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Petiteness: Autism and Fashion Part 1

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

Is fashion a special interest of mine? Possibly. I wanted to be a fashion designer at one point in my childhood. Why? Because I was petite and shopping was a pain. Also there were the numerous sensory sensitivities I didn't yet have a name for. Like having to wear high-waisted pants at all times, or avoiding zippers and buttons and tucking in shirts at all costs. Oh and those glittery printed graphic tees - that was a definite no.

Stack of sweaters on white chair.

As I got older I learned more about myself and what I like in clothes and what I don't. Capsule wardrobes helped me the most during this time. As my first introduction into minimalism and all it can entail, the concept helped me figure out a colour palette I enjoy and items I can tolerate that also reflect who I am (and a little bit of who I want to be). I'll discuss this further on in the series, for now I want to share with you where I shop as a petite - and autistic - individual.


Clothing


American Eagle

I think the majority of my wardrobe right now was purchased at American Eagle. I always saw these girls in high school that were petite like me and could not figure out where they went shopping (and I was waaaaaay too shy to ask).


As if by magic I found my way into the store and tried a pair of their jeans. Not only did they have my double zero size, I could by a short pant leg. On top of this, the denim was the perfect stretch, and for the first time in many, many years, I felt comfortable. I liked how they looked on me and the stitching and fabric didn't bother me.


Now, since being diagnosed, this has changed slightly. I still have a few pairs of AE jeans, two are loose fitting skinny jeans, and the other is a fitted skinny jean. I found there were a few pairs I had to get rid of after being diagnosed because I was actually acknowledging my sensory sensitivities for the first time.


I also like that AE has XXS sizing, especially when it comes to their Aerie brand. I have struggled to find bras and underwear that actually fit and are also cute. But Aerie saved the day. I don't even mind their lace.


Abercrombie and Fitch

Abercrombie and Fitch is a little pricier than AE, and I don't shop there often because I either have to buy online or travel to a different city to go to a store. However, I discovered I can shop in both the women's and the kid's section.


The women's section is obviously more expensive, but they have petite sizing options. I bought a dress there for my step mom's grand opening of her business, GLOW Skincare Co, and I got soooo many compliments.

Dress from Abercrombie and Fitch.

As for the kid's section, it's a bit of a hit and miss. I ordered two different items once, both the same size. The dress fit perfectly, while the romper was too big and I had to send it back. *Also side note, I love that A&F sends resealable packages and a return sticker, like why doesn't everyone do this.*


RW & CO

RW is what my inner boss lady strives to dress as. Not only do they have XXS sizing in everything, but it suits my style so well. I like their high-waisted city legging pant. They're not for everyone, but I don't mind the material and it's a step up from normal leggings.


I actually don't like Lululemon leggings anymore, they're too tight for me, so I buy from here and AE.


Ardene

Last one on the list for today. I used to shop at Ardene at lot because it was all I could afford budget wise, but I grew to dislike the poorer quality. Occasionally, I know I can find clothing that fits me there so I keep it on the list of go-to stores for now.


Shoes


I would be a shoe person if I could actually find shoes that were stylish and fit me.


Typically, I end up shopping for specific brands over specific stores because brands will have the same shoes in adult and kid sizes. Mostly, though, it's wandering around the kids section in shoe stores or online looking for the most basic shoes I can find. A running shoe that isn't pink and sparkly, simple ankle boots in a solid colour, cute flats without Velcro, etc. It truly is a struggle.


Below I've compiled a list of brands I have or would like to shop at. I have bought most of my shoes from the Shoe Company, but it's a hit or miss kind of deal. And Nordstrom does have a kids section and my favourite pair of boots are from there.


Shoe Brands

  • Toms

  • Vans

  • Birkenstock

  • Timberland

  • Converse

  • Hunter

  • Blundstone

  • Sorel

  • Ugg

Coming Up Next


I truly hope this helps someone out there like me. I love to shop when I can get past the noise and lights of a mall, but it sucks when I can't find what I'm looking for. Especially when it comes to shoes. But this is why I love the concept of Capsule Wardrobes and why I think it's such a useful system for other autistics. I'll discuss this concept in depth in part two so stay tuned!

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