I'm going to start 2023 with my own little Special Interest Week. I think it's such an excellent idea by Jersey Noah and I just couldn't pass up the chance to rant about my special interests. More on Special Interest Week can be found here.
Prompt: Your Oldest Special Interest
Fashion is, I think, my oldest special interest. There are older hyperfixations, but they only lasted a few weeks to a few months, this one lasted for a while and is still an interest I cycle back to every so often. Especially given my latest posts on Autism and Fashion.
This interest started with America's Next Top Model (yes, I know how cringey this is, no I will not be taking any criticisms). I'd watch it with my mom and sister after homework and supper. We'd conduct our own fashion shows and snap pictures with outfits we'd styled.
For my birthday one year I got this drawing book with templates and such so I could draw my own designs (if I could find a picture of this thing I'd show you). The only problem with this interest was that I could not draw for the life of me and I still can't (though this did lead into another special interest where I discovered I could draw, but there had to be a lot of straight lines).
This didn't stop my interest in fashion though. I was always trying to match up my clothes and style new outfits as a child. It's the reason I suffered through low rise jeans in 7th grade (shudders internally). You have no idea how happy I was when high-rise jeans came back in style, I hated the way anything sat below my hips. I will never go back.
I also got into learning the names of different clothing items, neck lines, sleeve types, etc. I've debated buying The Little Dictionary of Fashion so many times, it's not even funny. What is funny, is that my sister has a similar interest in fashion and sewing, but her style is the exact opposite of mine. Either way, I always have a little internal happy dance when I know something about the topic she does not.
It is how I learned that bras and square or V necklines do not always work. Turtle and mock necklines are just super irritating and suffocating. I lean towards crew or collared necklines or a short V-neck, nothing too choking or revealing.
Over time, this interest grew into Slow Fashion and minimalism. I got sucked down the internet rabbit hole on that one looking into sustainable fashion brands, watching TedTalks, etc.
I think the coolest talk I came across was Design at the intersection of technology and biology by Neri Oxman. I first heard of Oxman's work through Netflix's Abstract Season 2 Episode 2 (awesome show btw). She talked about Bio-Architecture and it is so inventive and frankly mind-blowing. I recommend watching both the talk linked above and the Abstract episode.
Ever-Growing and Ever-Going
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this may be the oldest special interest I have, but it is not going anywhere any time soon. Somehow, I circle back to it in one way or another. Slow fashion, minimalism, and capsule wardrobes, to adjusting for my sensory sensitivities and my refined self-image.
I've always loved how the clothes we wear can express pieces of or all of who we are. For me, now, it helps express how comfortable or confident I am that day, or how I'm feeling. I'll wear soft and looser fitting clothing on bad sensory days. I'll wear a lot of black on grumpy days, or light pastels when I'm calm or happy. Knowing all this about myself makes it easier to shop for the most part. I know exactly what I like and what textures and styles will work for me and which ones won't.
I once went into three or four different stores to find one specific item in the style and fabric I wanted because I knew the item was on trend and at least one of the stores wouldn't have any extra embellishments. Unfortunately, I do recognize I got very lucky that day.
I could of course rant forever about this, but I will end with this: while I don't know everything about fashion and don't wish to, this special interest is still very valid to me because of the things I can speak on like colour psychology and silhouettes.
I think our current definition of a Special Interest is rather narrow. I struggled when I was first diagnosed with Autism about whether or not I even had any special interests, but when I broadened my definition of the word I realized I was wrong. I might not know every single detail about a subject, but it brings me joy and that's what matters.