Business Advice

Why Mark Zuckerberg and other business leaders wear the same clothes to work each day

Eloise Keating /

For business owners and entrepreneurs, making a large number of decisions on a daily basis comes with the territory.

Whether it’s making high-level strategic decisions or completing routine tasks, the day-to-day running of a business can feel like a never-ending list of decisions to make.

For some business leaders, like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, being able to make the right choices means getting enough sleep each night.

But for others, the answer has been to scale back the actual number of decisions they must make so they can focus on the ones that matter.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is well known for always wearing the same clothes to work: a gray t-shirt, a hoodie and jeans.

As he said back in 2014: “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”

Writing on Medium earlier this month Charles Chu explains Zuckerberg is not the only executive to use this strategy. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck and blue jeans became his signature look; Ray Dalio from hedge fund Bridgewater Associates wears the same suit to work every day.

And it’s not only business leaders that opt to wear the same “uniform” each day. US President Barack Obama has previously spoken about his decision to only wear gray or blue suits while at work.

“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 told Vanity Fair back in 2012.

As Chu explains, for these people, wearing the same style of clothes each day is about “beating decision fatigue”.

“We aren’t Mark Zuckerberg. We aren’t Steve Jobs. But decision fatigue affects our life,” he says.

“Each decision digs into our willpower ‘HP bar’. Each decision makes us less creative, less in control and less focused.”

And adopting a “work uniform” can have other benefits too.

Naomi Simson, founding director of RedBallon, has been wearing red ever since a colleague told her years ago, “if she wanted to be a CEO she better start looking like one”.

Wearing a red dress has become Simson’s “uniform” and powerful symbol of the RedBalloon brand

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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