December 15, 2020

What makes clothing comfortable? Designers of “autistic-friendly” clothing often use soft fabric and eliminate tags, but neither of those make much difference to me.

No matter the texture, I dislike clothing. But cold is a bigger sensory trigger, so the benefits of bundling outweigh the cost. I even wear scarves in the summer, for airflow protection in air-conditioned buildings. The warmer the air is, the more layers I can comfortably shed, and the better I feel.

For me, symmetry is the most important factor for clothing comfort. If it isn’t perfectly centered on my body, all the muscles on one side tense up, as if trying to shift the fabric back into place.

Another factor is snugness, but I prefer different levels on different parts of my body. My limbs and torso crave compression, while my joints need free movement with zero pinching. Most clothing offers one of those while sacrificing the other, or strikes a lukewarm, unsatisfying balance.

All else being equal, I prefer familiar clothing over new clothing – it feels like a challenging but well-practiced song.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.