For a couple years now, I have been wearing the exact same outfit everyday. And you know what? Nobody gives a shit. I’ve gotten a job, courted women, and generally not been ostracized from society.
Clothing is an outlet of personal expression, and many times a statement of class. But here’s a liberating realization: most people don’t care what you’re wearing (or, really, about anything beyond their IG feed). Once you get past a certain point of formality, garment choice is a matter of diminishing returns. As long as it is not overtly offensive and mostly covers your shameful, disappointing body, you’re doing better than a large percentage of the population.
I’d been working at home for two years after college before I got my first desk job, and had developed some uncouth habits as a result. These included:
- Listening to Juicy J’s “Rubba Band Business 2” on repeat for several consecutive weeks
- Going barefoot to gas stations to buy energy drinks
- Not washing my hair in an attempt to get my locks to stand on end like an anime character
- Wearing a pair of shitty cut-off pinstripe slacks and holey tee shirts every day
23 months of isolation had turned me into a feral human. I had never worn dress shirts unironically, and my business-casual choices were limited to the three Wal-Mart shirts I wore to interviews and various child-sized flannel filthrags leftover from high school.
My tastes were unrefined and my budget was, er, limited. After a few unsuccessful trips to thrift stores (where I almost bought, no joke, a nice Ralph Lauren Polo shirt with an actual shit stain on it), I took a trip to the last refuge of despondent fathers everywhere: JC Penney, where desperation is always 30% off.
On a Labor Day weekend in 2014, I bought six Stafford no-iron dress shirts in six different colors from the JCP website for approximately $90. These shirts are not cool, nor do they come anywhere close to being on-trend (I guess you could call them norm-core, but that turned out to be a charade). They are, however, capable of being picked up off the floor and worn to work after you wake up hungover at 7:35am.
To replace my two sets of baggy slacks, I bought 3 pairs of slim-fit khaki pants from – and this is embarrassing – Zumiez, which from my observation is essentially a branch of Hot Topic created to test the uncharted market of clothes-that-are-not-black. They were $20 each, and I got khaki tan, khaki grey, and blhaki (a blackish khaki). Though the fabric construction resembles the material on a Haartz convertible cloth top, they’re sturdy and don’t unravel after a month like shit from Old Navy does. Think Dickies, but not tailored to fit the average 240lb natural gas pipeline worker physique.
Boom. Wardrobe done for $150. Tuck the shirt in when you want, let it hang when you don’t care. Put on a stupid jacket when you need to be fancy. Roll sleeves up when you need to do work. Wear Jordans. Wear wingtips. Wear it to the beach or shooting guns or changing your struts. Oh, did a shell casing burn a hole in your sleeve? Throw it away and buy a new one for $13. Who gives a shit?
A few influential people (who, it must be noted, were/are brilliant and megalomaniacal assholes) agree with this system, and as of late we’ve seen several thinkpieces on the “willpower-conserving” benefits of limiting your choices. It raises some interesting questions about the nature of decision-making within defined constraints and the relationship of creativity and confinement. And while you may not be Menachem Begin or Lord Zuckerberg, adopting a system like this is a cheap, effective way to go from street-urchin-chic to respectable human with one trip to the mall.
Most importantly, don’t forget that, blue collar or white, hipster or yacht club, we’re all essentially wearing a uniform. Might as well embrace it.
(Author’s note: I have no idea where else to publish this, but I figured it’s fairly Jalop in spirit. Mods, delete if necessary. Read my other stuff here. IG: jim_zeigler)