Wear the same thing to work every day

The challenge: Wear the same outfit to work every day

I’m so excited. For the next week, I am going to wear the same outfit to work every day. Every day!

If Matilda Kahl can wear the same thing to work every day, so can I

Matilda Kahl, photo by Max Ahlborn

A few weeks ago, I read about Matilda Kahl (pictured) an art director with Saachi & Saachi in New York. About three years ago, she was late for an important meeting simply because she couldn’t decide what to wear. She decided to start wearing the same outfit to work every day. And she has. For three, yes three YEARS. She wrote an article about it, and it went viral.

I find this concept both brilliant and sad. Brilliant, because oh my gosh, the time it saves. Sad, because men do this all the time and no one bats an eye. A woman does it, and she gets written up in Harpers Bazaar and Huffington Post.

Cultural differences

Several years ago, I spent two months in Bei Jing on a work assignment. One of my Chinese colleagues mentioned to me that in her country, women wear the same outfit for several days or perhaps even a week in a row. Without thinking, I blurted out “but how do you keep from smelling?” She looked at me blankly. “We bathe,” she replied. And then, as if she were speaking to a small child, she said, “and we change our outfit if it gets dirty.”

Duh. I might as well have hung a sign around my neck proclaiming “ugly, culturally insensitive American.” It’s not like my Chinese colleagues didn’t have other clothes; they just didn’t feel the societal pressure to change their outfit every single day.

The 11-piece wardrobe, courtesy of my husband

My husband and I are both professionals. This is his entire work wardrobe:

  • 2 pairs of pants (khaki and charcoal grey)
  • 5 shirts
  • 2 pairs of shoes (brown and black)
  • 2 belts (ditto)

I don’t even want to get started on MY work wardrobe. How does someone who hates shopping have so many clothes? Once I started my professional career 15 years ago, I don’t remember a single period of time I’ve kept my entire wardrobe in my own closet. I store my out-of-season clothes in my son’s closet.

Part of the reason I fell in love with men’s shoes is because I love the idea of owning just a few pair that go with everything. Maybe it’s time to fall in love with men’s simpler approach to dressing as well.

Take the wear the same outfit to work every day challenge

WNYC public radio personality Brian Lehrer has challenged people everywhere to wear the same outfit to work every day the week of May 4. Count me in!



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