In our culture of disposable abundance, it’s no surprise that people are experiencing decision fatigue, that debilitating mental exhaustion triggered by the thousands of choices we make on a daily basis.
However, for many enlightened individuals, eliminating decision fatigue is the first step towards personal success. And it begins with downsizing your wardrobe.
Some of the most successful people of our generation — Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Donna Karan, Mark Zuckerberg — streamlined their lives by first clearing out their closets to make room for a capsule wardrobe.
Capsule wardrobes consist of a few key items of clothing (trousers, skirts, shoes, bags) that are chosen because they never look out of fashion, and which can be enhanced with a few seasonal pieces (coats, scarves, hats). Think of it as a personal uniform; a collection of signature outfits.
According to Glasser’s Choice Theory, worrying over what to wear is a genetically driven survival need that dominates our existence. In other words, we think of clothing in the same way we think of food and breathing. But here we explore seven reasons why minimising your wardrobe can actually enhance your life and improve your creativity.
1. It saves time
The most obvious advantage is the time you will save, especially in the mornings. No more trying on multiple outfits until you settle for one that you’re likely to regret by lunchtime. Knowing what you’re going to wear in advance allows you to maximize the precious transitional time you have at home, spending these moments relaxing or preparing for your daily goals.
The time you would have spent staring at your shoes can now go on more enriching activities such as exercise, a leisurely breakfast, or visually projecting the tasks you want to achieve.
2. It increases focus
By eliminating the fear of wardrobe malfunctions, you conserve the mental energy needed to solve higher-level problems. Perhaps this is why people with capsule wardrobes are so successful – they know what’s truly important.
Creative manager at Sony Music Stockholm, Matilda Kahl, says her ‘work uniform’ allows her to focus on creativity rather than on personal expression.
Famously, Mark Zuckerberg wears a grey T-shirt nearly every day so he can focus on running the biggest social media empire on the planet. Zuckerberg and Kahl view fashion as a superficial concern standing in the way of success. A capsule wardrobe frees them to forge ahead.
3. It’s about quality, not quantity
Capsule wardrobes allow you to outlast whimsical fashion trends and invest in fabrics that resist deterioration, cultural fads, or social disapproval. Because everything you own will now have a timeless, minimalist quality, you will need far fewer articles of clothing.
As a result, you will purchase items that are authentic, longer-lasting and environmentally conscious. Speaking of which...
4. It contributes to society
No more trying to keep up with hastily constructed fashion items churned out by unregulated factories. By adopting a quality capsule wardrobe, you’re embracing slow fashion.
Secure in the integrity of your ensembles, you’ll know fully the origins of your wares and will no longer be contributing to fashion’s myriad social ills. As a bonus, your savings account will also survive those intermittent cravings for retail therapy.
5. You become 'iconic'
By adopting a personal uniform, you do what fashion constantly strives – and so often fails – to achieve: a look that is both classic and of-the-moment.
Steve Jobs’ pairing of blue jeans and black turtleneck has become as iconic as Apple’s sleek designs. Likewise, fashion designer Michael Kors adopted an entirely black colour palette, making him instantly recognisable amid the technicoloured fashion crowd. Embrace the paradox. Put your character before your clothing and you’ll be known for both.
6. It reduces stress
The minimalist aesthetic will have a similar impact on other parts of your life. Donating unwanted clothes will declutter your closet and cut down on laundry. Material organisation in your daily environment is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, a widely adopted mechanism for reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
Simply put, getting dressed is no longer a battlefield, and neither is packing for trips.
7. It boosts confidence
Rather than succumbing to an identity crisis, your capsule wardrobe is now an integral part of you. The New York Times columnist Alice Gregory believes a personal uniform is a clear way of asserting who you are.
With your outward appearance predetermined, your work colleagues will associate your inner qualities with leadership, trust and reliability.