An Argument For Wearing The Same Clothes Every Day

An argument for wearing the same clothes everyday

The idea of wearing the same clothes every day has always been something I’ve been interested in, especially after becoming a minimalist over four years ago.

My day job inspired my ambition for wearing the same clothes every day. At work I wear a uniform. I don’t have to think about what I have to wear, I just need to make sure my clothes are clean, and I’m good to go!

However when I think about applying the same philosophy to my personal attire, I have my reservations, and I’m sure you do too.

That’s why in this post I’m going to take a deep dive into why it is beneficial to wear the same clothes every day as well as looking at the common objections against integrating such a polarising system to your wardrobe.

If implementing a personal uniform is something you’ve been contemplating for a while, but haven’t dared to do it, this is the post for you. I should also mention that this philosophy applies to women as much as it pertains to men.

To build my argument, I think it’s important first to understand why humans wear clothes.

Why do humans wear clothes?

 

When born, humans are naked. Being naked is our most natural form. But moments after birth, we are wrapped up in cloth and from this point on we wear clothes every day.

It’s interesting to note that we are the only species that willingly wears clothes.

When did this obsession with clothing begin?

According to BBC, clothes do not fossilize, so we cannot get direct evidence for the time humans stopped being naked and started wearing animal furs and skin.

However using indirect methods of research, a lice study showed that it was only 170,000 years ago when it all began.

In hot climates such as Africa, humans happily walked around naked. But in colder climates, as sentient beings lost natural body hair, it became necessary to wear clothes to protect against cold conditions.

netherlands clothing

At this point in history, clothing was not about self-expression or looking good in front of others. It was about practicality. Life and death, in some instances.

From the mid–1300s clothing started to represent much more than the practical use-cases discussed above. Clothing became culture. Clothing was used for gender differentiation, social status, religion, heritage, fashion, and sports.

Fast forward to today, clothing acts as a representation of who you are.

Think about it. When you meet someone for the first time, what they wear plays a role in what you think about that individual, either consciously or subconsciously.

And because clothing is considered fundamental to human existence, the global apparel market is valued at over 3 trillion dollars and accounts for 2 percent of the worlds Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

With such a massive market, it’s no wonder why there’s a continuous push for more clothing products for different use-cases. Not only that, fashion is one of the worlds nastiest polluters, second only to oil.

As a minimalist, thinking about these numbers makes my head spin. What started off as a practical survival mechanism has turned into one of the largest drivers of consumerism in history.

Not only that, this market continues to grow at a rapid rate because of the value we place on how clothes shape how others perceive us. This idea in itself is motivating for me to go against the grain and simplify my wardrobe. But to understand this more, I want to talk about uniforms.

What is uniform?

 

What does elementary school, your local basketball team, police officers, and Orange is the New Black have in common? They all wear uniforms.

A uniform is a type of clothing worn by members of an organization while participating in that organization’s activity.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that it was my work uniform that inspired me to think about wearing the same clothes every day.

At a practical level, I love wearing a uniform to work because it’s one less decision I need to make in my day. In previous professional careers, it was an excruciating process to figure out what I wanted to wear to work, and I’m sure many of you would experience the same pain.

But beyond convenience and simplicity, a uniform represents equality and unity across an organization.

An argument could be made that we should all be wearing one uniform. As suggested in this article, the rich wear intricate clothing to peacock their wealth, depleting the lower classes of their innate power and self-esteem. High fashion favors taut, unrealistic figures, leaving the rest of us with emotional complexes about our bodies. Uniforms could alleviate many of these problems.

In fact, in 1916, home economist Helen Louise Johnson proposed a Standardized Dress. “Our purpose,” she said, “is nothing less than a freedom from a kind of slavery.”

It’s the slavery that has led us to a 3 trillion dollar industry today.

Helen’s vision is extreme but one that is often fantasized in fictional galaxies. When you visualize an extraterrestrial world on another planet, what do you envision? It’s usually a progressive society wearing a standardized uniform, and hovering cars, of course!

The Island - Wearing The Same Clothes

With a globally standardized uniform, we would no longer be judged on what we wear. Instead, it will be our personality and ideas that create a sense of individuality.

It’s an interesting idea, but perhaps one that’s considered too extreme to become a reality.

Many would argue that individualized fashion is what makes humans, human. I would entirely agree with that. However, I do feel that fashion, as it stands today is excessive, both from a practicality and an individuality standpoint.

I think the next point is a happy medium.

Become an icon by wearing the same clothes every day

 

The late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. is widely considered one of the most iconic entrepreneurs in history. And a quick google image search of his name will reveal photo after photo of Jobs wearing a black turtleneck shirt, blue Levi jeans, and New Balance shoes.

Steve Jobs Same Clothes

The combination of Steve Jobs attire and the growth of minimalism in mainstream media has many to believe that Jobs wore the same clothes every day because he was a minimalist. In other words, his intent was to ruthlessly reduce decisions he had to make (fashion) so he could focus on building the worlds largest tech company.

However, according to Walter Isaacson’s fully-authorized biography of Steve Jobs, his choice for clothes had less to do with minimalism and more to do with becoming an icon.

In the book, Jobs explains:

On a trip to Japan in the early 1980s, Jobs asked Sony’s chairman Akio Morita why everyone in the company’s factories wore uniforms. He told Jobs that after the war, no one had any clothes, and companies like Sony had to give their workers something to wear each day. Over the years, the uniforms developed their own signatures styles, especially at companies such as Sony, and it became a way of bonding workers to the company. “I decided that I wanted that type of bonding for Apple,” Jobs recalled.

Sony, with its appreciation for style, had gotten the famous designer Issey Miyake to create its uniform. It was a jacket made of rip-stop nylon with sleeves that could unzip to make it a vest. So Jobs called Issey Miyake and asked him to design a vest for Apple, Jobs recalled, “I came back with some samples and told everyone it would great if we would all wear these vests. Oh man, did I get booed off the stage. Everybody hated the idea.”

In the process, however, he became friends with Miyake and would visit him regularly. He also came to like the idea of having a uniform for himself, both because of its daily convenience (the rationale he claimed) and its ability to convey a signature style. “So I asked Issey to make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them.” Jobs noticed my surprise when he told this story, so he showed them stacked up in the closet. “That’s what I wear,” he said. “I have enough to last for the rest of my life.”

Jobs developed a personal uniform to build his brand.

Alice Gregory, a writer in Brooklyn also advocates for a personal uniform. In this article she states:

Wearing a uniform is also a way of asserting your status as a protagonist. This is the reason why characters in picture books never change their clothes: Children—like adults, if they’d only admit it—crave continuity. We recognize Babar in his green suit and crown, Eloise in her suspendered jumper and Madeline in her little yellow raincoat.

Alice Gregory

And that’s why I think wearing the same clothes every day is powerful.

On one side of the spectrum, keeping up to date with fast fashion trends and having an overflowing wardrobe of clothes purely to express your individuality is excessive and wasteful.

Conversely, having a globally standardized uniform like the fictional worlds we see in movies, shows unity, but it’s just not feasible in the world we live in today.

A happy medium of simplicity and individualism is a personal uniform. Taking the time to craft your “superhero” outfit that you can rely on is an incredible way to not only build your brand, but to also reduced the number of decisions you need to make.

Objections to wearing the same clothes every day

 

I can feel your reluctance towards the idea of a personal uniform.

Yes, it sounds great in theory, but there’s still resistance! Would you really commit to wearing the same style of clothes every day?

I understand why you are pushing back. I felt and still feel the same way. But I want to break down some common objections for wearing the same clothes every day and how to overcome them.

Isn’t it boring to wear the same clothes every day?

Again, fashion and clothing have long been associated with individuality and imagination. So to commit to only one style each day may feel boring and restrictive.

I would challenge you to think about this. Fashion in and on itself can be used to mask boringness. You could be the most boring person in the world, and rely on what you wear on your body to change that perception.

Meanwhile, you could be super interesting but wear the same clothes every day.

The punchline here is that whether you’re boring or interesting, you shouldn’t let what you wear mask who you are.

The more you bring your authentic self to the world, the more iconic you will be, no excessive wardrobe needed.

What about special occasions?

It’s undeniable that many of us have unique occasions to attend to whether it’s a sporting event, a wedding, church, funerals, etc.

In these instances, I would keep the absolute bare minimum attire to cover these occasions, and nothing more. I would also keep them stored somewhere separate to your personal uniform so you can remain focused on the day-to-day.

What about different weather?

Your personal uniform may be suitable for warm weather but no use in cold seasons. I think having a personal uniform per season could be a way around this objection.

Or maybe it’s as simple as adding one more piece of clothing during the colder months of the year. For example, finding an iconic jacket to wear with your current uniform.

How do you choose what clothes to wear every day?

This is a tough question to answer as the uniform we choose to represent ourselves is a very personal decision. Also, I know my boundaries when it comes to fashion advice.

Having said that, from the examples I’ve seen, it’s always safe to go with neutral colors such as black, grey, and white. These colors are the most versatile and you’re least likely to get sick of neutrals.

I also think it’s okay to have a variety of colors within the same style. For example you may find a top to use as you uniform but you get the same top in three different colors for variety.

Together with clothing, I would suggest finding your go-to accessories. Does your uniform include a hat, glasses, chain, bracelet or a pair of sneakers? Seek advice from people you trust to find a style that makes you feel authentic.

How many pairs of my uniform should I have?

When it comes to wearing the same clothes every day, you need to think about maintaining the quality of your attire. What makes personal uniform stand out is how fresh your uniform looks on a daily basis. This is going to come with having multiple pairs in the rotation to share the workload.

I can only speak for myself. But I would go for five pants, five jumpers, ten tops, two hats and two shoes. Then I would rotate daily to preserve the life and quality of my uniform.

You’ll have to experiment with your personal uniform until you find your sweet spot.

Are you ready to become an icon?

 

A lot of people think simplicity is easy. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

You need to be courageous to be simple. You need to forgo your long-standing paradigms about social standards and think purely for yourself.

A personal uniform is a testament to individual thinking. I would argue that it is more attractive to see someone so confident that they would intentionality wear the same clothes every day despite having the means not to.

Are you ready to challenge your minimalism chops and execute on your personal uniform?

Would love to get your thoughts in the comments below.

29 comments… add one
  • Hannah 27/03/2018 Reply

    I love the idea of this but how do you feel about clothes for specific activities such as going to the gym or while camping (two activities that I personally enjoy)? Finding a personal uniform that is appropriate for work but also translates to these activities seems difficult. How would you navigate that? Thanks!

    • Hi Hannah, we’re glad you like the idea! Totally understand where you’re coming from and that’s why we included a response in the common objections section of the post. Here’s what I said:

      It’s undeniable that many of us have unique occasions to attend to whether it’s a sporting event, a wedding, church, funerals, etc.

      In these instances, I would keep the absolute bare minimum attire to cover these occasions, and nothing more. I would also keep them stored somewhere separate to your personal uniform so you can remain focused on the day-to-day.

      —-

      I agree that it is hard to find a uniform that covers all situations. When I think of a personal uniform, I think of what you would wear outside of specific activities.

      • Hannah 28/03/2018 Reply

        Ahh! Yes, okay. I guess I missed the sporting event part and was only thinking formal occasions there haha! Thanks for the response!

  • Devin 28/03/2018 Reply

    Hi Michael! I enjoyed this article. It is interesting to consider having a personal uniform. I agree that we have gone way too far down the road of fashion. For me though, I think that we do not all need the same uniform because individuality is the spice of life. It would be sad and restrictive for me to wear the same uniform as everyone else because it may not reflect my personal growth or mood. To allow for this sort of flexibility of expression and fun I think a small set of clothing that goes together could be just as ethical and more lively. On another topic, I really enjoyed your book. It was short and sweet and motivated me to continue the work of creating my own life. Thank you!

    • Couldn’t agree more Devin! Thank you so much for your kind words. Masa and I are so glad you enjoyed our book. You’ve already won if you’re actively creating the life that you want.

  • Mao 29/03/2018 Reply

    I really enjoyed the post, it’s definitely a different mind set. I do think it’s really cool to make a statement and becoming your own brand by wearing the same outfit.

  • Daisy 01/04/2018 Reply

    This was thought-provoking, Michael! I’ve heard the idea before of course, but you’ve really broken it down to the practicality and the details. I’m a happy medium myself – I have a personal uniform of a certain type of shirt and pants with flats most days and have the bare minimum for occasions on the weekends. But I do see where you’re coming from, the way it is now isn’t the answer.

    • Thanks Daisy! It’s really cool that you’ve already implemented a kind of personal uniform. BTW, great work with your blog 👍🏿

  • B Jeanny 01/04/2018 Reply

    I have been contemplating on developing my personal uniform for a while now and was unaware others where basically having the same thoughts about clothing. The primary reason for me is practicality; basically it comes down to deleting all these decisions I have to make about clothing everyday so I can focus better on the things that are more important.
    Thanks for the pleasant read.

    • Couldn’t agree more. The practicality piece is incredibly valuable when it comes to day to day decisions. Thanks for sharing, and please let us know if you end up implementing a personal uniform.

  • Angel Rose 01/04/2018 Reply

    I’ve been thinking about building my own uniform for a while. Love the ideas you explore as reasons why some people would gravitate towards this–self-continuity, becoming an icon, as a part of a minimalist life choice, and to help reduce waste. Building your own uniform could also serve as a method of evolving our social expectations towards gender in clothing. In other words, if you are building your own uniform, you could have more freedom to express your gender in its most full and pure form. Thank for writing this–super interested in this idea & it’s nice to think more about how history has played a role in our clothing choices.

    p.s.
    “and I’m a dude! I can only imagine how painful this would be for women”
    Please be careful/aware of how you use statements like the above. Women would not inherently experience more pain in choosing an outfit in the morning. It can be harmful to make statements like this that reinforce false narratives about gender.

    • Angel, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I hadn’t considered how a personal uniform could evolve our social expectations towards gender in clothing—but I can totally see how.

      Thank you for making me aware of my statements as it relates to gender. This part of the post has been edited as it’s not our intention to create false narratives.

  • Lynnette 02/04/2018 Reply

    Some populations in China are expected to wear a genderless uniform approved by the state.
    Women in some countries are required to completely obliterate their individuality by including a face covering. Outside of a uniform being imposed by government, I think a personal or cohort uniform (such as school, religious, or spots teams) is a great idea I’ve considered for at least 20 years. Knowing others feel the same gives me courage to move ahead. Thanks for the article.

  • Pip 03/04/2018 Reply

    I like to simplifiy where possible as I don’t like creating extra work for myself. I recently found a pair of green combat trousers that I fell in love with. I bought 6 pairs. This is all I wear now. I’m female. I have no interest in fashion. I don’t wear make up with the exception of when I DJ I wear face paint. I love this concept and hadn’t really considered it till now.. But I’m lazy enough to be totally up for this. I have loads of clothes I don’t wear now because I pretty much just wear my green combats and a long sleeve top with at shirt over the top. I am 40 this year so it’s fair to say I’ve had lots of opportunities to be creative with my choices of clothing but at the same time it used to stress me out, I would get very frustrated about which outfit to choose. I care not these days how I come across as long as I don’t have food all over me and I’m reasonably clean it’s all good. I think I will extract all clothing I no longer wear from my shelves… and work towards this even more now. My personality is what sets me apart from others.. I don’t really feel the need to express myself through my clothing choices. Except that I like to feel like I’m ready for anything. Thanks for a thought provoking article. And as always keep up the good work x love from Portsmouth UK

    • Pip, what a fantastic story! Thanks for being so honest with the TMV community. I think it’s totally badass that you bought 6 pairs of the green combat trousers and you have enough confidence in who you are to not give in to fashion trends. Much respect and I hope others can gain inspiration from your laid back and practical approach.

  • Kay 05/04/2018 Reply

    I find this interesting. I’m going to see if can begin doing this, so challenging.

  • Anny 20/04/2018 Reply

    This article is blowing my mind. Is this what I’ve been seeking all these years?? I have always had such a low a stakes relationship to clothing, but growing up in a traditional Latina household that is very focused on all things fashion expression, it’s been so challenging. Feel like my brain cavity has been pried open, really need to investigate. Thank you so so so much.

    • Aw, thank you for your kind words Anny. It must be tough to go against a traditional Latina household! Let us know how you go with it.

  • Alice 21/04/2018 Reply

    Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement to take the uniform idea more seriously. I’ve been leaning in that direction for a while. I also appreciate your sharing some of the history of clothing and how it has evolved/devolved. Most of all, I appreciate your integrity and willingness to improve things for all Earthlings. And it was great to hear you both on Victoria Moran’s Main Street Vegan podcast! She’s one of the reasons I became vegan. Blessings to you and all!

    • Michael Ofei 23/04/2018 Reply

      We’re so flattered Alice. Thank you for your kind words! Would love to know how your uniform develops over time. It’s cool to see that you discovered us through Victoria. She’s also an inspiration to us!

      • Alice 26/04/2018 Reply

        OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

  • Great article, Michael. I have recently started building a vegan closet and I am trying to keep my items to a minimum. I found that I had too many geeky T-shirts that I thought would be a showcase of my interests to the people around me. Now, I feel very differently about statement shirts and I’m trying to create a sustainable wardrobe of which I could feel proud.

    • You’re welcome Thanasis! It’s not easy to create a sustainable uniform that you’re proud of, but it’s so worth it in the end! Thanks for sharing.

  • Mili 25/05/2018 Reply

    Dear Michael,
    This is a great article. I loved how you started to the beginning to bring the story to your points and how you include all different aspects into consideration. I guess I am fan of articles that merge a lot of facts with a lot of opinions and philosophies.
    It looks to me that your ‘personal uniform’ idea is something that is getting very ‘fashionable’ lately as a ‘capsule wardrobe’. I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic myself. As a consequence I started my own personal wardrobe rehab and starting to write some thoughts and experiences on my web.
    I personally think that as the clothing is for long a part of our culture and individuality expression it is not really possible to completely go back to kind of idealistic utopia. Many reasons for that. I like the way who you did not want to push to the extreme which would mean supposing that your solution is better than any other but tried to look for a solution that both serves you and can exist in modern day society.
    I think we went far in everything today, to the point that what made sense at the time completely lost its meaning today. I wonder how people who advocate or consume all that fashion think that they are expressing their individuality when they are all wearing the same and buying what it is served to them or when they are trying to ‘buy the look’ that an influencer is wearing.
    I really love fashion and I love to express my personality and creativity through my outfits. I love them to be unique and exclusive to me. I think that everyone can find their own expression by experimenting with ‘ personal uniform’ concept. It is open for each individual to choose their items, have more or less of them and most of all use them in a creative way. I honestly believe that working with less set us on a challenge to find creative ways to do more with what we have and saves us from constantly wanting an buying more.
    Since I’ve started my capsule wardrobe journey I got even more inspired and got so many new ideas of how to wear same items in a different way. It helps to pack less for traveling and even sometimes to turn a more casual outfit into a more sophisticated one that would serve me for a special occasion. The more this kind of ‘joker’ items you have in your uniform the easier it gets.

    Thank you for the lovely article. I can already see myself referencing it in my future posts or newsletters 🙂 and including it in my lists of resources for people to read 🙂
    Greets,
    Mili

    • Hi Mili,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment 🙂

      Love your passion for sustainable fashion. I particularly like your idea of wearing the same clothes but in different ways.

      I’ve experimented with my personal uniform, and so far it’s been incredible. The mistake I made in the past was not getting enough of the same items—so I would wear out my clothes quickly.

      Thanks again for connecting.

      With simplicity,

      Michael

Leave a Comment

Top