Sensory-Friendly Fashion Solutions & Brands That Help Keep Overstimulation At Bay

Have you ever put on a piece of clothing that just felt wrong? We're not talking about trying on a shirt that's too small or that looks different than it did online. We're talking about the clothes that make you itch or squirm when you're wearing them to such an extent that it restricts what you're able to do. There's having one or two fabrics that we don't like, and then there are fabrics that make all of your senses flare up at once. Maybe that's why you keep going back to that one favorite oversized shirt of yours when you just feel other fabrics too much.


This is called sensory overload, the end result described by Banner Health as the inability to process or interpret information around you. Some of the symptoms of sensory overload include sweatiness, a sense of unexplained panic, and a fight-or-flight response, and while neurodiverse people are more prone to it, anyone can experience sensory overload. This universality is why there has been a more prominent need for sensory-friendly clothing, a movement that has started to take shape in the fashion world.

Why fashion as we currently know it can be inaccessible

The fashion industry is no stranger to exclusivity. From the Met Gala celebrating the legacy of a notoriously racist designer to companies still struggling to make fashion with inclusive sizing, it should be no surprise that neurodiverse people have also historically been ignored in the industry. According to ISPO, most clothing is made with a combination of fabrics and materials, among the most common being polyester and cotton.


Unfortunately, these blended fabrics can produce conflicting and confusing sensations on your skin that might make the wearer uncomfortable. So can the tags that many companies still insist on printing onto clothes despite them usually being very inconvenient, as well as sequins or other decorative additions to otherwise simple garments. What we're trying to get at here is simple — some of the most common clothing nowadays can pose risks to those with sensory processing issues, and it's time that we take notice of these seemingly insignificant details.

However, when you search "sensory-friendly clothing" online, the first searches that pop up are advertisements for children's clothes. While these are great options for youngsters, the need for these clothes for adults is crucial. After all, the STAR Institute estimates that around one in twenty people in what they call "the general population" has some sort of sensory processing disorder.


Clothes that can be sensory friendly, and how you can tailor your clothes to be so

While there are a ton of clothes that have dreaded blended fabrics, they don't make up the entirety of the fashion industry. You can find clothes that are completely made of cotton, linen, and other naturally-derived materials for sale at most retailers. Not only will you be helping yourself, but you'll also be helping the environment since these types of clothes are biodegradable. Compression clothing, which the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says is meant to promote blood circulation, can also provide much-needed grounding during potential bursts.


If fabrics aren't the root cause of your sensory issues, try taking off the tags on your clothes. You can cut off the tag from the seams using a standard pair of scissors. If you have the sewing know-how, you could even use a seam ripper to remove the seams that bound the tag to your shirt. That being said, we don't recommend trying to individually take off each sequin or addition from your more decorative pieces.

JettProof sells the essentials, with a sensory-friendly twist

If you're looking for the basics, JettProof might have what you need. They cover the bare necessities of sensory-friendly clothing: undershirts, tank tops, boxer briefs, and socks are all available on their website. If you're looking for something with more color or personality, you might not exactly find those here.


However, what you will find are great garments to wear with your more troublesome clothes. Undergarments like the ones JettProof sells can be suitable for clothes that you still love to wear despite them not being the most sensory-friendly. This is because they focus on compression and providing much-needed pressure to distract from any potential stressors. Unfortunately, they appear to have some issues with sizing, as highlighted by some customer reviews online, posing a real problem for some people. That being said, JettProof's clothing has been described by reviewers like Mumsnet as akin to a gentle hug, so they could still be a great investment.

Primary combines comfort and style with their adult line

If you're looking for clothes with more personality and style than just the basics, then Primary has you covered. The brand is most famous for its line of sensory-friendly children's clothing but has steadily begun introducing adult sizes into its collection. Their Grown-Ups line has basics such as comfortable t-shirts, and even some unique pieces like puffer jackets.


Much of Primary's adult offerings are made with 100% cotton, from their shirts to their pajama pants. They also don't have any noticeable seams or tags. However, what makes Primary's clothing so unique is its sense of style. Instead of just black and white, Primary offers its clothing in several different colors and non-intrusive patterns. One recent buyer of a tie-die shirt complimented that the shirt, along with the rest of Primary's online attire, had "beautiful vibrant colors" just as advertised online. While the brand may not have as many entries in its Grown-Ups line as its children's line, they could be a great addition to your sensory-friendly clothing collection.

UNIQLO's AIRism line is unique in modern fashion

We are all likely familiar with UNIQLO at this point: a versatile clothing brand that's done collaborations with some of our favorite celebs and brands. While the brand doesn't advertise a sensory-friendly collection per se, one of its most popular lines has been praised as a comfortable alternative. The AIRism collection includes many different types of clothing, from shirts to dresses and even pajamas, but what makes them a draw for sensory-sensitive individuals is their comforting fabrics.


Rachel's Roost, a blog dedicated to handling sensory issues, says that the AIRism brand is not only tagless and seamless, but is made with special air-wicking fabric. What this does is help cool the wearer off in a delicate and gentle way. Many outlets, including The Peak Label, consider their t-shirts the best undershirts on the market, but the rest of the collection should be given similar attention. While some of the pieces may have blended and artificial fabrics, you'll likely find a suitable replacement for full sensory-friendly clothing if you're unable to get anything more specific to your needs.