, he’s also the editor of East and West Style. Independent Spirit Award Nominee and the founder of Sitting Pretty Productions, Lauren Spencer (@itslololove), is also one of my Cur8tors and my styling client. And lastly, model and actor Tamara Mena (@tamaramenaofficial) is a force!


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