How to Choose Sensory Friendly Clothing

Colorful puzzle pieces and sensory friendly clothing on yellow background

What are Sensory Friendly Clothes?

Have you ever tried on a shirt or a pair of jeans in a department store and thought, “This just doesn’t feel right.” Maybe the fit was awkward, or the material was too rough. For people with sensory issues, clothing that feels too scratchy, tight, or strange can be overwhelming to the point it is perceived as “painful,” especially for children with autism.

With this guide to choosing sensory friendly clothing, we offer advice on what materials to look out for and how FLAT SOCKS® are a smart option for kids and adults with sensory processing disorder.

Adaptive Clothing

Adaptive clothes are designed to help individuals who have a tough time getting dressed on their own. People with sensory processing disorder may struggle to find clothes that are comfortable, making it difficult to get dressed. Specialty clothing brands design adaptive clothing with materials that help mitigate sensory overload, such as softer, more breathable fabrics and flattened seams.

Boy with autism with shoes on his hands

Kids who won’t wear socks because the toe seam digs into their skin or children who hate jeans and love yoga pants could benefit from more adaptive clothing styles. Adaptive clothing for kids looks like regular clothing but allows children to have confidence in their ability to dress themselves while also feeling inclusive with peers who don’t have sensory issues.

Sensory sensitivities are different for everyone. Some might prefer loose fitting clothes that don’t bunch up or feel restricting while others like tight clothes with compression and heft to calm them down and repress feelings of anxiousness. The best way to shop for kids’ clothes is to find out what they like and what overwhelms them.

How to Dress a Child with Sensory Issues

Sensory friendly clothing for toddlers and kids can make getting ready for school in the morning or prepping for a day trip a little easier. The fewer sources of irritation kids worry about, the more comfortable they feel wearing clothes, and they can focus better on other activities.

Mom helping daughter get dressed

Materials to Look Out For

When dressing a kid who is on the spectrum or who has sensory sensitivities, look out for the following materials and features as you shop for clothes:

  • Soft Fabrics: Everybody hates an itchy sweater even if grandma put all her love into making it. Wearing rough fabrics can be extremely irritating. Opt for kid’s clothes made with softer fabrics that don’t have thick collars, rhinestone studs, sequins, or heavy embroidery.
  • Breathable Materials: Synthetic materials are less breathable, sometimes sticking to our skin or causing too much sweat. Instead, choose natural cotton, linen, or bamboo fabrics that are soft to the touch and allow the skin to breathe.
  • Moisture Wicking: Choose clothes like athletic wear or FLAT SOCKS Kids that have moisture wicking technology to pull sweat away from the body, leaving skin feeling cool and comfortable. Kids with autism can be sensitive to clothes weighed down by moisture or sweat.
  • No Tags, Seams, or Shoestrings: Tags that tickle your neck or seams scratching your underarms spell trouble. Sensory issues can also affect a kid’s motor skills, so tying shoes or using zippers only makes matters worse. Consider tagless clothes, shoes with Velcro straps, and seamless socks like FLAT SOCKS.
  • Stretchy Waistbands: Elastic waistbands and drawstrings are a lot more comfortable than jeans or pants with fitted waists. They allow for better movement with a snug fit that’s not overly tight. Kids yoga pants or leggings are also a comfy option.
  • Easy Fit: Kids love to play, so choose clothes they can play in. Not only should you be buying clothes in the right size, but make sure those clothes won’t bunch up or slip around. FLAT SOCKS Kids no slip sockless shoe inserts stay in place to encourage freedom of movement and play.
  • Compression Wear: Kids who are hyposensitive sometimes prefer tighter clothing made of thick, dry-fit materials. Compression clothes for kids with autism help calm their nervous systems and improve focus. Consider dressing them in layers or a weighted vest.

FLAT SOCKS Kids with gray shoes and kid’s toys

Sensory Friendly Clothing for Adults & Kids

Not all people who have hypersensitivity are on the spectrum. Some individuals are just more sensitive to certain textures or sensations than others. For example, people who can't stand wearing socks because the toe seam rubs them the wrong way might solve this by wearing shoes without socks.

Many specialty clothing brands also design clothes to support individuals with hypersensitivity. You can find clothes for toddlers, kids, teens, and adults across various sensory friendly clothing brands online and in department stores. Looking for sensory friendly shoes? Companies like Vans, Stride Rite, and Nike feature special slip-on designs to support kids and adults with autism.

What Makes FLAT SOCKS Sensory Friendly Socks?

Designed to replace your child's socks, FLAT SOCKS Kids are a barefoot shoe insert that goes inside the shoes and not on their feet. They have a super grippy bottom that doesn’t slip, and they are no-show, eliminating the problem of tight cuffs or constricting fabrics. The soft, cushioned foam stays dry and features cool, non-textured patterns like rainbows, outer space, dinosaurs, and paint splatter.

Boy putting FLAT SOCKS Kids inside black shoe

The perfect seamless socks for kids, FLAT SOCKS work great as inserts for Vans, Toms, Nike, or kid’s inserts for Stride Rite shoes. Check out a variety of designs both classic and patterned for teens and adults, too.

Socks can be particularly irritating for people with sensory sensitivities. Tight cuffs, nonbreathable fabrics, and seams that move around or feel too rough can make getting dressed or even just keeping socks on a hassle. Erase the struggle and make sure your kid’s feet feel comfy with adaptive socks like FLAT SOCKS Kids.