How Disability Styling Expert Stephanie Thomas is Using Fashion as a Form of Advocacy

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What were your earliest defining style inspirations?

Marcia Brady’s mini-dresses and miniskirts. And my mom; I remember her really minimalistic, elegant and effortless style. It never jockeyed for attention, and it never took away from her beauty.

If you could go back to live in one era because of its fashion, what would it be?

That’s a loaded question for a Black woman in America. I would not live in another era, but I really love the Harlem Renaissance; I’m all about the whole creative vibe around it. That would be my era if all of the dis- crimination associated with that time period wasn’t there…. But you know what? I have to change that because if that discrimination wasn’t there, it wouldn’t have been what it was. You can’t take part of it and leave the rest. What I love about it is that a lot of people had to make do with what they had. And some of the looks that came out of that were just mind-blowing.

How do you think fashion plays a part in self-expression?

To me, fashion is self-expression. You don’t have to be a fashionista to let someone know how you feel about something. And that can be seen today in message tees, as part of political protest and as part of how you feel about yourself. When I think about how we’ve moved into body positivity and how people have started to challenge the old norms of what beauty is, I think that self-expression and the way people wear their clothes—and what clothing they choose to wear—are important. It’s a power statement.

What designers do you admire the most right now?

I really love what’s happening with Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss and Virgil Abloh at Off-White. I love the fact that what they’re doing is a departure from what many in mainstream fashion think it means to be fashionable; it also represents culture in a way that has been missing for a long time. I also love Christie Brown, Universal Standard, Jermaine Bleu, A.L.C. and Victoria Beckham. Some of the universal-design and adaptive brands I’m watching are Chiara Boni La Petite Robe, So Yes, Tommy Adaptive, Seven7, Able and Alleles Design Studio.

What’s your most treasured fashion item?

Shoes that are sexy and kind of strappy but have a closed toe with a slight point to make my legs look gorgeous but offer the support I need.

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