Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
For the past few months, I’ve been doing something which the old me would have had a panic attack over: wearing the same outfit 90% of the time. For months. And nobody has noticed. At least, nobody has said anything.
This outfit consists of a pink cardigan over a plain black top (which sometimes gets swapped out for the same style top with a floral design when the black one’s in the wash), and a blue pair of jeans (one out of two pairs I own). I love it. If you want to know what I’m talking about you can see me wearing it on my Youtube channel.
I already didn’t have many clothes, having chosen to whittle my collection down to select few favourite pieces. I have a jungle-themed Superdry hoodie with a couple of t-shirts that would go underneath, and a grey cardigan dress top which I wear with leggings on colder days.
I live in the UK where the weather changes on a regular basis and the climate just does its own thing, so I need some variety, but I opted for the bare minimum for where I live because I was fed up of getting so stressed trying to decide what to wear and not feeling confident or comfortable in what I did end up wearing.
Decision fatigue is a very real problem, and prevents us from making smart decisions as the day wears on. It can also make us more susceptible to choosing the doughnut over the banana, or the takeaway pizza over the home-cooked bolognese.
Since goods have become cheap and easily accessible, we have an overwhelming amount of choice, and quite often that extra choice ends up stuffed in the back of a closet somewhere while we still complain we have nothing to wear.
And it’s the same story elsewhere in our lives. How often have you spent hours scrolling through Netflix, only to give up and decide ‘there’s nothing to watch’, or went to cook dinner but decided it was too much hassle so went and ordered a takeaway instead? (guilty as charged).
If you have children, how many times have they complained of there being ‘nothing to do’ despite toy boxes and drawers overflowing?
This is decision fatigue at it’s finest, or as I’ve started thinking about it ‘Stuffed Syndrome’.
Think about it – when you eat too much you feel like you can barely move. You feel slow and sluggish and tired. Owning too much stuff along with all the decisions that silently accompany them has a very similar effect. You feel unmotivated and weighed down.
The difference is, we know when we’ve eaten too much, but recognising when we own too much is a completely different matter.
When it comes to clothing, I’ve been through several phases; goth, punk, gamer, elegant, a mix. And every time I ended up with clothes that wore out fast or that I felt self-conscious in. I was bullied all my life at school, especially about my looks and choice of fashion, and the resulting lack of self-esteem followed me into adulthood. I never really knew who I was, just that I wanted to look ‘good’ and not how I did back in my school days.
Because I had undiagnosed autism, I had sensory issues and always wore baggy clothes that felt comfy to me. It didn’t matter how they looked or what the design was, I’d wear them if they felt comfy.
If it’s one thing that’s remained constant, it’s that I’ve never once cared for fashion trends, but I did become fashion-conscious and went through different styles – and a stuffed wardrobe.
My style now is anything pretty or daring and bold, but my mistakes have been always opting for cheaper clothing which leads to clothes wearing out fast and costing more in the long term.
Slowly, I’ve started to correct that, starting with my coat and work shoes.
Since I work full time now, I finally got fed up of my cheap fast-fashion parka letting the cold through, and walking around on lunch duty in the school playground with my teeth chattering and my arms and mid-section going numb. So I finally invested in a 3-in-1 fully waterproof coat for £120, which so far has been doing everything it promised in the description.
I was also fed up of coming home with sore feet and muscles in my cheap boots. Not only that, it was tiresome having to keep buying new ones when they got holes in after only a couple of months, and I’ve never been someone who enjoys clothes shopping. So I finally got my feet measured and opted for a £90 pair, which so far are still like new and support my feet like I’m walking on clouds.
Now, I want you know you do NOT have to spend a lot on clothes if your finances don’t allow it. You can still have a simple wardrobe without spending a fortune on clothes. But if you can afford to, quality clothing will eliminate the stress and the added cost of constantly having to replace lower quality garments.
Quality, versatility and a love for your chosen personal style is the answer for a stress-free wardrobe – not quantity, and certainly not fashion trends.
Chasing fashion is time-consuming, harms the environment, often comes at a huge cost for the people who make the clothes, and doesn’t encourage us to express who we really are.
Since trying my ‘one uniform experiment’ I’ve felt far less stress when choosing clothes at the weekend. I have a similar approach to my work clothes to prevent decision fatigue. I have 2 blazers and 2 blouses to go under them and simply alternate between them all week (apart from the days where I support PE and wear my sports hoodie).
Does anybody comment? No. Do I remember what any of my colleagues were wearing on a specific day? Also, no.
In fact, I asked my husband if he had noticed that I had been wearing mostly the same thing every weekend and he hadn’t! As it turns out, most people are more in tune with how you act and what you say than if you’re wearing the same top as the day before.
I’d also like to add that I don’t wear makeup or jewelry (unless it’s a very special occasion), but the one night I did decide to wear a simple necklace and some tinted lip balm, I got loads of compliments from my husband. If I wore them all the time, however, it would have no effect.
The adornments or makeup would simply become invisible, much like the furniture or clutter that surrounds us every day.
When we see something enough times it becomes invisible or unnoticeable because the human brain is wired to be looking for changes in our environment. This stems from our hunter days where it was important to notice our environment so we could survive.
If you want to simplify your wardrobe and stop worrying how people see you, keep this in mind.