For 21 days, I wore the same outfit to work *every single day*.
Then for 3 weeks after that, I expanded a bit and added a few other items with a very narrow, minimalist capsule wardrobe theme.
The week of Labor Day in 2018, I decided during the short 4-day work week to wear the same outfit every day.
To be completely honest…it was a joke.
I knew it would be a light week staff-wise, and I genuinely wanted to see whether or not anyone noticed.
The thing was…
So the experiment continued into the next week. I bought another shirt to prevent so much washing and then went a third week.
When I realized I really enjoyed wearing such a simple wardrobe, I found that this “joke” had triggered something in me: a desire for more simplicity.
I’d heard of capsule wardrobes before and how to build them, but in the middle of this experiment, I first heard of a “dress” code. This made a lot of sense to me.
The idea behind a dress code involves focusing on what you consistently love to wear and creating a permanent simple wardrobe.
So…essentially a capsule wardrobe, but in a term that made more sense to me.
This experiment really helped me hone in on what my actual style preferences are, and it made my life much easier.
In the upcoming article below, I give you the full scoop including:
- Why I decided to try this experiment
- How I chose what outfit I would wear every single day for 21 days
- What I included in my minimalist capsule wardrobe when I expanded my selection
- How this experiment changed my mindset about buying clothing
- How this experiment will make it WAY easier to shop for clothes in the future
The Benefits of a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe
Before taking this adventure on, I didn’t realize the vast amount a benefits of a minimalist capsule wardrobe, and how many famous people use one.
I’ve read about people like Steve Jobs who wear the same outfit all the time, and they do it for a few reasons.
Save Time And Energy
One reason is to save mental energy and another is to save time.
If I stop worrying about what I wear every day, I have a lot more energy for other things.
Feeling Cluttered With All Your Stuff
Another reason I decided to try this out is because I’ve suddenly become exhausted by having STUFF.
A few weeks ago, I filled two trash bags with clothes for donations—TWO WHOLE BAGS.
And you know what?
My closet is still seemingly full of clothes, much of which I don’t wear.
I hang on to all of these clothes in all of these styles, and I find myself gravitating towards the same items all the time.
So, I decided to be more intentional about it.
How I Chose An Outfit
The two most important factors were
- comfort and,
I wanted something that was comfortable on a normal day,
on days when I might be bloated or not feeling my best.
So, it couldn’t be too tight and had to have some stretch. I wanted to wear something I felt confident in.
It also needed to look good every day.
I decided NOT to go all black because I didn’t think all black was all that versatile.
So, I chose something that I could wear to work and on the weekends so I could dress it up or keep it casual.
I also wanted something that was flattering and attractive.
Because of this, I had to find a balance between “comfortable” and professional.
I landed on a white collared shirt with skinny jeans, which was the perfect choice for me to fill my minimalist capsule wardrobe.
4 steps for your personal style
Simplify Your Style
What Happens When You Wear The Same Outfit Everyday
I ended up really enjoying wearing the same outfit every day. There were a lot of benefits.
So, what happened when I wore the same outfit every day?
#1: I had more time in the morning.
This is a given, but I loved not choosing a different outfit every morning.
Instead of trying things on and wearing an outfit based on mood, weather, bloating, etc… I just put my outfit on 🙂
It was actually a tremendous relief that I didn’t anticipate and definitely made me more aware of how I stress over my appearance and others’ perceptions of me.
#2: I had less decision fatigue throughout the day
Our minds are programmed to make a specific number of decisions each day
Decision fatigue is the feeling of being overwhelmed by it all.
I no longer had to worry about what I was going to wear each day. I didn’t have to make an effort in what shirt and pants I was going to put on that morning.
Because of no longer having to make the mental decision of doing this day after day, I was able to cut down my decision fatigue as a whole.
I was now able to take more time on more important decisions later on in the day, without feeling overwhelmed with it all.
#3: I had a better sustainable wardrobe
I love the fact that I was wearing everything I owned – or trying to at least. I had a reason to own every piece of clothing in my wardrobe, and I made sure to wear it.
I also was making sure to invest in higher quality clothing, as opposed to high quantity.
I loved it, wore it a lot, and needed it to last with the consistent use of wearing it.
Something else I found was that I was drifting away from fast fashion, the fashion that was here today, and gone the next.
Overall, my wardrobe was becoming more rounded, better, and sustainable.
#4: I had more space for mindfulness.
It wasn’t just time that I gained, it was mindfulness in general.
I don’t know why – maybe just because I was reserving mental energy by not choosing outfits, but I felt more in tune with myself.
Which leads me to my next point…
#5: I was forced to face myself more.
I often shop out of boredom or distraction, and at the end of this challenge, I found myself feeling emotional.
I didn’t understand this at first either.
I truly believe that I use my appearance and belongings as a distraction from my insides. I really enjoyed getting more in touch with myself.
#6: I found other ways to add interest to my appearance.
To spruce things up, I definitely experimented with a few lipstick colors and shoes.
I kept it incredibly simple but found myself enjoying accessories more than I usually do.
So, after realizing how much I enjoyed this simple style, I decided to create a dress code for myself…
The Dress Code Idea
I initially planned to do this for 7 days, which turned into about 3 weeks.
At the end of the 3 weeks, I still wasn’t ready to “return to normal”. I was enjoying the simplicity too much.
But during the process, I stumbled on an article about creating a dress code, and this seemed SUPER exciting to me.
The idea behind a dress code is to continue to keep things simple, and recognize that I tend to gravitate towards the same things all the time.
So, I might have 100 pieces of clothing in my closet, but I’m not joking when I say I probably wear about 15 on a regular basis.
What I Included in My Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Dress Code
I noticed that the clothes I wore repeatedly were very predictable:
- Dark pants: I have light pants and colored pants, but I always gravitate towards dark blue or black pants. I knew I should go with whatever I typically wore the most.
- Basic shorts: I chose a basic pair of super comfy denim shorts. They look good with the white shirts, they’re stretchy and they’re a good length for me (short, because I’m short…but not booty-showing short.) Here are some other great examples of shorts I tried.
- Collared shirts: I have a thing for collared shirts. I just think they flatter me, and they’re professional enough for my office without me having to try too hard. I normally wear primarily dark colors, but because I wore white in my 21-day outfit and because I don’t love all-black, I knew I should include both a white AND dark collared shirt.
- Black, White, Blue, Purple, Orange: The colors in my wardrobe would consist of those 5 colors in that order because 1) that’s basically what I have now and 2) everything I have that is outside that spectrum doesn’t get worn.
So, once I decided on the rules for my dress code, the items I included seemed like a no-brainer.
The images below are all things I wear all the time. And if I’m honest with myself, I’d probably wear them way more often if I thought it was socially acceptable.
I came up with about 7 pieces of clothing for my capsule wardrobe.
I bought many of these ages ago, but found alternatives on Amazon after vetting some user reviews.
How Trying A Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Changed My Mindset
The first thing about creating this dress code that I wasn’t expecting is that I don’t miss the clothes I haven’t been wearing.
The second thing I discovered is that people don’t care or notice if I wear the same thing all the time…
That was a total game-changer.
It was a game-changer because I didn’t realize before this experiment how much I was dressing for other people.
On the weekends, I wear the same thing all the time. I go through phases of what’s comfortable and what I’m in the mood for.
I just didn’t realize I’d be able to do the same thing for work. The fact that I can totally get away with this excited me and makes me feel a lot of contentment around my wardrobe.
I’m not sure I’ll ever get rid of 75% of my wardrobe, but this experiment made it clear that I wear very few things.
I love a lot of different clothing and styles, but I consistently gravitate towards the same pieces over and over again.
Feeling Contentment in the Simplicity of a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe
About a year ago, my identical twin sister decided to get rid of almost everything she owns and travel the country in a car with her partner and toddler.
I felt sadness in the uncertainty of her embarking on a trip I knew nothing about, but I felt something else too…
And I didn’t feel envy because I wanted to travel the country, I felt envy because her life had suddenly become SO SIMPLE.
My twin sister, her partner, and even her child had a simplified wardrobe they took with them!
I think this experiment helped me realize that I’m ready to allow myself to have a more simple life.
It started as an experiment and morphed into an exercise in self-care and personal development.
The Conclusion Of My Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Trial
Overall, this experiment was a total win for me. What started out as a week-long joke, turned into a 3-week experiment…
which turned into an actual life change.
My wardrobe isn’t small – I’m down from 200 to about 100 pieces. It sounds like a lot, but count the number of items in your closet. You’ll be surprised!
Choosing outfits is much more simple now.
Most things match and work well together, and everything fits and flatters me.
Not only that, but buying new clothes is MUCH easier (when I need something updated or new).
Instead of falling victim to fast fashion, I’m able to look at something, identify whether or not it fits in my dress code, decide if I need it…and then decide whether or not to buy it.
It has really simplified my life.
Building a capsule wardrobe has helped me present myself to the world with timeless outfits and a signature style that is uniquely my own.
Below is a complete guide to what a capsule wardrobe is, why you need to start one, and how to do it.
59 thoughts on “I Wore The Same Outfit for 21 Days (And How You Can Build Your Own Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Too!)”
I’ve recently purged dozens of pieces, donating most to a women’s charity. I still have lots of clothing, but at least they’re all pieces that I like and that fit. I enjoy fashion and variety too much to get stuck in a 1-2 outfit rut. However, I also admit that I have spent too much money on clothes I don’t wear. I’m changing that and feel good about it!!
YOU ARE WONDERFUL!!! simple things in life make me happy its not always how much a person has what we have and enjoying it!!!
I’m older now and have more time to do my art. I’m probably 50 pounds over what I wanna be so putting on clothes trying to make it feel comfortable and camouflage myself to my large exterior seems to be a lifelong process. I also do a lot of sewing and up cycling of wonderful material in the form of quilts and clothing. I come from the hippie era so wearing Flowey skirts and colorful jackets are always attracting me. So with that shift in mind I find myself wanting to wear the same thing and not be in the limelight particularly but just to be comfortable and monochromatic it’s really how I am happiest so I loved your article and I can adjust it to my life at this point . Thanks I found this very helpful.
I’ve been doing a variation of this for 30 years…dark slacks, cami & simple shirt, with Cardigan or suit jacket . Scarf if needed.
I discovered my best colors, and the pieces almost always can make multiple outfits. Very few “regret” purchases .
It’s my style, and it works for me!
I did this for years in the office. I would ware black pants, black shoes and a colorful blouse. When I retired I donated 14 pair of black pants to charity.
I am 69. I had a grade school teacher that wore the same pair of pants 27 days in a row. We all knew it. They were clean looking. He could have had multiple pairs. The students noticed!
Wow! Sometimes you can pull something off like this and no one notices, and sometimes everyone notices.
Thanks for sharing!
I found your experience with a minimalist wardrobe very interesting. So much so I feel inspired to try it myself. I’m going to try a navy and white capsule wardrobe for a few weeks to see how I feel about it.
I have clothing in every colour under the sun, especially bright and bold haha. I’m an artist can you tell?
Thanks for sharing your experience with everyone.
Let me know how it goes Susan! I would love to know how it works out!
We just got back from a 14 day bus tour of Ireland. We never got our luggage and managed just fine with my black pants , black jacket and striped T-shirt. I did buy a white shirt and grey ls T-shirt. Was easy and I felt good
Hi, I enjoyed reading this article. My grown children tend to be minimalist, they seem to have no sentimental value or attachment to anything! This bothered me at first but they seem content and tend to do more activities rather than wishing they had or could afford the latest trend in fashion etc. I definitely shop out of boredom and distraction. Then since I am a nurse I rarely wear the nice pretty clothes crammed in my closet. Scrubs is what I wear 5 days a week. A lot for me to think about. Thanks for the interesting and informative article. Who knows mom might overcome her shopaholic habit.
Being a nurse for 42 years I found wearing scrubs, colors chosen by the hospital to be not much fun. I can see where u might like it but I am a creative person and this kept a thumb on my personality. I agree with your thoughts of having the basics and building from there.
Definitely is easy. Thanks for sharing 😀
Even moms can learn something here, Pam. I know my own mother reads what I post regularly, and learns stuff. Happy to hear you enjoy it.
All the best,
Thanks for the comment!
I travel. 1 black jean for fancy. 1 very light fabric pyjama style pants, flowery or striped with some white in it. 1 skort.
White t-shirts, white nice linen or silk blouse probably 2 with different collar.
Some scarf, jewelry and different color lipstick. Makes. Bold change.
Good idea! But like like colours . So can’t be minimal. Some days it’s got to be cool colours, some days warm . Some days a mix of everything. it’s like my art palette.
My senior year of high school, one of my classmates wore a Yankees jersey with jeans every single day and NO ONE noticed! I remember the shock I felt the day he told me this in the spring time – so he had been dressing in this one outfit for 3/4 of the school year and I interacted with him daily and never noticed!! Just crazy.
It really is crazy, Molly, the things people get away with.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing!
You are so right about wearing the same pieces over and over again. I am guilty myself. Love the idea of a capsule wardrobe. Not sure I can be as extreme as you but I will certainly start making note of what I wear repeatedly and narrow down my wardrobe even more than I do already. Thanks for sharing your perspective.
you’re welcome Pat 😀
You must have more than one white collared shirt! My white shirt gets dirty on collar and cuffs after one or two days. Do you do a wash and iron every other day or so?
Yeah, I would regularly wash them. I’ve found I’ve had to wash all my whites regularly to keep them white, haha.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
Wish you posted the pictures.. ?
Can I ask a dumb question? When you said you wore the outfit every single day, you didn’t mean the exact same clothes right? How did you launder?
That’s not a dumb question at all – No, I didn’t wear the same exact clothes for 21 days straight. I had several pairs of staple pieces to cycle through – One of my next articles to be released is going to be how you can do this too!
I applied these rules to building my capsule wardrobe.
1. It has to make me feel good about myself
2. It has to be used to make at least 4 different outfits
3. If I have similar items two have to be donated to charity. (Down sizing)
4. I only buy well made garments.
5. Accessorise accessorise, accessorise
Over 3 years it has worked for me. My wardrobe will fit in one large suitcase.
I love this idea! One thing that has always worked well for me it’s that I will not buy anything unless it goes with at least two or more items that I already own. That way you can do a lot of mixing and matching to create different outfits without needing a ton of clothes. Sticking to a narrow color palette like you say, is also important.
I did something like this last summer. I had lost some weight and did not have many clothes my size. A favorite store had some nice tees in periwinkle blue – I had bought two -because periwinkle! I misplaced one was so sad bought two more. Ended up buying a couple of pair of white jeans on clearance-It became my uniform. I loved it got compliments, some one noticed that it was basically the same thing all the time. I told them it was a “no braniner”- They started doing it too,
I can really relate to decision fatigue as I was care giving full time my dad with dementia and a disabled child. I don’t want to make any extra decisions!
Love this idea! I’ve done basically the same thing but not as well organized! I plan to put some more thought into my original wardrobe so that I can then rest on my laurels! Thank you for the inspiration!
you’re welcome, Spring!
I’ve been inadvertently following this of dressing for years. In summer, it’s a sleeveless black stretchy tank with capri length leggings. In winter, a long sleeved thin wool black form fitting sweater with full length leggings. I’ll add a vest or parka if it’s cold.
I change the color of the leggings, but my top half never varies.
I wear different necklaces to dress up the look, if necessary, and have 2 Jean jackets to throw on, one blue and one white.
I’ve never felt better, and I’m always comfortable.
Last night, my husband and I went out to a fancy restaurant for our anniversary. I wore my black tank, black ankle length leggings, slip on shoes, and a fancy necklace, and the hostess said to my husband, “Your wife is so chic! We’ll seat you where everyone can see how great she looks.” I had to laugh…
I have a 2 week uniform set for work. When it is cold I add a suit jacket or sweater. It makes it easier to get ready for work. I hang the tops with bottoms or next to them after washing them. I have some hangers that have a spot to hang another hanger with it. I purchased them at Walmart I have a 2 week uniform set for work. When it is cold I add a suit jacket or sweater. It makes it easier to get ready for work. I hang the tops with bottoms or next to them after washing them. I have some hangers that have a spot to hang another hanger with it. I think I purchased them at Walmart. “Easy fashion velvet hangers”
I so wish I get to this some day. To prove how unable I am , I’d love to know the brand for the blue and white shirt ( with the tie):
I love it!
It is possible that people notice but just opt not to say anything. I tried the challenge where people were wearing that wool dress for 100 straight days with one of my solid colored dresses, but I only did it for a month. I used a few accessories to change it up (one scarf, one cardigan, one blazer, a little bit of jewelry), but the same dress every day. At lunch one day with my colleagues, I mentioned that I was trying that experiment, and one person immediately said, “I didn’t want to say anything, but I wondered why you were wearing the same seas every day,” while the other said, “I noticed that, too! Glad everything is OK.”
Hello, after JUST reading this article I loved the idea, I went thru my wardrobe and bagged up 1/3 of it. Just prior to reading this I had gone thru my purses & wallets (I have a passion for them and honestly waist a lot of money) and donated them to a friend. Once before I went down to one or two bags, one wallet and felt a huge relief. I have some basic good pants & shorts I kept and wear often. Now to pair down the shirts to more cohesive colors that mix & match. No more buying because eh it’s a good deal LOL Thank you for this article. I’ve been streamlining my finances the past few days also, preparing to retire so that’s helped ease my mind also. Now I do have A LOT of earrings, should I pair them down? I do love my earrings and as you said, they change an outfit 🙂
Thanks for this wonderful and positive encouragement, Cheryl. I actually wrote an article on 13 questions that you can ask to help declutter your jewelry (and it would all apply to earrings). You can check it out here: https://alisonsnotebook.com/questions-to-ask-when-you-declutter-jewelry/#more-8511
Love your article, not much difference when we wore uniforms to school. I tend to gravitate to a few pieces as well even if my closet is full.
I love black, blue, white. But I also like earth tones, beige, brown, and gold tones.
I need to get motivated and really try this now that I work from home.
Hi I love the idea as I have loads in wardrobe after a clear out after weight loss. Though my mum was very Ill and had delirium in hospital and was extremely annoyed with me so I wore a pink top and jeans on the day she was angry and changed to a white shirt and pants for the rest of the week trying to look different to the woman she didn’t like when I wore the pink and after mum got better she asked why I wore the same outfit for days though my mum is a magpie for clothes I’ve never known anyone with so many
Well done you
I think it’s good to purge our closets every so often. I’ve started telling myself that someone else could be getting use out of those pieces that I’m just not wearing. That forces me to let go of them sooner. I’m inspired by this article. Thank you!
If you are around the same people, they notice…..
I choose my outfits for the week on Saturday. I iron them and hang them in order of day to be worn. It works great for me. I am paring down my wardrobe.
Curious why there in no pic of you in said outfit.
I actually never took a picture of myself when I was doing this. But thanks for asking!
How about scrubs? Hard working people where them every day…day in and day out…during Covid and well before Covid times. Fashion doesn’t matter. It what you do in the clothes you wear that does.
You’re right – What you do in the clothes you wear matters so much more than what the latest fashion trend is!
Thanks for stopping by and commenting 😀
I’d love to try this but I’m afraid it wouldn’t fly as a high school teacher. Those kids notice EVERYTHING!
One year I found several 3/4 sleeve t-shirts (I had 8 of them) each a different color and different picture/design. I could got two weeks without repeating a shirt- leaving Fridays for my school spirit shirt. A BOY made the comment that I wear the same shirt everyday!
So I read this article a long time ago. And finally I am working on this. I have my colours, black, grey, navy, cream/white, soft pink and a little olive bcs I look good in it but there’s not much in my wardrobe. So I’m on this journey currently telling my gf about the process. And I go back onto Pinterest and what article pops up? This one to tell me I’m on the right path!!
But I have a question, for your”uniform” when do you wash this or do you have several copies of it so they can be washed while you’re wearing something else?
Is your “same” outfit the exact same or do you add cardigans, scarves etc? Thx
Simon Cowell is someone famous who repeats the same look and doesn’t get away with it. I don’t see how a polite person would tell you they notice. Just because no one comments doesn’t mean no one notices, but does it matter if people notice you repeating clothes? You’re dressing for you, not them.
I had several copies that I would rotate through to make it easier. I go more into detail on how to wear the same clothes every day here: https://alisonsnotebook.com/wear-the-same-outfit-everyday/
I also had a few items (like cardigans and scarves, but also jewelry) to dress up or dress down the uniform. It makes it a little easier.
Hope this helps!
I bought 5 black jerseys (long sleeve sweaters) and wore it to work Monday to Friday for one whole year. All 4 seasons. I had different styles of black pants anyway of good quality. Paired it with my different shoes, boots, pumps (all black of course. I never felt hot our cold as I somehow never felt hot or cold. Just simple gold tiny stud earing. I felt good and no said anything and I did not care what they thought. My husband died during COVID and this was my way of honoring his memory as he had on many occasions throughout our 35 year marriage said that I should do the black for 1 year. I had other black outfits I wore on weekends. On 1 May 2022 I took off the black and went back to colour. I live in Johannesburg South Africa.
I have 2 pairs of jeans and 2 pairs of dress pants for when I go out or travel. One of each pair is navy(jeans: dark wash denim); one black. I have mostly black and some navy blue t-shirts in every style to accommodate the weather. I do like color so I have a variety of t-shirts in my favorite colors. In the winter I pair them with a sweater or sweatshirt. Spring and fall it’s a denim shirt. I also add color by with jewelry or scarves. I keep my old jeans and t-shirts for painting (art and walls), gardening and cleaning. I still have a lot of purging to do but I feel like off to a good start.
I’m now 62. When my kids (5) were little I had done exactly this same thing. I termed it as my uniform. Blue jeans, solid colored tee shirt and a chammy cotton button down over that. If we were going somewhere special or doing something different than I’d dress for the occasion though still kept it clean and simple. Summer came and I had 4 Sun dresses which could easily be used as a cover up as well.
As long as you look neat and clean then, all you need is the creativity to add a little something to this simple outfit occasionally, I’m all for it!
I think this is great and a way to keep things minimal. But honestly, just because no one said something to you doesn’t mean they didn’t notice. Likely they did but either didn’t care or were being polite and not commenting. I have a coworker who wears the same thing daily and everyone notices, we just don’t comment to her about it. But there have been a few instances when someone is trying to remember her name and describe her as “that woman who wears the same outfit every day”.
I will give this a try…will be difficult as I have an enormous amount in closet
Thanks for commenting, Ann. Looking back, I could agree with you to a certain degree. Just because they didn’t say anything didn’t mean they didn’t notice. But my co-workers were ones who would have pointed those things out, so I’m pretty certain they never knew what I was doing.
There isn’t any harm in trying!
This is so practical. I enjoyed learning about your experiment. I’m inspired. Curious, what region of the US you live in. I live in the South originally from the Midwest. I definitely think women in my area are guilty of outfit judging. When I was pregnant I bought a “box wardrobe” for $100. it was a total of 5 black/white pieces: a black jumper Dress, black leggings, white short sleeve t-shirt, black long sleeve t-shirt, and the best ever black/white reversible blazer. This was the best thing I could have ever bought myself as far as clothes go. Everything was interchangeable, comfy as my belly grew, and I could still dress professionally without breaking the bank. I would love to get back to that kind of simplicity!
Just keep your clothes clean and tidy and you can wear the same clothes 5-7 days or more.