He’s a pioneer of preppy fashion and has been dressing consumers and supermodels in myriad designs for more than 30 years, but designer Tommy Hilfiger has no interest in being eclectic when it comes to his own personal style. Instead, the 65-year-old takes a minimalist approach to his own wardrobe, and wears practically the same thing every day.
In an interview with The Times Magazine, the 65-year-old icon claims that his closet consists of “50 white shirts, 50 chinos, 50 pairs of jeans and 25 pairs of white sneakers.” He admits to also owning “navy and grey suits and black and brown shoes,” but tells the publication that overall, his day-to-day outfit are “basically a uniform.” He admits, “I’m pretty boring when it comes to clothes.”
This may seem like an ironic practice someone who helms a clothing empire, but Hilfiger isn’t the only one in the fashion industry who takes a homogenous approach to his own look. In an interview with Motto, designer Michael Kors explained why wearing the same thing daily — primarily “all black everything” — works for him. “Life is busy, and for me, as a designer, I spend all my time thinking about what everyone else is wearing. So the last thing I want to do is spend too much time thinking about what I put on,” he told the publication.
Though Kors admits that the pieces in his wardrobe are not identical, but rather variations on the same thing, for him it comes down to efficiency. “What everyone is lacking in the world is time. So if you can find a uniform that makes you feel confident and comfortable in your own skin and you’re able to get dressed in less time, that’s a game changer.”
The uniform philosophy that Hilfiger and Kors adhere to isn’t just reserved for fashion-centric folks, though. It seems that many highly successful people stick with this simplistic approach to getting dressed. The late Steve Jobs masterminded the raging success of the company he co-founded, Apple, by channeling all his decision-making abilities into evolving the brand. He didn’t want to waste an ounce of mental energy on choosing what to wear in the morning, so a black mock turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers became his ubiquitous look.
Similarly, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is known for sporting the same gray t-shirt almost everywhere he goes (when he’s not wearing a hoodie, that is). When asked about this quirk at a live Q&A in 2014, Zuckerberg confirmed that it all comes down to keeping his mind uncluttered. “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,” he told the crowd, according to Business Insider. He did clarify, though, that he doesn’t wear the exact same shirt every day, but rather that he owns “multiple same shirts.”
Another mega-successful person who dons the same duds on a daily basis? President Obama, who wears a similar suit in almost every public appearance so he could focus on leading the nation. He once told Vanity Fair, “You’ll see I only wear gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions,” according to CNN.
The ideology has been shared by legendary figures such as Albert Einstein, Alfred Hitchcock, ad Andy Warhol — and even some successful women, including author and cultural critic Fran Lebowitz, whose trademark look includes Levi’s jeans, Brooks Brothers button-downs, and blazers. She told Go Mighty that her approach helps her streamline her style by stripping her of choices. “There’s nothing to fuss at. Nothing itches. You can focus on more important things,” she told the publication.
The publication zeroes in on this sartorial concept and calls it “decision fatigue,” describing it as “being mentally worn out by making menial choices.” The New York Times Magazine says this phenomenon “routinely warps the judgment of everyone” and “helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car.” It seems that successful people have the clarity to proactively avoid these scenarios by paring down their lives — and getting dressed is one of the most obvious things to simplify, especially since it’s something they do every day.
The New York Times Magazine points out that adopting a uniform also helps simplify the process of shopping. But successful people know that decision fatigue extends beyond fashion. The well-accomplished take the less-options approach and apply it to other aspects of their lives, too, including what they eat — which streamlines food shopping, meal prep, and simply deciding what you’re craving.
During his Q&A, Zuckerberg pointed out that he doesn’t want to think about what to eat for breakfast either. And Obama, when explaining his style philosophy, was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing, because I have too many other decisions to make.”