There was a time in my life when wearing a pair of athletic sneakers, a T-shirt, and jeans to even run errands was unimaginable to me. But these days it’s my Saturday uniform. Since leaving New York City for suburban New Jersey earlier this year, I’ve entered what I am dubbing “my boring outfits era.”
Before the move, no matter how casual or fancy the day’s events were, I would often spend nearly two hours getting dressed. First, I’d scroll Pinterest, Instagram, and Vogue Runway for outfit inspiration. Then, I’d run through three to five looks to find one that made sense for the day’s schedule. Somewhere in between, I’d think about which fashion trend I should try, the styling it would involve, and if it fit my professional status as a Fashion Writer™. It was as exhausting as living in a city where there’s an event on any given day.
When I moved out of the city that never sleeps, I retreated into a life that allows for walks in the park and tennis games after work and hiking on the weekend. Sure, part of the wardrobe switch had to do with the fact that I no longer constantly bump into friends or acquaintances, and therefore have no fear of looking like someone who doesn't belong at New York Fashion Week. But it has more to do with the fact that I’ve chosen to prioritize a balance between my work life (which requires me to put effort into my fashion choices) and my personal one. Don't get me wrong: My interest in fashion — which is still fed through the style choices of my state neighbors in New Jersey — didn't fade, but my move did change the way I approach my dressing process because not every day needs to be a street style photo op.
After working in fashion public relations in New York City, Rachel Whitehouse had the same realization after moving to Florida and taking on a job as a sales executive. “The competition of fast fashion or trends and trying to keep up is exhausting,” says Whitehouse, who recently posted a TikTok video of herself wearing a pair of jeans, a T-shirt, and sandals which she called a "boring but effective outfit.” Now, she puts “function and comfort first” and “dresses for herself.”
TikTok creator Evan Smith echoes this feeling. “Not every day needs to be a slay,” Smith said in a recent video. “You’re going to exhaust your brain, your body, your budget trying to convince the world that you’re a bad bitch.” Similarly to Whitehouse, Smith has also built a following on TikTok by posting outfits that are functional and comfortable, from white tank tops and jeans to monochrome outfits, proving that it’s okay to be in a boring fashion phase.
Scrolling through this year’s fit pics in my camera roll, there was less experimentation than in previous years, when I flexed my styling and trend muscles more than ever before. This meant that I also spent less money than ever on clothes, going back to familiar favorites instead of curing my fashion blues by shopping for trends. But most importantly, I also noticed less of a need to think of others when getting dressed, and rather please myself with my outfit choices.
Social media platforms often push the idea that personal style comes from peacocking our way through life; the way users consume fashion today depends on seeing and being seen, whether through a #ootd video or a shopping haul that requires constant consumption. In response to this cycle, over the years, I've come to prioritize outfit formulas that put quality and comfort before anything else. But, in my recent experience, I found that choosing oneself over endless TikTok trends is a revolutionary act in fashion.
Most of the pieces in my closet that make me feel secure in the outside world include classic styles and neutral colors, including T-shirts, blazers, and athleisure. And, while I’ve always had a predilection for these, I’ve chosen to stop fighting it and instead embrace styles that serve me. Whitehouse agrees with this mindset. “If people like it, great, but I'm not going to change my style or my approach to appease other people. I am the exact same way in real life, too.”
For a fashion writer whose job revolves around trends and styling, it may be surprising how much I don’t care about keeping up with what’s in style these days. Instead, I embrace the mundane and boring side of fashion. I’ve turned to finding outfit formulas that make me feel comfortable in my skin. And I’ve made peace with the fact that I love to wear the same things over and over; my wallet and the planet will thank me down the line for keeping it simple. Sure, there are days when I love to dress up — my birthday and Christmas sala season celebrations included — but I relish in the idea of saving that creative energy to strategically plan outfits that will mark special occasions in my life. Other days can be boring. It’s okay — that’s life. Or least it's now for me.