About four months ago, I decided I had had enough.
I fired up my laptop and spent about 15min browsing a couple of the main every day (affordable) clothing websites.
I settled on Zara.
I bought ten white t-shirts, three pairs of black jeans, a pair of shoes, and four grey hoodies.
I’ve more or less always thought of getting dressed as a massive pain in the ass.
Partly because I have no interest in fashion. Partly because I don’t (much) care for what I look like. Partly because I don’t think anyone should care what they look like.
I gave up following fashion trends when I was 16 — as most people should (unless you work/have a passion for fashion). Since then, I’ve always gone for simple outfits:
- Black jeans,
- a comfortable t-shirt, and,
- semi-dress shoes.
This approach served me well for many years. I’d just have 20 t-shirt I like on rotation. Pick the one at the top of the pile, and get on with my day.
For the last year or so, however, even this simplistic approach annoyed me.
Some t-shirts didn’t fit me anymore. Some would be fine for a weekend but not for a work day. Some would be fine for a work day but not if I had a meeting. Oh, and that outfit you thought would be alright for this meeting? It’s in the wash, sorry!
And that’s just t-shirts. Factor in jumpers, hoodies, trousers, shoes, jacket, coat — fucking nightmare.
Making those decisions in the morning took more time and frustrated me more than I felt was appropriate. It’s a pure waste of time, effort, and attention. And certainly not the right way to start my day.
The solution: the single outfit approach
I’m not the first to think of this. Greater people than I (Obama, Zuckerberg, Jobs, and more) have made this decision.
Though I’m obviously not comparing myself to them, I did find some inspiration in their take on this issue.
Here’s Zuckerberg’s take on it:
“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.”
Again, God knows I have far fewer daily decisions to make than he does — but I get his point. It sucks to want to start your day and have to make a decision on something as meaningless as an outfit.
Got shit to do, yo.
6 tips on finding the right daily outfit
So, I made the decision of wearing the same outfit every day. What is it going to be?
This one, big, one-time decision will allow me to avoid endless small decisions in the future — so I gotta pick right.
Here are a few tips on picking the right daily outfit.
This was 100% the number one priority for me. I had to find an ensemble (ohh, fancy word) that was comfortable for me to wear every day. I picked t-shirt, jeans, and zip up hoodie.
2. Comfortable every day
What’s comfortable in the winter might not be in the summer. I tend to get hot quickly, so long sleeve t-shirts or thick materials were a no-go.
Think of an outfit that will be suitable all year round.
While comfort is important, chances are you won’t be able to wear short shorts and an open-wide Hawaiian shirt all year long.
If you have work, you might have to — at the very least — wear a t-shirt and jeans.
I’m quite lucky to work in tech company where t-shirts and hoodies are basically the uniform. I’m also quite lucky that clients almost expect us to wear hoodies and t-shirt.
I found this most important for shoes.
Finding a pair of shoes that will fit every occasion is quite hard. I really wanted white sneakers, but quickly realised it made my outfit very casual. Bit too casual.
I ended up picking faux leather black shoes. If you pay close attention, they are indeed sneakers but they don’t look like they are. They also are very discreet against my black jeans, giving me the comfort of relaxed shoes without attracting the eye.
5. Personal variables
As soon as the weather hits 20 degrees, I become a bit of a sweaty mess.
The original outfit I wanted to get had light grey t-shirts. I ended up deciding against it because sweat would be super visible on them.
I also have a bit of a fairly significant belly. It’s even more visible if I’ve had a big lunch. This made the zip up hoodie much more suitable than a pullover, which might make me feel constrained on particularly fat days.
Though it makes sense, this is a bit of a weird one.
I made sure my outfit had as little capacity to offend anyone as possible. It’s the plainest thing in the world: black and white.
I don’t want my clothes to even remotely associate me with any groups, parties, or affiliations. I don’t want it to attract attention. I don’t want people to wonder WTF I am wearing and why.
This is the outfit I settled on:
What I’ve learned from wearing the same outfit every day
I’ve made this change about four months ago now, and learned a few things along the way.
1. Nobody gives a shit
I purposefully didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. From one day to the next, I started wearing the same outfit every day at work.
No one gave a shit.
No one even noticed for about a week.
I was so happy. This experience exactly proved my point. No one cares about what anyone wears. We are more than the clothes we wear (and I can’t believe some adults haven’t figured that out yet).
2. White might have been silly
White stains, my friends.
Got a few t-shirts that suffered the assaults of bright red pasta sauces.
3. I’m lucky
I’m lucky I work in a progressive environment.
I’m lucky my colleagues don’t care what I wear.
I’m lucky my girlfriend is fully supportive and understanding of this decision.
I’m lucky I can afford to have this little tantrum about how awful it is to have so much choice. Talk about a first world problem.
4. My mornings are so much happier
I used to get properly annoyed in the morning. Not finding the right outfit was driving me (and my girlfriend) nuts.
Now, everything is much easier.
I get up, grab a t-shirt from the rack, grab a pair of jeans from the rack, throw my jumper on, and I’m off.
This zero decision routine has increased my morning happiness at least 50 fold.
5. Packing is almost a joke
Guess what else is much easier now? Packing!
As you might have guessed, I hate packing. It’s everything I hate about getting dressed condensed in one shitty experience.
I travelled twice in the last four months and packing was literally nothing. Count the days I’m off, throw the equal number of outfits in a suitcase, and done.
6. It’s not a hard and fast rule
In the last four months or so, I’ve only deviated from my single outfit rule twice.
The first was for a funeral, the second for a particularly high-flying meeting.
The important thing to remember here is this decision is not forever. It’s ok to deviate. It’s ok to dress up nicely for an evening with your partner. It’s ok to wear a shirt to a family outing.
This decision is there to help make your every day life easier, not limit your options and force you into wearing something inappropriate.
I don’t see myself moving away from this single outfit rule. It suits my personality and my lifestyle, and it has removed a lot of unnecessary anger.
I’d like to end on a beautiful quote from Derren Brown.
“We would worry a lot less about what people think of us if we realised how little they do.”