A couple of weeks ago, I came upon a New York Times article about men who are famous enough that they can wear the same thing every day. Guys like Mark Zuckerberg in his ever-present gray t-shirt, hoodie and jeans. And before Mark, there was Steve Jobs who never left home without his black mock turtleneck. Of course, no one ever asks (or asked) these gazillionaires, “You ever take that shirt off to wash it?” because we know that they probably have closets the size of Gap stores filled floor to ceiling with their iconic clothing components.
The reason Mark Zuckerberg gives for adopting a uniform is because it’s one less decision he has to make that could take time away from doing the best job that he can serving the 1 billion people in the Facebook community. So he does it out of self sacrifice and altruism for Facebook users…what a guy.
Zuckerberg makes wearing a uniform sound like a noble gesture but maybe the reason for it is that he’s just like the rest of us who dread figuring out what to wear on any given day. And it’s 10 times worse for women. Even if men don’t wear exactly the same color and style of shirt every day, it’s all variations on a theme. Basically, they only have to deal with three pieces of clothing: shirt, pants and shoes.
But for us, deciding what to wear to work is a job unto itself. The process goes something like this: “I think I’ll wear the black pants and the blue print blouse …no, I can’t wear those pants; they’re my skinny pants and I’m not feeling skinny. But if I wear my other pair of black pants I have to wear shoes with a heel so they don’t drag but I can’t because today I have to walk 2 blocks from the parking garage to the client’s office and my feet will be killing me. What about the gray pants? Those need to go to the dry cleaners and I always hated the flow-y pink shirt that I bought to go with them. And besides that client’s office is always freezing and I don’t have a jacket that matches. I guess I’m back to the too tight black pants…”
By the time I finally settle on an outfit, I’m worn out from deciding what to wear out and probably running late because of the 15 minutes I spent staring at my closet and muttering to myself. At this point, having a uniform to wear to work sounds like a really great idea.
Notably, this article was only about men who have adopted a clothing uniform. Can you imagine the flak if Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wore the same red dress and black cardigan at all of her public appearances? Talk about a double standard between men and women.
Which leads me to think about Hillary who will arguably be the woman most seen in the public eye for the next two years. I’m sure her strategists are discussing if she should develop a uniform and make it part of her brand like Zuckerberg does. Maybe. But I think if she wants to have any chance of winning, it would be best if she left her rainbow pantsuits in the closet.