Why I’m Not Wearing The Same Thing Every Day Anymore

Why I'm not wearing the same thing every day anymore - and why I'd still do it all over again if I had to.

I’m not wearing the same thing every day anymore.

Sorry, everyone who finds this post in the hopes of having me comment for a trend piece! (I mean, I’m obviously still happy to talk about why I did it and what it was like, and you can reach me at hello@halfbanked.com, but like… I don’t do it anymore.)

For those of you who are brand-new around here, about two years ago, I made the decision to go full Work Uniform a la Mark Zuckerberg / Barack Obama / that woman who was in Harper’s Bazaar that one time. I scooped ten of the same top in black and white (variety is the spice of life!) and a few pairs of skinny black jeans, and that was what I wore for two years, every day at work.

Until this summer.

See, after two years of wear, those ten tops I started with were starting to show their age. I mean hi, I wore them every day.

Some of them–ahem, the white ones–had been lost to incidents with coffee or pens, and I’d already replaced the black pants twice. Black pants fade like whoa when you’re wearing them and washing them all the time.

So it was time to recommit. Time to–ugh–go shopping and find my new ~look~ for the next two years.

Except… I didn’t want to.

What changed?

When I first implemented the work uniform, my work wardrobe was a mishmash of things I bought to look “professional” during business school, things I bought as one-offs to go with other outfits, and things I bought because I wanted to buy them. No theme, no unifying colour scheme, nothing. It was Lord of the Flies, Closet Edition.

That whole situation made getting dressed and looking like a presentable human being a bit of a challenge. One that I wasn’t all too attached to, clearly.

So I went out and hardcore committed to my new work uniform to solve it, and it worked wonders. Now, I had a core base layer of clothing that all matched, and my stress just evaporated. To this day, I am forever grateful that the work uniform gave me the constraints I needed to stop buying random shit just because I thought it looked cool in the store.

The impact of constraints

Let’s talk about those constraints for a bit.

Yes, of course, wearing the same thing every day was a big ol’ constraint, and probably further than most reasonable people want to go with their clothing choices. But it trickled down into my every day wardrobe, because thanks to the work uniform, I also got very clear on whether something would work with the bulk of my clothing–and whether I actually enjoyed wearing it.

On the rare occasion I needed a new outfit, my wardrobe all of a sudden had a colour palette and some general constraints that were easy to remember.

  • Neutral colours, mostly black-white-grey and denim
  • No patterns

Do you know how much easier your life is when everything you own could reasonably match with everything else you own? Or when the outfits you like to wear basically boil down to “Some kind of loose top and some kind of tight pant”? (Seriously, my go-to off-duty outfit is either skinny jeans and a cotton t-shirt, or leggings and a cotton t-shirt. I’m wearing it right now.)

The answer, my friends, is so much easier.

The work uniform was the real key

I know myself and my habits, and I can confidently say that none of the above would have happened if I hadn’t gone all in on the work uniform. If I had just bought two or three new tops to add into my existing wardrobe, my weird mismatched closet situation would have been a forever thing.

Thanks to the extreme all-or-nothing approach, I was able to step back, assess, and build a wardrobe mostly from scratch that I actually like wearing.

So why not keep it going?

If my work uniform has been sooooo great (it has) why not keep it up? Why not just suck it up, go shopping, and replace everything with ten new tops and a few new pairs of pants?

Because I don’t need to anymore.

Some of the items from my work uniform are still in great shape, and I can wear them without looking like I’m pushing the boundaries of acceptable workplace attire. Against all odds, even some of the white tops have survived me for the past two years.

I’ve also found a few other similar tops (specifically, these ones) that work well under my existing layers, like a blazer or a sweater. I’ve gotten a few of them in different colours (OK, black and white) and while I was at it, I grabbed a few new cardigans… and a few of my favourite cotton t-shirts. (If anyone from Reitmans is reading this, you guys should really just sponsor the blog, I literally only wear your things.)

I stocked back up on jeans that look professional, including one pair in black, and with those things purchased, I’ve got a pretty solid work ~look~ going on. Is it still mostly the same, with very little variation compared to most people? Yeah, of course it is. Is it exactly the same every single day?

Nope. And for right now, that’s just fine with me.

Clothing – and money – is really about knowing yourself

Wearing a work uniform helped me get really clear on a lot of things about myself and my preferences about what I put on my body – in the same way that tracking my spending helped me get really clear on my preferences about where and how I spend my money.

Right now, based on where I’m at and the clothes I already have, I don’t need or want to spend a few hundred dollars on ten of the exact same top, just to replace a closet full of tops I already have. (I’d prefer to spend that money on an unlimited yoga class pass, please and thank you.) But it took me two years and a pretty unrealistic commitment to get to this place.

Kind of like an “unrealistic” committing to tracking your spending, manually, down to the penny for two years. Or like committing to stick to a strict budget, or a shopping ban, or about a zillion other “unrealistic” commitments you could make to optimize your finances (and your life!).

I’m definitely not saying you have to do anything over the top to get your wardrobe or your finances under control–you guys know I’m the queen of moderation and still drinking lattes. But if you have a sneaking suspicion that trying something new–even something that seems extreme at first–might be just the shake-up you need?

It might be totally worth it.

And, as evidenced by my slightly-more-varied wardrobe, it doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. (Even if you accidentally became the go-to media spokesperson for implementing a work uniform. I’m really sorry, the media, this was a wonderful two year thing we had going on.)

Desirae is on a mission to demystify and un-boring financial info for millennials, so that we can all save more money, spend on stuff that matters to us, and still have a latte or two along the way. Money is literally why we can have nice things, and Desirae is committed to helping make sure you know just enough to make the right calls for you. (She’s also committed to her expensive dog, her side hustle, and her retirement fund.)

7 Comments on “Why I’m Not Wearing The Same Thing Every Day Anymore”

  1. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies

    As someone who lives in gray pretty much all year minus summer, I can get on board with this. The problem I face is that I don’t want to start over entirely. Cutting back to something akin to a capsule wardrobe is my (very lofty) goal. Love this, Des!

  2. Britt @ Tiny Ambitions

    Congrats on finding a wardrobe that works for you! Since we’re moving soon, I went full purge and donated (and sold) a ton of stuff that I had been holding onto in the hopes that I would someday wear it. Which, isn’t terribly realistic. So, I definitely get the ‘going to extremes’ part of your process. I’ve been minimizing my wardrobe in drips and drabs over the last two years, but it might be time for another full-out ruthless edit!

  3. Melody

    As a plus sized gal I have trouble finding a jean that is comfortable enough for me to want to wear every day. Once I find it, though (I know it’s out there!!), I’m planning on buying it in a few different washes so I can do just this! I want to get rid of everything that doesn’t fit me well and follow your example. Skinny jeans/leggings, flowy tops, and a few things to layer (THAT ACTUALLY FIT, not “sorta fit”). BOOM. Das it. I feel it would remove a lot of anxiety for me…

    Thanks for the update and your thoughts behind it all! 😀


  4. Veronika @ Debts To Riches

    Sometimes an extreme experiment is the perfect reset for your brain. I’ve done various ones over the past year – tracking my spending, not eating out, not buying clothing. They’re always so hard for me at first but I learn so much about myself, mostly that I’m on autopilot and I don’t actually ‘need’ everything I think I do. Capsule wardrobes are the best!

  5. Leigh

    I want to challenge the idea that a uniform needs to be exactly the same items of clothing. My uniform isn’t the exact same items of clothing, but instead a pattern. In the winter, for example, I wear thick tights + dress (and sweater if the dress doesn’t have long sleeves) + boots, alternating with skinny jeans + long sleeved striped top or sweater. In the summer, it’s dress + flats (maybe plus necklace) alternating with light jeans + sleeveless top (and cardigan in my bag for A/C areas) (maybe plus necklace). It’s so key to figure out what colors you prefer too and keep things matching in that area. I usually plan out my outfits for the week into Stylebook on Sunday (spoiler: I look at the order that the clothes are in my closet and typically go through them in that order, with some possible alternation of dress one day, pants another day), which eliminates my decision making that day! And if all I do that day is run to the grocery store, you’ll probably find me in my comfiest jeans and a t-shirt all day at home.

  6. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    You did the clothing version of tracking your money, only the opposite 🙂 I like how well that worked out to create a shift in your thing and gave you a better focus.

    I had the exact same problem several years ago with closet sprawl trying to find a good variety of professional clothing. It’s a mess.

    Post maternity leave, I returned to the love of the simplicity of my capsule wardrobe and decided to get back to my high school color palette: all neutrals. The problem was, and is, how to responsibly remove the parts of my wardrobe that no longer fit that palette. Just dumping them as donations isn’t the right answer as charities are overflowing with clothing that won’t get used. I’ve started giving JB some of my favorite old tee shirts to sleep in which pleases both of us, but I’m going to need a better solution for the old but serviceable business casual stuff I still have. All recommendations welcome 🙂

  7. Solitary Diner

    I kind of have a work uniform. I have multiple pairs of dress pants in black or grey and then an assortment of work-appropriate tops. Many of the tops will work with either black or grey pants, while some work with only one type. I pick one top and pair it with pants, and I’m done. I do have some tops that work better in winter (e.g. sweaters) and others that work better in summer (e.g. short-sleeved tops), so I kind of push the out of season ones to the back of my closet to simplify the selection in the morning.

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