My first college roommate wore a man’s plain, white T-shirt every single day during the warm months in North Carolina where we attended ECU. In the winter, she wore a long-sleeved, button-down white shirt. She told me that she wore something different for church, but I never saw her on Sundays. She spent weekends at her family’s pig farm. Going to college was the furthest she had ever ventured from home and she was the first in her family to do so. It became clear that her family was financially poor, but I never heard her complain about it. If I found her unusual, she found me more so, as she intently watched me curl my hair and put on makeup. We had no interest in changing each other, merely a kind curiosity about our different ways. I was glad the college had placed us together.
Four years later, I was again in a situation where my roommate was chosen for me. I had won a competition, granting me an internship in a big New York City advertising agency. The agency set me up in a dorm room with a student from NYU. Interestingly, my new roommate wore a white shirt every day too. But it wasn’t a T-shirt; it was a beautiful, feminine linen shirt from Italy, as she was from Italy herself. Every night, she would wash the shirt in our little sink, let it air dry and iron it first thing in the morning. She never stopped looking stunning in that crisp, white shirt. It had a few collar accents and maybe a subtle ruffle alongside the buttons. I think it was her only shirt for a two-month stay in Manhattan. And it was all she needed.
When I shop at our sprawling mall, I see a lot of people haphazardly dressed while buying more clothes, shoes, and accessories to further confuse their wardrobes. Maybe if our closets were less packed, we’d be able to see what works nicely together and be better dressed. This is just a theory; my closet is pretty messy! But I can say that I am not ashamed to wear the same outfit more than once in the same week. Why do we, women in particular, have to look different every day? Let’s find what works—with our budget and our tastes—and wear it well, as often as we like.