Steve Jobs in his iconic black turtleneck and blue jeans; Mark Zuckerberg in his gray t-shirt, jeans and sneakers; and Bill Gates’ humble, button-down blue dress shirt. These are three infamous examples of what’s been dubbed, “the entrepreneur’s uniform.” The phenomenon isn’t limited to these three ultra-rich men, though. Countless entrepreneurs worldwide adhere to this minimalist approach to wardrobes.
Why is that? Why do successful decision-makers insist on wearing the same thing every day? Surely, with billions of dollars in the bank, they could afford to change it up a little. As it turns out, the decision isn’t born from laziness, but rather a calculated approach to management, brand and personal philosophy.
Here’s why successful decision-makers wear the same outfit every day – and why you should too.
A “Uniform” Removes Decision Fatigue
One of the main reasons you see so many decision-makers wear the same outfit is to remove what is called “decision fatigue.” Defined as the limiting capacity to make sound decisions throughout the day, “decision fatigue” was first noted when researchers discovered that judges tended to make less consistent decisions in the last half of a day. The theory surmises that there are only so many decisions one can make in a day, before becoming emotionally and mentally overtaxed.
Therefore, removing the day’s first decision – what you should wear – is critical to battling decision fatigue.
It’s Important to Be Comfortable
Look at the examples above – a turtleneck, a gray shirt and a button-down dress shirt. They are all comfortable, a far cry from the starched, prohibiting formal attire business people used to wear.
If you’re expected to do your best work, you need to be comfortable. Restricting clothing can cause irritation and unease, which can contribute to poor decision-making and a lack of free imagination. Look no further than the common phrase, “hot under the collar.” Many decision-makers, eschewing the stiff cotton suit, are turning to timelessly designed merino wool instead; you can read the ultimate guide to merino wool at the link for more information.
Wearing the Same Clothing Reinforces Your Personal Brand
Say the name “Steve Jobs,” and everyone immediately pictures the same thing. His clothing was part and parcel with his personal brand – an easy signifier for his relaxed business approach and methodical work habits. Wearing the same outfit every day reinforces a concrete image, which is another reason so many high-ups choose to dress this way.
It’s an Important Reminder about Humility
In the old business structure, you could separate the C-suite from the common workers by the cut and quality of their suits. All that did was reinforce a class hierarchy, which wasn’t great for morale. Wearing a humble uniform, day in and day out, communicates an egalitarian approach to business. It isn’t flashy or ostentatious; it’s relatable and approachable, which are becoming attributes for an owner or manager.
If you want to be comfortable, humble, recognizable and capable of making better decisions, try the uniform approach. All it takes is a few simple merino wool clothing pieces to get started.