The Science Of Simplicity: Why Successful People Wear The Same Thing Every Day

by John Haltiwanger

Have you ever thought about how much time you likely waste deciding what to wear in the morning? It's probably made you late to school or work more times than you can count. We waste so many precious moments concerning ourselves with frivolous details that we love, sure, but an outfit will not change the world. Most times, it probably won't even change your day. This exact concept may help to explain why some successful people often wear the same thing every day.

Of course, this is not to say that fashion isn't important, as it has an immense impact on culture and, in turn, the direction of society. Indeed, fashion is where art, culture, and history intersect. If we look at the 1960s, for example, the way people dressed was very much a reflection of the counterculture movement and the anti-establishment sentiments of the era. Simply put, clothes can tell us a lot about sociology. Yet, at the same time, we've arguably become an excessively materialistic and superficial society. Undoubtedly, there are greater things to worry about than clothes.

Similarly, as the great American author Henry David Thoreau once stated, "Our life is frittered away by detail. ...Simply, simplify." In essence, don't sweat the small stuff. You might make your life easier by concentrating on the big picture. Correspondingly, a number of very successful people have adopted this philosophy in their daily routines.


Decision Fatigue: Why Many Presidents And CEOs Wear The Same Thing Every Day

Whether you love or hate him, it's hard to argue against the notion that the President of the United States has the most difficult job in the world. As the leader of one of the most powerful countries on the planet, the president has a lot on their plate. Regardless of what the president does, they will be criticized. Simply put, they've got a lot of important things to think about beyond their wardrobe.

This is precisely why Former President Barack Obama wore the same suit every single day. Well, almost every day — we can't forget about the time the internet exploded when he wore a khaki suit. (Although, that probably says less about him and more about us.) The majority of the time, however, Obama wears either a blue or gray suit. "You'll see I wear only gray or blue suits," Obama told Vanity Fair about his logic in a 2012 interview. "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." He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one's ability to make further decisions

As Stuart Heritage put it for The Guardian, "Barack Obama has pared his wardrobe down to such a degree that he can confidently walk into any situation and make decisions that directly impact on the future of mankind."


The president is not alone in this practice. The late, great Steve Jobs wore his signature black turtleneck with jeans and sneakers every single day. Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg typically wears a gray t-shirt with a black hoody and jeans when seen in public. Similarly, Albert Einstein reportedly purchased multiple gray suits to eliminate the decision of what to wear in the morning.

This is all related to the concept of decision fatigue, which is a real mental strain in which a person's productivity suffers as a result of becoming mentally exhausted from making so many irrelevant decisions. Simply put, by stressing over things like what to eat or wear every day, people may become less efficient at work.

This is precisely why individuals like President Obama, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Albert Einstein decided to make life easier by adopting a monotonous wardrobe. Obviously, as these are some of the most successful and productive individuals in history, they could probably be on to something.

Make Life Simple

Indeed, having a diverse collection of clothing might be overrated. We waste so much time worrying about things that have no substantial consequences, and don't even realize how easily we could change this.

This is why President José Mujica of Uruguay rejects conformity and refuses to wear a tie. "The tie is a useless rag that constrains your neck. I'm an enemy of consumerism," he said. "Because of this hyperconsumerism, we're forgetting about fundamental things and wasting human strength on frivolities that have little to do with human happiness."

In my opinion, he's absolutely right. The vast majority of us are guilty of obsessing over material things. When it comes down to it, they bring little value to our lives. True fulfillment is acquired by going out into the world and fostering palpable and benevolent changes. Buying a new pair of shoes might make you feel more confident in the short-term, but it will not enrich your life in the long-term.

MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images/MediaNews Group/Getty Images

Undoubtedly, the world would be an extremely boring place if we all wore the same exact thing every day. Although, we might all consider simplifying our lives a bit more by reducing the amount of time we spend thinking about trivial aspects of our day. In the process, one might find that they are less stressed, more productive, and more fulfilled. Life is complicated enough; don't allow the little things to dictate your happiness. Simplify, simplify.