I have never enjoyed shopping, especially not for clothes. When you don’t enjoy looking at your reflection in mirrors because you feel overweight, trying on clothes is just not a pleasant activity. In addition, I don’t enjoy shopping in general because I quickly get over stimulated in shops. My brain gets overwhelmed with all the noise, the colors, the smells, the items to look at and the people. I get impatient, tired and moody very quickly. Ask my wife, she will confirm! For years I thought it was because I simply didn’t like shopping and didn’t give more thought to it. That being said, over the last few years, I have realized that it’s more than that, I am simply hyper sensitive to highly stimulating environments and shops are just that. I remember as a teen, my friends would go window shopping at the mall next to our high school. I would tag along to maintain my relationship to the group and I hated every minute of it. What teens wouldn’t do to maintain a sense of belonging to the group... Looking at clothes for the sake of looking, trying them on for the sake of trying, none of it was enjoyable. As an adult, I continue to find shopping quite stressful. Airport duty free shops are probably on top of my list for most hated stores in existence. The persistent smell of perfume samples in the air, people everywhere with bags not looking where they are going, a huge variety of items from liquor to electronics, colors everywhere, an overwhelming sense of tension as people need to make their way to their flight and always a queue at the cashier. I really don’t like duty free shops. Overall, shopping has always been a dreadful nightmare to me and I have learned to rely on online shopping for most things.
In addition to my huge dislike for shopping, I have never liked to stand out and I have never liked to be noticed, especially not for what I wear. Therefore, I have never felt comfortable showing up to school or to work with a new outfit as people would notice, comment and that would make me even more self-conscious than I already was. Happily I have learned to feel better in my body over the years and I no longer mind standing out as much as I used to, which is very helpful when I have to give a presentation or speak up at an important meeting.
That being said, because of my dislike of shopping and because I didn't like to be noticed, I have limited my wardrobe to a few similar items for years. I remember as a teen buying the same t-shirt in 5 different colors and repeatedly buying the same sneakers over and over. As I grew up and joined the corporate world, I would buy similar outfits to limit my choice and the chances of looking different from one day to the next. I went through phases. For a time I owned 8 Tommy Hilfigher polos in black and blue and I would wear them as often as I could. Then I moved on to owning 9 of the same shirt with different patterns I would wear under a jacket every day at the office. Then, over the last two years, I have reduced even more my closet variation as I started to wear the same clothes whether I am at the office or at home, whether it is a weekday or weekend. I have bought 15 black t-shirts and 8 (the same black t-shirt) with a print on. I own 7 black jackets and 6 pairs of black jeans. Yes, I know, it’s a lot of black, but happily I live in Denmark where black is one of the most popular clothing colors. I wear the same day in and day out. To complete my outfit collection, I have 12 pairs of sneakers I wear on and off depending on the mood of the day.
What started as a habit because I hate shopping turned out to become a way of living and it created an unforeseen advantage: no more stress and decision fatigue in the morning. Everyday morning, whether I am getting ready for work or getting ready to spend the day home with the kids, I don’t need to ask myself what I will wear. It will be black jeans and a black t-shirt. There is something extremely liberating, at least for me, in knowing I don’t have to choose.
At first, when I started wearing the same outfit day in and day out at the office, I was quite self-conscious. What would others say? Would they notice? Would they think I don’t wash my clothes? But then I thought about it again… my male colleagues wear very similar clothes everyday, some work pants and a white or blue shirt… every day. Women are expected to wear different outfits way more than men… As a demigirl feeling in between genders (if you don’t know what that means, read my previous article on my pronouns here), I decided to do like men and just wear the same everyday. I don’t have a need to express my very limited femininity through the clothes I wear and therefore, the black jeans and black t-shirt fit perfectly my non-binary personality.
In addition, another benefit of this decision was the color palette limitation.
Although I love colors, I am very sensitive to them and using few colors allows me to have a more stable frame of mind. Sounds weird? Maybe it is, but for me, wearing the same colors everyday helps me keep my mind in check and stabilizes my mindset and my mood. This is something I only realized lately, but it turns out to be a great advantage as wearing the same everyday offers me more mental stability. If I wear a red shirt, I feel more agitated, if I wear something blue, I feel a little more nostalgic… when I wear black, I don’t feel guided in my mood by the color I wear and my frame of mind is steady from one day to the next allowing me to be myself more easily. Anyone else ever noticed that the color of their clothes influences their mood?
Overall, having a minimal wardrobe also offers me other advantages:
Reduce decision fatigue
Less time wasted choosing what to wear
Faster to be ready
Boost self-confidence: you always feel like you are wearing clothes that suits you
So far, only very few people have commented on my very consistent dress style at the office. People might be too shy to mention it, they might not have noticed or they simply do not care. I think the latter is the more plausible reason. That being said, whether you like shopping or not, I have to say that everyone should try to have a minimal wardrobe. There is something extremely liberating in not having to decide what to wear and saving that energy for some other decision that has to be made later in the day.