Let’s talk about decision fatigue.
Deciding what to wear is stressful. Especially if an important event is involved.
I used to say heaven help you if you wanted me to attend a cocktail hour and hoped to come back to my place and relax afterward. Invariably, I would end up pulling just about every piece of clothing out of the closet and throwing it everywhere while deciding. When I returned home from the event, it was as if Hurricane Fabian just hit.
To pare things down a bit, I’ve always been a fan of the closet purge. I like to do it at least twice a year when I’m changing over from fall/winter to spring/summer. This has served to keep things from overflowing in my closet. But the purge was still leaving me with too many options.
Enter the Capsule Wardrobe.
Putting capsule wardrobe principles into effect helped me to completely eliminate that stress of deciding what to wear. I have narrowed my closet down so that now, when I’m called upon to show up dressed to the nines, I choose between 1 black tie appropriate dress and 2 cocktail party dresses.
It was not easy for me to create my capsule wardrobe, but it has resulted in significantly reducing my wardrobe stress. Finally, I can breathe.
As an HSP, one of my main goals is to be sure that of all of the stress and overstimulation going on in my world as little as possible is self-generated.
The Uniform – Take One
In Bermuda, everyone wears a uniform to school. I noticed back then two things. 1. It saves so much time and energy. 2. It’s amazing how creative kids can be when it comes to expressing themselves within the confines of a few pieces. Still I didn’t originally to set out to wear a uniform as an adult.
Yet, somehow I accidentally created a uniform for myself in law school. I happened to notice that most of my tops were turquoise and teal, I lived in a couple of pairs of dark wash barely boot jeans from Express and I was probably rocking a blazer with the sleeves rolled up and an extra long beaded necklace. I declared that to be my uniform and I rocked it religiously because I aim to #K.I.S.S.
I was never quite satisfied with the look though so there was always some mission creep. In comes a pair or two of gap straight leg khakis or a hoodie to hide myself during a depression. Then there’s that random dress bought for one special occasion after a really long and traumatizing day at the mall that pulls in all the wrong ways only to be abandoned at the back of the closet.
I always felt that my look wasn’t quite right, but couldn’t put my finger on why.
One Bag Travel
After the bar exam, I had the great fortune to travel through Europe and Canada for a month. I decided right away that I was going to fit my entire wardrobe into one carry on suitcase ‘cuz I ain’t got time to be lugging huge bags through five countries. That’s when I happened upon this.
I scrapped my original plan, bought the few pieces I needed to make this work and managed to fit it all in one “carry on” (one which, admittedly pushed the size bounds, but managed to fit overhead every time). It was an incredible feeling. I have not traveled with more than that one suitcase since.
Building a Business Wardrobe
In 2012 I entered the working world, which provided me the opportunity to build a whole new wardrobe. I started with classic pieces: a gray suit, bootleg slacks, one or two pencil skirts and a black sheath dress. I was kind of interested in a capsule wardrobe, but wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for.
Little did I know the sheath dress would be the key to my salvation.
As a maximizer, of course I spent obsessive amounts of time trying to figure out how to create a simple wardrobe. Irony much?
Stick With What Works
While I was in the midst of this research I came across the uniform article mentioned above. I also read a Vanity Fair article profiling President Obama. One thing that stuck out to me was his response to decision fatigue. He wanted to save his energy for decisions that matter.
“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.”
None of my decisions are nearly as important or stressful as Obama’s. That said, I imagine Obama is not nearly as sensitive as the typical HSP (although who knows). Since it’s all relative, I figure borrowing the President’s methods for shutting out overwhelming stimuli has got to yield some value for me.
Although I’m not a true minimalist, (whatever that means) for me, one of the most important parts of thriving as an HSP is to reduce unnecessary stimuli.
Decisions are stimuli. Who needs ’em?