Okay, let’s do a little experiment. I’m going to say the name of a person and you try and conjure up an image of what they’re wearing in your mind.
Are you picturing this outfit?
You got it?
If you can easily imagine what either or both of these men are wearing, that’s because these guys are known for wearing the same exact outfit every day. Steve Jobs famously wore a black turtleneck, Levis and New Balance sneakers every day. Comical, but real, photos of Mark Zuckerberg’s closet reveal nothing but a row of neatly hung gray T-shirts. President Barack Obama has been known to wear a “uniform,” Simon Cowell, Albert Einstein, and Alfred Hitchcock also have this reputation.
Some call it a “forever outfit” and it’s meant to free your mind of the burden of deciding what to wear each day.
So Lindsey Quinn, managing editor of the website The Hustle, conducted an experiment. She vowed to wear the same outfit for 30 days.
“It’s kind of a hot trend in Silicon Valley,” San Francisco based Quinn said. “There are countless lists of these wildly successful people, mostly men, that swear by this forever outfit and claim that it reduces the mental energy you spend picking out an outfit, it reduces decision fatigue, it simplifies your life overall. On the one hand it was just to see if it was all it was cracked up to be and on the other hand I do think there’s a double standard for women in the workplace.”
Quinn read a study that says a woman is more likely to be promoted if she dresses nicer, but men can get away with dressing more casual.
Quinn chose a pretty simple getup to get her through the month.
“My outfit was a black, v-neck T-shirt, Levi’s jeans, and a pair of Vans sneakers. I was not wearing the exact same clothes every single day. I had three or four different T-shirts. But I was wearing the same jeans and the same shoes because I did not decide to get 10 pairs of the same pair of shoes for the sake of this experiment.”
At first Quinn felt like she was living the dream.
“I get to wear a T-shirt and sneakers to work every day, fantastic! So I would say morale started off pretty high. By the time the weekend hit, the first weekend, I was like, okay, it might be nice to change it up a little bit. By the end of the month my shirts were essentially disintegrating from being washed so much.”
But Quinn didn’t end up making it to the end of the month. She was tired of wearing the same thing. She had an event to speak at and she really wanted to wear something nicer. Something different.
I wondered if she got a lot of feedback for wearing the same thing day in and day out.
“You know what, I did not. I didn’t at all. No. That’s the other thing, right? You feel totally different, you feel like you made this big life change. No one really cares what anyone else is wearing at the end of the day, right?”
For me, what I’m wearing can contribute to my mood. I enjoy picking out something fun to wear.
“I totally agree. I think you can change the way you carry yourself, it can change your mindset. It sounds so frivolous or superficial to say, but I do think that it is part of the self-care ritual of getting dressed in the morning and feeling confident in whatever you’re wearing.”
For Quinn, deciding what to wear in the morning is not anywhere near as frustrating as having to wear the same, plain outfit every day.