Should you wear the same outfit to work every day?
It might work for kids at school, but what about adults? I tried it for a month
June 7, 2016
Saatchi & Saatchi art director Matilda Kahl waved goodbye to office fashion critics in her Harper’s Bazaar piece, “Why I Wear the Exact Same Thing to Work Every Day.” Why? Because her take on a “female suit”—15 pairs of black pants and 15 white silk blouses—relieved “the extensive pressure on women to uphold a flawless appearance.” The idea has now made it all the way from New York to the West Coast suburb of Coquitlam, where Mayor Richard Stewart wore the same suit to work every day for over a year and no one noticed. The inspiration behind his experiment? “I want my daughters to grow up in a society where they’re judged on how well they do their job and not what they were wearing when they did it.”
The early returns were mixed. “Very chic,” my (male) editor commented on day one of my experiment. “Did you not make it home last night?” a female colleague commented on day two (how rude). That pattern would continue. Each day, another female in my office would glance sideways at my white shirt and black pant combo—despite my efforts to jazz it up with varied accessories and the occasional scarf—and each day I would laugh as the men in my office failed to notice. I couldn’t work out whether I should be offended or not, so halfway through my 30-day trial, I asked a fellow Van Mag editor if he had observed that I had been wearing the same outfit or two weeks. “No, I didn’t,” he said. “Does that make me more of a feminist?”
Do it. Besides the perk of being able to get dressed quickly each morning, wearing a uniform to work meant I wasn’t concerned with how I looked that day (for the record: the same as every other day). And when I took it off at night, it felt so, so good. (“Honey, I’m home”-style good.) The downside was that I had to iron my shirt each morning, and the pants I chose had a wide hem that narrowed down my footwear choices. The obvious path is to find a reasonably-priced outfit that suits you, and then buy a bunch of backups, Zuckerberg-style. But there’s no need to go all Matilda Kahl about it (she dropped a few thousand dollars on her new wardrobe). One rule, though: No yoga pants unless you work in a yoga studio. Deal?
Vancouver’s uniform of choice—all Aritzia, all the time. Pictured at top, from the left: Montana blouse, $60; Cohen pant, $145; Lenny sweater, $195.