I stumbled upon an article about why Mark Zuckerberg wears the same shirt every day. I didn’t expect the article to be very memorable, but his reasoning stood out:
I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,” Zuckerberg said, after clarifying that he had “multiple same shirts.”
He said even small decisions like choosing what to wear or what to eat for breakfast could be tiring and consume energy, and he didn’t want to waste any time on that….
“I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.”
As an unabashed lover of all things silly and frivolous, I should be opposed to this kind of thinking. But I’m not. I agree now more than ever. Because I’m more than familiar with the sensation of wasting time due to “unnecessary” choices.
The choice paradox
The “choice paradox” has been extensively covered in pop psychology books. The name comes from Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice but the phenomenon is also covered in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. Basically, choice — that magical, wonderful force that gives us the power to control our actions, assert our independence, and define ourselves — can have the opposite effect in excess. The more choices you have, the less likely you are to actually make a decision. Some of the studies in this interesting read even suggest that certain choices can even make us less happy. Less productive. Less focused.
As mentioned in the last Sunday Currently, I spent longer than I should have studying electric kettles online. Electric kettles all fulfill the same function — they boil water. But on Amazon, where you factor in price and customer reviews and material and performance, they might as well be different species entirely. If I’d just gone to the grocery shop down the road I probably would have been happy with whatever kettle they had in stock. Now I was rejecting kettles because they “boiled too loudly.”
This issue about unnecessary choice is separate but totally related to my relationship with Stuff: capital S, to represent all the clothing, makeup books, trinkets, and knickknacks I’ve acquired over the years and keep longer than I should. The article made me think about the unnecessary choices I make each day; if not unnecessary, then time consuming. And usually, the unnecessary choices directly correlate to the amount of Stuff involved.
It will take more than Facebook’s overlord to convince me that “what to eat for breakfast” is a frivolous choice…but for makeup and clothing? I could definitely reduce the amount of time I spend each morning indulging my vanity.
Same old, same old
Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with vanity. But it requires a patience with oneself that in me is depleting. I usually love getting ready slowly and leisurely, if time permits. Putting on a full face of makeup and deciding what to wear can be meditative — it’s one of my favorite times to daydream about stories and plots and whatever else. But nowadays I just reach for the same products over and over again.
A year ago I might have written about this as though it were a rut: “my makeup routine is uninspiring! I need a change!” But in fact, I’m kind of loving doing the same face every day — winged liner, NARS blush, whatever pinkish lipstick is close at hand — with the occasional bold lip for some *~adventure*~.
But that’s not enough: I want to Zuckerberg my wardrobe too! At least during the winter, when it’s too cold to care about what I’m wearing. I used to declutter my closet by eliminating similar pieces: “this black sweater looks a lot like this black sweater, so I’ll only keep one.” If only I’d known that duplicates indicate the formation of a personal style. Now I want a closet full of duplicates. Ideally all in black and white with the occasional print, but I live in the real world, not the pages of Kinfolk magazine, so it will never be so.
I used to care so much about what I wore every day. If you stopped by our Beauty Blog Sale back in December, you would have seen the ephemera of a past life filled with all manners of clothes – tight Alexander Wang dresses I wore twice, DVF shifts I wore never.
But that’s a topic for another post. I still care about clothes. I just don’t want to think about them as much.
Adhering to a somewhat regular makeup and fashion “uniform” is one way I hope to reduce unnecessary choices in my life. Who knows if it will work — I’m trying to do this slowly, because I know that if I plunge into it balls to the wall, it will be harder to maintain over time (for example, Project Life was my 24/7 obsession for a week, and now it’s like…a lightly simmering interest).
Rather than be extreme and say, “I must burn everything in my closet and restock it with COS!” I will try to be even more prudent and exacting about clothing purchases. I’ll practice wearing a uniform with the existing items in my closet. At least for a season. Who knows how I’ll feel once it’s warm again and my desire to dress up outweighs my desire to comfortable.
Anyway, I sporadically update a Pinterest board called Everyday Minimalist Fashion with inspirational but easy-to-wear basics. (Distinguished from Minimalist Fashion because some minimalist outfits can be quite…avant garde), so if you like the style, feel free to check in! Or if you already have a similar board do send a link!
I don’t think I’m ready to adhere to a Capsule Wardrobe or something like Project 333 (where you can only wear 33 items with some exceptions), but for an example of someone who does it really well (and with a similarly streamlined style), do check out the Light by Coco Youtube channel. The link should take you to her “Capsule Wardrobe” playlist.
What do you think about the idea of eliminating unnecessary choices? Is spending too much time on makeup and clothes unnecessary? What is/would be your style uniform?