One Simple Wardrobe Tip For A Successful 2018

One Simple Wardrobe Tip For A Successful 2018

Come 2018, one thing is for certain. 
Minimalism is in, excess is out.

Having too many choices makes us unhappy – people are downsizing and giving away their possessions by the truckload. TV shows like “Tiny House Nation” romanticise an enviable lifestyle of people free from the burdens of caring for their possessions and living the life they’ve always wanted.

By the end of each episode, I was ready to pack up and go live in the woods but practically speaking, the thought of giving away all my stuff to live in a place that’s no bigger than my bathroom, with a feisty little boy and a husband … was just a little bit crazy.

Giving up everything was not something I was about to do, but there is no doubt that in 2018, I am looking for change – to become sharper and leaner, to reach the goals I’ve been procrastinating on, to rev up my career.

A couple years ago, an article in Harper’s Bazaar changed the way women thought about work fashion. Matilda Kahl, the former art director of advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi New York, bucked tradition and set a new standard for dressing in a super-creative industry.

After a morning of walking into a meeting late because she was choosing an outfit to wear (which didn’t work at all), a frustrated Kahl decided to simplify the process. She bought 15 silk white shirts and a few black trousers from Zara to last all 254 working days in a year. Her only accessory is a custom-made black leather rosette worn around her neck.

Kahl has worn this monochrome work outfit, every single working day, since 2012.

Matilda Kahl, the former art director of Saatchi & Saatchi New York

She admits that people were surprised at her sartorial choices initially, she’s a creative type after all, but eventually, her no-distraction approach has more than worked for her.

“The thought of reclaiming the driver’s seat can feel overwhelming, but even small changes can make a huge difference. … these black trousers and white blouses have become an important daily reminder that frankly, I’m in control. Today, I not only feel great about what I wear, I don’t think about what I wear.”
~ Matilda Kahl

She isn’t the first one to get onto the “work uniform” bandwagon. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Karl Lagerfeld all wore/wear the same thing everyday to work – and they’re incredibly successful. They’ve learnt that if they no longer have to make regular small, inconsequential decisions, they have more energy to make the right decisions in the areas that really matter – their work.

As women, we already have so many choices we need to make before we even get out of bed. Making choices, even happy ones like what outfit we’re going to wear today, zaps energy. With less energy, our ability to make the right decision gets weaker as the day wears on. Wouldn’t you want to save all that energy to channel towards a project you’re working on, towards giving your customers the best experience they can have?

Again, wearing only one outfit the whole year may not be your cup of tea, but if you’re going back to work after a full-time parenting stint, or you’re changing careers or you just want to do something different in 2018, here are a few tips to help you reap the benefits of minimalist dressing – without being stuck with only 15 white shirts.

1) Stop Buying Clothes

You don’t have to declutter your wardrobe right away but you do have to stop adding to it. If I absolutely have to purchase something, I do a “one-in-one-out”; one item has to be removed from my wardrobe before I can add one more to it.

2) Do A Wardrobe Audit

Looking at my wardrobe, I realised I gravitated towards solid colours and clean lines. This has helped me to decide my personal style. Getting rid of everything that isn’t really my style ensures that what I don’t ever go into office regretting my fashion choice for the day.

There were some clothes that showed a lot of promise when I first purchased them, but 6 months later, they were still hanging in my wardrobe with the tags intact. There were others which I wore a lot for a season, and then for one reason or another, I stopped wearing.

To keep track of what I wore/didn’t wear, I hung all my hangers in the opposite direction. Each time I washed and put my clothes back, I hung it in my usual direction. Everything that was still hung in the opposite direction after 6 months landed in my charity pile.

3) Tailor Garments That Don’t Quite Fit To Add 10x The Value 

Clothes that fit perfectly speak volumes about their cost – after all, we don’t all have the body shape that clothes were tailored for. To stretch my dollar, I purchase my garments online and have them altered to suit my body shape. For a few extra bucks, I make them look more expensive than they really are.

4) Choose Your Personal Style X Stick To The Classics

If you are purchasing an entirely new wardrobe for a new career, stick to classic styles and colours. They lend you a professional image while looking good mixed and matched with anything.

Black, Navy, White, Beige, Gold, Silver will never ever go out of fashion. For some classic styles that fit any body type, check out this Pinterest board.

5) Change Your Mindset

Thanks to a “gimme-more” society, we’ve come to think that wearing the same outfit more than once means we couldn’t care less / didn’t have the means to buy more clothes / didn’t dare to experiment. This exercise will not be successful until we decide that what’s best for us isn’t what people think about us.

It isn’t easy – for the longest time, I always thought my clothes defined me and my identity. I dressed to impress, I still do but I now know I don’t need to chase the latest fad to feed my desire to be noticed. I dress comfortably in classic styles that can take me from the boardroom to the classroom.

After my time at home, I’m treasuring my time at work so much more. I realise that I don’t have time (or the money) to chase after trends, instead, I want to focus more on growing deep roots in my career (considering this is what I probably want to do for the rest of my life) so that I can contribute more.

This is why a “work uniform” may be the one tip you could apply immediately for greater success in 2018.

How about you? Would you ever wear the same thing to work every day? Why or why not? Share in the comments!


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Ruth Song

Ruth Song is an award-winning Business Communication coach and ACTA- certified trainer. Her career spans diverse industries from radio, image consulting, human resources and tertiary education. She has contributed to prominent institutions like Raffles Hotel Singapore and Ngee Ann Polytechnic. At Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Ruth was awarded the School Teaching Award twice, in 2014 and 2017. She is well- known on the Toastmasters public speaking competition circuit for being "lively, enthusiastic and fresh". She has also been invited to speak at public events for brands like Carousell and Evernote. She has been featured on digital publications like Executive Lifestyle Singapore,, Mummifique and Mums in Sync. Ruth founded to provide education and tools to help you communicate your brand message confidently and professionally. She is dedicated to helping you grow your personal brand and enjoy doing so, no matter where you are in the process now.

This article was first published on Ruth Song’s blog and has been reposted on Connected Women with the permission of the author.
Edited by: Amber Valencia, Image Credit: WHY I WEAR THE EXACT SAME THING TO WORK EVERY DAY by Matilda Kahl published in Harper’s Bazaar– photo courtesy of Max Ahlborn, Reference: Pinterest

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