When it comes to our wardrobes, we’re big on “less is more” here at Who What Wear. Although we love clothes, we also don’t want them to overwhelm us—having an overflowing closet tends to result in stressful mornings and a final look that screams “confused.” So we’re always working away from this, aiming to get rid of anything excessive and honing in on the essentials that we’ll wear most.
But, as you know, this is easier said than done, given that cleaning out our closets brings with it a lot of emotional baggage and second-guessing. A recent article on CNN, however, hints that holding on to our bursting wardrobes could literally be bad for us, affecting our health and overall happiness. Speaking to neuroscientist and psychologist Daniel Levitin, it highlights how too many choices might be contributing to our stress levels and decreasing our brainpower. Could uniform dressing, then, help us avoid this?
Scroll down to find out!
One of the first things we do every morning is decide what to wear, which means that the state of our wardrobe can actually set the tone for our day. Jam-packed and in disarray? Picking out an outfit will likely be a stressful challenge. Streamlined, with very few options? This will keep getting dressed peaceful and quick. The more you have to think about what to wear, and the more you have to rummage through, the more energy you’ll expend. As CNN points out, the reason why geniuses like Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg always relied (or rely) on the same outfit is because “they didn't want to waste valuable energy making inconsequential decisions about their clothes."
So what exactly is going on when you’re staring into an endless wardrobe? Information overload, which, in the words of Levitin “refers to the notion that we're trying to take in more than the brain can handle.” In our culture of multi-taskers, we’ve been conditioned to believe that our brains can handle juggling lots of different information—and information here can refer to something as simple as different clothing items. Unfortunately, Levitin explains, this isn’t true. "We used to think that you could pay attention to five to nine things at a time," he tells CNN. "We now know that's…a crazy overestimate. The conscious mind can attend to about three things at once. Try to juggle any more than that, and you're going to lose some brainpower." Put simply? If you're contemplating various different outfits in your head at one time, you're in for trouble.
The result of information overload is something called decision fatigue, which Levitin describes as building up over time and “[creating] toxic effects in our bodies that among other things cause us to be fuzzy headed.” If you’ve ever spent too much time stressing over what to wear, leaving you to feel moody and exhausted, then you’ve likely experienced it yourself. It can also arise when you’re shopping—especially online, where many websites offer thousands of products for you to weed through before coming to a final decision. But even if you choose to ignore the bulk of them, they can weigh on you. As Levitin explains: “When you're trying to fill your shopping cart you've got to ignore 39,850 items just to get the shopping done. To ignore it you have to pay attention to it.” That attention, even if it seems minor on the surface, is also detrimental.
So how can you prevent decision fatigue from wearing you down next time you get dressed? Well, there are two options—one a little easier than the second, but at the risk of being less successful. The first—whittling down your wardrobe to the bare minimum essentials—is a topic we’ve harped on many times before. For those who really struggle with this, we suggest starting with the 5-Piece French Wardrobe plan. If you’re more of an extremist, you can use this Fall/Winter checklist to help you plan what to keep (or buy) and then get rid of everything else that would be for this season. Feeling really adventurous? Then try the second option and opt for a daily uniform, a la Steve Jobs and company. Need inspiration? This woman’s story on wearing the same outfit every day for three years should do the trick.
Have you experienced decision fatigue from your wardrobe? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to shop our selection of items worthy of a daily uniform!