Assignment for the week: dress in the same outfit every day.
Easy, right? No.
Let me preface this by saying I am not someone who dresses vanilla — I have never been a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I personally have a more is more philosophy towards life.
After eight years of uniformed private school, and four years of mandatory suits in business school, the newfound freedom to wear whatever I want has been liberating. Give me a mixed-print muumuu or give me death, I say!
Now you might be wondering, “so what is her style?” The truth is, I don’t have one. Each morning I wake up and pick an outfit based solely on my mood. One day I came to the office dressed as the Queen of England. Other self-titled looks have been: 90’s baby, ranch hand, and walking picnic blanket. I have often been known to even change multiple times throughout the workday, depending on how I feel at any given moment.
All of this being said, I also think about clothing a lot more than the average person. I spend hours scrolling through Instagram influencers and Pinterest #OOTD’s. And while some people shy away from attention, I welcome it with open arms. The criticism doesn’t faze me, and the compliments fuel me with a manufactured sense of happiness.
“Are you retiring soon?”
“I think my grandma has that sweatsuit.”
“With that outfit it’s no wonder you don’t have a boyfriend.”
“You look like scotch tape!”
“Are those … pajama pants?”
Recently, however, I have been in a creative funk when it comes to getting dressed so, I thought this experiment was the refresher I needed.
As we know, Steve Jobs wore the same outfit everyday: black turtleneck, blue jeans and New Balance sneakers. And since I don’t own five of the same shirts (or jeans for that matter), I bought a six-pack of black Calvin Klein V-necks and packed my gym bag for the next morning. I will say, packing was exponentially easier now that I didn’t have to plan a creative outfit.
There are some people who wear a variation of the same thing every day and it often becomes an extension of their personality. Everyone has a friend who only wears black, or denim on denim. Maybe I will now be added to this list.
“YOU LOOK SO NORMAL,” all of my coworkers say once I walked into the office.
On day one, I feel lost and devoid of personality. I keep looking around at all the cute outfits in the office, sighing deeply. As I compliment Drew on her outfit, I remember the days (just last week!) when I, too, received compliments from coworkers. However, since I had more time in the morning, I took the time to jade roll and floss. A win if I ever heard of one, am I right?
On day two, I debate whether or not I am allowed to accessorize. Can I wear a cute jacket? Can I put a pearl barrette in my hair? I should have laid out proper rules at the beginning. I am very into a rulebook.
The remaining three days were less painstaking, but I can’t wait for this week to end. I get a few more minutes of sleep each morning, as throwing a black shirt on is very efficient. But getting ready, while often the most exciting part of my day, is no longer fun. And while simplifying my decision-making process has made time for more productivity, do I really need to be more productive? Why can’t we enjoy things for the sheer joy it brings, rather than the result (or lack of) it yields.
When pitching this idea, I thought it was going to be a lighthearted social experiment. I had imagined myself telling all of you how easy life becomes when you rid yourself of vanity, or how I accomplished so much more throughout the day because I was not worried about what I was wearing. This was supposed to be the ultimate life-hack!
I thought that wearing something so ordinary would help me focus less on my body or any insecurities I may have about it. Rather, I was hypersensitive to other’s perception of me. What does this black shirt say about who I am? Maybe it says nothing, and for that reason I am bothered. I didn’t realize that my self-esteem would take a hit if my outsides no longer matched my insides. I kept feeling the need to exclaim, “This outfit is for an article!!!” And while there is nothing wrong with a V-neck and jeans, it just didn’t feel authentic to me.
There are many days I wonder who I would be if I did not occupy so many of my hours with beauty appointments, online shopping and applying face masks. Yet, I did not realize how much of my identity is entrenched in the way I look. How meditative getting ready for the day is. That clothes, if you give them the power, are so much more than what you use to cover your body. Am I deeply attached to clothing because it gives me a false sense of identity? I took one psychology class in college, and for that reason alone I believe that I have the ability to diagnose myself. Maybe I dress outlandish so that people think I am more interesting than I really am. Or maybe I just like fashion! Not everything needs to have a deeper meaning, but this sure feels like it does.
So yes, I saved a few minutes each morning and wasted less time each day. A lot of successful people use this tactic as a power move — but count me out. I’m looking forward to Monday where I can go back to a life of ski pants, thrifted blazers and muttering the line “it’s fashün” under my breathe as my parents tell me they don’t understand what I’m wearing.
“Iman, when you’re not home I’m throwing that outfit away!!!,” says my dad. “Why do you do this to us?” says my mom.
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