28 comfortable clothing brands for sensitive adults
I’m a cheapskate, a fashion victim, a compulsive shopper and a reluctant purger. As a result, I have an enormous wardrobe, much of it made up of basic layers like leggings, jeans and t-shirts that I’ve accumulated at inexpensive stores like Target, Old Navy and the Gap.
Meanwhile, I’ve spent a small fortune building a wardrobe for my autistic son, whose mood is significantly affected by the texture and comfort of his clothing. Witnessing the impact that’s had on his stress and mood — and writing about the impact of sensory overload on tech users — has made me much more aware of the impact that clothing comfort has on my mood and stress levels.
But my son’s favorite line of clothing doesn’t make a whole lot of adult clothing other than pyjamas, and while I’ve experimented with turning their PJ tops into my new default long-sleeve shirt option, it turns out even I feel silly walking around Vancouver in a top covered in enchanted unicorns.
So I turned to my usual source of wisdom — Facebook — and asked my friends for their very favorite yummy-feeling, basic clothes. Here are the many, many useful suggestions they came up with, along with a couple of my own recent discoveries. Additions and comments are very welcome!
- American Eagle 360 Flex Jeans
“I’m never buying anything else. I’ve got a pair of “7s” that come close but are inferior at thrice the price!” [David Lau]
- Athleta [Megan McDonald Hastings]
“Patagonia and Craft also great for soft durability but not cheap.”[Vicky Solan]
- DUER Performance
“The most comfy pants — Women’s are called Dish — I wear these daily.” [Kimberly Allen].
- Garnet Hill
“Everything I’ve gotten, especially their organic cottons, feel great and even improve with age. [PJ Manney]
- Hanna Andersson
The delicious texture of my Hanna PJs is what inspired me to start seeking out sensory-friendly clothing for adults. This is primarily a children’s clothing store (terrific for autistic and sensory kids) but they also have a great assortment of adult PJs and a small assortment of women’s clothing. My Hannas are more expensive than the Target PJs they replaced, but now I can’t bear to sleep in anything else. Their frequent, terrific sales typically mark down adult PJs to about $50–60 per set (sometimes even less).
“I’ve found the most awesome shorts…and pants… and parachute pants… from harempants.com. Cheap, super comfy, good quality, and seem pretty durable.” [Chip Vhite]
- J. Crew
- J. Jill
- James Perse
“I have a lot of James Perse for the items you list. Super soft, wash but hang dry to keep them lasting a long time.. i get a lot on sale from people who post to ebay NWT. Very reasonable that way. Typically pay 15 cents on the dollar for new items.” [Mary Hodder].
“+ 1 to James Perse, especially if you can find it on eBay or in consignment shops!” [Lauren Bacon].
“Second the James Perse. Different textures, none scratchy. Even their “slub” is soft and smooth.” [Anna Grzymala-Busse]
“They make merino clothes. They’re not cheap, but they’re comfy.” [Naunihal Singh]
- Kit and Ace
“pants, so lovely and versatile” [Kimberly Allen]
Knix bras are the single best argument for Facebook’s data mining and ad targeting. A Facebook ad pointed me to this Kickstartered, Canadian company, and I’ve become so addicted to their multi-purpose Evolution bras that I can hardly bear to wear a real bra anymore. Unlike other sports bras, Knix’s bras avoid the dreaded uniboob: you might not be quite as perky as you are in an underwire bra, but you will still have two separate breasts. They’re the most comfortable bra I’ve found that I’m actually willing to wear out the door, and even to a business meeting. (Though I still wear clothes on top!) Their undies are fab, too.
- Lands’ End
“Lands’ End long underwear. I’m a little embarrassed to post about this on a stranger’s page, but I just discovered it thru my kids and it’s silky, breathable, warm and cheap, so I’m shouting it from the rooftops.” [Vicky Solan]
“I’ll add my vote to Lands’ End. I’ve got several long serving “supima cotton” sweaters and they are still soft and cozy after many years of washings. Bonus is these sweaters are thin layers — perfect for the every changing temperatures of west coast life.” [Angela Crocker]
“Also Lands’ End holds up well for softness.” [Jodine Perkins]
“Lands’ End “layering tees”.” [Marianne Bryan]
“I have a lot of LuLaRoe leggings that fit great but they don’t hold up with repeated washing and wearing.”[Kellie Parker]
“undies — all I wear” [Kimberly Allen]
And another friend recommends their Luon fabric.
“I have a very soft Patagonia LJ shirt which has lasted since 1988, and the leggings crossed the millennium before tearing.” [Vicky Solan]
- prAna [Gregory Heller]
- RAILS — shirts, the best [Kimberly Allen]
“joggers — so comfy.” [Kimberly Allen]
- Sweaty Betty
“I love Sweaty Betty (UK brand but they deliver around the world) for gym and everything else. I even manage to wear their leggings at work and the fabrics are to die for ❤️” [anonymous]
“I love Sweetlegs leggings. Soft even after lots of washing and they make a great underwater in this cold weather.” [Margaret Sanchez]
- Toad & Co.
“I do well with Toad & Co. clothes. (though I just returned a dress I ordered, but that was more about look than feel). The fun part is I can buy it at REI, so I get to pretend I’m buying backpacking gear (fun!) when I’m actually getting work clothes (not fun).” [Katherine Kane]
“I love the Uniqlo Heattech underthings. Socks, tanks, thermals, etc. Thin and soft and the perfect thing between me and the scratchiest jumper. [Jen Watkiss]”
- Universal Standard
“I love that Universal Standard has an incredible range of sizes, and every piece I have is comfortable and fits in a way no other clothes I own do. I feel like my best self.” [Erin McGann]
- Universal Thread from Target
“I started wearing Universal Thread Curvy Skinny jeans from Target. Target, I say. They keep feeling better and better. For newer jeans, the fabric feels really good. I lurve that I can choose the length of the legs.”
“I really like Universal Threads jeans too. They are comfortable, fit really well, and are affordable to boot.”
[both comments anonymous]
- VIV Collection
“I have really enjoyed the VIV collection leggings that I got from Amazon. [Kellie Parker]
- Yoga Jeans
I discovered Canadian brand Yoga Jeans a few years ago, when I accidentally forgot to pack pants in my gym bag and needed an emergency pair to get me through the work day! As the name suggests, these jeans feel — well, if not quite like yoga pants, then more comfortable (and better fitting, and better looking) than just about any jeans I’ve found.
Bonus: Local options for Vancouver residents
- Blue Sky
“Blue Sky has really held up for me.” [Jodine Perkins]
“ yes i shop there too. Need to wade through some middle-aged-feeling clothing but great for pants/tights and sometimes tops.” [ Vanessa LeBourdais]
- Gilmour bamboo clothing
“I call them my pyjama clothes. Cuz I get to wear clothes that feel like pyjamas all day.” [Vanessa LeBourdais]
- Kali on Commercial Drive for Gilmour bamboo and Yifat Jovani
- Yifat Jovani
“You can make an appointment to meet her at her studio and spend all the time you want trying on her things — a wonderful way to shop, if you ask me!” [Anita Zaenker]