Wearing the same things over and over again is one way I’ve simplified my life.
On my first book tour, I spoke in 13 different cities. With the exception of one city, I wore the same outfit to every single event. I wore black leggings, a lightweight gray sweater, and black boots. I even wore this outfit during other outings on my trip. I wore the same things over and over again.
Because I am a proud member of the Outfit Repeater’s Club, I can think about things that matter more to me than what I’m wearing or what other people may think about what I’m wearing. Even though I can make many different combinations of outfits with a tiny wardrobe, I usually gravitate towards wearing my favorite things. You probably do the same thing, even if you have lots of different choices.
In 2010, my first round of minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 changed the way I thought about my clothes, my stuff, and my spending habits. The challenge invited me to embrace the joy and ease of dressing with less and it continues to teach me things.
7 Things I’ve Learned By Wearing The Same Things Over and Over Again
1. I need way less than I think to be happy. The more I had, the more I wanted. It seemed like my clothes needed more clothes. “That sweater would go great with those jeans I have,” I would think. Or, “A new scarf or belt will really pull this look together.” My constant quest for more resulted in frustration, overspending, and discontent. In contrast, choosing from a small selection of clothes made me feel light, and I almost immediately felt gratitude for what I had instead of thinking about the next thing I needed. When I applied this to the rest of my life, I finally realized I had enough and that I was enough.
2. No one cares what I’m wearing. Between in-office sales meetings, client lunches, and community events, I was out and about most of the time, with many of the same people. No one noticed I was wearing the same things over and over again. My colleagues didn’t notice; my clients didn’t notice. I actually received more compliments. I even wore the same dress to every holiday function and event that year. Now when I’m making decisions about how I want to live my life, or do my work, I can do what’s best for me regardless of opinions that might not be supportive. I’ve also realized that other people’s thoughts about me aren’t really about me. They are about them.
3. Deciding what to wear requires mental energy better spent on other things. Have you ever experienced decision fatigue? I used to spend so much brain power buying things, chasing sales and figuring out what to wear. I remember trying on several outfits getting ready in the morning in hopes of finding the perfect thing. Now, in curating a small capsule wardrobe, there are no daily decisions required. I get to wear my favorite things every day. I streamline other decisions too so when it comes to being creative and making the big choices, I have energy and clarity.
4. Spending less energy being creative in my wardrobe has freed up more creative energy for things I am more interested in. Instead of planning outfits, shopping for colorful scarves to complete a look, or figuring out what to wear every morning, I use my creative energy for actually creating. Spending less of that energy on my wardrobe means I have more of it for writing, photography, brainstorming and other things that I care about. When you turn off the creativity faucet in one area of your life, it flows in other ways.
5. A simple closet is the gateway to a simple life. Once you begin to enjoy the benefits of dressing with less, you may get very curious about living with less. Simplicity in the closet seeps into every other area of your home and life. Once I realized how little I needed in the closet not only to get by but to thrive, I wondered what else was holding me back from even more joy and ease. Did I really need all of those spatulas and wire whisks? Was anything in the junk drawer worth holding on to? Did I even need a junk drawer?
6. My wardrobe is the least interesting thing about me. I used to try to prove who I was by what I wore. I had long conversations about the brands I wore, what I got on sale and what I was looking forward to buying. All of that got in the way of me being me and connecting with other people on a deeper level. We have more interesting things to talk about than what’s on sale, where we got our shoes, or what looks flattering (another word meaning what makes us look smaller than we are). There are better ways to connect, compliment and feel confident than focusing on what’s on the outside.
7. The challenge was never about clothes or fashion. I realized that all those times I thought, “I love shopping” or “I love clothes,” I didn’t really know what I loved. Removing all the more, more, more from my closet helped me figure out what mattered to me, what I was curious about, and how I wanted to live my life.
I’m so glad I decided to trade the excess in my closet for more joy and ease in my life. A tiny wardrobe has taught me so much more more about life than clothes.
I invite you to join the Project 333 Video course, so you too can discover a simpler life with more joy and ease.