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We asked two of our female editors to wear the same thing every day. Here’s what happened

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Susan Sorokanich, a freelance interior decorator in her early sixties, has worn the same outfit every day for two decades. Every morning, she opens her closet and takes out a crisp black boatneck shirt with three-quarter sleeves, then pairs it with slim-fitting jeans. “When I first discovered this top at Talbot’s, it was a revelation,” she says. “It always made me feel polished and put together, but it also worked in every context because I could dress it up or down. The week after I bought it, I went back and got a couple more.”

It’s not that she doesn’t care about style: Her work requires her to have good taste and an eye for beautiful objects. But when she entered her forties, she simply got tired of spending so much time thinking about what to wear. These days, getting ready in the morning is an automatic process. Sure, she has a couple of variations on the theme. If she’s gardening, she may swap out jeans for shorts, and if she’s with a new client, she’ll wear slightly more formal black trousers. But for the most part, her mornings are streamlined and stress-free. “I don’t waste any time shopping for clothes or deciding what to wear every day,” Susan explains. “It’s been so incredibly liberating.”

She has done something that many women dream about: She’s effectively created a daily uniform for herself and stuck to it. While it is common for men to wear variations of the same outfit every single day–perhaps a suit, or a jeans-and-hoodie combo–it’s harder for women to achieve the same kind of simplicity with their wardrobe, for a variety of reasons. But this longstanding convention is beginning to change. Over the last few years, fashion websites and brands have promoted the idea of a “capsule wardrobe,” which involves reducing your closet to just a few pieces that you mix and match for variety. Some women have been inspired by Marie Kondo’s advice to simplify their lives by tossing out clothes that no longer spark joy. Still, few women have gone so far as to create a single uniform and stick to it for weeks on end.

So what happens when women decide to buck convention and wear the same exact thing every day? We decided to put this idea to the test by asking two of our colleagues to pick a uniform and wear it for at least two weeks. But to understand the results of this experiment, it helps to understand some of the reasons women find it hard to adopt a work uniform in the first place.

When Susan first began this experiment with her black shirt 20 years ago, she saw firsthand the different social expectations around how men and women should dress. Her husband, a physician, wears more or less the same look every day, but nobody has ever commented about the lack of diversity in his clothing choices. But when Susan’s friends noticed she kept showing up in that one black top, they would ask her point blank what was going on with her. “I have friends who are always wearing the latest designers, and they’ve commented about how boring my look is,” she says. “I think you need to have a lot of self-confidence in your choices, and just try not to care.”

This double........

© Fast Company