And Guess What? Nobody Noticed
Over the last two months, I conducted a bit of an experiment. I wore the same five outfits each day of the week to see if anyone would notice. I wore the same clothes every Monday, Tuesday, etc. for two months.
When I was first learning about minimalism, I read a lot of different blogs in my quest to find out more. One of my favorites was (and still is) Courtney Carver’s blog, Be More With Less. Her writing touches on almost all aspects of minimalism, including her moving story of finding minimalism while dealing with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis.
Although just about everything on her blog is worth a read, she is most famous for Project 333. The idea is simple. Choose 33 items of clothing to wear for 3 months and pack away everything else. This includes shoes, jewelry, and clothes. It does not include sleepwear, underwear and workout clothes.
Since Carver came up with the idea in 2010, it has gained a ton of traction and just about everyone seems to be trying out some variation of a capsule wardrobe. Carver argues that a capsule wardrobe simplifies the getting ready process. Instead of staring at a closet full of cluttered clothes, most of which you don’t wear, you can quickly and easily pick an outfit and go with it. I decided to test it out.
My Same Clothes Plan
First off, a disclaimer. I am far from a fashionable guy. Most of my clothes are at least five years old. Some of my shirts, I fear, may be as old as my students. So maybe I’m not the best subject to be conducting this experiment. With that being said, I am also in front of about 100 students every single day, so as drab as my wardrobe might be, the students do still pick up on things since I am front and center so often.
I decided to wear exactly the same pants and shoes every single day. Each week, I wore the same 5 dress shirts in order. I completed this experiment in March and April, so these were almost all full weeks of school, with the exception of April vacation. There was no excuse for people not to notice, yet they didn’t. After the experiment, I asked my students and a few of my coworkers, and not a single one had any idea I had worn the same clothes for the last two months.
With a capsule wardrobe, those wasted minutes spent staring at the closet wondering which clothes to choose disappear. Gone is the stress of looking at an overbearing closet full of clothes. There is no longer a need to try on multiple outfits. There are enough things in life that cause stress and take up time without being concerned about what to wear each day.
There are so many benefits to simplifying your wardrobe, but the most significant is the time saved. Raise your hand if you have spent mornings canvassing your closet and still not feeling like you have anything to wear. A capsule wardrobe saves that time. There is less to choose from so time is not wasted.
Wouldn’t it just be nice to wake up, take a shower, and then walk to your closet and grab one of the first things you see without much thought? Imagine the stress-free feeling of knowing that everything in your closet is something you enjoy wearing. Think about the stress that would be released from not struggling in front of the closet or in front of the mirror each day.
Wear What You Love
A capsule wardrobe allows you to wear what you love. When you only have a certain number of items, you can be sure that you truly love wearing those clothes and love the way you look in them. An overcrowded closet is a lot like cable television. With cable, it’s 300 channels, but nothing is on TV. With clothes, it’s 300 outfits, but there’s nothing to wear. Additionally, having a smaller wardrobe reduces the need to buy additional clothes, and the clothes that are bought are clear favorites that will be worn all the time.
Not Everyone Is Looking at You
In my psychology class, I teach about the “spotlight effect“. It’s based on the fact that we oftentimes think all eyes are on us when they really are not. We trip walking up the stairs and turn around convinced everyone on the stairway just saw us. Or, a stain on our shirt is the source of a day’s worth of anxiety when nobody actually noticed. As humans, we are naturally egocentric.
A number of studies have been conducted over the years on the spotlight effect, but one of the most notable was the “Barry Manilow Shirt” study. Participants were asked to put on a Barry Manilow shirt that they were told was very embarrassing looking. They were then instructed to walk into a room where a number of other participants were already seated to take a survey. Almost immediately, they were told the survey had already started and they were too late so they could leave. When they went back to the room with the conductors of the experiment, most participants guessed that approximately 50% of survey takers noticed their Barry Manilow shirt. In reality, less than 25% of survey takers remembered the shirt.
The same is true for our clothes. For the most part, people do not notice what we are wearing. The spotlight is not, in fact, on our clothes or our wardrobe.
So, what have I learned? I have never been one to really struggle with finding clothes each day. I can go into my closet and pick something out pretty quickly. But, even with that, I found it so refreshing to already know exactly what I was wearing and not have a choice about it. Today’s Monday? Okay, blue shirt, black pants. Done.
I’m not going to go so far as to continue wearing the same clothes every day, but I do think I will continue to pare down my closet. I will continue to get rid of clothes that I never wear, either because they don’t fit well or I just don’t like them.
How about you? Have you ever attempted to wear the same clothes? Perhaps you’ve tried a capsule wardrobe or Project 333? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!