Vestiphobia: The Fear of Clothing

Definition of Vestiphobia or the fear of clothing. This article discusses the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this phobia.

Vestiphobia is an overwhelming, irrational fear of clothing. It is important to understand that the person impacted by this phobia is not an exhibitionist or nudist. The vestiphobic individual simply wants to be free of clothing. Individuals coping with Vestiphobia may insist on wearing loose, oversized clothing or in extreme cases, may withdraw from society completely in order to avoid being clothed.

Vestiphobia is a combination of Latin and Greek words. It derives from the Latin word “vestis”, meaning clothing, garment or covering and the Greek word “phobos” meaning fear.

What Causes Vestiphobia?

All phobias are caused by a real-life trauma of some type. Thereafter, that traumatic experience is consistently and automatically associated with clothing.

The vestiphobic individual could have been raised in a culture or religion that dictated restrictive clothing. Maybe, as a child, the person’s parents required them to wear tight clothing. Perhaps the person compromised by Vestiphobia had a severe allergic reaction to a specific type of fabric and the phobia developed.

Whatever the cause, the vestiphobic person can experience anxiety and emotional turmoil that is completely compromising to their ability to function.

What Are the Symptoms of Vestiphobia?

The symptoms of Vestiphobia are individual and will vary among people. Some people, when confronted with their fear of clothing, may begin to perspire, feel slightly uncomfortable or become nauseated. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other people are so severely compromised by this phobia, that they may experience crippling anxiety and/or panic attacks.

Other symptoms of Vestiphobia may include:

  • A Dry Mouth
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Numbness
  • Heightened Senses
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling Dizzy
  • Muscle Tension
  • Hyperventilation
  • Trembling
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Feeling Out of Control
  • Feeling Trapped and Unable to Escape
  • Intense Feeling of Impending Disaster

How Is Vestiphobia Diagnosed?

The vast majority of cases of Vestiphobia are self-diagnosed. The individual realizes that their fear of clothing is irrational and is severely compromising their ability to function on a daily basis.

The vestiphobic person may discuss their phobia with the primary physician. Rarely would the doctor diagnosis Vestiphobia based on that initial discussion with the patient. More routinely, after ruling out any medical reason for this phobia, the doctor will refer the person to a mental health professional for comprehensive assessment and evaluation.

How Is Vestiphobia Treated?

When the fear of clothing becomes intense enough to disrupt an individual’s ability to function, there are a number of ways to treat Vestiphobia.

These can include:

  • A referral from the primary physician to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of phobias.
  • Traditional “talk” therapy that will teach the person to recognize and control their phobia.
  • Hypnotherapy.
  • Exposure Therapy.
  • Self-help techniques such as purposeful muscle relaxation.
  • Support groups with other people who are coping with this specific phobia.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Desensitization Therapy.
  • Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualization.
  • In severe cases of Vestiphobia, anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed.

Vestiphobia is an intense, irrational fear of clothing. Sometimes that fear can become so overwhelming as to completely halt a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Unchecked, Vestiphobia can become a debilitating condition that interferes with an individual’s personal life, their social life and job responsibilities. Untreated, Vestiphobia can have a profound and devastating impact on every aspect of a person’s life.

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  1. Dear Tammy,
    May i ask where you got the resources for this article?
    Have you met anybody with said’ phobia?
    This specific phobia interests me greatly.

  2. hi mr hyde,

    i actually suffer with this phobia and it is terrible. every morning getting dressed is horrible, panicking when trying to just pick and put a piece a clothing on…. and then keeping it on … the feeling of wanting to rip your clothes off, work/home wherever, and of course you cant.

    it really is bad, i have seven wardrobes of clothes i hardly wear.


  3. I also ’suffer’ from this, without ever really knowing it was a real phobia.

    I bought property in a rural area, so I don’t have to have clothing on my skin. Also, chose a profession where I work alone in remote places so I don’t have to have clothing on my skin very much. Never thought much about why, just figured I was a ‘nudist’.

    When I was dating the girl who became my wife, I warned her well in advance that I was a ‘nudist’ and that I couldn’t stand wearing clothes. She thought it was ‘cute’ and didn’t have a problem with it.

    The up-side is the dark, all-over tan. The downside is few friends (not many people are willing to ignore your state of undress) and not much of a social life outside of the home or a nudist resort.

  4. My name is Daniel. im 20 years old.

    i didn’t say so in my last post. but i thought up until now that i was experiencing this phobia also.
    for years i’ve been searching on and off for someone who shared my unusual fear. so that i may be able to learn from them who i am.

    you see to be specific, i fear a combination of t’shirts, (long sleeved, then short sleeved over the top)
    it feels impossible for me to wear this outfit in public.
    however it is overly tempting to put it on in private, for the sexual nature of the clothing is… overpowering.

    i’m not afraid of any other form of clothing, just this.

    i have a real desperation to understand what it all means.
    any conversation may help.

    thanks for replying.

  5. I have had this problem all of my life (63 years) and have developed coping strategies for many times including finding employment which requires that I don’t wear clothes. I also have a range of unconventional clothing which form a reasonable compromise between my needs and those of society in general. None of these have made life easy but, then, since was it ever?

  6. Hi there

    I actually believe my sister may be suffering from this phobia. She is unable to wear many kinds of clothing due to the feel of them. It might be because they’re too tight, have lumps under the arms or rub around her neck. We’ve seen many doctors but none of them seem to really be able to help. Can anyone suggest anywhere else we might be able to find help. Or even better, would anyone be willing to make contact with my sister and talk to her about your experiences as i think this would be a massive help?

  7. I have Vestiphobia.
    It is dreadful. I always want to rip my clothes off, it sucks at school when I have to wear them.

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