Meet Matilda Kahl, a Creative/Art Director at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York who has been wearing the same outfit to work every day for three years.
And now the story of her unconventional fashion choice has gone viral after Matilda wrote about it online.
“About three years ago, I had one of those typical Monday mornings that many women have experienced,” writes the 27-year-old in a piece for Harper’s Bazaar. “With a fairly important meeting on the horizon, I started to try on different outfits, lacking any real direction or plan.”
Like many of us, Matilda had complete freedom to wear whatever she wanted to her office, but that didn’t make matters any easier. “(It) left me questioning each piece that I added or subtracted from my outfit. “Is this too formal? Is that too out there? Is this dress too short?”
She says there’s an “extensive pressure on women to uphold a flawless appearance. Here, we ultimately end up with an unscalable mountain of high expectations,” she continues. “I finally chose something I regretted as soon as I hit the subway platform.”
When Matilda arrived late at work, her stress levels increased when she found her male colleagues bonding with the new boss before she could make a good impression. “I just stood there—paralysed by the fact that I was not only late, but unprepared. And my sweater was inside out. I had completely stressed myself out, and for what? This was not the first morning I’d felt this unnecessary panic, but that day I decided it would be the last.”
“The frustration I felt walking into that meeting late remained with me. Should it really be this hard? I knew my male colleagues were taken seriously no matter what they wore—and I highly doubted they put in as much sartorial time and effort as I had. But gender issues aside, I needed to come up with a solution to simplify this morning struggle.”
In one day, she bought 15 white silk shirts, a few black trousers and a custom-made black leather rosette to give her new uniform a personal touch, reminding her of her childhood when her mother loved tying bows in her hair. For the colder months she purchased a black blazer.
“It burned a hole in my wallet to say the least, but in the long run, it has saved me—and will continue to save me—more money than I could imagine,” she said.
Over the years, the most common question she’s been asked is ‘Why do you do it?’
“Sometimes this leads to lengthy lunch discussions on feminism and the objectification of women,” she told adage.com, “but more often than not we just get into the more practical side of things and how this has saved me countless hours in the mornings. And dollars.”
Does she ever get bored of the same look day in and day out? “It’s in the nature of my line of work to be innovative and create things that have never been seen before. I guess that brings me more than enough variation and excitement to be happy to have at least one part of my life running on autopilot.”
“I feel both professional and personal wearing it. I no longer spend time on choosing clothes nor do I get self-conscious in meetings, which would happen occasionally before. I just keep on with my day without my mind wandering, thinking about if my skirt is too short or my t-shirt too casual. To me, that is empowering.”
While Matilda gets her colour fix on the weekends, opting for bright prints, floaty dresses and high heels, her day-to-day uniform is part of a growing trend of stripping back wardrobes and dressing for efficiency.
When Stylist‘s Alix Walker quizzed fashion’s biggest names, from our very own fashion team to the buyers for Net-a-porter and street style bloggers, one pattern quickly emerged. All these women had a ‘fashion uniform’, which consisted of a template of clothes in a tight colour palette which they rarely deviate from.
New research in decision fatigue also shows that the more choices being thrown at us, the more our brains search for shortcuts so it makes perfect sense that the super-successful seek out a fashion uniform.
“The simple choice of wearing a work uniform has saved me countless wasted hours thinking, ‘what the hell am I going to wear today?'” says Matilda. “And in fact, 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.”
Would you wear the same work outfit every day?