Is Life Easier If All of Your Clothes Are the Same?

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Zuckerberg’s closet

Every morning/afternoon when I get dressed, I spend about 67 seconds selecting my outfit for the day based on my mood, activities that day, and availability of clean clothes. 67 seconds isn’t much, but is that time and mental energy I could better spend on other things?

Steve Jobs (who I generally try not to emulate) thought so. President Obama agrees, saying, “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Celebrated author Neil Gaiman has a similar philosophy about his closet. “You know, the main reason I’ve been wearing more or less the same thing for about 20 years is that I don’t ever have to wonder what to wear.”

And most recently, Mark Zuckerberg joked about the intentional lack of options in his closet. He was asked about this back in 2014, and he said, “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”

All interesting points. I’m not sure if the incremental gain in time and metal energy is worth the loss in variation. Wearing different outfits is fun, and it can have a positive impact on your mood (and other peoples’ moods). Like, on a cloudy day, I like to wear brighter clothing to make the day seem a little less gloomy.

It is kind of freeing, though, to pick one outfit and stick with it. I have a few shirts that I like more than any others, but I try to spread them out and not wear them more than every 2-3 weeks. What if I could just wear the same shirt I love the most every day? That might be kind of amazing.

I’m curious about how people make a transition from a varied wardrobe to a limited one. The first decision to make is what that outfit will be. I’ve found that I really like dark grey shirts. I also like a specific cut of sweater in the winter. And I like button down shirts with two pockets and snap-off buttons (I feel like Superman whenever I take off those shirts).

When you first switch over to a single-outfit wardrobe, people are bound to think that you’re just wearing the same shirt over and over again. You almost have to make a point of telling people that you’re actually wearing different copies of the same exact clothes.

Last, it’s notable to me that all of the people who are famous for wearing the same outfit are men. Are there women who do this as well? If not, is there a reason for it? I’m not judging at all–I’m genuinely curious what women think.

Do you see benefits in doing this? What’s your favorite outfit, and would you enjoy wearing it every day?


11 Responses to “Is Life Easier If All of Your Clothes Are the Same?”

  1. Katy says:

    I think there were a couple of women fashion editors (I want to say for Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar) who adopted the same outfit everyday practice, but they weren’t on the level of popularity of being household names like Zuckerberg or Jobs.

    It makes sense to save time, but I prefer the variety and ability to make my own choices over the possible time savings of not having to decide what to wear everyday…which is a little weird for me to say because there is a certain outfit that is my go-to for casual lounging or running errands and I sometimes wish I had a closet full of that outfit so I could wear the same thing without needing to worry if it was in the laundry or not.

  2. Matthew Laing says:

    While traveling overseas for work I made a white shirt my staple. Not the most practical of choices to wear only white but it did make life easier in that I did not spend any time time shopping for the shirts. So I will add that as another positive.

    Saying that, once I got back home to NZ I have been wearing my blue shirts – and they do look great if I do say so. Perhaps the blue shirt should have been my staple?
    Why not just wear the same thing everyday if you know it looks great on you… Perhaps we don’t due to the ideal of the social stigma?

    My wife and I had a Parisian friend who work pretty much the same black outfit daily (or variations of the same look). It certainly worked for her and from a social stigma point of view we just put it down to her being French…

  3. Kim says:

    I’ve just started to make my work wardrobe easier. I’m stocking up on black pants and white shirts. It feels pretty freeing to not have to decide that 5 days a week! White and black is still professional and sleek. My personal life wardrobe will remain creative and fun. I just am sick of having to decide what to wear to work.

  4. My 2 favorite designers, Massimo and Lella Vignelli, also handled their wardrobes in this way. Furthermore, they designed their own clothes for the purpose of maximum comfort with minimal concern for fashion. They’ve commented the same reasons that you mentioned above; namely, that it’s time and effort they gain for other, more important, purposes.

    There is a documentary about them called “Design is One” that I would recommend.

  5. Andrew Wilson says:

    I’ve been thinking about doing this actually. I wouldn’t mind dressing like Patrick Jane from The Mentalist sometimes does: nice shoes, blue pants, white or light-colored button-down, and a blue or gray vest. I might cheat a bit and have a few variations of vests and shirts, but they could easily be on rotation so it’s not actually a decision.

    The main hurdle will be buying a whole bunch of the same thing with the knowledge I’d be “retiring” all the clothes I currently own. Maybe picking up a bunch of gray tee shirts would be cheaper!

  6. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    Thank you all for your comments! It’s really interesting for me to read your perspectives on this, and it’s neat to hear about people who are already doing this (or are considering it).

  7. Joe Babbitt says:

    I think that this is something I would probably like, but the social stigma would probably keep me from doing it. I deal with enough of that from other sources. Once I am a household name though, every day will be the same. Are all of these turtlenecks black? Or are some a slightly darker black?

  8. I suspect that more powerful women don’t do this because there is an expectation that women are fashionable, while men do not have the same expectation. It’s probably not a fair expectation, but it’s there. In business settings, men have been doing this for a long time, starting with the standard business suit, which has very limited options for daily variation. Women have more options when it comes to what is acceptable in a business setting, including a wider range of colors and various styles of blouse, skirt, pants, jacket, etc… so there’s an expectation that they exercise that variety. A man working in a traditional business setting can only really experiment with different ties and slight shirt color variations.

    For an example of a powerful woman, Elizabeth Holmes, the CEO of Theranos, wears the same outfit every day to save time.

  9. ginobrancazio says:

    Perhaps by removing this choice every day they reduce the daily amount of decision fatigue they experience (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decision_fatigue)

  10. I don’t think I would enjoy wearing exactly the same outfit every single day. However, I decided a few months ago to ‘reddify’ my wardrobe. Now, my red clothes comprise about 80% of my tops and I have a whole bunch of red trousers, dresses and skirts.

    However, there’s no duplication so I still get to choose style, coverage and texture.

    What I get is a wardrobe that always matches, brightens up the day and is quite visible and distinctive.

    Unlike folk who maybe choose a functional unified wardrobe for office work that blends in, I’ve gone for a wardrobe that consistently stands out.

    Helpful when I’m running playtest meetups and meeting in a public space. I also enjoy the comments I get and it’s helpful for standing out at cons.

    OK, no-one steal my idea or I will stand out slightly less at Essen. 😉

  11. […] started with a recent blog entry about simplifying my wardrobe down to a few key outfits rather than seeking variety. It’s not […]

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