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We too have the right to look smart & gorgeous - My Take by Sai Kaustuv, Happiness Coach

September 25, 2018

In My Take this week, Sai Kaustuv, who stands out for his distinctive fashion sense, tells us what set him off on the journey towards designing adaptive wear for people with disabilities.

In 2016 I was nominated for a prestigious award and had to go onstage to receive it. It was at that time that I started thinking about how to present myself a little differently.

I wanted to change my look as disabled people are not here to look dull and down. We too have the right to look smart and gorgeous.

That's when the idea of designing accessible clothing came to my mind. I started thinking about my limitations and how to design something according to my needs. The outcome is my famous attire which I prefer to wear on most occasions.

There are different types of disabilities around us, but for those of us confined to a wheelchair, what to wear becomes an issue. Many wheelchair users avoid going out as they feel they don't look well dressed or well groomed.

A visually impaired person is able to move his arms and legs freely and dress like everyone else. That is not true for people with spinal cord injuries, osteogenesis Imperfecta, or muscular dystrophy. This makes many of them avoid social gatherings.

Designing the look

I too faced the same exclusions in my life and was disappointed by the lack of an equal mindset. I decided to change this outlook and present myself in a new way, so that people start talking about my attitude and dress code.

I designed my distinctive dhoti-kurta, to reflect Indian tradition and culture. I then added an angavastram to give it a vibrant look. I love kurtas but cannot wear then as I am unable to move my shoulders. The accessible dhoti-kurta and angavastram set is easy to wear and you don't need to move the hands and legs much. They have been designed such that a disabled person can wear them with minimal assistance. They help disabled people to dress independently and look smart.

I have recently designed a formal Western attire - a suit with a shirt and tie. I had to attend an international felicitation ceremony and dress code was a suit. I designed a suit and dhoti, which is an India first. I find it hard to wear pants, so instead with the same suit cloth, I designed a smart dhoti with a cotton undercloth as this makes it easy for me to sit for a long time.

The end result was smart and grand and accessible, which is most important. Going ahead, I plan to design different attires for different events.

As a disabled Happiness Coach, my aim is to spread happiness and self-confidence through my accessible wear. We too have an equal right to participate in social functions looking well dressed. We need a designer or tailor who is sensitive to our needs and requirements. I look forward to working on short films, advertisements or special events like accessible ramp shows to make accessible clothing more popular among the disabled community.

ALSO READ: Some tips for how to dress your best in a wheelchair

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