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 do not 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: ’90s 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 does not 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 do not 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 did not 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 did not 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 did not 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 do not understand what I am 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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