Is getting dressed for work each morning an effort? If so, you could be burning up brain power that reduces your performance for the rest of the day.
So goes the theory of “decision fatigue”, which postulates that the more decisions we have to make in day, the less capable we are at making good ones. It’s the cognitive equivalent to overusing a muscle.
Interestingly, it’s not just consequential decisions that count – it’s the accumulation of minor decisions, things like what to eat for breakfast and what clothes to put on, that wear us out over the course of a day. For a hilarious overview of how mentally taxing getting dressed is for some women, I highly recommend this article.
Lest you assume your cognitive skills are above decision fatigue, the phenomena has been quantifiably studied among Parole Board judges and became part of the personal philosophies of brilliant minds like Barak Obama and Steve Jobs who committed to wearing essentially the same outfit everyday to save mental energy for higher pursuits.
So how does this apply to your career? Should you save your brainpower for the office by wearing the same suit every day? My less extreme, but equally effective, recommendation is the capsule wardrobe.
A capsule wardrobe is a pre-planned ensemble of garments designed for one facet of your life (such as work or weekend wear). The capsule is more than the sum of its parts; every item is a carefully selected to coordinate together. This means you can pull virtually any bottom, top and layering piece each morning for an effortlessly put-together outfit.
What does a capsule wardrobe look like? A basic, 10 piece example might include:
- 2 pairs of dress pants (black and white)
- 1 black pencil skirt
- 4 tops of varying colors and print that can all be worn with any of the bottoms
- 1 white blazer
- 2 dressy cardigans (one black, one purple) which can be worn over any of the tops as a layering piece
There you have it: 10 simple pieces that all work together and can be combined into dozens of work appropriate outfits.
This minimalist approach to clothing can be a very liberating concept in today’s fast fashion world. Buying and owning less opens up the possibility of buying higher quality items. Further, by streamlining your closet to make dressing a breeze, you can save your precious grey matter for the office.