Today – we’re going to talk about fashion.

Marcus’ new Downs Designs jeans and his model audition

I am not a talented “Suzie-homemaker,” which I perceive as someone who can wallpaper and sew and serves a “complete breakfast” every morning, and so on. When house-shopping I said to the realtor, “If the word potential even crosses your mind: do not show me the house.” I cannot paint. I cannot lay new carpet. It took me over a year to put pictures on the wall.

And sewing. Yeah….no. This includes everything. If a shirt has lost a button, it’s dead to me.

Enter Marcus. Marcus’ body type is not typical, let’s say.

For example, Marcus wanted to be Shaggy one Halloween. Yea for me! Brown pants, green shirt and don’t shave or get a haircut. Love this. SO – we shop for brown pants. Then we use this fancy wanna-be hem-tape. Voila!

Or…maybe not so voila. The pretend hem is folded up into the inside of his pants so far that it’s hard not to catch his foot in it each time he puts on these pants. To be fair, the wanna-be hem-tape has never ripped. It’s in its same crooked fold as day one. Nobody’s fault, really.

Enter scene: Downs Designs

Marcus hasn’t owned a pair of jeans for years. In fact, I mentioned getting new jeans and he initially was adverse to the idea. Until Quinn reminded him that jeans are denim – Marcus’ favorite fabric.

In. The. World. (More on that detail another day.)

Downs Designs -> “Our goal is for every person with Down syndrome to have proper fitting clothes made for their unique body shapes.” Now there’s an idea! “We also want to make clothes that are comfortable, easy to get on and off and that are stylish. Downs Designs clothes are more than just shortening a sleeve or taking up a hem, we take design a step further. Our designs fit appropriately at the knees and elbows. Pants have elastic waistbands with no button or zippers and our new designs have no tag that can irritate the skin.” That’s good because as far as Marcus is concerned, tags are the devil.

Now, I am sooo sewing adverse – I didn’t even know how to take measurements. My grandma gave me her tape measure – you know, the body kind not the kind that you flick and it wheels back into place. Seriously. So I followed the well laid out directions on the Downs Designs website. But, even then, I decided to make a call for help.

Here’s how it went:

Ringy ringy – “Hello, I have a question about the jeans.”

Person: “Let me get you to Karen.”

Karen comes on the line – she asks me a few questions, which is fine, I like proactive customer service. Next thing I know we get a box with two pairs of jeans and a sheet of instructions that equal:

1) Try these on

2) Safety pin the length.


Marcus in his Downs Designs Jeans as we head to Denver

Marcus in his Downs Design Jeans as we head to Denver

Even I could do this!


We sent back the try-on jeans. I confirmed to Karen via email that we needed 2 pairs and a few days later Marcus had pants! Jeans that are practical and comfortable. And ready for travel.

Speaking of Fashion & Travel

If you follow the Grown Ups & Downs Facebook page, you may know that last week Marcus and I travelled to Denver for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s “Be Beautiful, Be Yourself” Fashion Show auditions.

We walked into the small room outside the theatre designated for the auditions and found ourselves among many bright, engaged, and excited faces. We were among children and adults with Down syndrome all ready to shine.

For me, the response was visceral, coming from deep within me and travelling to the edge of my skin. I literally had to catch my breath. I had never before been near so many of “this” face, bright and laughing and preparing, together near me.

Plus, I was nervous. Both at being in this crowd of strangers and also for Marcus and the event itself. Marcus was nervous too. We chatted with a few folks. Mostly we hovered near the door.

SURE – this was the perfect opportunity to spread the word about, oh say this blog,
or The Road We’ve Shared, or the Facebook page.
I Know That! No. I didn’t give out any cards.
This wasn’t about me. This was about Marcus and

after all of my rambling – let me tell you what he said:

First,  the children and adults lined up in groups of 20 or so. Each group was taken back stage then one at a time the model walked to the stage, greeted the judges/audience, turned to the back of the stage, got to do it again, then exited. To the right of the model was a huge portrait pre-supplied, and to the left was a live feed of the stage. There were bright stage lights and a fun songs to set the mood.

To my knowledge, the models were not shown any details about what to do. Marcus was in the second group, so while lining up, he watched the first group and had to process and decide his own “moves.” There were also two Broncos’s Cheerleaders that guided and directed the models on the stage. (Nice touch, GDSF.)

OK?! Oh, and you should know, Marcus also had to deal with me for ½ of the first group yammering nervously in his ear. Most of which he answered with, “Fine.” “I’m fine.” Or “It’s fine.” Sigh…I probably wasn’t helpful, I’m such a mom.

Still with me? SO – he does his thing. The auditions proceed and wrap-up. I’m super proud of him, and everyone.

Marcus and Sam CheerleaderWe bee-line out the door, well…we did stop for a photo-op with Sam, Marcus’ favorite Bronco cheerleader. And also a hug with a new friend. Then we head out. As we’re walking to the car Marcus exclaims, “I won!”

“Yes. You did.” I agree.

Now for you literalists in the crowd, we won’t know the “results” of the auditions for several weeks. I do not envy the judges or the GDSF for the choices they have to make. Seriously. However, if you’ve ever done something new, exciting and scary as hell – you won. And Marcus did just that. Again, super proud.

Once we got into the silent security of the car, I wanted to know more about what Marcus was thinking. As mentioned, my own emotions surprised me, what about him? And it was a bit of a whirlwind of lights, stage, pressure, people…

“Marcus, that was a lot,” I said, “I could tell you were busy thinking. Can you tell me what you were thinking through all of that?”

“Yes,” he said as he leaned back and put on his seatbelt, “Don’t panic.”


Downs Design Jeans 2I can’t possibly add to that.
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