The World Cares
Seriously, the world cares what you wear. I don’t know why, but it does. “Dress for success,” and all that.
As a woman with Autism, I have little or no desire to be fashionable. I don’t have a desire to not be fashionable, I just prefer to be comfortable.
While I can dress appropriate for any occasion, when left to my own devices, I am super natural, super casual, and super basic.
I have a few clothes that I wear all the time until they are worn out. The best thing is to have things sort of staggered in terms of wear so I never wear everything out at the same time. If I really like something, I will buy a second one so I have it when the first one wears out.
If you watch my Facebook LIVES, you may have noticed I have a black cardigan sweater that I LOVE. And, yes, for a while, I had two. I could have pointed out during the Facebook LIVES that I wasn’t always wearing the same thing, but I thought you all might envision a closet with rows of black cardigan sweaters!!
I also have a Marvel shirt I bought on clearance because the fabric was heavy and soft. People always ask me if I like Marvel, and I used to say that I liked the fabric, but now I just smile and say, “yes.” It is just easier, and I do enjoy a good Marvel movie.
I accidently wore it to a Marvel movie and felt ridiculous that I had somehow “dressed for the event” only to find that people loved it. Huh.
I Dress for Success to Show I Care About Others
I don’t care what others are wearing. I care about who they are. I have to admit, though that I do care that they are wearing something (haha!), I care if it is clean, basic stuff like that, I just don’t care if it is expensive, name brand, fashionable, etc.
I am mindful that some of my friends and family members care. To that end, I try to notice when they have taken extra effort or seem to want me to notice what they are wearing or have changed about themselves. In those instances, I always to try to dish out some stellar (honest) complements. While it is not my thing, if it is theirs and I care about them, it is worth the effort! Also, it isn’t that I don’t enjoy variety, colors, creativity, etc., it’s just that being fashionable isn’t my priority.
In addition, if they care and I am attending a function to which attire is important to them, I dress accordingly. Not because I have to be someone beside myself (because I am enough!), and not because they won’t like me if I don’t (if that was true, they would not be my friends!), but because I care about them and want to support them in the things about which they care, just like they support me in the things about which I care.
I Dress for Success When Meeting My Goal Is Important
I have comprised this particular list based on the things I have heard repeatedly for YEARS. Let me state that I have NEVER shown up for anything dressed inappropriately and can dress with the best of them when required.
I will admit, for me it is a really structured compliance adhered to by following a set of rules I had to consciously internalize. I will also admit, I don’t necessarily look forward to the experience; I just do it. Not in a mindless way, mind you. When I dress for success, it is because I want to be successful and that is what the world requires, because again, the world cares. I can don a business suit with the best of them.
I just don’t dress up for the purpose of dressing up!
Quick story: I once had to dress to the max for a company Christmas party. For several months leading up to the party, people teased me about it. I have no idea why. I dressed nice for work every day. The company party planner with whom I was working even offered to help me shop.
Anyway, my daughters and I picked out a dress, shoes, necklace, nail polish, make-up, the works. Why? Because that was what was required for the event.
The good folks with whom I worked seemed amazed that I could pull this off. Not just pull it off, but nail it. Ha!! Take that! Still makes me smile today. I can wear a full length black dress and stellar pair of heels just as easily as a pair of jeans, I just need a reason! Tell me the “WHY!”
I hope your experience here has been better than mine, and I hope you are not offended by this list. I have spoken to some moms of girls of autism and have heard that style selection can be quite a battle. My mom would probably say the same about me when I was a girl.
Let’s dig into this list!
6 Style Suggestions You May Want to Ignore If You Are A Woman With Autism
- “We need to help you try to wear some other colors.” (Uuummm…black is my color of choice! And who is this “we”?)
- “You would look lovely in a dress.” (Yep, I just don’t need to wear one today!)
- “We need to go shopping so you don’t have to wear the same clothes all the time.” (I like to spend my time and money in other ways, thanks so much! And if I needed new clothes, my internet is only a few steps away! No need to head to the store!)
- “Have you ever tried make-up?” (Again, not mandated by today’s schedule!! So regarding this point, I have seen lots of women with autism wear make-up. It seems like the women I have met are either make-up experts or prefer to go natural. Not a lot in the middle. Agree? Just a fun note, my girls call Fridays “More Makeup Friday.” That started when I began my Facebook LIVES as I have to wear makeup and lots of it if I want to avoid looking like a ghost on Facebook. So about a half hour before the LIVE, I jog through the house for more makeup. If you haven’t seen one of the LIVES, you can follow Her Autism on Facebook and check them out!)
- “Is that what you are going to wear today?” (Heck yeah!! And I have another outfit just like it upstairs if you want to borrow it! We can be twinsies!!)
- “You never wear jewelry so I got you a necklace for your birthday.” (So this does not have to be a necklace, insert that item you try to avoid at all costs and swap it out. I bet someone has tried to get you one at some point. Technically this is hard to “ignore,” but don’t let it get you down!)
Thanks for Your “Help,” But I Am Enough
What do I have to say to these comments?
(Okay, other than the somewhat snarky remarks I included above.)
A while back, I wrote a post, “What Girls and Women with Autism Want to Hear and Why,” and I can tell you these types of suggestions are not it.
I am enough. Just me. Just the way I am.
I know who I am, I make my style decisions in a manner that allows me to be me and to achieve the goals I set for myself. I appreciate that others want to “help” me, but I would love for them to divert that energy to accepting me.
I am hoping that the same is true for you. You are beautiful. Just the way you are today. Just you.
Just the way you are today! Embrace yourself!
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