Pop culture is obsessed with image and, by extension, fashion. You only have to look as far as the Oscars red carpet to see just how intrigued people seem to be with what designer dress so-and-so is wearing or how much someone’s handbag costs.
Indeed, fashion is something very much on the radar of millionaires.
But what about the billionaires?
What’s always struck me most about people who have worked their way up that particular income bracket is how non-flashy their attire and lifestyles often are. One of the things that blows my mind most about Bill Gates — the world’s richest man — is that he dresses like my high school math teacher. He also drives the sort of cars people in my age and tax bracket drive.
And it’s not just Bill Gates. From Steve Jobs’ plain black turtleneck and denim jeans to Mark Zuckerberg’s simple grey t-shirt, billionaires seem to put very little thought into making you think they’re rich when it comes to selecting their outfits.
First day back after paternity leave. What should I wear?
And it’s not just some arbitrary coincidence – there are good reasons for it.
Avoiding Decision Fatigue
Decision fatigue is a well studied, well-documented phenomenon that refers to the deterioration in quality of decisions made by individuals after they’ve been forced to make a series of tough choices.
A study called The Psychology of Irrationality found this to be one of the key causes of irrational, poor decisions.
When you hold assets that surpass the GDP of most countries, you can see how this could be a very dangerous thing.
President Obama said it best:
“You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. 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.”
Wasting Less Time
If I actually sat down and calculated the amount of time I spend in an entire year trying to decide what watch to wear, I think I’d toss my entire collection out the window.
A current inspirational project known as Project 333 is aimed at getting people to reduce their wardrobe to 33 items which, when you really think about it, is still more than most people in the world own.
The idea behind the project is to take back the time and energy spent on choosing what to wear.
Creating An Iconic Image
You could look nothing like the man but every time I see you wearing a black turtleneck with jeans, I will associate you with Steve Jobs.
And that’s the magic behind dressing simply. You create a replicable style that you can easily project day to day, like so many of the world’s billionaires.
Alice Gregory wrote a piece for J. Crew magazine called “Iconic. A cheap and easy way to feel famous.”
In the piece, she says,”A uniform can be a way of performing maturity or, less charitably, impersonating it. A uniform insulates the sort of sober priorities that ossify with age, as well as a deliberate past of editing and improving.”
A billionaire’s brain really is wired differently from most of us. They wouldn’t have gotten to that point and stayed there if they spent money the way most of us do.
To put things into perspective, the average household that pulls in $50,000 per year spends $2,000 annually on clothes, according to a North Dakota State University Study.
That’s about 3.8% of their income. While it’s not an insane amount of money, when you consider that 3.8% of Bill Gates’ net worth is $3,009,600,000… yeah, he’s not spending that on clothes. He’s more likely to buy something that actually matters — something that’ll turn that three billion into six.
David Wolfe dresses simply for health!