The Sartorial Rule Many Successful People Follow

One might assume that successful types have massive closets full of the latest designer fashions, commensurate with their wealth. Indeed, many do, but there's also a faction of disruptors who choose to have a very small, basic wardrobe. Famous examples include Steve Jobs with his signature black turtleneck or social media mogul Mark Zuckerberg's simple gray T-shirts from Brunello Cucinelli (which cost $300 each, by the way).

There are different levels of sartorial simplicity, to be sure. Wearing the exact same thing every day may be considered extreme, but there's also a middle ground, like Richard Branson's decision to wear the same pair of jeans every day, with a rotating variety of shirts. Former President Barack Obama had a similar philosophy while in office, which he shared with Vanity Fair back in 2012. "You'll see I wear only gray or blue suits," said Obama. "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."

There's even a term to describe a minimalist closet. It's called the capsule wardrobe, defined as a small collection of things you love to wear. Did you know that the average American spent $1,945 on clothing in 2022, according to Statista? This said, besides the obvious perk of saving a ton of money on clothes shopping, there are many other benefits to the capsule wardrobe life hack, which many successful people have embraced. (Here's our list of things you're paying too much for but didn't realize.)

You'll save both time and money

Having limited wardrobe choices means that, besides saving money, you'll save time. Not only time spent shopping, but time spent pairing and coordinating different items each morning. You can easily shave five to 10 minutes off your daily routine by having a standard uniform at the ready. However, besides saving time, you'll also conserve decision-making energy. Instead of deliberating whether an outfit is too casual, too formal, or too revealing, you can focus all of your brainpower on your job or small business instead.

There might also be other practical reasons behind your decision to streamline your wardrobe. For instance, entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria is well-known for wearing all-black. Although DeJoria is now widely known as the co-founder of Paul Mitchell hair products and Patron tequila, he actually was homeless at one point, which engrained a sense of thriftiness. Appropriately, the decision to don all-black continuously stemmed from a desire to keep his dry cleaning expenses down by wearing a color that hid stains. Aside from a way to save, less frequent cleaning is environmentally friendly, too (and would fit it in well with our frugal tips for saving money without sacrificing quality of life.)

Think fine dining, not an all-you-can-eat buffet

Friends, family, and colleagues might initially tease you about your wearing the same outfit every day, but in time, it could come to define you the same way Steve Jobs or Zuck are known for their signature look. As writer Alice Gregory points out, "I've always wanted a uniform. Low maintenance and iconic, it's a cheap and easy way to feel famous." Adding, "Wearing a uniform is also a way of asserting your status as a protagonist. This is the reason why characters in picture books never change their clothes ..."

Some consumers liken a large wardrobe to a restaurant with an overwhelmingly large menu, like Cheesecake Factory (by the way, save money dining out with these restaurant tricks). Some of your pieces, though numerous, may not fit correctly anymore or might be out of style, or not in sync with your current position in life. In contrast, a capsule wardrobe is more like a fine-dining experience, where the offerings are limited, but extremely high-quality.

So there you have it. If you're not quite ready to completely abandon all variety, perhaps consider paring down to a few key, well-fitting pieces in muted tones. In doing so, you will save time, money, and brainpower for life's more important decisions, like family and business. And you could even find yourself becoming something of a local celebrity.