The Minimalist Office Wardrobe Experiment: 7 Weeks of Wearing the Exact Same Outfit (It Can Be Done and Why I Did This In the First Place)

Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?” – Seneca

For 7 weeks at my corporate day job, starting on Wednesday, October 13, 2010 to my last day at the office on Tuesday, November 30, 2010, I wore the same exact outfit every single day.

Thus begun my minimalist office wardrobe experiment.

Albert Einstein was known to wear the same clothes over and over again. Especially his favorite old gray sweatshirt he was seen in shuffling around the campus of Princeton, where he taught. Though I’m no Einstein, I thought, Why not? Why not wear the same thing?

What I wore at the office for 7 weeks straight:

1. Gray sweater
2. Tan dress pants
3. Black heels


The most pressing question will probably be this:

“Why did you decide to wear the exact same outfit for 7 weeks in a row? That’s a lot of laundry!”

3 Reasons Why

To answer this question, my reason for doing this was three-fold:

1. It eliminated ALL my decision making of what to wear in the morning.

Not only did I save an immense amount of time, but it was just easier when you have one less decision to make in the already decision-heavy days we live in. Too many options oftentimes decrease the buyer’s decision to actually purchase something.

For instance, I was at Whole Foods the other day trying to pick out a box of organic chai tea as a birthday gift to my friend. What I faced was a looming wall of options, all begging me to choose them. In the end, I bought nothing. The more options you are presented with, the less likely you will make a decision. Not good for marketers, eh?

And in this case, this applied to us (the buyer) when shopping (in our closet) for what to wear.

2. Experimenting with my minimalist lifestyle is part of what makes it so interesting and compelling.

Clothes are no exception. It is you as a person — your aura, your style, your essence — that really makes up who you are. If you are not confident about yourself, no amount of high-quality designer clothes or abundant variety of clothes you wear will ever make you feel good about yourself.

That is why I did what I did in this experiment. It was a test.

Can I still feel good about myself if this is all I wore? The answer? Yes. I feel great.

3. I simply thought it to be fun.

I didn’t care what other people around the office thought of me, especially by just what I wore. And if they did think strangely of me, especially in a negative light? It’s a demonstration of their character, not mine.

More often than not, we are judged harshly by our outward appearances. By the car we drive. The clothes we wear. The house or apartment we live in. The neighborhood we’re in. The school we graduated from. The position we hold at work. The salary we earn.

Let us not judge one another so critically. We are already our very own worst critics. Why add to the emotional distress, especially when it comes to outward appearances, which need not matter in the first place?

What is on the outside does not indicate our integrity level. This does not demonstrate our character. This does not show whether or not we are a loving, caring person. A generous fellow with a kind heart. It simply does not show any of this.

As Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher, has said, “Those who seek wisdom come to understand that even though the world may reward us for wrong or superficial reasons, such as our physical appearance, the family we come from, and so on, what really matters is who we are inside and who we are becoming.”

Clothes were just an example. This experiment at the workplace was fun, really fun. I liked not having to worry about what to wear the next day. I don’t have much clothes to choose from in the first place, but this? Only one outfit? Awesome.

The Funniest Part of This Experiment

You know what the funniest part of this experiment was?

Hardly anyone said anything to me.

I’m sure many noticed after the 14th day of me coming to the office wearing the same exact outfit as the day before. But either they didn’t want to ask or embarrass me by asking, or they really did not notice, or they really did not care. Either way, the only person that came up to me and said something was my neighbor in the cubicle next to me.

With a shake of her head, she said, “Child! Why on earth are you wearing the same clothes again? Do you need me to buy you some clothes? For goodness sake …”

And that was that. :)

Now, It’s Your Turn!

If you work in an office setting and don’t mind experimenting with your wardrobe, I urge you to try this out for yourself. See what happens. You may be surprised to find out certain things about yourself (like maybe you really do care a lot about what other people think of you) or others (how some people start to treat you differently).

You don’t have to go for 7 weeks in a row like I did, but you can certainly try for 1 week. My experiment started off with wearing the same outfit Wednesday, 10/13 to Friday, 10/15, and from there, I thought, The hell with it, why not? Let’s just do it.

Have fun!

Note: I actually did not hear about Project 333 on Courtney Carver’s blog Be More With Less prior to the start of this experiment of mine. Though a little different than her project, which is you wear the same 33 articles of clothing from Oct. 1 – Dec. 31 (very cool!), the concept still holds true: It is not what you wear but how you hold yourself to be that is infinitely more important.

You Don’t Need a Job, You Need Guts

My very good friend Ashley Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project is launching her dynamite new ebook tomorrow. Please do yourself a favor and get a copy of it. There’s no one better to speak about having guts in a scared society than Ash. She’s been to the edge and back and has made it out alive and well.

In my next post, I’ll share with you the exact 47 things I own. Yes, the number went down. What didn’t go down? Freedom, baby.

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