What If You Wore the Same Outfit to Work Every Day for Three Years?

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

1. You change your outfit three times before heading out the door to work.

2. You get to work and feel like you’re too dressed up.

3. You get to work and realize you’re too casual.

4. You have an important meeting to go to, and spend more time worrying about what you’re wearing to it than prepping for whatever information you might need to have at your fingertips.

Sound familiar?

Sometimes our clothes, and our worries about whether they’re appropriate or not, can keep our wheels spinning. So Matilda Kahl, art director at one of the biggest ad agencies in New York, finally threw in the towel one day and created a uniform.

She went out and bought a six pairs of black trousers, and 15 white shirts, plus a black blazer for the colder months. To add a personal touch, she included a custom-made black leather rosette. She bought all the pieces in one day, and then she was done. Done fussing, done worrying, and done shopping. Done!

And then she wore that outfit every day for three years.

This isn’t a new idea, she points out. “There’s a group of people that have embraced this way of dressing for years—they call it a suit,” she says in the piece she wrote for Harper’s Bazaar, which has already been shared over 92,000 times.

She admits that she did get some strange reactions to her uniform. Some people asked if she was doing it for a bet, and a few even asked if she’d joined a religious sect. (One that requires a leather bow around the neck?) But the truth is, she’s in some pretty successful company. Mark Zuckerberg is usually seen in jeans and a gray t-shirt, and Steve Jobs wore jeans, sneakers, and a black turtleneck every day. President Obama wears the same gray or blue suits every day, too. If those three aren’t smart enough for you, how about Albert Einstein? Like Kahl, he got tired of wasting time every morning deciding what to wear, so he bought a couple of different versions of the same gray suit, eliminating the problem.

There aren’t any women in this illustrious group, unsurprisingly. For women, the pressure to wear interesting outfits is much greater than for men, but Matilda Kahl changed the game all by herself, choosing a uniform she knew would satisfy all her workplace wardrobe requirements and take the daily decision and fretting time away, permanently. I have to admit, I’m a little jealous, even if my somewhat standard uniform is a pair of jeans and a striped t-shirt. You’d be amazed how long a person can spend trying to figure out which striped t-shirt to wear, even when it probably looks the same to everybody else.

Kahl says she’s done some of her best work since she stopped spending so much time on her wardrobe, although she did get a laugh when she found out that a VP at the agency where she used to work became concerned after seeing her in the same outfit day after day. The VP thought that Kahl couldn’t afford new clothes, and started working on getting her a raise. Sadly, she never did get that extra money, but the potential is there. Seems like another good reason to give this a shot, right?

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