The Freedom of Monotony: Why I Decided to Wear the Same Clothes Everyday

Jade-Ceres Violet D. Munoz

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It isn’t some fad or some attempt at personal branding. A month ago, I decided to buy 5 of the exact same black t-shirts. I cleaned out my closet letting go of my pantsuits, some designer dresses, and a few other things in there. It was such a breather to finally have a clean closet.

Over the last 18 years in the corporate world, the way I presented myself took so much of my time each and every day. It takes me about an hour to prepare in the morning to get everything right. The right skirt with the right jacket, the colors should match, bags and shoes need to be paired well and jewelry has to match. The workday hasn’t even started yet and I am already exhausted with all these decisions that need to be made.

Last month, I decided to do a little experiment. What if I just wore a plain black shirt and jeans to work for a whole week? I wondered if anyone would notice. If they did, would anyone say anything? So the week passed and nobody mentioned it.

The week after that, I had meetings set with several people -- current clients and potential new ones. I didn’t know if I would get away with my uniform ensemble for another week. I usually break out the designer wear when meeting potential new ones. After all, first impressions last. I’ve been working in a digital marketing agency for the last five years and we are used to being well-dressed and presentable when meeting with people. In fact, we have a coat hanger by our entrance with formal suit jackets which we grab before we head to a meeting. So doing my black shirt and jeans thing was quite a risk. Yet again, no mention regarding my wardrobe choices -- from people I work with or those I work with. Judging by the results of those meetings, it does not seem to have any impact on my performance either.

It has been a full month now of dressing in the same set of clothes day in and day out. It has been a truly liberating experience. It’s surprising to realize how much freedom there is in this simplicity and monotony. There are many inspiring people out there who subscribe to the same monotonous life when it comes to clothing.

President Barack Obama often wears the same suit -- either a blue or a grey suit. In an interview with Vanity Fair, he explained the logic behind it: “You'll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” Obama said. “I'm trying to pare down decisions. I don't want to make decisions about what I'm eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.' He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one's ability to make further decisions.”

Mark Zuckerberg often wears the same gray t-shirt (with a black hoodie sometimes) and jeans in public. In a 2014 Facebook Q&A session, he said of his decision: “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. ... I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.”

Albert Einstein wears the same grey suit and Steve Jobs is famous for wearing his signature black turtleneck with jeans and sneakers.

It isn’t just men following this trend. Matilda Kahl, a creative manager at Sony Music, wears the same white shirt and black pants to work for years. “I did it because I realized how much time and energy I could save during my work days by just taking out the clothing aspect,” Kahl said during a CNBC interview in a 2016 interview. “The simple choice of wearing a work uniform has saved me countless wasted hours thinking, ‘what the hell am I going to wear today?’ And in fact, these black trousers and white blouses have become an important daily reminder that frankly, I’m in control.” She also wrote in Harper’s Bazaar.

It is said that an average person makes 35,000 decisions every day from the moment they wake up until it’s time for bed. You decide on what to eat for breakfast, what to wear, where to go for lunch -- all these can lead to decision fatigue. So ditching that decision-making process for what clothes to wear can actually save your brainpower for more productive things.

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