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Last Updated on December 1, 2020 by Yovana
My favorite outfit I’ve ever worn to a job was scrubs when I worked at a surgery center. They were comfortable and took no decision making energy to get ready in the morning.
After I moved on from scrubs, dressing got stressful. Even though I work in I.T. (Information Technology) now, I often felt like I had to “dress to impress” to grow in my career.
This isn’t in reference to when I was a code monkey. Back then, I wore the same hoodie for weeks on end because I wasn’t even thinking about my outfits. I was too stressed about deadlines and worn out from working at a startup.
It wasn’t until later when I acclimated to the corporate workplace that I started to feel the need to please when it came to my appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping for clothes and shoes. I just hate deciding on a different outfit every day when getting dressed in the morning (ugh, and putting on makeup…which doesn’t really happen).
A few of the other women I knew at my second job out of college would always reference this saying – “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have”. I definitely used that saying as an excuse to fuel my shopaholic behavior and buy too many clothes that I didn’t need (and some I would never wear).
What I should have seen that saying as was “Identify an outfit (or a couple of outfits) that is comfortable, durable and 100% you (including who you want to be)”. This means high-quality easy pieces of clothing – the stuff that doesn’t tear after 2 times wearing it.
You don’t need 20 work power outfits to look like the career slaying bitch that you are. You only need 1 or 2. Because no one will probably notice the rotation of the other 19.
No one cares what you wear to work. Honestly.
Do you know how I know? Because I wore the exact same thing to work every day for a week and no one noticed.
Background of The Experiment
I was reading this article from Fast Company about how 2 of their female editors wore the same thing every day for at least 2 weeks. Their experiment found that no one noticed because most people kind of live in their own worlds anyway.
One woman loved how this experiment gave her back time and energy from having to choose an outfit every day. However, the other loves expressing herself through her clothing and felt constrained by the experiment.
I thought I would give the experiment a whirl myself to see how I felt about it.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is basically a limited curated selection of outfits that help you live simpler and save some of that decision making energy. They include a range of 25 to 50 items of clothing, accessories, and pairs of shoes (but there is no perfect number) to wear for a specified period of time whether that be a season or multiple seasons.
Capsule wardrobes are a revelation for those looking to declutter their lives, their minds, and their morning routines. They are also especially great for those who can’t afford to buy tons of new work outfits.
You can create the perfect capsule wardrobe to fit all year round if you live in a warm climate that doesn’t really change. Or do a capsule wardrobe every season. Do whatever works for you.
I have a basic capsule wardrobe when it comes to work that consists of:
- My favorite black cardigan paired with a tank
- Tan cardigan paired with a tank
- My “mountain” cardigan (this cute cardigan I got off of Poshmark for free with referral credit that looks like something you’d wear while sipping coffee and looking out at mountains in the Pacific Northwest)
- Black long sleeve tee/tunic (I actually have 2 of these..)
- Grey long sleeve tee/tunic
- Skinny jeans
- Black skinny pant
- Teal skinny pant
- Maroon skinny pant
- Black flats
- Black boots
- Maroon flats
That is the normal rotation of what I wear to work and isn’t my full capsule wardrobe. I have a rotation for my workout clothes and lounge clothes. But I need to get a handle on decluttering my going out clothes again to get them back to a manageable capsule size.
It seems pretty mute and casual, right? That’s because I work in a pretty casual environment, am not that interested in dressing up for work and hardly buy new clothes because of this solid rotation.
I am still able to express myself through my clothing choices this way but for others, they may become bored with this sort of “uniform” set of outfits. Everyone is different.
Why I Did It
When building a capsule wardrobe, you want to try it out in the field first which I did starting out and have been wearing the same clothes for a while now. There are times I start to wonder – “Oh no, do people notice that I rotate the same outfits every week at work? But, why do I even care?”.
I had to set the record straight with myself and see for sure. So, I went all out and decided on 1 outfit to wear every day for a week to see if people really care and if I really cared if they cared.
Before you assume anything about this experiment, let me get real with you. I didn’t do this experiment for 5 days in a row. Instead, I did it for 3 days out of the entire 5 day work week.
I work from home normally every Wednesday and Friday and I wasn’t going to go into the office the whole week just for this experiment. Maybe I should have, but I am lazy.
This experiment lasted for the duration of Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
What I Wore For a Week
I wore the exact same outfit on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday (aside for different shoes I wore on Monday).
The outfit was:
- Black long sleeve tunic
- Skinny jeans
- Maroon flats on Monday
- Black boots on Tuesday and Thursday
I did not do any laundry between the days and wore the exact same clothes. This wasn’t hard as the clothes did not smell (3 days is an easy time period to pull off the same clothes with no need to wash them). But of course, I have other pairs of jeans and 1 other black tunic to have thrown into the mix without the need to do laundry for another week.
I wore my hair down all three days and did not alternate any accessories. The only accessory I really wear to work is an amber ring on my middle finger.
Why No One Noticed
Starting out, I thought people would notice instantly until I tried to think of it from a different perspective.
I asked myself if I could remember what my own coworkers wore the week before and I could not recall one outfit for any of them. If I couldn’t remember what they wore, how could they remember what I wear?
My team at work is also 90% men which is another factor that made this experiment way too easy. I don’t mean to generalize but most of the time men won’t notice if someone wears something 2 days in a row (or 3). And if anyone were to bring it up, it would have probably been a woman over a man.
Then with everyone being in and out of the office around the holidays, I might be able to slip by literally unseen besides for 1 or 2 other people that might notice. That was 100% what it ended up being – I was the Invisible Woman and it was amazing.
No one brought it up to me but also, how would that come up in conversation? “I saw you wore the same thing all week, how is that going?” That would have been kind of an awkward conversation (but I would have had some fun explaining it).
Readers/Followers Questions and Reactions
So I thought about asking some of my readers and followers on Instagram if I should ask my coworkers at the end of the week if they noticed.
My poll got a 60% response for yes so I went for it. I asked my coworker who saw me those 3 days and sits close to me and they said no accompanied by a confused look. I didn’t go into it besides saying that it was for a school experiment my niece was doing (I don’t talk about my blog to my coworkers but my manager is aware of it).
There is one reason they might say no but be lying about saying no. They might feel sorry for me.
They don’t know that much about me and might think something is going on where I can’t afford clothes or maybe going through something personal.
This was something someone brought up to me in the I Like To Dabble Facebook Group and after thinking about it, I didn’t care if that was the case. They can think whatever they want about me but I felt comfortable.
Damn, That Was Easy
It was ridiculously easy to do this experiment and also see the privilege of being able to do so. Many people don’t have several work outfits to choose from and to them, this wouldn’t be an experiment. It would just be another workday.
But there is also a lot of stress with that and wondering if people are noticing that you wear basically the same thing to work. Especially with the pressure in corporate environments for women to wear different outfits every day or dress a certain way in general. Even when a dress code is fairly casual.
I am happy to see at the end of this experiment though that I can easily go on with my set rotation of what I normally wear and not be worried if people notice (while continuing to save time and money).
Worrying about what you wear to work is the last thing on your coworker’s minds, trust me.
I think if I went on to do this for more than 1 week in a row or a month straight, I might get a reaction. Hmm.. should I try it and do a sequel to this blog post?
One thing that I did realize from this experiment that I’d like to give you as a takeaway is how absorbed we are all in our own lives. For fun, try to remember what some of your coworkers wear this next week and see if they are trying to scrape by unseen like me.
Then tell me your findings in the comments below!
Have you tried something like this before or have a capsule wardrobe/work uniform you created that you love? Tell us in the comments!
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Daniella is the creator and author of iliketodabble.com. When their wife Alexandra and them aren’t globetrotting or playing with their 7+ animals, they are dabbling and working towards a future of financial freedom.
44 thoughts on “Capsule Wardrobe Experiment: Why I Wore The Same Outfit Every Day For a Week”
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I’m a bloke in IT, but I wear a different shirt & jeans/trousers combo every day, I would feel weird wearing the same shirt 2 days in a row.
I think that you would be surprised at how many people did notice but wouldn’t say anything to you.
I know that for many of my female work colleagues (those I have daily interactions with) I seem to have subconsciously memorised their entire work wardrobe and notice when they wear something new. (Maybe this is because I am married so not noticing my wife has new clothes would be a bad thing)
But I would rarely mention it unless I was close friends and it was something particularly nice, the work environment is a minefield for men, one innocent compliment can turn into a claim of sexual harassment.
So I think the fact you wear the same thing daily won’t be picked up but when you wear different clothes it will but men wont tell you.
Interesting take! Some people might’ve noticed but the point of this was to see if I even cared if they might’ve noticed. I am trying to get out of my head more 🙂
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Try working with children. They notice everything. I am a vice principal. I once wore the same plain black dress pants two days in a row (different tops). A six year old asked me if those were the same pants I wore yesterday, announced that it was gross because I wouldn’t have washed them, followed by a chorus of “Ewww” from other six year olds.
Haha ok – that is an exception for sure! Kids are vicious.
I’m a teacher and some of my students asked me if the shoes I was wearing was the only pair I had.
Wow, kids notice way more than I thought!
I have to second the comment on how much kids notice clothing! Trust me, I taught high school for 15 years, and those kids notice it all! However, that doesn’t mean you should cave in (they’re not your peers, after all). And if they bring up the “gross” argument, just tell them you have three of the same exact clothing item, ha! I like this experiment you did, though. It’s interesting how self-absorbed most people are and don’t actually pay attention to others (and in this case, it’s probably a good thing)!
Before beginning my most recent job, I reduced my work wardrobe to two pairs of dark pants and five shirts – three gray shirts, two dark gray shirts. I wore the regular grays on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I reserved the darks for Tuesday and Thursday, with the idea being to break things up during the week.
Despite such variety, it didn’t take long for my coworkers to notice. One colleague offered to buy me shirts because they thought I couldn’t afford it, while another likened me to a cartoon character. It became a running joke in the office.
I worked that job for two years and never did I deviate from the uniform. Ironically, I began paying attention to what my coworkers were wearing. And though they had a different outfit for each day, they wore the same attire every week.
Wow they offered to buy you shirts because they thought you couldn’t afford it? Personally, I think that is a little nosey and would have told them to mind their own business lol
On the bright side, it gave me an opportunity to explain my philosophy behind adopting a work uniform. Still, that kind of forwardness was initially jarring especially since I was new. On the other hand, my wife had quite the sense of humor about it. She said I should have taken the offer that way she wouldn’t have to shop for me.
Haha! Your wife isn’t wrong 😉
The people wear I work do notice what you wear and will point it out if you wear something repeatedly. I don’t really care. While I don’t wear the same thing everyday I do formula dress. Pants, cashmere sweater, sometimes with a blouse underneath, cardigan or blazer. I usually wear gold, silver or pearl hoops and a simple necklace. When I want to mix it up I’ll throw on a scarf.
Scarfs are great for mixing things up!
I am a 67 year old professional female. I read on the Minimalist about an executive that wore a white shirt and black pants to work all of the time–it was called her signature look.
Well, I took that to heart and started downsizing my closet. Long story shorter, now I have in my closet at all times, a month’s worth of work clothes. I have my pants separately placed, but I have the remaining clothes on one hanger for each week. I have a blouse/shirt, a jacket/sweater, usually a scarf, and my necklace/earrings/bracelet (in a baggie). My shoes/socks are placed under the clothes on the floor of the closet. I wear one outfit a week–all week. I don’t get militant about it; if I want to wear something else in the middle of the week, I do, but not often.
The attention, concern, decision-making in the morning is gone. It has been so freeing. It has amazed me many times how easy mornings are now, compared to my entire life before. I highly recommend trying it.
I love that freeing feeling!
Hey Daniella, great experiment, especially a woman. You had it easy working in a male environment though as you say ;). And indeed I think everyone is into their own world and pays attention to his things/looks.
Sometimes when you make a stain on your clothes or a small mark with your pen by mistake, if you do not mention to others they won’t even notice because they are concerned about their new glasses or that they look tired :).
And I like all things helping to reduce decision fatigue, I use the same principle with my work clothes, I have a few pair of pants, shirts and pull over, 3 pair of shoes and I just switch them up depending on what is ironed or not 😀 :D.
Look at you Joney! You have a capsule wardrobe and didn’t even know it 😉
>>One thing that I did realize from this experiment that I’d like to give you as a takeaway is how absorbed we are all in our own lives.
Exactly. I also work in a world of men, and when I change my hair, one of them will inevitably say, hey, what’s different? If I press them, they’ll guess, usually wrongly, that it’s shorter or longer. They don’t have a clue, and more importantly, they don’t care! Lesson learned.
I kinda love slipping by unnoticed.
I’m intrigued. I’m thinking I need to pick something comfy that I really like and buy 4 of them or 4 of the same style but different colors. I work in jeans and sneaks because I gave up stylish outfits and heels years ago ( for work). I cut hair so it would need to be a clean top daily but it sure would make my life easier. I doubt anyone would care. I’ve been doing a capsule wardrobe for years so I do wear the same tops often but this would make life much easier! I work alone, at home, with clients who probably would never say a word. Thanks for the idea! This would free up $$ for better pieces for off days that wouldn’t get covered in hair or color!
I hope it works out for you – come back and comment how it went!
As a college instructor, I often wear the same outfit on Monday and Tuesday since my Monday classes are different from my Tuesday responsibilities. Then I wear the same outfit in Wednesday and Thursday, again because my audience is different.
I wonder if I wore the same outfit on MWF, if the students would notice since they are staring at me for 50 minutes straight each class day.
Try out MWF – I bet they won’t notice.
It’s funny you ask, because I have just finished my fourth week of wearing the same thing to work every day and no one has said anything about it. I tried this experiment last winter for six weeks and it worked well, so this year I am quietly attempting to replicate it for the entire winter/cold season. TBH most of my work wardrobe is black, with some gray. My color tends to come from necklaces and scarves. My colleagues knew about last winter’s experiment, so their lack of comment this winter is either 1) they haven’t noticed or 2) they have but figure I’m doing the same thing again.
The outfit: a black merino wool knit dress with leggings or tights, a blazer or cardigan, shoes, and accessories. I actually have 5 or 6 black dresses, all in similar cuts, but with different sleeve lengths and/or made of different fabrics.
I found that when I did the experiment last winter, I loved not having to make too many decisions in the mornings and was quite irritated when summer rolled around and I had to start thinking about my wardrobe again. (I had not — and still have not — found the right dress to wear daily in the summer.)
Black is so easy to go with as it is so easily overlooked! I applaud you doing your experiment for so long and no one noticing!
I am a make, and though I wish it wasn’t this way, there are often different societal and social expectations.
It’s easy for a guy to get away wearing the same suit (or jacket and slacks) for days or weeks and I doubt it has ever been a thought or concern.
Growing up poor had made me self-conscious about wearing ragged hand-me-downs, so I had ready made “uniforms” part of my routine before I went into the Army. I still have my “uniform” years later (currently grey polo and tactical pants), rotating to something different every few months as clothes wear or my tastes shift.
I will say that while people won’t notice if you wear a ” uniform”, they will quickly notice if/when you break it. The brain picks up on visual static like that pretty quickly.
This is a good point. Wearing stuff OUT of the norm will definitely have heads turn…maybe? (it gives me an idea for another experiment)
But you work in IT….they wouldn’t notice if you dyed your hair pink and wore a bikini. LOL
This is true! I died my hair teal a couple of years back and it took people quite a few weeks to notice LOL
I remember everyone’s clothes, but that’s because I make garments and I am often looking at the design details. I would love to be able to turn off that part of my brain sometimes.
That is a great skill though – to be that detail-oriented.
I’m a boomer male, not really likely to comment on femme fashion. But you really thought things through, as an engineer that’s impressive to me. Frankly if I applied that level of discipline to more of my decisions, I’d be better off. Very impressive, I would forecast much success in your future! I enjoy your blog, great writing, big concepts!
Glad you enjoyed it!