Whether it’s the iconic black turtleneck and blue jeans sported by Steve Jobs; Mark Zuckerberg’s t-shirt and hoodie; Albert Einstein’s grey jacket or Barack Obama’s suit-and-tie combo – examples abound of super successful people who wore the same thing every day.
In each of these situations, they chose clothing that had a minimal, straightforward and a timeless quality – like the Merino wool t-shirts we offer on our Unbound Merino website – but the question still remains: why do the world's most successful people wear the same outfit?
It Clears Clutter
The first and probably most basic reason is that it helps remove the clutter in their lives. A disorganized or cluttered environment, according to a Princeton study, competes for your attention, drawing it away from important tasks. The chaos of having a number of different, differently colored shirts, bursting from your drawers or stuffed in your closet creates a chaotic environment that translates into a lack of focus, something that top entrepreneurs and leaders can’t accept.
It Reduces Decisions
Another reason that extremely successful people tend to wear the same thing is that they want to remove the decision-making process involved with wearing different clothes every day. If you have a simple, uniform, well-fitting lineup of merino wool products in your closet, you can just grab an outfit and go, rather than having to waste energy deciding what will look best each day. That wasted energy even has a name: “decision fatigue”.
Decision fatigue is the noted phenomenon in human psychology that the quality of our decision-making deteriorates over the course of a day when many small decisions have to be made. In other words, if you have to decide on what to wear, what to have for breakfast, which one of your supercars you’ll drive to work (most of us don’t have to worry about that last one), then by the time you actually get to work, you’ll have already tapped into your decision-making reservoir. This is an express reason that entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg cut down on decisions by wearing a uniform.
It Creates Your Brand Identity
And wearing the same thing has had some additional benefits for people like Zuckerberg and Jobs – namely, that it reinforces their personal brand. Go to a Halloween party wearing circular-rimmed glasses, a black turtleneck and light jeans, and people will know immediately who you’re supposed to be. This was helpful in giving Apple a face, giving the corporation and the man behind it an easily identifiable brand, one that communicated a philosophy of functionality and minimalism. For anyone working with clients or customers, this is a clever approach.
And for people in leadership positions, it’s also helpful because it communicates humility to your employees. In the old work model, the CEO would roll through with an expensive, vogue suit that would differentiate them from lower-level employees, but that isn’t really conducive to a modern, productive and equitable work environment. A modern leader ought to be approachable, and that begins with simplifying what they wear. Picking up a few quality, black Merino wool t-shirts, a 3 pack of socks and some boxer briefs for your work week will communicate taste, style and humility all at once.
There are benefits that we haven’t even touched on here, for instance the fact that wearing the same thing every day allows successful people to be more controlled with their spending, but you get the point: there are a myriad of good reasons that entrepreneurs and leaders choose a “uniform”. Whether you’re at the top, or working your way up there, you can de-clutter, remove decision fatigue and reinforce your personal brand all by choosing straightforward, stylish outfits to wear every day.