The Paradox of Choice: What to do when you have nothing to wear
Photo by from Pexels

The Paradox of Choice: What to do when you have nothing to wear

Every time we wake up, our day is filled up with an uncountable amount of choices. Should I get out of bed in one or two minutes? Do I run barefoot to the bathroom or get into a pair of slippers? To look in the mirror or not to? Wash my face with water or use a tonic? And the much-discussed conundrum of “is it best time to shower in the morning or the evening?”

But then when the moment of getting  “street-ready” arrives, a repeated topic finds most people spending two minutes (perhaps more than just a couple….) in front of their closets pondering What should I wear to fit my schedule today? And sometimes, the well-known desperate feeling of “I have nothing to wear!” invades us.

The Sartorial Decision

In April 2015, an article by former Saatchi & Saatchi Art Director, Matilda Kahl,  about her decision to wear the same outfit to work every single day for four years and counting, went viral. You can check the original article here. Kahl wrote about her decision to implement a work uniform to save her time and problems in the moment of choosing what to wear for work. She came to this idea when one day, she arrived late to a meeting after spending too long deciding what to wear instead of dedicating that time to prepare herself for the meeting. When she finally arrived, all her colleagues were already waiting for her. Feeling uncomfortable in her outfit and not being able to focus on the topic, she was in a bad mood.

So to avoid going through the same set of circumstances again, Kahl decided to self-impose a sort of work uniform: one white silk blouse, a pair of black pants and a black ribbon around her neck that she would wear to go to work, from Monday through Friday. To make her plan doable, she purchased the same item multiple times, so she would not have to worry about having enough pieces at home to wear. She kept the fun and creative part of her outfit in the footwear by changing that on a daily basis.

Leverage your Routine to Boost your Productivity

This sartorial decision leveraged her daily routine significantly and when she wrote an article about this experience, it went viral because the topic was addressing an issue that most of the public was also experiencing on a daily basis. Most of us own a wardrobe composed of clothing pieces that don’t support their lifestyle, body shape, skin color, lack of modularity and combinability (outfits).

To manage the situation, it is fundamental to know what cases this “I have nothing to wear”  feeling, despite the number of items stocked in the closet. Perhaps the closet is full of items you bought just because they looked nice at the store, a sales assistant convinced you it looked amazing despite your serious doubts, or was it just on sale and the right size/color was no longer available but it was at least “cheap”? You end up with “nothing to wear” you really like ot feel comfortable in, you then get frustrated, go out buy more clothes (in this same way), and the cycle is endless.

One solution is to avoid the paradox of choice -too many clothes and too many “not quite right” choices. If you are not into a daily uniform like our friend Matilda, you can simply focus on smaller. The key is knowing what pieces you need and then empower your image. An option could be to curate your wardrobe, transforming it into a closet fully composed of pieces that you love and that suit you. Minimalistic, and ideally with an ethical origin, choose a few items that combine well with one another and create numerous outfits out of them. The advantage of having multiple set outfits with a limited number of pieces provides you with the confidence of knowing what goes with what, you have already done the exercise yourself, calmly and at a moment where you weren’t in a hurry. You will also have the satisfaction of being a responsible consumer, and knowing that your time and budget are taken into consideration while still looking fantastic in your choices.

How to start a curated wardrobe?

Simply working on the basics. A suggested list of those basics could be:

  • A seasonal coat
  • Pullover
  • Shirt/Blouse
  • Top that goes with most of your bottoms
  • Suit trousers
  • Skirt (if suitable)
  • Blazer /Jacket
  • Dress smart/casual (if suitable)
  • Daily dress (if suitable)
  • Jeans
  • Shoes (sneakers, elegant shoes)
  • Accessories (bag, backpack, attaché)


While shopping for above-listed basics, focus on versatility – mainly solid and neutral colors – and quality.  With these suggestions, you will have less clutter, fewer clothes to wash, less stress when getting dressed and packing for a trip will be a breeze.

So slow down and take your time to analyze what is necessary, what is missing, what flatters you. Having this information in mind will make a step forward into the right direction. Focus on and plan a closet as a project. You will be the project architect and manager for your wardrobe. Each piece will be a fundamental building block. If you design it under this frame of mind, you will make it harder to add just “any” element because you randomly liked it or it was on sale. If you think about your wardrobe holistically, you will always be thinking of the whole building and its components (your outfits) as an ecosystem.

With a little planning and strategy, in a world full of choices, you will easily know which one is the right one for you. Which have been your experiences with the choices in your closet so far? What would you change?

Flor Hofmann

Flor Hofmann is a Personal Image Developer. She writes about sustainable fashion choices and style.
Close Menu