From Food to Clothing and Back to Food

I was what you would call a very picky child. I would only eat certain foods. It is unfortunate, but I spent many nights refusing to eat what was on my plate. I sat staring at it until I was told to go to bed and on many occasions the food from the night before was placed in front of me for breakfast. I still did not eat it. My food had to smell and look certain way. No spices, no seasoning at all and nothing could touch on the plate. It had to have a texture that was not too crunchy and not too soft. I would eat chicken, but not off the bone. If I saw a bone on my plate I would not eat. I would eat broccoli, but only the dark green tops. I loved cut up hot dogs with no bun, French fries and hamburgers. All plain with no condiments but I did not get that very often. I liked bread. Especially bread that I could squish into a ball and eat it like it was an apple. I loved Sarah Lee’s pound cake because I could form it into shapes and eat the shapes.     

Right up there with being picky about food I was picky about my clothing. I liked soft fabrics. I hated wide corduroy. Thin corduroy was acceptable but only in blue and beige. I loved cotton. Not too long ago my mother gave me a photo of a class picture I took when I was in third grade. It was a catholic school and everyone had to wear a uniform. The boys had these scratchy blue and white vertical striped shirts and dark blue pants. The girls had skirts and a solid white shirt. This school was my first introduction to a clip-on tie. I would not wear the tie because I would have to close the scratchy collar around my neck. In this 3rd grade picture, all the students are in their uniforms except for one – me. I had on a cotton button down shirt. I remember shopping for school clothes was a task my mother hated doing. It was a battle of wills. She would win most of the time, but she realized I would rather wear my old clothes than wear something new that I didn’t like. We eventually found common ground where I could pick out most of my clothes as long as it stayed within the budget. She also decided she did not want the headache of arguing over shoes and I got to pick the ones I wanted most of the time. It was only two times a year that we went shopping. School clothes and summer clothes.

In seventh grade I thought a lot about how I wanted to dress. By the time eighth grade rolled around, I had my own self-imposed uniform. Jeans, and a white t-shirt. I wanted black t-shirts but white t-shirts were easier to get and they were cheaper. I wore converse, or running shoes. It did not matter the season – I always dressed the same. I would just add a jacket in the winter. When I was nineteen, I saw these sandals called Birkenstocks and I bought myself a pair. Those were my warm weather shoes. I also purchased a pair of oxford brown shoes to add to my converse and running shoe collection. Eventually white t-shirts were replaced with black ones. I lived in California and in the winter – jeans, black t-shirts; and a light jacket or black sweater. In the summer Khaki shorts and black t-shirts with my Birkenstocks and my watch. By my 22nd birthday I had a closet full of the same things. People would often comment on how I was wearing the same thing every day and if my girlfriend at the time was there, she would explain that I had 15 pairs of the same jeans and about 40 black t-shirts. Also, on my 22nd birthday I had saved up the money to buy myself a black suit from Giorgio Armani. As a joke my girlfriend and I went into Armani in Beverly Hills. We went just to look around. I was in the men’s department and I felt the fabric on one of the jackets and it was like touching a heavenly cloud. A saleswoman asked me my size. I had no idea so she guessed and she was right. I put this jacket on and I felt like it was both a suit of armor and a plush blanket wrapped around my torso. I saved up, eventually went back to Armani and I bought a suit which they then tailored to my wire frame. Then I discovered Saks Fifth Avenue made a beautiful white 100% cotton shirt that I could wear with a black tie. I bought four of the same shirts and two black ties. Around the same time, I went into Barney’s of New York. I bought a black leather belt that was on sale for $375 and some black leather shoes. The black shoes are long gone, but I am still able to wear the black leather belt. I have it on as I write this post.

In 2019 I decided that I did not want to get older wearing the same color and styles that I have worn all of my adult life. I made a three-year transition plan to find a new style and to embrace more colors.

The Dream: If money was no issue, I would purchase bespoke suits and wear them with crisp collared shirts and no tie, except on special occasions. In the winter I would have brown and black leather boots and in the summer, loafers, sneakers, Birkenstocks and running shoes. I would also have a pair of black and brown lace up oxfords for special occasions. And of course, I would have a couple of tuxedos for those really special occasions.

I was a little too ambitious with my three-year transition plan. It is 2023 and I estimate that I am about half of the way through. A better estimate would be that I will finish my clothing capsule collection in another 2 to 2 ½ years. A capsule collection is the core of your wardrobe. It is composed of interchangeable items that you can match together to maximize the number of outfits that can be created. I haven’t worn jeans in a long time and I still wear my black t-shirts, but this winter I only wear them under sweaters or half-zips. This winter I also purchased a new winter coat which is age appropriate and somewhat traditional. I would say that my favorite style is Italian from the capitol city of Italy- Rome. It is what fits my body style the best and I love sumptuous fabrics. I will never be too colorful and I don’t like stripes in any orientation. I tend to go towards a simple minimal style. When I was younger, I would pair my Armani suit with a few different colored ascots. I loved them very much so I will eventually add a few to my spring and fall clothes. For now, that’s enough of clothing talk.

As for being picky about food…in my late twenties my palate grew and I stretched my comfort zone to at least try most things. Now I can eat almost anything however, I would be fine with eating the same thing most days of the week. My partner cannot do that so we have a varied diet each week.

I would like to hear about your food or wardrobe challenges or desires. What are some things that have stretched in your autistic perspective?