Stephanie Harnish Is All About Functional Fashion in Delaware

Stephanie Harnish values comfort, color and a dash of panache.

Define your style:

Modern classics at the intersection of style and comfort. I enjoy wearing bright colors because they energize me.

Fashion evolution:

I’ve become less conservative. As a child of the ’80s, I wore knee socks and penny loafers to my public high school. I even layered polo shirts under my Fair Isle sweaters.

Style tips for fashionistas with special needs:

I’ve started buying my dress pants in a tall length so they cover my ankles when I’m seated. Skirts and dresses are history, except for more formal events like weddings. The athleisure trend has arrived at just the right time for me. I use one of those sturdy BUILT brand lunch bags as my purse because it can hang on the handlebars of my scooter or arm of my power chair. It doesn’t get in my way when I transfer to stand. And as my fine motor skills in my hands have lessened over the years, I asked a friend to modify the clasps on necklaces and earrings so that I can still wear them.

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Stephanie Harnish
Photo by Joe Del Tufo

Go-to outfit:

My focus now is on staying healthy and strong. I’m often running around in my workout clothes since I box and lift weights several days a week at Neuro Fitness Therapy in Wilmington—a crack team of physical and occupational therapists who specialize in people with Parkinson’s disease and people who have multiple sclerosis like me. My fellow patients, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s, are my inspiration. [Harnish also visits attractions that can accommodate a wheelchair, such as Mt. Cuba Center.]

Shoe sense:

I love shoes. My days of heels, flip-flops and clogs are gone due to changes in my feet from no longer walking, so I’m embracing all the fun, colorful sneakers and flats. But I refuse to wear something that I don’t find stylish. Ernie at Benjamin Lovell Shoes in Glen Eagle Square has been a big help to me, and so have Alex and Jeff in the Nordstrom shoe department. With my situation, I value these two stores’ individualized attention and product knowledge.

Trend du jour:

I love the retro and Euro sneaker looks from New Balance, Adidas, Puma and Gola. And I’m so happy ballet flats are popular again. Now there are so many choices of colors and patterns.

Must-keep item:

I have a bright yellow top I wore when I met my rock ’n’ roll hero Bruce Springsteen at the Philadelphia Free Library on his last book tour.

In your jewelry box:

Mine is all costume, except the string of pearls my sentimental grandfather gave my beloved grandmother and some authentic turquoise from Santa Fe. …Earrings are my favorite, especially ones made by an artist. I picked up dangly hand-hammered silver ones during one of my favorite vacations to the island of Hvar, Croatia. Earrings, for me, are the perfect souvenir—unique, inexpensive and easy to pack.

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Don’t leave the house without:

Lipstick. When I treat myself to a new tube, I go to Houppette in Greenville. Those women know what looks good on me, and we always laugh a lot while I’m deciding on a shade. Working with them is truly retail therapy.

Related: This Delaware Fourth-Grader Is an Influencer in Training

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