Let’s face it, the majority of us spend a considerably large amount of time mulling over what to wear to work because we want to dress to impress, we want to show who we are and most importantly, we want to feel comfortable in what we wear. Our fondness to look like celebrities has given us this insatiable hunger to look impeccable that we waste so much time and money on clothes that we don’t even need while at the same time, we allow our materialistic desire to overpower us and let ourselves be dictated by materials. Does it ultimately matter if you wore that expensive dress you’ve just bought with your hard-earned money instead of something more simplistic but less aesthetic?
If you’ve watched the Indian film 3 idiots, then you would most likely remember Viru “Virus” Sahastrabuddhe (played by Boman Irani) philosophies on life – striving for excellence, constantly competing for being no.1 in everything and more memorably, not wasting his energy in trivial matters such as shaving and wearing a tie (his tie has hooks to avoid time wasting and he has a personal assistant to specifically shave his beard during his afternoon naps). Furthermore, he is almost always wearing the same clothes over and over again, so that he can concentrate on important matters instead of sweating on what to wear.
Mark Zuckerberg – billionaire, Harvard dropout, genius, entrepreneur. But fashion icon? A distant no. Unless you live in a cave, he runs Facebook – the biggest social networking website in the world. His trademark outfit – hoodie with grey t-shirt and jeans, a style that has become synonymous with him, have always pondered people why one of the youngest billionaire in the world is not parading around in his expensive suits and custom-made designer clothes.
Try to find a photo of the late Steve Jobs in anything but his trademark black turtleneck and jeans, and chances are that the probability of you winning a lottery ticket or getting struck by lightning is higher (which is 1 in 3 million by the way).
The president of the most powerful country in the world, Barrack Obama is also always almost seen wearing either grey or blue suits that it might not be surprising if he was born with them.
So this begs the question, why don’t most successful people not waste too much time on stressing what to wear?
Because it interferes with their willpower in decision making, which is a valid psychological condition known as decision fatigue, according to social psychologist Roy Baumeister of Florida State University.
“Making decisions uses the very same willpower that you use to say no to doughnuts, drugs or illicit sex,” Baumeister says. “It’s the same willpower that you use to be polite or to wait your turn or to drag yourself out of bed or to hold off going to the bathroom. Your ability to make the right investment or hiring decision may be reduced simply because you expended some of your willpower earlier when you held your tongue in response to someone’s offensive remark or when you exerted yourself to get to the meeting on time.”
Zuckerberg’s reasoning on why he is always seen in the same clothes vindicates Baumeister’s explanation.
“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,” Zuckerberg said, an answer that everyone can nod in agreement.
“I’m in this really lucky position, where I get to wake up every day and help serve more than a billion people. And I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.”
Obama too, has a clear explanation to his attire, as he told Vanity Fair.
“You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits” Obama said.
“I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Of course, it is inevitable that certain companies require you to dress smartly or at the very least, look presentable. True, it also depends on the nature of the job, such as an insurance agent or a doctor; but the point is that you shouldn’t waste time on deciding what to wear and harbor to look like an Italian model, but to take a more pragmatic approach because think about it, is it worth your time losing your hair over a simple situation on what choice of clothes to wear to work?
So the next time you find yourself stressing over what to wear for work, don’t sweat it. This writer is not implying that you should go out and order 20 sets of the same outfits, or that you should wear in flip-flops when meeting an important client, or show up in a Gap sweatshirt instead of a black robe to a court room, but that all that energy and time should be spent on being more productive and reserved for making important decisions instead of mulling what to wear at work every day because at the end of the day, it’s much more gratifying to get “a job well done” than having a few creeps at work with the kooky look on their faces staring at you.