Can Sameness Make You Stand Out

For the last few week, fashion bloggers haven’t been able to stop talking about normcore.

…(not) a particular look but a general attitude: embracing sameness deliberately as a new way of being cool, rather than striving for “difference” or “authenticity.” In fashion, though, this manifests itself in ardently ordinary clothes. Mall clothes. Blank clothes. The kind of dad-brand non-style you might have once associated with Jerry Seinfeld, but transposed on a Cooper Union student with William Gibson glasses.

Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They’re One in 7 Billion | | The Cut

In looking looking at pictures of the normcore attire and reading what people have to say about it, I couldn’t help but think of how creative people dress.

Have you noticed that fashion designers, artists, and make-up artists tend to dress in rather basic clothes or always look the same (think Karl Lagerfeld)? There’s an artist I know who I’ve only seen wearing white shirts and jeans. And moving over to the world of “hard-core” business think of how Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg dress(ed). And did you see what Pharrell  Williams wore to the Grammies? He got ripped, but I think he knows more than your average member of the fashion police force realized at the time. All of these people are all  (were) creative people  (or people who think outside of the box) and they dress in a very ordinary way or are  (were) always seen wearing the same thing.

Now the way these people dress can be  related to branding (my friend Karl) or actually embracing sameness as a new way of being cool (Pharrell Williams). Still I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a connection between creativity and decision making, and wearing the same basic clothes every day.

As it turns out, I could be on to something.

…Others do it to be more efficient.

Take Albert Einstein. It has been reported that the famous physicist bought several versions of the same grey suit because he didn’t want to waste brainpower on choosing an outfit each morning. Now—decades later—President Obama does the same.

Michael Lewis wrote in a recent Vanity Fair article:

You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” [Obama] said. “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.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions.

Steve Jobs Always Dressed Exactly the Same. Here’s Who Else Does |

The world is filled with a profound number of choices, but studies show that having fewer–not more–choices may be the path to greater happiness. Few places provide a greater opportunity for strategically eliminating choice than our clothing.

Want to Simplify Your Life? Try A Uniform | Life Edited

My experience shows all of this to be true. Give me too many choices and I shut down (or walk away). Since I’ve started simplifying things, I’ve noticed my creativity awakening and my problem solving skills improving. Why? Because my mind isn’t distracted by stuff that at the end of the day really isn’t important.

When I was young, and living with my parents who took care of my basic needs of food and shelter, there was room for playing with extraneous stuff and my creativity. Now that I’m responsible for all of the above, the extraneous stuff needs to go to make room for creativity and problem solving.  And in reality, people don’t really notice your appearance as much as you think they do. Go from long to short hair or dye it and people may notice that something is different, but won’t be able to pinpoint it.

Most people just don’t care that much about what we’re wearing. In my experience, people will notice if our clothes aren’t clean, if they’re falling apart or if they are majorly out-of-date. They’ll notice if what we’re wearing is well made or fits us well. But people won’t care if the nice, clean, stylish thing we wore on Monday is the same nice, clean, stylish thing we wore on Friday.

Want to Simplify Your Life? Try A Uniform | Life Edited

My next step is trying to find my uniform. Although I think I already know what it is. I still need the courage to part from other pieces of clothing that are creating interference.

Some say normcore is just another fashion trend. But for creatives and anyone who takes decision making seriously, I think it, or at least the idea of wearing their uniform of choice, is here to stay.