Some see uniforms as a symbol of professionalism, others as the enemy of self-expression. However, there are several notable individuals who choose to wear the same thing every day. This has prompted speculation around the link between uniforms and success.
Take a look at the list below. These high-profile individuals all have one thing in common – they are all recognised for their own distinctive dress-code:
Simon Cowell – Entertainment Producer – White V-neck T-shirt and jeans
Albert Einstein – Theoretical Physicist – Several copies of the same grey suit
Steve Jobs – Late Apple Founder and CEO – Turtleneck sweater and jeans
Barack Obama – President of the USA – Blue or grey suit
Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook CEO – Grey T-shirt, black hoodie and jeans
Clearly these individuals are famed for their status and achievements. However, they are also iconic for the continuity of their chosen wardrobes. New York writer Alice Gregory argues that we can emulate this. She says a self-imposed uniform is a “cheap and easy way to feel famous”. Take fictional characters for example; they rarely change their outfits. By doing the same, we can cast ourselves as the main characters in our lives.
Aside from their distinctive, self-imposed uniforms, the individuals named above all share something else. They have each thrived in incredibly demanding roles. In their pressured lives, they have bigger things to think about than what to wear. Obama explains: “You’ll see I only wear gray or blue suits. 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.”
During a recent Q&A, Zuckerberg echoed this rationale in response to remarks about his own wardrobe: “I really want to clear my life to make it so I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how best to serve this community.”
Obama and Zuckerberg’s words both point towards the psychological phenomenon of decision fatigue. Research from Columbia University suggests the more decisions an individual has to make, the poorer quality their decision-making becomes. So, having one less decision to make could lead to better decisions later on. By saving brain power worrying about what to wear, these high-powered individuals can dedicate more energy to their pursuits.
Less to question
Wearing a uniform doesn’t just save time in the morning. It also removes the stress of scrutinising your outfit as the day goes on. Former Art Director of Saatchi & Saatchi, Matilda Kahl, sparked discussion when she chose to introduce her own office uniform. Her simple choice of a white silk shirt and black trousers was unexpected from someone working in such a creative environment. However, in an interview with CNBC she explained “I did it because I realized how much time and energy I could save during my workdays by just taking out the clothing aspect.” Not only was she freed from the question of what to wear each morning, she also stopped second-guessing her outfit throughout the day. She can now take what the day throws at her without wondering whether what she is wearing is too formal, outlandish or risqué.
The trend towards a personal dress-code or self-imposed uniform has contributed to a rising trend: the capsule wardrobe movement. People are applying minimalism to their wardrobes by purchasing a carefully-selected range of garments which all match. Converts argue they no longer have those ‘does this go?’ moments. Meanwhile, their laundry is now much easier. In this way, streamlining your work wardrobe could reduce your day-to-day stress and improve your performance through better decision-making.
If you wear a uniform due to company policy or personal preference, we hope you will go away with a renewed fondness for your trusty workwear. If you wake up every morning and fret about what to wear, perhaps it’s time to consider your very own personal uniform.