Have you ever had a day when suddenly you notice the tag on the back of your favourtite tee? That little tag you’ve had there for three years which now feels like it’s made of needles scratching at your back. Try as you might, you can’t think of anything else. The more you try not to be bothered by that little tag, the more you obsess over it until you frantically search for some scissors and cut it out, sighing with relief.
That 'tag = needles' feeling is how clothes can feel for some people ALL OF THE TIME. It could be the stitching on your underwear, the waistband of your jeans, the seam on a sock, or the fibres of the fabric in a shirt. It might even be the way that a skirt or pants moves against your skin as you walk. It’s an intolerable feeling when what you wear is causing your body physical discomfort and pain. Like the tag on your favourite tee, when we tune in to our bodies and realise that we are more sensitive to fabrics, seams, and the fit of clothing, everything can seem worse.
Our skin is an incredible sensory system, with millions of receptors able to feel tiny changes in pressure, temperature and movement. Everybody’s sensory system processes information from these receptors differently, and that’s what makes some people more sensitive to clothing than others. Eczema, allergies, autism, ADHD, and sensory processing disorder are a few common causes of people having extra sensitive skin, but it can affect any of us and can change at different stages of our life or from week to week.
We talk about sensory friendly clothing for children, and are starting to become aware of what children need. But guess what? Those children who hate underwear grow up to be adults who weep at the thought of trying to find a bearable pair of underpants and bra. Those children who would wear the same pair of soft shorts all winter and the same lightweight dress all summer grow up to be adults who find a comfortable item of clothing and buy it in every colour.
Kids grow up. And adults need sensory friendly clothing too!
Briannon, an autistic woman shares, “When I was pregnant, I could buy soft but supportive bras without underwire and pants with lovely stretchy waistbands. There were lots of options from stylish workwear to loungewear. Ever since I experienced clothes that are made for comfort, I’ve felt so frustrated that it’s hard to find stretchy waistbands, and impossible to locate soft, supportive underwear.”
Way of the Cactus, a resource for people with unique sensory needs, stock a collection of ethically-made, sensory friendly clothes for adults. Leia says, “It wasn’t easy. We literally tried hundreds of items of clothing before we found what we wanted. It was important to us that the clothes not only felt great but have a good aesthetic. So our artist Leif has created the artwork for our tees, and all of our clothing has a feel that’s slightly edgy, with lots of geometric patterns and lines.’
Way of the Cactus stock organic cotton clothes for adults because the fabric is extra soft and safe for people with allergies and sensitive skin. It is also an ethical choice, because the farmers and ecosystem are spared the impact of toxic chemicals.
Here's our checklist for sensory-friendly clothing for adults:
We’re still searching for items to complete our collection. If you have any information about what we might be missing, or tips for something you wear that is amazing, please send us a message and we’ll try to stock it for our community.