Simply, Simplify | Daily News

Simply, Simplify

If you have worked with me either at the University of Kelaniya or at Lake House, met me two or three times in a publisher's office in Colombo or seen me at the school gates waiting to pick my daughter you would know I wear(pretty much)the same thing every day. If you ask me why, I would probably shrug and say I love minimalistic living. I would also add, 'The fewer clothes I have, the more liberated I feel.'

And it's true.

Don't we all know that feeling in the mornings where we just can’t tell whether this top goes with those pants, if those sandals are the right footwear, but what if it’s too casual? What if everyone else is dressed in formal wear? And the end result is a giant pile of rejected outfits on our bed, and nothing feels right? It is surely a constant struggle in our lives, as we try to piece together outfits that strike a balance between professional enough to be taken seriously and casual enough not to stand out like a sore thumb in the kind of atmosphere where dress rules don't really exist, and you have to instinctively know what kind of clothes will make you fit in.

Have you ever thought about how much time you likely waste deciding what to wear before you leave the house? It has probably made you late to work or appointments or even dates, more times than you can count.

When we come to think about it, it does seem as though we waste so many precious moments concerning ourselves with frivolous details. An outfit will not change the world, would it? It probably won't even change your day.

This is not to say that fashion isn't important, as it has an immense impact on culture and, in turn, the direction of society. According to experts in the field, fashion is where art, culture and history intersect. If we look at the 1960s, for example, the way people dressed was very much a reflection of the counterculture movement and the anti-establishment sentiments of the era.

Simply put, clothes can tell us a lot about sociology. Yet, at the same time, we have arguably become an excessively materialistic and superficial society. Undoubtedly, there are greater things to worry about than clothes.

Similarly, as the great American author Henry David Thoreau once stated: “Our life is frittered away by detail...(so) simplify, simplify”.

Correspondingly, a number of very successful people have adopted this philosophy in their daily routines.

Whether you love or hate him, it is hard to argue against the notion that once upon a time President Barack Obama had the most difficult job in the world. As the leader of the most powerful country on the planet, the president had a lot on his plate. No matter what he did, he was criticized.

He obviously, had a lot of important things to think about beyond his wardrobe. This is precisely why he wore the same suit every day. In an article from Michael Lewis for Vanity Fair, the president explained the logic behind this routine: “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

As Stuart Heritage puts it for the Guardian, "Barack Obama has pared his wardrobe down to such a degree that he can confidently walk into any situation and make decisions that directly impact on the future of mankind."

The former US president is not alone in this practice. The late, great, Steve Jobs wore his signature black turtleneck with jeans and sneakers every single day. Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg typically wears a gray t-shirt with a black hoody and jeans when seen in public. Similarly, Albert Einstein reportedly bought several variations of the same gray suit so that he wouldn't have to waste time deciding what to wear each morning.

According to John Haltiwanger in the Daily Elite this is all related to the concept of decision fatigue - a psychological condition in which a person's productivity suffers as a result of becoming mentally exhausted from making so many irrelevant decisions.” By stressing over things like what to eat or wear every day, people become less efficient at work,” says Haltiwanger.

For Matilda Kahl, an art director in New York decision fatigue and less time getting ready are not the only reasons for wearing the same outfit every day. She adds another: less-stress, specifically, less stress during the day over the decision she originally made in the morning.

“Is this too formal? Is this dress too short? Almost always, I’d choose something to wear I regretted as soon as I hit the subway platform.” But now, in her trademark silk white shirt and black trousers, she has one less source of anxiety during the day.

Christopher Nolan thinks the same. Nolan, who has created several of the most critically and commercially successful films of the early 21st century says he decided long ago it was “a waste of energy to choose anew what to wear each day.” Now, he settles instead for a dark, narrow-lapeled jacket over a blue dress shirt with black trousers over sensible shoes to wear whenever he goes out.

And so, from former President Obama, to Steve Jobs, to Mark Zuckerberg,to Albert Einstein, to Christopher Nolan and many others, we learn of how life becomes easier by adopting a monotonous wardrobe. Needless to say, as these are some of the most successful and productive individuals in history, they are on to something.

True enough, the world would be an extremely boring place if we all wore the exact thing every day.

Yet, we might all consider simplifying our lives a bit more by reducing the amount of time we spend thinking about pointless aspects of our day. In the process, we might find that we are significantly less stressed, more productive and more fulfilled.

In the end, the mantra is to dress with less and create a life that is full of what matters most to you.

May be its time you gave it a try.

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