Clothes can be painful

I buy all of my clothes online. Retail shops are too busy and disorganised in their clothing presentation on the shop floors. Clothes shopping, for me, is a stressful experience. Walking into the shop you are hit with different patterns and colours. It can be very hard to sift through the sensory overload to find an item which you like and wish to purchase. Online, items are organised by type, style and even colour, making it easy to locate what you are after.

Once my purchased clothes arrive I can then add them to my wardrobe, which I have organised like the websites; by item, style and colour. Every item has its place and if someone was to move an item out of its place I do not react well. What I can only describe as, ‘a mini-breakdown’ ensues and I am only calmed once the item has been put back where it belongs and my wardrobe is organised once more.

For most, choosing what to wear each day would be dependant upon if it is stylish and suitable for tasks they have lined up in the day ahead. For us, on the Spectrum, the only factor that matters is if it is comfortable.

My Mum always tells a story about when I was a toddler and she dressed me in a dress and a pair of tights. My reaction to the tights was to scream and cry. I was that distressed that my Mum thought she had injured me. She removed the tights to check for any physical signs and I immediately became calm. I reacted this way whenever she tired to dress me in any clothes which weren’t soft and loose. Nowadays, I will wear tights but I still find them, ‘scratchy’.

My wardrobe is full of dresses, jeans, tops and skirts. However, I will only be found in the same leggings and baggy t-shirt. I am awful for buying clothes which I think look nice only to wear them once and never again: jeans are too restricting, tight t-shirts make me feel trapped, and woollen jumpers are ridiculously itchy.

In all my clothes the label, usually located in the collar or the side seam, has to be removed. If it is not removed it will feel as though it is cutting through my skin; making me unable to focus on anything but the pain.

All of my clothes are very solid in colour. I dislike patterns, particularly stripes. They make me feel, ‘dizzy’ to look at. I can cope with checks if they are symmetrical and floral patterns if they are simple. I also love t-shirts with references to my favourite TV shows, books or films printed onto them. There is something about wearing a quote on my t-shirt, or a picture of my favourite character which makes me feel safe.

My go-to choice of outfit, (if socially acceptable) would be to wear pyjamas all day, everyday. They are the comfiest of all available clothing items. They are soft, loose and warm. I have even gone as far as to purchase multiple pairs of my favourite pyjamas so that I am never without. I will change out of them at the very last minute before I need to leave the house and put them back on the second I return home.

My shoes being comfy is another must. I own pairs of high heels – in an attempt to be like the majority of neurotypical girls – yet never wear them. Instead, I stick to the wonderful brand that is Converse. I have seven pairs of Converse trainers – I would argue I need to purchase further pairs – and I wear a pair on all outings. They are made of a material which is loose on my feet, meaning I can slip them on and off easily and I don’t have to struggle with tying laces or the painful sound of Velcro.

My choice of wearing comfy outfits isn’t always beneficial for me. It keeps me from being distressed but means I don’t always take into account if it is practical for that days activities or weather. My reluctance to wear jumpers means I am often cold on outings and my need to wear Converse is not always wise if it is raining and I am left with soggy feet.

Unfortunately, for me the need to be comfy is far more important than the need to stay warm or wear clothing suitable for the coming days agenda.

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