13 People Describe What Clothing Sensory Sensitivities Feel Like
Fashion and clothing are such great ways to express yourself, your personality, and your creativity. However, it can become tricky to find fashion and clothing items that work for you when you live with sensory sensitivities.
When it comes to clothing choices, there’s a long list of different fabrics, textures, textiles, uses, styles, and cuts available, but that doesn’t mean that everything is right for everybody. Some people love tighter and heavier clothing because it could help with anxiety in the same way a weighted blanket does, and other people need loose clothing due to skin or bone conditions.
Different health conditions impact our lives in so many ways, it only makes sense that they would affect the clothing we prefer to wear as well. That’s why Mighty staffer Ashley decided to ask The Mighty community, “Do you have clothing sensitivities or ‘rules’ around how you wear it?” Here’s what they told us about clothing sensitivities.
Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Mental Health Sensitivities
“I actually never used to care, but the older I got, I would always have to have a fitted waist or belt and either very good quality polyester or acetate. But now I’m even more picky. Wool or cotton knit has to be on my skin. And because of multiple mental and anxiety disorders, I always have to have some weight in my jackets, and they have to be somewhat soft too.” – Gillian G.
“I really need to have clothing that is soft to the touch and without any tags or scratchy seams. It seems as if my skin is on fire and I can feel any and every odd sensation from my clothes, like when material pills up, if there is a small loose thread, etc. I have always had clothes sensitivities, but they have really gotten worse since experiencing C-PTSD and burnout. All my senses are hypersensitive.” – @Maurard
“Sensory processing disorder here. So, tags get cut out, and I wore my socks inside out until I was about 12 because of the toe seams. Nothing too tight because it’s uncomfortable, or ‘revealing’ because I’m overweight, self-conscious, and don’t want to constantly worry about what might be showing. Also can’t stand make-up or lotion, and I only wear gloves when absolutely necessary. And if I have to practice doing something basic to wear an article of clothing like walking in certain shoes or sitting in a skirt, forget it!” – Katie D.
“Yes! I have sensory processing disorder, and man, do I have clothing quirks! Like, I hate anything restrictive or tight. Bras, underwear (yes, I go commando unless I’m wearing a dress or it’s ‘that time’ of the month), socks, shoes, leggings… I hate anything rough or scratchy, like wool. I love denim and loose shirts. I’m not wild about long sleeve shirts, unless I’m really cold, but yet, I hate wearing shorts, unless I’m really hot. Hats? Nope! Not gonna happen! Hoods? Depends. Gloves and scarves? No, no, no! And when I do wear underwear, it’s gotta be cotton briefs. I don’t like lace. Same with bras – no lace, and no seams through the middle of the cups. Basically, give me a pair of relaxed jeans and a baggy or oversized T-shirt, and I’m good.” – @Chronicallycathy
“Yes! Clothing pickiness should have been one of the major red flags for autism during my childhood. I hate tight clothes, even fitted clothes. I wear baggy clothes because I don’t like them touching my actual skin. I hate waistbands that are tight where I can ‘feel’ it around me. I don’t like zip or button-up pants. I have issues with having pants ankle length, I always roll my pants up a bit. I hate tags or anything itchy. I’ve basically been wearing PJs since I was a teenager because I just can’t be bothered being so uncomfortable in myself with clothes.” – @Aubbie
Chronic Illness Sensitivities
“Ever since I was exposed to mold, not only do chemicals and fragrances make me sick, but certain fabrics make me break out, stuff like polyester. I have to stick to natural fabrics.” – Julie H.
“Psoriasis as a kid, it was made worse by the wool carpet we played on back then. I still have scars from scratching the itchy patches. No polyester since I was little. It’s painful and makes me start sweating as soon as it touches my skin. I feel claustrophobic in it, and it gives me rashes. No lace, extra seams, tights, polyester, silk, or Tencel fabrics. I used to wear some rayon but now that makes me sweat when it touches my skin. No socks, uncomfortable shoes, belts that aren’t flush with jeans (I finally found non-plastic ones that work great on Amazon). No regular denim pants or jackets – too scratchy and heavy. All-cotton bras don’t give me enough support, so I have to try on a zillion to find a tolerable fabric with a semblance of a decent fit.
Nothing around the neck, no crew necks or slightly lower open neck, no long sleeves or cap sleeves. No plastic-y coats (windbreakers, ski coats, wool coats). Way too hot and claustrophobic.” – @Graytabby1996
“I am very particular about fabrics, banding, and elastics in clothing, fit, and weight of fabric. It’s hard finding cute outfits that don’t give me anxiety while I am wearing them. I don’t want to be like this. I love to have a fashionable assortment, alas fibromyalgia, and a bit of claustrophobia too. I can’t even look at a turtleneck without sweating!” – @Katemoss75
“I have allodynia which is really awful. Constrictive clothing, the weight of my hair during a severe migraine attack, all of these things make life so much more difficult. I swear there are one million things I tear off the minute I get in the house! Pajamas are the best and most comfortable. I would die if I had to wear constrictive clothing all day every day. It’s funny because I really used to enjoy that before I became chronic.” – @Roseiola
“I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome, ADD, and I have arthritis which is causing me to replace my joints over time. As mentioned before, I have severe sleep issues, and I suppose it’s natural to adjust your clothing when you can’t go to sleep. I fantasize about finding a gown or gown pattern that I can depend on to be comfortable (I did find the Land’s End nightgowns to be the best so far). Now, I am having the same issue with bedding needing to be soft and cool.” – @star610
“I cannot wear bras, as they press on my chest. Due to fibro, my chest muscles are painful if things press on them. On bad days the muscles even hurt when I laugh, so I don’t want any clothing on them. I wear big loose cotton or rayon tops to avoid having clothing push on my chest but not look like I am braless (which of course I am).” – @noillib
“Psoriasis — my shirts always cover my elbows. Definitely no tags!” – @Pgailing
“Having broken both shoulders, I cannot tolerate tops that are tight in the arms. And if a clothing tag hits the wrong spot on the back of my neck, it really bugs me.” – Dorothy L.
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