I have always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with clothing. On the one hand, wearing clothing is necessary to go out in polite society and clothing can be helpfully protective against the many sensory antagonists in the world. On the other hand, it can often add to the sensory issues that I already deal with- especially since my most substantial sensory issues are tactile.
Fashionable clothing, in particular, tends to be the worst sensory offender for me. Women’s clothes can be challenging to wear comfortably anyhow, but if they’re the “latest trend” they’re usually even more difficult for me to handle. “Latest trend” implies that there’s something new or different about the clothing and how it hangs/fits. I don’t particularly like new or different feelings against my skin.
For primarily sensory reasons, although financial reasons largely factor in as well, I prefer doing my shopping in thrift stores. Their scents, lighting, temperature, and set-ups tend to be gentler on my system than department stores are and I can tell immediately whether I’ll like an item of clothing based on the type of fabric and color so I can move very quickly through the type and color-sorted racks, narrowing down my options.
The only real downside I’ve personally found to purchasing used clothes is that when I do find an item of clothing I really love, I cannot buy multiple versions of it and effectively wear the same thing every day. Thus, my wardrobe is always changing somewhat, but only by necessity and within pretty strict parameters. I do not generally shop for “fun” unless I’m in a used bookstore or at a rummage sale looking for hidden treasures.
When I was a teenager, I wore primarily boys’ clothes because they were much more comfortable to me. They were looser, softer, and they actually had functional pockets. My body type was pretty androgynous until after I had babies, so for a long time boys’ clothes fit me better around the hips than either juniors’ or women’s clothes did. I always had to have the exact same tennis shoes too – same brand and same style.
In college I discovered the incredible comfort of long stretchy-waisted hippie skirts and I’ve been a fan of them ever since then. I primarily wore very soft foamy flip flops that didn’t have anything between my toes in college.
Currently I mainly wear soft t-shirts, soft pants, and stretchy-waisted hippie skirts while going barefoot whenever possible. When I wish not to be hassled about bare feet in shops, I wear a pair of well-worn sandals and try to make the shopping trip as brief as possible.
My preference has always been to wear the same clothes several days in a row. Unfortunately, this is not considered appropriate by society at large even if the clothes are perfectly clean.
In order to *work around that expectation, I keep a few recently-worn-but-still-clean outfits hastily draped over some hangers in my closet. Then I can wear the same thing again if I almost certainly won’t be re-seeing anyone I saw the day before and, if I will be re-seeing someone, I have several options to choose from depending on who saw me when I wore them last and who I’m likely to see that day.
I don’t wear my regular clothes very long on the days that I wear them either, which is how they often stay basically clean for days on end. Instead, I have a couple of designated “house” outfits that are particularly comfortable. Immediately upon arriving home from anywhere, I change into one of my house outfits. In the summer I routinely wear a soft shelf-bra tank top with one of my softest knee-length skirts made out of t-shirt material. In the winter it’s usually flannel pants with a big comfy t-shirt.
As for other adornments, I enjoy wearing dangly earrings because I can play/stim with them without standing out too much. I’m not a big fan of wearing other types of jewelry like bracelets and necklaces although I can sometimes manage an anklet. I also quite enjoy painting my toenails, but not my fingernails.
Makeup has always made my skin feel itchy, dry, and mask-like so I avoid it as much as possible. I could usually manage wearing stage makeup when I used to be in theatre productions, but that was always for a limited amount of time. When I know about how long I’ll need to wear it, I can prepare myself and it goes better.
These days I prefer barefooting to wearing any types of shoes. Shoes prevent me from walking toe-first and it feels as though I’m weighted down uncomfortably when I have to wear them. Being barefoot definitely enhances my well-being in many different ways when I can manage it.
*I’ve recently decided not to spend nearly as much effort as I have in the past on being careful about avoiding the appearance of wearing the same clothes in a row. If I remember and care then that’s all well and good. If not then I don’t worry about it. For all anyone else knows, I did buy multiple versions of the same clothing items.