If you’re a fan of fashionable, functional clothing you need to run, not walk, RUN, to Molly Farrell’s Instagram. Molly’s page, @all.fashion.able, first caught our eye close to two years ago, and we’ve loved following along with her finds ever since. Add in the fact that she is the kindest, most genuine person you’ll ever meet and we couldn’t be happier to call her a friend! Between supporting upcoming adaptive brands, posting hidden accessible gems from mainstream retailers, and her Wednesday Wonderful series, Molly is a one stop shop for universally designed product recommendations. That’s all before getting to her life outside of Instagram, where she is a speech language pathologist and proud Chicagoan! Read on for more of Molly’s story…
In as much or as little detail as you would like to share, what is your disability and how has life changed since its onset?
When I was 13, I fractured my c5 and c6 vertebrae during swim team practice. While practicing starts off the blocks, I hit the bottom of the pool and became paralyzed from my bicep down. My doctors told me that I had a less than 1% chance of ever walking again, but I am today! I have decreased mobility and decreased overall strength, but I am able to walk with my crutches.
What was it like being a middle schooler with a brand new disability?
Terrible! It was just hard going back to school and being different, and there was absolutely no one in my school with any sort of disability. Middle school is hard no matter what, and then throw in a spinal cord injury on top of it and whew!! But thankfully, I had great friends who were really supportive. I got a fresh start when I went to high school. It was like a new beginning for me. I loved high school. Like if I could go back to it, I would 100%.
What prompted you to go into speech language pathology?
After my accident, I had to go through hours and hours of physical therapy and occupational therapy, and I grew really close with a lot of my therapists. They completely changed my life and helped me get to where I am now! I wanted to help others like they helped me. I found speech pathology when I was in undergrad and realized this was just perfect for me. It was my chance to give back and help others like all of my therapists had helped me.
How did you start @all.fashion.able and why?
I’ve always loved fashion. Getting the Limited Too catalog in the mail was the best day ever! When I got hurt, my abilities changed, so it became a lot harder to get dressed. Unfortunately, we would just gravitate toward whatever was easiest to put on, which was a lot of pajamas and drawstring pants. But I didn’t want to wear that- I was 13 and I wanted to wear all the same clothes that all my friends were wearing! Once I started getting better and stronger, we started figuring out different ways to adapt my clothes. When I was in college, all of the fashion blogs kind of blew up, but there was no one with a disability who was a fashion blogger. I always thought about doing it, and finally started my @all.fashion.able account a few years ago to feature different finds that might not necessarily be advertised as adaptive, but that would work for different abilities.
What prompted you to start Wednesday Wonderful?
Over the years, I’d figured out different tricks and hacks to make my life a little easier and to be able to live independently, and I would always share them with my friends who were living in similar situations. I realized I should tell everyone about these things to hopefully help someone else. I like themes so I came up with the Wednesday Wonderful title and every week I share a new tip or hack or product!
(Molly’s top three favorite WW wonderful products are her toilet paper holder grab bar, magnetic jewelry clasps, and water bottle opener.)
What’s one misconception people have about dressing with a disability?
People think that we can just wear anything. People are so surprised that my friends in wheelchairs can’t wear regular jeans because the pockets on the back can cause pressure sores. I can’t button a shirt by myself, because I don’t have the dexterity to do that. But people just aren’t aware of all that so they think there’s not a need for adaptive clothing or universally designed clothing!
Have you found a lot of other friends with disabilities in your hometown?
I’ve met a lot of people through physical therapy! Spinal cord injuries happen mostly to men so when I got to my physical therapy gym, I was the only girl. On one of the first days at the rehab hospital, I went to a hand group. It was all middle aged men, and we played poker. So here I am, this little 13 year old girl, ready to play poker (which I’ve never played before), and I beat all of the guys. Beginner’s luck! A few years later, I was able to meet two girls who are right around my age and they’re two of my best friends now. It’s been such a huge lifesaver, because I can go to them and ask them anything, and they’ll give me the honest truth, and I’m able to do that for them too.
Who are some of your favorite sources of style inspiration?
Blair Eadie – Love her. Perfection! I love Jen Lake, fellow Chicagoan, and she’s just got the best style. Do you follow Scout City? She is amazing. Venita Aspen- love her, too. She’s so preppy and colorful!
Last trip you took: Door County Wisconsin- it’s my happy place. I’ve been going there since I was born and I just love it!
What’s on your bedside table: Chargers for my phone and watch, my kindle, my touch lamp (which is also one of my favorite Wednesday Wonderfuls because I can easily tap it to turn it on and off), and usually a water bottle.
Roller coasters or water slides: Water slides- I’m scared of heights and I like water
Underdressed or overdressed: Overdressed- I can never be too overdressed!
Beach or mountains: Beach 100%
If the future of fashion is a more inclusive place, what do you hope that would look like?
My ultimate dream is that fashion is inclusive across the board. Many designers are now more aware and thinking of ways to incorporate universal design. Adaptive fashion designers are educating traditional designers and helping them think through the process, which is great to see. It would be wonderful to walk into a major department store and have it fully designed so there’s not a specific adaptive section. Everyone could shop together!
What do you want to be known for?
Helping others, being positive, and never giving up
What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever worn and why?
It changes every week, but I loved my senior year prom dress. It had a big bow, and I loved it!
Thanks so much Molly for talking with us and all of your support for Brakefields! If you want to connect with Molly, you can do so on Instagram at @all.fashion.able.