is it unprofessional to wear the same clothing item twice in a work week?

A reader writes:

I just have a quick question for you regarding professional dress code due to a comment from my boss. Is it unprofessional to wear to same pants twice in a row or more during a work week? I have been working here for well over a year and this is the first time my boss has ever commented on my habit of doing this.

After she noticed I was wearing the same pants in the same work week, she said something in the vein of “It’s not professional for you to do that. If someone notices someone, say, wearing the same dress or shirt multiple times, they might assume things about their finances or that they aren’t taking care of themselves.”

Upon reflection, I can see where she’s coming from. However, the fact that it was pants I wore twice made me more confused, since while I can follow the logic for a shirt or a dress, I can’t understand the logic with pants.

Some facts on my wardrobe: I have about five pairs of pants that are not jeans. Three are nearly identical black slacks, one pair has pinstripes, and there’s a a gray pair that I was wearing when this comment was made to me.

While I have been slowly building up a closet professional items, my living location does not have any true shopping locations that are not an hour’s drive away or more. It’s not practical for me to have bottoms for every single work day. But since her comment implied that it’s as much of a faux pas as wearing the same dress/skirt/shirt for multiple days, I now feel maybe my instinct was in the wrong. What do you think?

Tons of people re-wear the same pair of pants within a work week.

Hell, tons of people re-wear the same shirt within a work week.

(Also, lots of these people are men, and I bet your boss doesn’t even notice when they do it.)

It’s true that if you have a really distinctive clothing item — like a green dress with white polka dots — it’s going to stand out, and people will notice if you wear it Wednesday after just wearing it on Monday. Even then, though, it’s not scandalous. It’s just … noticeable.

But pants? Plain black or gray pants?


Even if someone did notice, there’s no way for them to know if it’s the same pair, or whether you — like lots of people — have multiple pairs of basic clothing items. Lots of people have several pairs of similar-looking (or identical) clothing items. It’s really not a big deal.

Your boss sounds like she has some kind of hang-up about money, since most people really aren’t “assuming things about your finances” just because you wear the same pants twice a week. (And even if they did, being on a budget isn’t some kind of terrible character issue.)

Read an update to this letter

{ 586 comments… read them below }

  1. Mallory Janis Ian*

    Oh, puh-lease! I have three favorite pair of pants that I rotate through each week. Out of those three, one of them is my very, very favorite, and I wear them 2 – 3 times in the same week.

    1. michelenyc*

      Me too! Right now I only have one pair of jeans. I wear them multiple times in a week and sometimes I don’t wear them at all.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I have three identical pairs of jeans, because when I find the right jeans I go all in. If someone can tell the difference between the wear on them, they are looking at my lower body too much.

        1. TrainerGirl*

          That was my thought…if your boss is that tuned into the pants you’ve got on, they’ve got WAY too much time on their hands. Especially if you’re talking about black pants.

          1. Annonymouse*

            Yeah, your boss is weird.

            Unless the pants are very distinctive (black bell bottoms with large built in belt for example) then they are just a work wardrobe staple that no one should care about.

            If someone wears black pants or a black skirt all week (or charcoal, navy, grey or pinstriped) it isn’t a big deal. These are such fundamental building blocks to a work wardrobe I can’t see why anyone would care unless you work in fashion and are supposed to “change it up”.

            Heck, upon reflection at one of my old jobs one of our staff members wore the exact same outfit everyday and I didn’t twig to it until she left.

            1. Annonymouse*

              Reflecting on bosses comment about people assuming things about finances.

              Does that mean she thinks it reflects badly on her or the company?

              Possible action/thought train:

              1) People see OP in same pants and care enough to notice.

              2) Thought 1: Oh, OPs wearing those pants again?

              3) Thought 2: Maybe she can’t afford another pair.

              4) Thought 3: Jeez, the pay must be crummy if that’s true.

              5) Thought 4: Either OPs boss is cheap or the company isn’t doing so well if OP is dressed in the same thing again.

        2. Psychdoc*

          When I find clothing that fits, is comfortable, and I feel good in, you can bet your life I am buying one in every color. I own 7 pairs of slacks, 3 are black, and 4 are grey. All the same pants. And I’m not even remotely interested in changing my shopping habbits, thank you very much.

    2. Southern Ladybug*

      And if I find a great pair of black pants that fit well (or a skirt or other basic item), I sometimes buy more than 1 item since laundry doesn’t always happen on the same schedule that I need things :)

      1. Justme*

        I have 3 pair of the same black pants. I wear those exclusively to work. Nobody has commented in my year and a half in this job.

        1. JaneB*

          Pants that fit and are work-appropriate and comfortable are rare, who WOULDN’T buy multiple pairs if the budget allows? I also buy two pairs of a good pair of shoes, and duplicates of tops – I don’t like shopping much, I have an awkward shaped body, I get rashes from many modern artificial fibres – if I find something that fits, is made of a fabric I can wear in comfort, and looks work appropriate I will make the most of it!

            1. Boop*

              Buying pants is one of the most depressing and frustrating things to do. I’ve gotten so upset that I just had to leave.

              1. Hlyssande*

                I’m struggling with this right now, after gaining some weight over the last year. Nothing fits my shape comfortably, and the pants I have that still fit are a style that was discontinued.

                It’s the worst.

                1. Karen D*

                  Alison has posted a recommendation for Thredup in the past, and there’s also Swap and Schoola – check ’em out! You may be able to score some backups.

                  When one of my favorite retailers went out of business, I was able to source several pairs of the style I really liked through those sites, for as little as $3 a pair. (They don’t list their stuff using the official style name, so look closely at the pictures to be sure what you are getting.)

                2. Reboot*

                  This is exactly why I’ve moved to sewing my own clothes. I make patterns from the things I already own that I know fit and are comfortable, and I don’t have to deal with clothes shopping, which is a special sort of hell for me, taking into account weight, medical problems, financial issues, and dysphoria. You have my sympathy, Hlyssande.

              2. Snazzy Hat*

                I recently bought two pairs of capris as regular-length pants because the selection for petites is pathetic across the board.

            2. Kindling*

              Ugh, yes. Pants shopping is a nightmare. Particularly as a woman, but I’m sure for folks of all genders who don’t conform to the exact body type that society builds clothes for.

              I found pants that I like that don’t gap at the waist or fall down all the time and have pockets that can actually fit things and I’ve basically exclusively bought more pairs of them for years. (High waist BDG jeans from Urban Outfitters, if anyone wants to try them.) I wear essentially the same pair of pants every day. I of course wash them and I do try to vary it up a little to make sure it’s not completely obvious, but yeah. Nobody’s said a word to me about it.

              1. Elizabeth H.*

                Sometimes I wonder who actually has an easy time buying pants. I had a pretty easy time buying pants when I was super thin but they would still gap a bit in the waist and if I lost *any* weight they would be too baggy and slip down, so that wasn’t exactly optimal either. I have had the best luck with Boden jeans (and their non-jeans pants to a lesser extent) and a few pairs of Ann Taylor Loft jeans/corduroys.

                1. Alienor*

                  I’ve struggled with the waist gap before, as well as leg length. I’m 5’6″, which I don’t think is particularly short for a woman, but every pair of pants I try on seems to have legs that are four inches too long. Sometimes I wonder if designers think their customers are giraffes.

                2. Katie Sewell*

                  People who most closely resemble the fit model of a particular store and, crucially, have identified that store waltz in and waltz out with a pair that fits. You find your store, and then you don’t even bother trying other stores and you hope they never change the cut.

                3. Kindling*

                  Men’s sizing tends not to vary as wildly store-to-store as women’s, but I’m sure they have their own challenges. It’s mystifying. People would probably buy more pants if it wasn’t so disheartening.

                4. Gadfly*


                  My husband tells me for men that the assumption of ‘white boy butt’ is a problem and makes fitting men who have some butt or thighs problematic.

                  Still, I think I’d trade him. I deal with about a 10 size range (depending on btand and cut) of pants that might fit. He knows his size and moves up or down one at most.

                5. Lori*

                  Whereas I have the opposite problem as Alienor. I’m a smidge over 5’6″, but my height is mostly in my legs. I’m often just a bit too tall for regular (at least in khaki-style pants such as Dockers or Lee, and especially if they shrink) but trying to find a size in tall is next to impossible in-store.

                  Add into that my short torso and long arms and it’s a miracle when I find work clothes at all that don’t break the bank. Though I’m willing to spend more if I know things will fit and wash/dry well.

                  I really hate clothes shopping. I wish I could wear jeans and t-shirts every day. It would solve so many problems for me.

                6. Wilhelmina Mildew*

                  Alienor and Lori, I haven’t bought or worn any other pants than leggings in YEARS since it has become SO HARD for me to find any that fit since “low rise” came into fashion. I’m 5′ 11″ and have a long torso. In the 80s & 90s, when pants were designed to hit at the ‘natural waist’, they hit *me* 2 or 3 inches below that- under my navel. But as long as I could latch the waistband over my hipbones, it was fine. Not anymore! My hipbones are straight up & down, the curves I have are just fat, and ANY pants, not matter the style (leggings, slacks, jeans, cargo, whatev) that don’t come high enough to hook onto my hipbones *won’t stay up*. I mean they will slide right off of my straight up & down hips (The curves I now have are just fat & offer no resistance, LOL.) Doesn’t matter how tight the pants are, or how tightly I belt them. And very little is more annoying to me than having to pull up my damn pants every 30 seconds all the ding dong day.
                  Add to that sensory processing issues that make certain styles & fabrics unwearable for me, and that I cannot seem to find any place that carries pants in high quality, thick, heavy, long lasting fabrics (denim and otherwise) that have stretch (also widely & cheaply available in the 80s/90s, I had tons) and I haven’t worn a real pair of pants in well over a decade now :-(

          1. Hellanon*

            Oh yes! I have eight pairs of the same pants in different colors – I buy multiples on workhorse items like pants/shoes/tops for work.

            1. constablestark*

              I think the only places where this would be an issue would be anywhere in fashion and entertainment. At my workplace, folks typically have uniforms and purchase the same thing in multiple colors. We used to buy pants from this lady who would bring a selection and go office-hopping so sometimes folks would get the same thing but in different sizes. I have the same pair of pants and the same shirt in multiple colors (thanks, Uniqlo!) because the laundry cycle can get erratic (sometimes we do it at home, sometimes we go to a laundromat for it). I’ve gone to an industry awards show with a dress I bought on the day of (new stock) and just had steamed and the only comments I got were on how well it fit me. This is a whole lot of BS, OP.

          2. VerySleepyPregnantLady*

            This week, I have had to mourn the fact that my 5 pairs of work pants–all the same discontinued style/cut in 4 different colors (gray, pinstriped black, pinstriped gray & blue, and 2 black)–no longer fit my new shape. I am trying them with a bellyband, but it’s just not the same. They were SO COMFY. With big pockets! And that magical combination of flattering & professional!

            I have had those pants for 6 years. I love those pants. May I be able to wear them normally again some day.

            1. Rana*

              You may get lucky. :)

              There were a bunch of things that I had to put aside postpartum because they just didn’t fit my reshaped body, and it was very sad. But! Some of them fit now, after a couple of years – it took that long for my body to figure out what to do with itself after pregnancy.

              Fair warning, though, some did not. Things that didn’t fit because of weight I was eventually able to wear again. Things that didn’t fit because pregnancy and childbirth had changed the shape of my abdomen and hips still do not feel as comfy as they did before. (And I am allllll about the comfy these days.)

            2. Avvocato16*

              I finally gave in and bought maternity pants for the office. I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to my regular pants again lol.

          3. Amy Farrah Fowler*

            Yes! So much this! I am allergic to rayon (you should see the faces I get when I tell people who work in clothing stores that), as well as tall and plus size. When the pants I liked (which could only be purchased in store, couldn’t be ordered blah blah blah) got discontinued, it was so disappointing.

            No joke, when I found new pants I could wear (just a few weeks ago actually), I bought 5 pairs in black and 2 in khaki. I wear nothing but those pants pretty much all the time. If someone commented on my pants, I would fill them in on the saga of how difficult it was to find these, and they would probably never want to mention the word “pants” to me again.

              1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

                Lane Bryant website – The pants I bought are Boot Chinos. I originally bought 3 pairs (on sale), and got real women dollars when I bought them. Then they ran them on clearance – buy one, get one for $5, so I bought 2 more in black and 2 khaki, and threw in 2 night shirts so I could use both the real women dollars. After all the discounts, I got 4 pairs of pants and the 2 night shirts for $70 bucks (super proud of that). I’m hoping I don’t have to shop for pants for several years!

                1. Perse's Mom*

                  I should really suck it up and go back there and check on their selection of pants. They have a store in my local mall, but I just… hate the mall, so very much. I suppose I hate the idea of ordering online and dealing with the real possibility of things not fitting even more, though.

        2. Kelly L.*

          My goal is for no one to ever know how many pairs of black pants I own at any given time!

          I tend to buy the same basic cut of pants every time, and depending on weight fluctuations and wear and tear, sometimes I have 1 pair and sometimes I have more like 4. They’re similar enough that it would take an eagle eye to track them.

          1. kiwidg1*

            Amen! I have at least ten pairsof black pants most of the time. And my husband doesn’t understand why I have to have the dry cleaning picked up when I say “I’m almost out of pants.” He doesn’t know that there’s a difference between the ones I LIKE to wear and the ones I CAN wear.

        3. Easter*

          Same. I have four pairs of pants – two black, two grey, identical other than color. That is ALL that I wear and all I have worn for the past two years at my job and no one has said a dang thing/I doubt they have even noticed.

          1. Easter*

            Also, when I find a top that I like, I buy it in every color that I like. I think this summer I’ve lived in the above-mentioned pants and the same short-sleeve sweater, just a different color.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              Old Navy made an inexpensive dress that looked really good on me and was comfortable last year, so I own it in three colors. Because I mean… why wouldn’t I?

              1. YaH*

                I have 7 of the sleeveless swing dresses in different colors and 4 of the long sleeved swing dresses in different colors. Plus 6 different colors of an elbow-sleeve-length dress I found on Amazon that fits me well. All the dresses! (none over 30 bucks.)

            2. Liz*

              I have the same light sweater in 5 or 6 different colors because the cut, style, and fit work so well for my summer wardrobe!
              I also have definitely bought more than one of the same top if I really like a garment and know that wearing it repeatedly will result in signs of wear. It’s like the Downy commercial that’s making the rounds:
              Also when it comes to minimalistic living, which seems to be the trend lately, aren’t “capsule wardrobes,” where a person pares down to a few interchangeable basics, a concept that’s gained interest lately? Unless it’s something that stands out, I agree with Alison and with other commenters- shrug off any comments about wearing the same item more than once in a work week. I’m sure there’s more important work to be done!

        4. Lora*

          Yup. I am unfashionable and let my friends and store employees pick out my clothes mostly. I just have a bunch of neutral pants in a particular cut/style that fits well, a zillion thrift store blouses a similar-sized friend bought and decided she didn’t want, three jackets and three cardigans I really like and a bunch of hand-me-down dresses from random relatives and friends.

          Nobody’s ever commented on wearing the same thing. They’ve commented on “wow, you are all dressed up” and “that’s cool, where’d you get it?” but not about me wearing the same thing.

          I feel like you have to do that, buy lots of things when you find one that fits well, because the next fashion season it’ll be something dumb you cannot possibly wear to work, and you’ll have a hole or something that you can’t have the dry cleaner fix, and you’ll be outta luck for pants. There were three solid years where extra-long sleeves on sweaters was fashionable, and those were very chilly years for me. Now it’s miniskirts and you can’t get a knee-length skirt without feeling like Shackleton setting out on an expedition.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I look like a dead body if I wear pastels, and every few years there’s a year where everything is pastels.

              Right now apparently we’re all going for Lots Of Ruffles on women’s clothing and that makes me look like someone’s granny’s sofa cover, so I just can’t get any holes in my clothes until the ruffle thing abates.

              1. Nucking Fux Nix*

                Ok, not trying to derail but what is with the off-the-shoulder and cold shoulder top trend? I need to be able to use my arms and if I’m wearing sleeves it’s because my shoulders are cold! Also – even in my creative office this would be pushing trendiness too far for work appropriateness. I’m so over it. I have so many FEELINGS about these types of shirts.

                1. Angel*

                  Dude for real. I will never understand cold shoulder sweaters because if I’m wearing a sweater why would I want cutouts over my shoulders???

                  The A/C is out in my workplace right now, and it’s worse in the kitchen. The catering manager was back there doing prep for tomorrow so she took off her uniform shirt and had a tanktop on underneath. I joked, “you have shoulders!” because it was so weird to see a person in the kitchen without awkward baggy sleeves on.

                2. Laura*

                  Off the shoulder and cold shoulder are really popular because (a) shoulders look better when you have some weight on you, rather than being really thin (b) shoulders are pretty much the last part of the body to age. So since the majority of women are neither young nor slim…

                3. Gadfly*

                  And lace backs/random lace inserts in otherwise professional clothing? Mullet clothes: business up front, party in the back. Or is that just a plus thing?

          1. Snazzy Hat*

            Check out shops that focus on modest clothing. I first went looking when I was tired of wearing dark jeans & slacks outside while it was sunny & 90 degrees, and found my shop. From there I own three full-length skirts in the same style, each a different color, plus a dress & some flowy pants that have gotten me compliments from strangers at work. One woman even stopped a conversation she was having with someone else to say to me, “excuse me, I love that dress.” {strutting on clouds}

            1. Lefty*

              Any chance that shop might be a chain you could recommend? I’m always looking for staples and prefer more coverage.

          2. But you don't have an accent*

            I love Express’s Portofino shirts. They usually have 5-10 colors out, they come in regular and slim fit, and they’re pretty easy to wash and they hang dry pretty quickly (compared to sweaters). I love them for summers, because they’re long sleeves but not heavy material, and the sleaves can be rolled. I probably own about 20 of the same exact shirt in different colors (and sometimes I goof and buy the same color again).

        5. NoNoNoNoNo*

          Exactly. Last time O was shopping (ugh) I found a great style of black slacks that fit perfectly. I bought every single pair (5) in my size.

          I only wear black slacks or jeans. Slacks for work, jeans casually. I like and fit well in only one brand/style of jeans. They are a little pricy but I buy them in multiples whenever they are on sale.

          If I find anything that fits well I will buy as many as my Amex will allow.

          Tops, dresses, skirts…I try to change those up color/style wise just because, but standard solid black slacks are go to work wear.

          The manager has issues.

      2. TrainerGirl*

        I do this often. I have kind of odd proportions (petite but with long arms/legs), so if I find an item that fits well, I’ll buy two or three in different colors/patterns so that I’ve got some choices. I have a sweater that I love in three colors, and I’ve been rotating them all summer.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Totally. I have 3 identical pairs of slacks. I could wear each of them, and they would all look like “the same pants.” OP’s boss is off her rocker.

    3. Nolan*

      I don’t think I ever had more than three or four active pairs of work pants at any given time. Hell, if I didn’t sweat so much, I would have worn my shirts a couple times between washes too. I can’t remember a time in my adult life when I had more than four or five pairs of pants (including jeans) in my rotation. There’s no need for more!

      Actually… when I did seasonal maintenence for state parks I’d sometimes only get one wear between washes. But when your job is picking up hot summer trash (including fish guts), cleaning park outhouses and bathrooms, and mowing big, open fields in the sun, well, your clothes get gross.

      But for office jobs?? Your boss must need more work for herself if she’s even noticing your pants are the same.

    4. Koko*

      Washing also puts a lot of wear on a garment! Especially with nicer slacks it will extend their useful life to wear them a few times in between washes, assuming you aren’t walking around with noticeable stains.

    5. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      the hell.

      I’ll wait right here while this lady take stock of the men’s wardrobes and determines if they are wearing unique pairs of khakis each day of the week.

      the hell.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        I now imagine her going around with chalk like a meter maid and then checking the pants the next time to see if they have a chalk mark already or not.

        1. JennyFair*

          I had a manager that had this done to her at a previous job–one that required khakis as a uniform item, no less–except with a pen instead of chalk! I’d have been livid, and agree with the earlier poster who said that if you notice something like that, you’re spending way too much time concentrating on the lower half of my body.

      2. Katie Sewell*

        They are not. Does anyone remember that guy who was wetting himself twice a day at the office and wearing those pants all week?

        1. lokilaufeysanon*

          Oh man, I just read that post not too long ago! That guy’s poor co-workers. I think they sent an update in, too, and said not much had changed.

    6. Bibliovore*

      So when I find something I like, I buy multiples all in the same color. Right now its a pair of hemp and cotton pants. I wear the same pants everyday. Clean fresh pair but the same pants. I can’t believe anyone cares.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I only have ONE pair right now that isn’t jeans! I don’t know what I’m going to do if I get a business-casual job again. I do wear different shirts, especially in summer when I’m more apt to sweat in them. But yeah, I’ve done this before at multiple jobs and nobody ever said a damn thing. I don’t think they even noticed.

    8. Lindrine*

      Right? I started a new job a few weeks ago and have worn the same pair of nice gray slacks three times in one week. I could understand it if the OP worked in a high dirt area like a vet office or a deli. But inside an office? In air conditioning? Dressing professionally costs not just money but time.

      1. Wilhelmina Mildew*

        I worked at a veterinary hospital! A very nice, top quality, highly professional place. Dress code: Scrub top or medical smock, t-shirts, scrub pants or jeans, sneakers. As long as your clothes were clean and in ok condition nobody gave two farts if you wore the same exact thing every single day or not.

    9. Chickaletta*

      I wear the same three pairs of pants all week. And yes, to the others about fit, it is a sad, sad time in fashion for women to be buying pants. They’re all made out of crappy material from crappy patterns. Do you hear me, clothing manufacturers? If you can create pants that are somewhat attractive and don’t hang like pajama bottoms after three wears, you will make millions.

    10. Vivian*

      Same here – I will re-wear the same black pants (and heck, even shirts) a couple times within the same week. It’s just more practical that way, not to mention that not everybody has tons of space at their living quarters to store several hundred pieces of different clothing.
      I like to keep it simple. I have a relatively limited wardrobe with few clothing items. Of the clothes I do have, I have multiple pieces of the same clothing for some of them. It’s inevitable that I’d have to “recycle” the same piece / same clothing within the same week. Many of my coworkers do the same thing. There are simply more important things in my life than meticulously coordinating my outfit everyday (unless of course, you work in a profession that explicitly requires it).
      Honestly, it sounds as if OP’s boss has a few psychological issues/hang-ups they need to resolve.

    11. sam Conklin*

      I have about three pair of black pants – the differences are so little, I’d be surprised if anyone could tell them apart. We joke about shoes (we have several specialists that must have a closet just for shoes). I have about four pair, all black, and all look very similar.

      I cycle between pants, wearing one pair several times a week (during casual week, it’s usually one pair of jeans), and I have quite a few tops.

      I don’t know what’s up with the clothes horse, but she needs to reign it in.

    12. Kag*

      I had my indestructible gray pants for a decade (almost) and I wore them 2/3 times a week as well. I’m confused as how she could TELL that the ones you were wearing were the same pair

    1. Cece*

      Exactly this. If I noticed a coworker wearing similar trousers more than once in a week, I’d assume they’d bought a few pairs of the same style (or, shock-horror, they did laundry midweek).

      Sounds like your boss doesn’t have enough to occupy her attention…

      1. Jesca*

        Ya know, I rarely wear the same pants to work in one week. I make sure I also have enough for at least the work week. Why I do this, I have no idea. But as I sit here at this desk, I can honestly say that I would have NO IDEA if someone even wore the same pants every damn day of the week if they were neutral and generic pants!

        This all has me thinking that I could probably reduce my weekly laundry!

        1. Amber T*

          I typically do laundry on the weekends, but sometimes I’ll do it during the week for whatever reason. There have been many times where I come in wearing (very obviously) the same dress or shirt (I don’t own too many similar shirts or dresses), and I’ll ask my coworker… “did I wear this already this week? I think I might have…” and even though she sees me every day, she just shrugs and laughs. I can’t tell you what my coworkers wore a day or two before, I’m guessing that’s the same for most people.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I notice if they dress better than I do, but those people rarely wear the same thing twice or if they do, they style it in such a way that I don’t realize it.

          2. azurelunatic*

            When I had a tiny apartment with this all-in-one ventless launderizer that took five hours to run a full cycle, I basically had to do multiple small washes a week or I’d never get everything washed on a weekend. So there were some weeks when I’m sure I alternated between the same two sets of (clean) clothes. It was Silicon Valley, so the worst that happened was I got mistaken for an engineer. Though given that most of my wardrobe was black, black, and charcoal grey that used to be black, I’m not sure if anyone could actually tell.

      2. many bells down*

        I wouldn’t even notice a pair of plain gray or black pants. If they were purple plaid or something I would, but gray, black, or khaki are just neutral basics and it wouldn’t even occur to me that they might be the same pants you wore Tuesday.

        1. JessaB*

          Exactly as long as they weren’t very very noticeable in colour or pattern and even if they were “Why do you think I didn’t buy more than one of these, I love them.” Now obviously if there’s patina on the bottoms or the knees are stretched out that won’t work. But seriously. People buy multiples of things that fit and are appropriate, especially on sales.

      3. EddieSherbert*

        I thought of the laundry bit too! Wednesday is my “laundry day” most weeks, so I know I’ve worn the same shirt twice in a week… and I don’t even want to mention sweaters/cardigans, or pants! Haha

    2. pope suburban*

      Yeeeeessss. I am a big believer in multiples of staple clothing items. Plus, I find it makes my morning routine a lot easier if I have a few matching pieces of work wear that I can just assemble. I don’t waste a lot of time figuring out what to wear, and since I don’t work in an image-first industry like fashion, no one cares. It’s like a less-stringent version of those Silicon Valley dudes who wear the exact same thing every day because they find it optimal or efficient (Which, hey, is a thing people do, LW’s boss!)

      1. Infinity Anon*

        I don’t tend to have exact duplicates of my shirts, but apparently I tend to buy shirts that look almost the same without realizing it.

        1. JaneB*

          I tend to find a top I like and get it in every colourway I can wear, then it looks a BIT different (as a female academic, I am aware that students will at least tend to notice how I present myself – I go for the same uniform (black pants, tunic tops and semi-structured cardigan-fabric jackets in winter) but ring the changes in top colour and sometimes scarves or hair styles).

      2. Pope Lizbet*

        I have three of the same black dress, two of the same gray dress and three of the same wine dress, plus a black skirt I have three clones of. As long as I rotate suit jackets no one ever cares.

      3. Sarianna*

        I have five copies of the same turquoise short-sleeve top in the same cut in three different brands. Plus one each in 3/4 sleeve and longsleeve. Not intentionally. The color and style apparently look good, and I’m not checking my closet when I’m out shopping, so I’ve gotten several. That said, I probably wouldn’t wear those in the same week on purpose.

        1. TheAssistant*

          I really want you to try having Turquoise Week and see if anybody notices.

          I do this all the time when I shop. I find a top, buy a top, put it in a drawer, and realize I basically already have that top..

    3. constablestark*

      Same here. I also buy multiple shirts in the same style. It’s just easier to have a uniform because it takes a lot of guesswork out of my morning routine.

      1. designbot*

        I have an employee who does this–I think she may wear the same exact thing every single day. If there is variation, it’s so slight that I can’t tell. Can’t say that anyone’s ever remarked on it though, it just makes her a bit like a cartoon character, like how Marge Simpson always wears that same green dress and pearls. It’s her thing.

  2. Murphy*

    Uh…that’s ridiculous. I have basic black or grey dress pants that I definitely wear multiple times in a week. That’s the whole point of having some basic neutral pieces. You can wear them with multiple different outfits. I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem with this.

    1. Hotstreak*

      I’m with you – I wear the same pair of black pants for 4-5 days in a row, at least, before switching to another identical pair of black pants. I rotate through 6 or 7 shirts, but mostly I stick with the same 3, so I regularly wear the same shirt twice in a week (I try not to wear the same shirt Three Times in a week). My boss is a woman and has less variety in her wardrobe than I do, and it’s never been a problem.

      1. SarahKay*

        Agree 100%.
        I have one pair of black trousers (pants) and wear them potentially every day in a week, although I vary the tops that I wear with them. I then have a couple of skirts and a couple of dresses, which I tend to wear if it’s raining (pantyhose/tights dry faster than trousers and a raincoat will cover a knee-length skirt). Basically, I change out the tops; my bottoms tend to be basic black.

        OP, your boss is weird.

      2. General Ginger*

        Same. Two pairs of identical black pants, and about 7-8 shirts — mostly polos, mostly black or grey. Though right now, because it’s summer, I also have a pair of shorts in rotation (my office is casual). I don’t think I could tell you what any of my coworkers are currently wearing or have worn during the week, unless it’s something really stylish or decidedly un-casual. Even then, I’d probably only make note of it in terms of “oh, Coworker Bob is probably interviewing somewhere or has an after-work event”.

  3. Anonymous Poster*

    I regularly wear the same pants a few days in a row. Previous jobs it was jeans, but now it’s also dress slacks. I don’t generally wear the same shirt in the same week, but I know others do and it’s not A Thing. It hasn’t ever been A Thing in the 9 years I’ve been working in a professional role. I don’t know your field, but I wouldn’t think this is a general thing to be on the lookout for in the working world in many industries.

    Since this may play a role, I am a man in engineering, a generally male-dominated field. Most women I’ve worked with exhibit this same re-wearing clothing behavior too, though, and it hasn’t been an issue as far as I can tell. I can’t be sure if that’s because it’s engineering, where we joke in seeing only in the 8 basic crayon colors, or something else. I’m also a federal contractor, so shirt and tie are generally needed except during the summer.

      1. Sadsack*

        Or the boss is Miranda Priestley from Devil Wears Prada or Amanda Woodward from Melrose Place. Those fictional characters are the only people I can imagine saying something like this.

    1. many bells down*

      My husband is in the game industry, so his office frequently gives out t-shirts with the game’s logo on them. I think he might be able to wear the same shirt every day of the week, but it would be a different shirt because he owns so many identical shirts.

      1. nonegiven*

        A place my son used to work has contests to see how many days you can wear a different industry themed t-shirt every day without repeating. I think they even borrow shirts from each other for this.

      2. All the t-shirts*

        I work in tech and get T-shirts all the time. I wear the ones from my company to work during the week, and the ones from other companies on the weekends. I have as many as seven identical copies of one T-shirt (they were free and just sitting there next to my desk, week after week …). I don’t repeat tops without washing but I own maybe four pairs of jeans so I wear one pair for a week and then switch. I do three loads of laundry a month.

    2. DaniCalifornia*

      I do the same. This summer I had abdominal surgery so dresses were a better option for about a month during recovery. It’s hot in TX. So I wore the same five dresses every week. No one said a word. As long as you look nice no one should care exactly what you wear and when you wear it. Like I joked with my coworker once, if she went missing I wouldn’t know what to tell the police she was wearing because I am concentrating on work not the outfit.

  4. Fronzel Neekburm*

    One of my life goals is to have a closet the resembles Superman’s in that it’s all the same professional looking outfit for work.

    Once again I point out: people are way too hung up on what other people wear. Sure, it makes sense to say “no sweatpants” or things like that, but seriously, we’re too hung up on whether people can do their job. We literally make people wear jackets and long pants on days that are in excess of 100 degrees. Non-common sense dress codes are dumb. (I.e. don’t wear a T-shirt with profanity on it vs. hey, it’s hot, if you’re wearing a pair of nice-looking shorts for a day you’ll be good.)

      1. Manuel*

        I do this, too! I bought multiples of the same shirt and same pairs of jeans. I even have multiple pairs of the same shoes for when the company inevitably stops making them or changes them just slightly so they become unwearable. No one has ever commented on it to my knowledge.

    1. Fish Microwaver*

      Didn’t President Obama have a wardrobe of identical suits and shirts so he didn’t have to give precious brain power to what he was going to wear?

      1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

        Not sure about Obama, but I know that’s what David Lynch does. For the same reason, Lynch also ate the same lunch at the same restaurant every day for a year so he wouldn’t be distracted from creativity. Frankly, I think this makes a lot of sense, but I’m the least fashionable person on the planet.

        1. SarcasticFringehead*

          I’ve heard that some celebrities do it so that papparazzi can’t get “new” photos of them – tabloids aren’t going to buy photos of someone going to the same coffee shop in the same gray hoodie over and over.

          1. Mini Quiche*

            Daniel Radcliffe did that when he was in a play. He left in the same outfit every day so the paparazzi photos weren’t sellable. I think it’s brilliant.

        2. birchwoods*

          Maybe for *productivity* reasons, but that’s not how creativity works, and I wish powerful people would stop shilling pop pseudoscience. For creativity you need input, stimulation, new environments, challenge, problems. Source: a neuroscientist.

      2. Amy*

        I believe he did have a closet full of black and navy suits (with one random tan colored suit thrown in the mix). Steve Jobs did this as well: standard jeans and black turtle neck pretty much every day.

        1. zora*

          Obama had multiple versions of two suits: one charcoal, one navy, so that everything he had would go together.

      3. JanetM*

        I remember catching an episode of _Project Runway_ where a viewer sent in a question asking Michael Kors why he, a fashion designer, always wore the same black shirt and trousers. His answer was, as you say, so that he didn’t have to think about it.

        1. Lefty*

          A very fashionable friend of my mother’s always said that if you were going out with fashion savvy people and weren’t sure what to wear- go with black. She worked with designers, costumers, and other creative types and swears they always wore black. I’ve heard other versions of this rule elsewhere- I’m not sure if it’s for efficiency or to look chic, but it seems to be prevalent in certain circles!

    2. Amber T*

      Yes! I get the concept of a dress code (I mean, I think it’s silly. Would I be less productive if I wore jeans instead of pants? Probably not.), but unless an outfit is wildly inappropriate to the dress code, why bother saying anything?

  5. marymoocow*

    I don’t understand the boss’s hang-up on this one, and the comment about finances really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I have a hard time finding well-fitting pants, so I always buy multiples when I find one I like. There is literally no way to tell if I am wearing the same pants twice or if I am wearing a second pair that is identical. Keep doing what you do and ignore your boss. If she makes another comment, you can always say that you have multiples and are wearing pants that match but aren’t literally the same pair.

    1. Tuesday*

      Agree about the comment on finances, especially coming from the boss. I’d be tempted to reply with, “You’re right! But I think I have a solution. I’ll need a 10 percent raise for my new pants budget, effective immediately. Thanks for working with me on this.”

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Yep, my first thought is this boss is worried how it reflects on her because maybe she’s underpaying the Op.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I was thinking the same thing, Tuesday and marymoocow! Say to the boss that your finances aren’t so great so you need a raise, and also that you have more than one of the same pair of pants. Or that you did laundry last night. Whatever. It’s none of her business anyway.

    2. SignalLost*

      Yeah, this is all about the boss. She is making a big deal out of nothing. It might shock her to learn that I have sometimes done laundry on a work night and worn the same pants as I did the day before even though they were legit dirty the night before! I am god’s little magnet for coffee, so my clothes suffer more than most people’s.

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        I have to disagree with Falling Diphthong: “god’s little magnet for coffee” deserves much more than a +1. I’m thinking +105.

      2. Salamander*

        Yeah, the boss is being weird. As long as the clothes are clean and professional, there should be no issue.

    3. LadyL*

      At my first job my bosses’ boss was very judgmental about the clothing we wore. She would make comments if it wasn’t nice enough (as in, not brand new and name brand). When my boss would say, “You know these kids are fresh out of college, they don’t have money or a professional wardrobe yet,” grandboss would just say, “It’s called paying your dues.” She said this to multiple people about their clothing actually. To this day I wish she had said it to my face, so that I could respond “How are we supposed to pay our dues without any money??” And to be clear, this wasn’t like a law firm or something, I was a cashier at a history museum where 99% of our customers were 4th graders. We got paid $8/hour and weren’t scheduled more than 29 hours a week. That was not Ann Taylor Loft money, especially not after you factor in the dry cleaning bills from all the running around with children. Sometimes I think wealth stops brain function.

      1. Amber T*


        And I refuse to buy anything that requires dry cleaning. If I can’t throw it in my own washer, I’m not buying it.

        1. Karen K*

          You and me, both.

          I currently have five outfits, but, if I do wash during the week and I’ve got something special on Friday, I’ll wear the same dress twice in one week. No one has ever said anything to me.

        2. Tin Cormorant*

          Everything I own that says dry clean only, I throw in the washing machine anyway. 99% of the time, it’s fine. If it’s not, I didn’t want to have it in my wardrobe anyway.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Oh God me too. I don’t usually make enough money for regular dry cleaning. And if I did, I probably would be so busy I wouldn’t remember to pick them up anyway.

      2. only acting normal*

        What the hell? That’s not what “paying your dues” means.
        So not only was grandboss a petty classist judgemental *expletive deleted*, she was also an idiot.

      3. Museumish*

        The curator’s don’t even have Ann Taylor Loft money. That’s pretty exclusive to execs at very large museums. Grandboss must have lived in alternative reality land.

    4. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I’d be tempted to say, “comments about my finances are not welcome or helpful”. Sometimes being a boss doesn’t entitle you to make such comments.

  6. Mike C.*

    Seriously, this is nuts. I have several pairs of identical Levi’s 569 jeans, and no one cares.

    No, I take that back, this isn’t nuts, it’s classist bs. Does your boss have issues with the badge on your car or the neighborhood you live in as well?

    1. mskyle*

      It’s classist BS and not even particularly logical classist BS – I’m pretty sure rich folks also wear the same pants twice in a week sometimes. Because who doesn’t have a favorite pair of pants? And as for finances, one of the ways middle-class people “take care of themselves” and *avoid* precarious financial situations is by not buying things they don’t need. Ugh.

      I used to own three pairs of work pants when I worked in a traditional office setting, so obviously sometimes I would wear them twice in a week. At my current job I’ve been known to wear the same gray skirt or black pants two days in a row. My finances are fine.

      1. JustaTech*

        Heck, I’ve worked places where the richest and most senior guy was the one who looked like he just got back from a hike, while the junior folks were the ones in business casual. (This tends to be an industry-specific thing that you only see at conferences. Day to day everyone looked like they were about to go hiking.)

    2. Jadelyn*

      I mean, you laugh, but I actually did work a weeklong temp job once where, after the first day, they asked me to park my car down the street rather than in the lot so that it wasn’t apparent that it belonged to someone in their office, because I was driving an old (early-90s) clunker in not the best shape and it stuck out like a sore thumb among the upscale new cars everyone who worked there regularly drove. They couldn’t have anyone realizing that one of The Poors was present in their office, quelle horreur!

      1. Gingerblue*

        How does anyone make this sort of request without getting halfway through it, realizing they sound like a badly-written minor villain in a movie, and reconsidering?

      2. Lora*

        That’s some wannabe bougie BS right there. Old Money people drive elderly Buicks and the Mercedes they’ve had since 1972, because they have nothing to prove and more interesting things to do than car shopping – they prefer boat shopping, when it comes to that. Also, they don’t really drive themselves very much, other people drive them places.

        1. DArcy*

          This. I work private security so I’m often patrolling the garages at some very, VERY high end properties, and the bottom line is that the vast majority of rich people drive the exact same cars as the middle class — the average vehicle age is generally less and you see a higher percentage of upscale brands like Lexus and Acura over Toyota and Honda, but not nearly to the point that people think. The super expensive luxury brands do have a presence, but that is a minority of rich people who are either very image conscious or have a passion for cars.

      3. AnotherAlison*

        The president of my division drives some ~ 15 y.o. Nissan Sentra that looks like. . .a 15 y.o. Sentra.

        I personally find it amusing when new grads show up here with their $60,000 trucks and would advise strongly against it. I did the same thing, but as I’ve gotten older and more highly paid, the less I care about my car. I had a brand new Grand Am when I graduated, and my husband bought a brand new Silverado a couple years later. . .now, we have a 2008 4Runner and a 2011 F250, which we bought used 6 months ago. The 2003 Silverado is now my son’s. I wish I had all the money we blew on car payments back to put in the bank 15 years ago.

        1. JaneB*

          If the car works and is reasonably environmentally friendly, who the heck cares? It’s just a waste of book money…

          (my brother-in-law really, really cares about his car, and gets a new one regularly. He used to be visibly distressed by my elderly VW Polo – over 20 years old, and the paintwork was going wierd and patchy looking, but still a great car. At least my current car isn’t fading so doesn’t look quite so bad on his driveway!)

    3. nonprofit fun*

      Yup! I can’t help but wonder how this manager feels about other frugal activities, such as bringing in a homemade lunch or walking/biking to work. Re-wearing outfits is a smart move financially and environmentally (fewer runs in the washer/dryer), and preserves your clothes longer!

      OP, your manager is a weirdo. Plus, can’t “assuming things” about people’s finances work on the other end of the spectrum? Driving a flashy car, wearing designer clothes, or buying your lunch every day signal pretty loudly that you’re either wealthy or living above your means. This manager is unfairly penalizing lower/middle-class markers but not upper-class ones.

    4. Specialk9*

      Agreed it’s classist, and I suspect sexist. I care wildly and deeply about fashion, but am still really impressed by women wearing informal work uniforms (like only wearing sheath dresses and cardigans, or black dress pants and colorful button-ups). It’s so mentally freeing, and saves time and money and fuss. I could never do it, but so admire it.

    5. Observer*

      Actually, I disagree with you on the classist stuff. Because, if you noticed, lots of people who are NOT on a tight budget wear the same thing more than once – either actually the same or functionally the same (ie they have a set of basics that are identical or almost identical).

      I’ll grant that you have to be at a certain financial level to think that way, but it doesn’t reflect “class” behavior.

      I’ll agree that it’s bs and utterly stupid as well.

      1. KellyK*

        I think it’s still classist to tell people to avoid any behavior that might make them look poor, even if people who aren’t poor are also doing it. It still conflates being professional and responsible with having a certain amount of money (and making sure people know you have it, rather than being frugal with it).

    1. esra (also a Canadian)*

      Right? I can barely remember what I wore two days ago, let alone remembering what my coworkers wear. As long as people are tidy and dressed appropriately, I don’t really care.

        1. SignalLost*

          I write down what I wore (so I can actually get rid of things I don’t wear) because I don’t even remember my own clothes from day to day!

          1. all aboard the anon train*

            I arrange them in my closet so the closest thing to the door is the most recent item I wore. I’ll forget otherwise.

              1. Amber T*

                *thinks about the large pile of clean clothes sitting in the laundry basket that really should be put away instead of dug through every morning…*

          2. Babs*

            I do that thing where you turn the hangers around once or twice a year. Then when you wear something, launder it and hang it back up you put the hanger the right way. Then when you get to a certain date purge all the items that haven’t had their hangers turned around.

            Sometimes that’s the only reason I pick something to wear is because it’s hanger is still turn wrong way.

            1. Zinnia*

              Me too.
              Why are you dressed up today?
              If I didn’t wear this skirt by Labor Day, I’d have to get rid of it.

            2. Elizabeth H.*

              Ha! This is so funny. It would drive me crazy to have some of my hangers the wrong way. I have stuff in my closet I don’t wear but I’m good at purging so it is all things I genuinely want to still own and will wear again someday.

            3. Web Developer*

              Same! I have packrat tendencies and this is an important part of keeping them under control. I purge once a year (so I go through all the seasons at least once); if I haven’t worn something in an entire year, the odds of me ever needing to wear it again are very low.

              But sometimes I look at the ones that are still flipped around and go, y’know, I really do like this, I need to wear it!

        2. Specialk9*

          I do. I’m obsessive about fashion. I notice hair and clothes, I can’t not notice. But I totally get that others don’t care.

        3. Nervous Accountant*

          I actually do notice what people wear, but it’s either to admire or just for the sake of noticing. I don’t judge anyone on what they wear though just like I hope no one judges me.

          I do however point out when coworkers are matching with each other. One time an entire row was color coordinated (think, guy 1 in red, guy 2 in red & blue stripes and guy 3 in blue). I think matching is adorable!

          1. Rana*

            Hee. One time my husband went to work wearing a blue-striped oxford shirt and khakis, and met at least three other colleagues wearing blue-striped oxfords and khakis. They all thought it was hilarious.

      1. Optimistic Prime*

        Well this was my thing. I figure if I can’t even remember what I wore earlier in the week nobody else can. I definitely don’t remember what my coworkers wear from day to day, lol.

  7. Katniss*

    The finances comment is super gross. Why is it that people who are so concerned with other people’s class are always so, well…classless?

    1. OwnedByTheCat*

      It’s super gross, insensitive, and none of her business!

      It also doesn’t mean anything…

      My husband wears the same freaking outfit basically every day. He buys these ridiculously expensive t-shirts (why does he spend so much on t-shirts) and has like four pairs of pants that are all the same brand/cut (i think he has two colors). It’s his “uniform” as he boasts. Two pairs of shoes that he rotates. So he wears jeans and tshirts every day (totally normal in his industry) but seriously, why does he spend so much on tshirts? They’re like the unicorn farts of tshirts.

      Of course he’s a) in an industry where jeans and tshirts are totally fine, even for meetings with higher-ups, and b)he’s a man so he’s less likely to have his clothing scrutinized.

  8. Lady Phoenix*

    My mom drilled it in me to wear pants multile times befoee washing, so I do.

    Unless the item is noticable or stained, who cares?

    1. Blue*

      Seriously, this is my thought. I wear pencil skirts, in particular, a couple of times before washing. Cardigans, too, depending on how heavily they were used…

      Also, I would seriously never notice someone wearing the same thing twice in one week unless it was super distinctive and worn on consecutive days. Otherwise, I would probably recognize the top but would not be able to tell you the last time the person wore it.

      1. Ama*

        I’m pretty sure I have worn my favorite work dress two days in a row because I happen to have done laundry on the first night and it is clean again. (If not two days in a row, then definitely twice in a week.)

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          The only thing I might think if I noticed a person wearing the same outfit 2 days in a row was that they didn’t get home last night. Other than that, I don’t care.

      2. MegaMoose, Esq.*

        I should probably be embarrassed to say that I can’t remember the last time I had my pencil skirts cleaned, but I’m genuinely not. I wear shorts under them and they don’t really get dirty.

        1. KR*

          OMG same but with pants. I don’t wash my fancy dress slacks/suit skirt unless I have to so I just use a lint brush, let them hang up when I’m showering to steam, iron, hang them outside to air out, ect. If they don’t smell bad I’m not going to wash them. My every day work pants though, absolutely, get repeated week to week and work day after day. I only have so many! Boss is making a big deal out of nothing. OP, ignore what boss is saying and if she says something again I would vaugly reference doing laundry mid week or thank her for the feedback and do nothing.

          1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

            I get my suit dry-cleaned somewhat regularly, but I primarily wear it to job interviews, where it’s nice to be extra crisp. Not to mention that I sweat a lot in interviews. I should maybe set a reminder to get my skirts cleaned though. Maybe every six months?

        2. Tin Cormorant*

          There are some things I wash after every use, like shirts, because they get sweaty. But skirts and sweaters stay in the “used but still clean” basket in my bedroom until I get unlucky and spill something on them.

      3. Nolan*

        Oh man, cardigans… those are on a whole other level of wash cycles for me. Barring outside forces like spills, they’re like 10 wears between washes! They’re an outside layer, the shirts beneath them absorb the brunt of the funk :D

        1. Your Weird Uncle*

          Yeah, I buy like 20 simple cardigans in different colors/same styles. I *try* to keep track of which color I wear from day to day (I’d prefer not to wear the same one two days in a row, but other than that it’s fair game, as far as I’m concerned), and they get washed, oh, when I remember to throw them in the laundry?

      4. Teapot Librarian*

        I have no idea when I last cleaned the skirt I’m wearing today or how many times I’ve worn it since I last cleaned it.

      5. Sara without an H*

        My personal rule is that tops are only worn once in hot summer weather, then dropped in the laundry hamper. Trousers can be worn until showing signs of dirt.

        In cold weather, I try to rotate cardigans so they can air out a little between wearings, but there’s no earthly reason to wash them after every wearing — and it’s bad for the fabric.

        And since I mostly wear neutrals, nobody can probably remember the last time I wore something, anyway.

      6. Elizabeth H.*

        I am wearing a skirt that I washed for the 2nd time *ever* last week. I have owned it since 2012 and have worn it at least once every 2 weeks for several of these years (didn’t wear it much 2014-2015). It’s a flowy patchwork hippie type skirt, the kind that is pretty cheap that you buy from Tibet stores, and wouldn’t wear well. Never spilled anything on it and still looks great.

    2. Connie-Lynne*

      Even if it’s noticeable, as long as it’s clean, who cares? I have a utilikilt I wear the way other people wear jeans. It’s comfortable and professional.

      I hang it up when I get home at night and easily wear it 3x weekly. A coworker did comment I wear it a lot and I just kind of looked at him and said “so?”

      I work in tech, so we’re more casual, but seriously. If I’m not dirty or shabby or profane, my outfit is nobody’s business.

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      Same, even though I’ve had people who are disgusted about it. I mean, I’m not wearing underwear or sweaty gym clothes more than once before washing, but a dress or shirt that didn’t get smelly? Sure, I’m wearing it more than once, especially dresses that are hard to clean or get ruined the more you wash them.

      1. Tin Cormorant*

        I could never wear pants more than one day before they start to smell. But then, that’s one of the reasons I haven’t worn pants in at least 5 years. Skirts go a lot longer before needing to be washed.

        My husband, on the other hand, gladly rewears the same pants 5-10 times before considering them dirty, but he has that genetic mutation where his sweat doesn’t stink. Lucky bastard.

    4. Soon to be former fed*

      Yes, items can be brushed and aired out and be fine, particularly dressier things. Items can also be freshened by air fluffing in a dryer. That’s why we wear underwear, I’m talking about bottoms here. Now if you go commando, yeah, clean those pieces before wearing again, please!

  9. Mrs. Psmith*

    Ugh. This reminds me of a coworker I had at a previous job. We could wear jeans there, so I would often rotate out my 3 pairs of nicer jeans throughout the week (and an occasional pair of slacks). And sometimes I would wear the same pair of jeans two days in a row, because seriously, who cares? Well, this coworker did apparently. I said something one day about about how I was wearing the same pair of jeans again and she just said with this look of disgust on her face, “Yeah, I’ve noticed you do that a lot.”
    I was sad to leave that job, but never so glad to move on from a coworker. She was so incredibly bitter about her life that she did everything she could to tear others down. She was a piece of work.

  10. jenniferthebillionth*

    I have five pairs of grey trousers that are work-appropriate. Sometimes, I wear a pair of those grey trousers every day of the work week. Nobody cares as long as I look clean and presentable, and definitely nobody thinks it is a financial issue.

    I don’t understand your boss.

    1. He who controls the pants...*

      Same here – I own about 10 pairs of black pants. They are the only pants I wear – ever – all my shirts are bought to match them. And everywhere I have ever worked it gets known that I just wear black pants. I do try to wear differ shirts each day, but usually after settling into a work place warn my coworkers I do laundry mid week and may forget if I wore a shirt on Monday by Friday. No one has ever commented it was unprofessional- perhaps just a mutual laugh about our memories going as we age. Your boss sounds honestly a little unsettling to have even noticed that. I can’t imagine having enough time in my day to remember that closely what my coworkers are wearing.

    2. Bugpuss*

      Mr too. I wear black trousers almost every day I currently have 1 pair have are black with a pinstripe, but the others are all plain black, and while I can tell them apart, unless anyone else is taking an unhealthy interest in the exact size and placement of the button on the flies, or whether the pocket is real or fake, they won’t know which pair is which.

      And if I find a pair which is reasonably prices and which fits well, I’ll buy several identical pairs.
      I don’t think that it is remotely unprofessional, and I’d be more concerned about any employee who had nothing better to do than monitor other people’s dress over multiple days.

      I think that unless LW’s boss makes further comments, she should simply ignore the issue.

    3. Soon to be former fed*

      If this employer is so concerned about appearances, they should provide a clothing allowance for a professional clothing catalog. The property management company that DD works for does this. Even so, she repeats wearing of her favorite slacks throughout the week. Never a problem including when she was public facing.

      Many decades ago as a new college grad I was broke and had no corporate office appropriate clothes and when I got a few pieces I wore them repeatedly. Fast forward and now I have closets full of clothes, but the pareto principal applies. I wear my favorite pieces all the time.

  11. Doug Judy*

    “I would love to buy more pants for work, will I be given a clothing allowance?” When she says of course not, tell her that as long you’re within the dress code you’ll wear what you like. Good grief. I couldn’t tell you what my coworkers wore last week. And I doubt they would remember what I wore.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      I had a French teacher many years ago in community college, so, classes every day. (He was a hoot! Russian by birth, and a polyglot, and rather eccentric.) About halfway thru the SECOND semester of class with him, I noticed that his shirt looked the same as yesterday’s. I muttered a question to a classmate who said yeah, this teacher wore the same outfit every day for a week. Not the same pants and jacket, the same entire outfit.

      Admittedly, I’m a bad noticer sometimes, but honestly. I spent an hour a day looking at this guy in a classroom of 30 students, and it took me something like 6 months to realize. He certainly never smelled. (And he was a good teacher, too.)

  12. Going Anon*

    Guess what? I’ve been wearing the same pair of pants daily, M-F, for several months.

    (I put on some weight in the fall and can’t lose it – but I don’t want to buy more “fat pants.” When I’m slimmer, I have two pairs I wear for every weekday.)

        1. Going Anon*

          I used to spill coffee in my lap sometimes, but now I use a spillproof travel mug from Contigo.

    1. Lehigh*

      This is pretty much exactly my situation.

      At this point I do have leggings & tunics that I rotate as well, but yeah. I am going to wear these pants again this week because these are my only pants that fit right now.

      And to a certain extent, it is a money issue. I don’t feel comfortable financially buying a full wardrobe for every weight that I go through. Once I settle somewhere and feel comfortable that it will be stable long-term, I’ll be buying only in that size.

      1. Soon to be former fed*

        THIS! Weight fluctuations can wreak havoc on a clothing budget. I probably had a dozen pair of black pants at one time of various sizes!

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      I’m the opposite — I’ve lost weight and I hate shopping, particularly for pants. I’ve been scraping by with a belt and a mother who can blessedly nip in the waistband for me. Unfortunately I need to ask her to do it again, which will turn into A Thing, so I’ve been delaying.

    3. Elemeno P.*

      I worked at an independent game store after college, and since I’d put on some weight and was poor, my work “uniform” was switching between the same two/three tops and bottoms and wearing a nice black cardigan that made me feel good. I felt very self-conscious about my weight and my finances.

      A customer once came up to the counter and said, “Why do you wear the same cardigan every day? You should get a boyfriend who can buy you nicer things.” I think this was his attempt at a come-on? Since I was 21 and very self-conscious, my reaction was to run into the bathroom and cry, and my boss yelled at the customer and made him apologize.

      This letter clearly triggered some bad memories, but it’s just…so uncalled for to comment on someone’s wardrobe if their overall hygiene is fine.

      1. Stuff*

        Ooh no! My utmost sympathies. That is absolutely atrocious of the customer. I’m glad your boss had your back but even so, I wish the situation hadn’t come to be. :(

      2. Stone Satellite*

        I agree with the “yay, boss!” sentiment, but can I also add, hitting on people just trying to do their job is … unappreciated. Especially in customer-facing work, where it’s often not possible/permitted to just flip ’em the bird and go on with your day. Be friendly! Be kind! Be considerate and understanding! But save your come ons for a more appropriate venue.

    4. Julianne*

      I did the exact same thing last year. I was already feeling bad enough about the weight gain (and all the stressors that contributed to it), I was not going to spend money on bigger pants – that would have just been one more thing to feel terrible about! So I just wore the same pair everyday and washed ’em weekly.

    5. OwnedByTheCat*

      This is me at 7 months pregnant. I have like four outfits that fit and are comfortable. I am not going to spend more money on clothing that I will only need for a few months. If someone commented on my clothing I’d bite their head off.

      1. many bells down*

        Oh man, by the last month of pregnancy I was down to like one pair of leggings and maybe 3 tops. And then it was June, so the longest top became a dress and that was pretty much all I wore for the last couple weeks. By 8.5 months you are entirely out of fucks to give.

      2. Former Employee*

        If anyone is crazy enough to comment on the clothing worn by a very pregnant woman, they deserve the response they get.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      That’s what I was thinking. Doesn’t the boss know that people have washing machines and their use isn’t restricted to weekends?

    2. Amy*

      This is what I always assume when I happen to notice someone wearing the same clothing for multiple days. (And I only ever notice when it’s something really unique–gray or black pants wouldn’t even hit my radar!)

    3. Paige Turner*

      When I lived in an apartment building with only two washing machines, I always did laundry during the week, because everyone was lined up trying to wash clothes on Sunday night.

  13. Kiki*

    I have a small workplace ‘capsule wardrobe’ and do my laundry during the week. My Thursday and Friday outfits probably look similar or identical to my Monday and Tuesday outfits. If I don’t even notice then I doubt my coworkers do. I couldn’t name any of their clothing items off the top of my head if I tried.

    OP, your boss has weird hangups and you’re fine. If you really are concerned with your boss noticing again, maybe get some accessories that’ll make your outfits look more noticeably different.

    1. Old Admin*

      “If you really are concerned with your boss noticing again, maybe get some accessories that’ll make your outfits look more noticeably different.”

      That’s a good idea! Get different belts and swap them around etc.
      And tell Boss you have multiple identical pants that are soo very flattering on you (even if not true, none of her business).

    2. CanCan*

      I can name some of my coworkers’ clothing items, but I can’t tell you what they wore yesterday. Or today, for that matter. We had a group meeting 3 hours ago, and I only remember the (somewhat over the top) jewellery one of the 4 others wore. The others wore something dark, I think. Something that’s in line with their typical styles.

      In summer, I usually wear the same capri pants every day to work. A pair of long pants for colder days. In winter, I typically wear my favoure pair or two, where the second one is a backup in case pair 1 gets mudsplashed. Different tops every day though. Usually different tops next week as well. Same shoes year round. Three pairs of earrings. Usually no other accessories. Works for me. Profession: public sector lawyer.

  14. Jesmlet*

    I have 3 pairs of black pants that I rotate throughout the week and jeans I can wear on Fridays. No one will gaf if I repeat and the only thing it really says about me is I like these pants enough to wear them more than once during the week. Unless your pants are incredibly distinct, no normal person is going to bat an eye if you wear 2 pairs of grey pants (same or not) in any given week.

    1. Grayson*

      Same here. I have 2 pair of pants for work, one black and one a charcoal gray. I also have multiple different dress shirts and waistcoats I can mix and match. Would I like to buy more pants for work? Yes. Do I have other bills that take precedence? Oh yes.

      1. Jesmlet*

        Exactly – not wanting to spend money unnecessarily so you have more clothing options should not be interpreted like you’re in a bad financial position or don’t take care of yourself. Unless I have a gigantic stain or my clothes smell, there’s no reason to look at me funny for not owning that many pairs of pants.

  15. Archie Goodwin*

    I do try to alternate days, but I frequently wear the same pants multiple times during the week. Jackets, too – I have about three that I rotate continually. In fact, the pants I’m wearing today are the pants I wore Friday. And I wore them to a wedding on Saturday.

    Also, this is probably the most I’ve ever discussed my pants in a public forum. :-)

  16. Allypopx*

    I found a pair of slacks at Banana Republic on sale that fit me great and bought like four pairs, two of which are identical black. I rewear cardigans all the time. If I just sit at my desk all day in the air conditioning I might get a wear or two out of a basic dress before I wash it, more for things like pants. I need my clothes to last and, like OP, my “professional wardrobe” isn’t terribly diverse.

    If anyone commented on it I’d welcome them to fund a shopping spree for me?

  17. Carley*

    Was going to ask what kind of outfits you were wearing that would allow your boss to observe your pants everyday…and then I was like ‘oh yeah, Americans…’

    On the gender thing – reminds me of the experiment that Australian morning show host did where he wore the exact same outfit for a year and no one commented. This was in response to his cohost being criticised for wearing the same top 4 months apart.

    I don’t think I’ve worked anywhere where people feel the need to have a brand new outfit everyday, but tbh unless you have a really distinct dress sense or wear shirts/dresses that stand out, I probably wouldn’t even notice…

    1. fposte*

      Oh, it took me a minute to see what you were saying with the first sentence–yes, trousers to some readers, not undergarments. But I did enjoy my brief vision of a dystopian workplace where workers are only ever visible from the waist up.

      1. SignalLost*

        “We find that employees are more productive if they don’t take bathroom breaks so we have eliminated anyone from our pool who is not only an upper torso, head, and arms. No, we don’t know what they do with their digestive products. We think that may disappear into another dimension. We hope we never find it.”

    2. PizzaDog*

      I was thinking of the exact same thing – same suit, same tie and everything, and no one ever noticed.

    3. Government Worker*

      It came out recently that President Obama wore the same tuxedo to black tie events for his entire 8 years in office. I think Michelle Obama is the one who mentioned it, as she talked about the fact that of course she was expected to wear a new fancy and stylish dress every time.

      1. many bells down*

        Oh, Michelle couldn’t win. When she got a designer dress for an event she was “wasting taxpayer money” but when she was seen shopping at Target that was “undignified and low-class.”

        1. JaneB*

          I really envy men the ability to have one really nice formal wear outfit and just keep wearing it again and again…

          1. Bryce*

            If I could give this ability to women, I would. It’s a pretty sweet gig, particularly as a large guy where my style choices are limited to “does it come in my size? Great, I’ll take it.”

        2. JennyFair*

          The whole family couldn’t win. Sasha and Malia had ball gowns for some event or another. I saw, within minutes of each other, someone complain that how dare they wear such expensive designer gowns, and someone complain that if they were going to wear designer gowns, they should be altered to fit correctly (horrors!). The thing was, the gowns were ON LOAN from the designer…as such things often are…and thus hemming them would have been an issue, and they were free to both the wearers and the taxpayers. But, you know, don’t let that stand in the way of your complaints.

  18. paul*

    I only *own* two pairs of slacks. You bet I wear them 2-3 days at a time! The hell is the boss on about? Most of us here at my job at least occasionally wear the same item of clothing twice or more in a week.

  19. K.*

    I probably wouldn’t notice unless it was a very distinctive item of clothing, and even then, who cares? I’ve mentioned this here before but my best friend’s husband wore the same two suits for a month (Monday-Wednesday for one, Tuesday-Thursday for the other, business casual on Fridays) at his summer associate job until he’d banked a couple of paychecks and could buy more. No one said anything and I think he changed things up with different shirts, ties, and shoes.

    I did 3-month contract gig at a casual workplace and because I’ve mostly worked in business casual workplaces (usually jeans on Fridays), I don’t own a ton of jeans. I definitely repeated jeans there in the same week and no one said anything. I’m sure they were doing it too. Your boss is wrong.

  20. Brandy*

    I used to worry about grabbing the same top to wear to work in a week, but then I realized I barely remembered what anyone else (much less myself) wore during the week, and people are so caught up in themselves and their own lives and think nothing about others mostly.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      I used to have a coworker who noticed and remembered but was NOT crappy about it, so once in a while I would check in with her to make sure I wasn’t wearing the same outfit for every Casual Friday. But seriously, most people aren’t noticing, and even fewer are caring.

      For the OP, it may be too late to pull this off now, but I feel like “capsule wardrobe” is the upper-class version of “don’t own many clothes,” so you could use that in the future. And/or just stare her down and say “What do you mean?”

      1. OP*

        I’ll have to google capsule wardrobe after this, I’ve never heard of the term. It sounds fancy though :)

        1. Gingerblue*

          Forcing myself to put together a capsule wardrobe from what I had in my closet last summer was seriously freeing. It’s like planning an outfit the day before, but for a couple of monhs at a time, so all the tops look good with all the bottoms and I don’t have to think about it in the morning, just grab something! It’s awesome.

          But yeah, I think this comment is brilliant. Deploy the language of minimalism to reframe your small wardrobe in a trendy way. You should ‘t have to, but Lily Rowan is so right about “capsule wardrobe” adding a veneer of chicness that may help defuse your boss’ weird hangup if you’re hesitant to just say that no, she’s being weird and snobbish.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I googled capsule wardrobe, and the first hits said the originator of the term built a wardrobe out of 30 pieces. So, apparently, I already have a capsule wardrobe. My mother told me she had 18 pairs of jeans, plus another ~20 pairs she was giving to Goodwill. I have 4 pairs of jeans. Similar with pants, although I think I’m up to 7 now since she bought me two pairs for my birthday. I guess hating to shop and having a small closet now makes me fancy.

        1. Grayson*

          You and I both appear to already have capsule wardrobes for work. From what I read, this advice is geared towards people who have a lot of clothes. If I took a mental count of my closet I have:

          Dress shirts for work: 7
          Dress pants for work: 2
          Waistcoats: 4
          Suit jacket: 1
          Blazer: 1
          Work dresses: 2
          Work dress shoes: 2 pair
          Heels: 3
          Ties: 9?

      3. Specialk9*

        I would totally notice, but not be judgy. I love the idea of capsule wardrobes, but could never pull one off. I love the pretty shiny things!

      4. Jess*

        Capsule wardrobes and work “uniforms” both seem to be recent trendy ideas (or really it may just be finally giving a name to practices that people have long done). I love both ideas because the whole point of them is to save you time and energy by limiting your options when you’re getting dressed in the morning (essentially by being thoughtful beforehand when putting together your capsule or uniform so that you can know that your limited choices are all appropriate, comfortable, well-fitting, etc.). Although my capsule wardrobe exists more by default than me actually setting out to create one. This story about a woman adopting a work uniform is really interesting: I totally understand the appeal even though a single outfit is so much more extreme! Also, on wearing the same dress everyday for a week:

        1. Rana*

          I love the whole idea of capsule wardrobes, because that’s basically how I tend to dress anyway. I have a handful of favorite bottoms and favorite tops, and I wear ’em all to death. Too many choices takes up mental energy that I just don’t have.

          What’s tricky, though, is negotiating the changes between seasons. I really need 3 capsule wardrobes, and a way to handle periods when you’re not sure whether, on any given day, you’re going to need a winter outfit, a spring/fall one, or a summer one.

  21. AnotherAlison*

    When I started out, I only had two pairs of pants–khaki and light gray–and wore both ~twice a week (dress/skirt on the other days). I now make plenty of money, and I wore the same pair of black pants twice last week (M, W), too. I also washed them in between wears. My goal is actually to shift my wardrobe to all black pants hemmed to the same length so that everything goes with everything and I don’t need three pairs of shoes for a three day trip.

    The frequency of pant wear indicates nothing about your finances or you. Your boss sucks.

  22. boathouse*

    I actually think it is somewhat unprofessional that the manager is connecting wearing the same pants twice in a week with someone’s financial situation. I wear the same few pairs of pants each week on rotation and yes, wear some of them 2-3 days in a row because they are plain black or navy pants. Also, no one would say anything to a man, period, even if he wore the same thing every single day.

    1. Kate the Purple*

      Right?! There have been articles written about how world leaders (re: our former president), and billionaire CEO’s wear the same “uniform” every day because it’s one less decision that they have to make that day.

      I know there was no mention of sexism in the letter, but given the limited acceptable color and clothing options for men in corporate America, I can’t help but wonder why it’s a woman that’s being called singled out for this kind of unnecessary criticism.

  23. Hannah*

    There are a few “quirky” people at my workplace who only own one kind of clothing item. As in, their entire wardrobe, in one case, consists of multiple pairs of the same exact jeans, and multiple copies of the same plain black T shirt. In the other case, the person wears only all black pants and shirts all the time. I have no idea if they change their clothes or not!

    But neither smell bad, so I assume their hygiene is OK. So who cares?

    1. Natalie*

      I’m actually working towards this! I don’t know how quirky I am, but I am incredibly lazy re: clothes, so having a closet full of the same outfit a la a cartoon character is very appealing.

      1. Murphy*

        a closet full of the same outfit a la a cartoon character

        Haha, I always refer to this as a “Doug” closet, from the one episode of that cartoon where we saw that the inside of his closet contained only multiple copies of the same outfit.

    2. Naptime Enthusiast*

      Coworker has 4 white button-down shirts, 2-3 pairs of black pants, and black ties (#??). He wears them M-Th, and on Friday wears one of his 2 casual shirts. It makes his mornings so much easier than trying to figure out what he should wear to work. It doesn’t appeal to me because I like to change things up but that’s a personal choice.

    3. OwnedByTheCat*

      I commented upthread that this is my husband. He has a “uniform” he has put together of jeans, tshirt, funky sneakers. Yet he’s super into this uniform so they’re all crazy-unique-hipster-startup clothing items that cost way more than they should and he puts way more thought into his tshirts than anyone I know. He does change his clothes…can vouch by the pile of laundry on my bed…

    4. many bells down*

      My husband’s wardrobe is 90% t-shirts from video games he has worked on or is currently working on. I think he might be able to get through a week with identical shirts for his current job.

    5. Annie Moose*

      Oh yeah, I used to work with a guy like that who wore nothing but black T-shirts and jeans, except for days when he had to dress up for certain meetings (and it was SO WEIRD to see him dressed in formal clothes–he looked strange). It was just his thing, you know? His clothes were always clean and it was simple, not some crazy or distracting outfit, so it was just normal.

      (I don’t even know if most people noticed–I didn’t consciously pick up on it until someone else commented on it, and then I realized, oh, he does wear black T-shirts a lot, doesn’t he…)

  24. Myrin*

    “If someone notices someone, say, wearing the same dress or shirt multiple times, they might assume things about their finances or that they aren’t taking care of themselves.”

    This feels like a fair bit of mental gymnastics, to be quite honest. I wouldn’t even assume someone isn’t taking care of themselves if I saw them wearing the same things always – I’d just think they have a big stack of the same clothes and rotate those.
    (In fact, I do happen to know of such a case: A lecturer at my alma mater literally always wears black jeans and a grey shirt. In the seven years I’ve known him I’ve seen him wear a dark blue jumper over his shirt once but other than that, it’s always been the usual combo. And while students did snicker a bit about it – not in a malicious way, mind you, just in a “that’s Mr. R’s uniform” kind of way – I’ve never heard anyone assume that he literally only owns this one shirt and one pair of trousers. I feel really secure in guessing that the majority of people wouldn’t jump to that conclusion at all ever.)

    Also, I agree with Alison with regards to “hang-up about money”.

    1. Sam*

      If the clothes were noticeably stained or smelly, that might be different (at least in terms of “taking care of yourself”), but that does not seem to be the issue here…

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, someone “not taking care of themselves” has other indicators. I used to have a boss who would sometimes wear the same dress two days in a row, but it was also obvious on those days that she had been up all night, hadn’t brushed her hair, etc. It wasn’t just the dress.

      And that was a dress! Not grey pants, FFS.

    3. AVP*

      I wonder if that was a coded way of accusing her of not going home the night before? Back in my, erm, younger partying days, it was not unheard of for people to go out after work, stay out all night or crash with someone else, and then wear the same outfit to work the next day…which may or may not have been noticed by co-workers. Occasionally if a coworker did notice that they might tease the person a little.

      IDK – I guess the most obvious interpretation is the likeliest but it’s just such an odd thing to say that I am mystified and trying to find a deeper meaning that probably doesn’t exist.

      1. OP*

        See I was worried (later, after the shock/anger/embarrassment wore off) it was code for being smelly. Which I am a tiny bit paranoid about.
        I will say my boss is not the type to accuse anyone of not going home but she might ask if the person is feeling ok. she’s big on not making anyone work if they feel awful and us actually taking sick time, I think because neither I nor my coworker are used to the concept of sick time yet.

        1. Biff*

          I know women who feel that women without larger closets aren’t ‘treating themselves’ well. I wonder if your boss is trying to indicate to you that she feels you are depriving yourself?

    4. a Gen X manager*

      Yes! The lecturer has exactly the right idea – it’s saves SO MUCH TIME. No thinking, no matching, no decisions, and it can all be laundered together. So smart.

    5. Horse Lover*

      I had two professors in college like this too! One had a uniform of: Black t-shirt, jeans, white tennis shoes. My last year there he upgraded from just black t-shirts to multiple colors of the same brand. The other always wore standard guy’s business casual; like slacks and a button up. Last day of class he came in wearing a t-shirt and blue jeans we all quickly understood why: he looked like a 14 year old if wasn’t dressed ‘up’.

      1. Elsajeni*

        My dad is a professor and also wears a uniform! He actually has summer and winter variations — a blue polo shirt for summer, a long-sleeved blue oxford for winter — but he wears one of those two versions every day of the year except Christmas, when he wears a red polo shirt instead. I think, as with Myrin’s lecturer, his students do think it’s kind of funny, and I’ve heard people comment on it when he switches from the summer version to the winter version (“Oh no, is it supposed to get cold today? I didn’t bring a jacket!”), but I think at worst it’s perceived as very slightly eccentric.

        1. Rana*

          My husband is also a professor and he has an entire closet of oxford shirts. I think over three-quarters of them are some variant of blue and white stripes.

  25. High Score!*

    One of the guys I work with wears the same pants every day. Every day. He washes them on the weekends. Sometimes.

    1. Testy McTesterson*

      His coworkers noticed, because he also didn’t clean it very often and it was a bit fragrant by the end of it. Viewers did not.

    1. a Gen X manager*

      Yes!! OMG, so true! I’d notice if a staff member was wearing something grossly inappropriate or something that is stained or ripped or something, but otherwise it is totally not on my radar at all.

  26. Artemesia*

    I laughed at this question. When I was working I had multiple pair of black pants that looked similar and multiple black fitted T or shell tops. I am sure I wore the ‘same’ pants 5 days in a row more than once. And you KNOW that no one has ever told the guy in the blue suit he can’t wear the blue suit more than once a week. This is sexist crap. Why is the boss so focused on your butt and what you wear on it?

      1. CMDRBNA*


        I get kind of annoyed when I see news shows and the male anchors are all wearing suits and the women are wearing bright colored sleeveless dresses and massive heels. It just looks uncomfortable, like there’s no way they aren’t freezing if the guys are comfortable. And to my eye they look way underdressed. I know that sleeveless sheath dresses are now considered business wear, and I’m not harshing on anyone who wants to wear them, I just don’t think I’d ever be comfortable wearing something sleeveless in a professional setting.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I know, right? And sportscasters too. The men are in suits and the women are in sleeveless dresses (sometimes cocktail dresses, as far as I can tell!) and it’s just so… weird.

  27. Antilles*

    This is one of those topics that’d be great if AAM allowed photos, because it’s so common of a joke that “men wear basically the same thing every day” that we could probably put up literally dozens of cartoons where Homer opens his closet and it’s nothing but blue pants and white shirts or Dilbert looks at his tie rack and it’s 47 identical ties (all flipped up) or…
    Frankly, the only reason this should be an issue is if something happens to the pants (e.g., coffee spill) or if you work in a job like construction where they get super sweaty. Then it would be weird if you rewore them without washing. Otherwise, a pair of normal, conservative pants shouldn’t raise any issues with being worn a couple times.

  28. MeowFace*

    That is ridiculous. I am in the middle of losing weight and I don’t want to buy new work clothes until I reach my goal (I’m almost 30 lbs down, yay!). As such, I only have a few pairs of dress pants that fit me. I will wear them, do laundry midweek, and re-wear a could pairs, then do laundry again on the weekend and start all over. People shouldn’t be making assumptions about my finances based on the fact that they might see me wearing the same pants twice in a week, and like Alison pointed out, they don’t even KNOW if they are the same pair! I’ll bet you’re only getting these comments because you are a woman, and women are “supposed” to be fashionistas, whereas with men it’s okay to just wear functional presentable clothing.

    Furthermore, when I reach my weight loss goal I plan to buy a “work uniform” where I wear the same thing every day. I’d love to see what your boss would say about that!

  29. Cambridge Comma*

    It’s a thing, but I don’t think it’s a common thing.
    (I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who always wears the exact same outfit two days in a row because I don’t like having piles of worn but not dirty clothes around my room. I change the top the second day in high summer but not otherwise. Nobody has ever commented.)
    My other half refuses to rewear clothes in the same week “because then people might think you haven’t washed them”. Each to their own, and I don’t interfere, but this does create a large chairdrobe. (In our new place there will be a part of the wardrobe for this category of clothing.)
    I don’t notice other people’s clothes enough to track this. For my colleagues, I can probably say whether what they are wearing is an outfit I’ve seen before or if it’s new, but I can’t remember what they wore yesterday or last week.
    However, this doesn’t answer the question of what OP should do, because OP is working with someone who has this less than common belief, and thinks she has the right to impose it on others. I don’t know whether accessorizing to distract the boss would work? Perhaps more of a chance than trying to talk someone out of an irrational belief.

    1. Aunt Margie at Work*

      Chairdrobe: my new favorite portmanteau. (which by the way is itself, far less cool than a chairdrobe!)

    2. JulieBulie*

      Accessorizing probably will not work because boss will be on the lookout for trickery. Boss needs to get a life.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Definitely. I’d feel like a child hiding a puppy from my parents. Or remember when the kids dressed ET like a woman? Not what I signed up for.

    3. Temperance*

      I grew up poor, and I still think I am influenced by the mean girl in my class who used to comment on the fact that I repeated outfits in the same week because I only had 4 or 5 outfits. I don’t ever repeat shirts, although I often repeat bottoms.

  30. M from NY*

    The ONLY reason I can see manager mentioning this is sometimes one is unaware of smells in their clothing so what they perceive as being passable for a second wear often times is not. Now if this is case she should have been direct instead of hiding behind “don’t wear clothes twice” because now OP can’t address issue. Wearing neutral clothes more than once isn’t a faux pas just make sure they are are well aired/clean.

    1. Memyselfandi*

      This was my thought, as well. Maybe it was the boss’s clumsy way of asking if the writer is ok.

    2. R2D2*

      That’s an interesting thought! If the manager was only concerned about OP’s odor/hygiene, though, she sure choose an indirect way to address it.

  31. nnn*

    What I wish was an appropriate answer: “Okay, find me some different pairs of pants that are at least as comfortable and flattering as what I’m wearing now, and I’ll buy them.”

  32. JulieBulie*

    Alison, just curious, should OP actually do anything as a result of the boss’s remarks? Push back? Or do nothing unless the boss tries to codify a “no repeats” rule?

    1. OP*

      I did talk to her about it at a later time, mostly because in the moment it made me very self conscious. She did apologize for that.

      1. motherofdragons*

        I’m curious what else she said in the follow-up conversation. Did she double-down on her opinion that wearing the same clothes twice = money issues? (Which I hope you’ve gleaned from Alison’s and the commentariat’s input, is quite ridiculous)

  33. The German Chick*

    My solution: I got 10 ‘copies’ of the same white blouses, 3 black blazers, and 3 black pants and I have been rotating them non-stop for well over a year. The best part? Nobody has ever commented on my outfit ever.
    I started my uniform because I never ever wanted to think again about what I should be wearing at work, while maintaining a professional appearance.

    1. emmylou*

      See, I love this – the whole “adult work uniform” thing appeals greatly to me. There is a reason why iconic fashion gurus often wear nothing but black trousers and white tops.

      Other than the possibility of a smell you aren’t noticing, there is NO reason for you not to wear the same pants or skirt twice in a week. (And honestly, I dry clean my winter skirts when they get crumpled, which is about once a month — they might get cleaned a total of 12 times over the lifetime of the skirt).

    2. E*

      This is genius! Decision fatigue is definitely a thing. Eating the same basic breakfast 99% of the time has saved my sanity so many times. I haven’t gotten to the point of a uniform for my clothes, but I have the same basic small group of clothes where most everything goes with everything else. And I wear the same outfit combos weekly. No one says anything, and honestly I’d be surprised if anyone could remember what I’d worn all week. If they do, they have too much time on their hands that could be spent on work.

    3. MissDissplaced*

      I’ve always sort of wanted to do this because I get “what to wear” fatigue. But then I get so distracted by a new pretty blouse!
      Pants though, I have multiple pairs/colors of the same work pant as I’m hard to fit.

  34. NoHose*

    I had a co-worker that chose on Sunday his sweater for the week. Underneath, shirts may change, and the pants may have changed (I didn’t even notice) but it was one sweater for the week. I played cards with him at lunch nearly every work day and I barely noticed he had the same sweater on all week.

    Your boss has an issue, probably stemming from something in her life and this clearly is her issue, and not yours. As long as you are clean and presentable and it doesn’t violate the dress code, there’s truly no issue except with what’s going on between her ears.

  35. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    If I worked with someone who inspected me closely enough to determine that Tuesday’s black pants and Wednesday’s black pants weren’t identical Dockers, but rather the same Docker’s I’d be really upset. Not, hey are those the same pants? But hey, you wore those pants yesterday. Overstepping so far.

  36. animaniactoo*

    “Assume things about someone’s finances”

    Those assumptions may be both a) true, and b) nothing to be ashamed of. Let them assume away.

    “Assume someone isn’t taking care of themselves”

    Unless the items of clothing are visibly dirty/smelly/excessively wrinkled, anyone who would make this assumption just because they saw them again during the same week is a fool you need not worry about their opinion in the long run. Most people are not such fools, and if a few of them happen to have authority over you – yeah that happens sometimes and the thing to do is to escape their influence as soon as you can, not give them more power. If that means you have to lie until you can do that “I have 3 pairs of these, I tend to stock up when I find things I like”, then this is one of the rare few places that I advocate going for the lie.

  37. Allypopx*

    Also my coworker literally just has a wardrobe of black dresses for work. No one can tell if she’s repeating outfits and no one cares.

      1. Allypopx*

        Sometimes. The dresses are in different styles but not different enough to really differentiate – just varied enough that you kind of realize it’s not the exact same outfit every day.

  38. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    We wear jeans here. When I find a pair that fits great, I buy 3-5 pairs. They are identical. I guess it’s possible that someone thinks I’m wearing the exact same ones everyday, but I’ve never thought about it and no one has mentioned it. I did roughly the same thing when I worked places that I had to dress up: a couple of black pants and a couple of grey ones. I wouldn’t think twice about wearing the same shirt in the same week either, but I just don’t care much about clothes. There are so many other things I’d rather spend money on!

  39. Sibley*

    If you have a “work uniform”, you’re by definition wearing the same things over and over. I have the same shirt in about 15 colors. The same pair of gray pants, times 3.

    If you and your clothing is clean, neat, and generally well cared for, you’re probably ok.

  40. AnotherAlison*

    I will say I am surprised so many women can get multiple days wear out of a pair of pants before washing. I used to be able to do that, but it seems recently purchased pants are all made from crappy fabrics that stretch out in the waist and knees and wrinkle too much to wear again without rewashing.

  41. Bend & Snap*

    Pffft. That’s ridiculous. If the pants weren’t clean okay, that’s a conversation, but just wearing the same pants more than once in a week? Normal.

    I’ve put on some weight recently and my clothing options are SEVERELY limited at the moment. Sometimes one pair of pants makes more than two appearances in a week. But they’re black pants so why would anyone notice?

    Your boss is being unreasonable.

  42. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I only have one pair of work pants right now (I had two, but thigh rub gave the other pair…unfortunately placed…holes). I’m hard to fit for pants because I am 5’1″ with no hips but carry weight in my midsection. I am careful not to spill on the remaining pair and spot clean them as needed. Wash on weekends. Jeans on Fridays. Two blazers- grey and navy. Clean shirts and underwear every day though!

    No one has ever said anything to me about it. Why is it a big deal? If clothes are clean, fit, etc. it doesn’t matter. Lawyers usually wear understated clothes anyway.

  43. OP*

    Oh my gosh, thank you so much for you advice Allison! I really appreciate it. This is my first professional job and I’ve learnt my boss is wound up on some things that in other enviroments might not matter but for her, they do.
    I actually talked to her about this not long after the initial conversation and she apologized for making me feel self conscious about it, so there is that. I think her hang up comes from the fact she’s very focused on the appearance of my department. We are in a very visible location (no offices for myself and a coworker, lots of public interaction) so she tends to be more strict on what she finds professional as a rule, even in regards to others in our building.
    Also, I managed to snag time to finally get new pants, and she hasn’t made a comment about me wearing these 3 times in a row yet.

    1. anyone out there but me*

      Google about how successful professionals are choosing to wear a “uniform” of sorts. The same type of clothing daily. Capsule wardrobe. Makes things soooo easy.

    2. CMDRBNA*

      Hi OP!

      This definitely sounds like this is a Your Boss’s Thing, and you are not doing anything that other professional people don’t do! She needs a new hobby (a hobby that is not scrutinizing your wardrobe). I think it’s also a huge leap to make a connection between someone wearing the same item of clothing twice and assuming they aren’t taking care of themselves.

      I send the advice to buy multiples when you find an item of clothing that works – I think I have 7-8 pencil skirts in different patterns that are all the same skirt because they were affordable and fit really well.

    3. Observer*

      She’s still being a loon. It’s one thing if she had a stricter dress code than the rest of the company eg the company allows t-shirts and she doesn’t. Or the company allows bare legs and she doesn’t. But this is just silliness. Wearing the same thing (or the same looking thing) doesn’t mean anything to reasonable people, as long as your clothes are clean, neat and odor free.

    4. strawberries and raspberries*

      I’m glad you talked to her about it, but seriously, it’s her problem and hers alone. Like it’d be one thing if it was April and the pants had the same knee-high snow stains from January, but as long as you’re keeping your clothes clean and well-maintained, black and gray pants are designed to wear multiple days in a row. Seriously, if anyone really cared about this, my professional reputation would have been in the gutter ages ago.

  44. Manders*

    Funny, I was just reading a book in which the narrator becomes obsessed with her coworker to the point that she notices the exact pattern he wears his dress shirts in between laundry cycles. It’s not meant to be a positive attribute on the narrator’s part; she’s obsessing over these things because she’s unhappy with her job and feels powerless.

    I have a hard time finding pants that fit appropriately for work, plus a shared laundry room. I would be pretty freaking peeved if my boss told me I clearly “wasn’t taking care of myself” because I get a few extra days’ wear out of a nice pair of pants between laundry days.

    1. Allison*

      I try really hard to vary the order in which I wear things, because I don’t want people to notice that I always start or end my week with particular dresses, or that I always wear a specific outfit on a specific day. Logically, people don’t normally pay that much attention, but they might! I hate when people comment on my habits – I know “wow, you sure wear red a lot” may not have any sort of intention, but I don’t like it, because I will still wonder why they felt the need to say it.

      1. Bostonian*

        I couldn’t agree more. I tend to avoid comments on coworkers’ clothing, because I know that some people can be self conscious about it (me being one of them!), especially the kind of comments you mention, in which someone is noticing a pattern and would have to have been watching you really (suspiciously) closely.

        1. CMDRBNA*

          Yup. I got those kinds of comments at my last job a lot and even though they weren’t mean spirited they were super, super annoying. Five years of always getting a comment when you wear pants one day or skip the lipstick gets really old, really fast.

      2. CMDRBNA*

        Me too. I rarely wear pants and really only wear 3 colors, and tend to wear bright lipstick/my hair in a bun every day, and I got SO SICK OF THE COMMENTARY about it. If I wore pants on a day I was packing or just felt like it, it seemed like everyone felt the need to comment on it. Same if I skipped the lipstick or didn’t wear my hair up.

        I started a new job and I’m actually making an effort to wear pants more and vary my makeup, because I don’t want to get known as “Bna who only wears red” or “Bna who only wears skirts” even though I’d be happy wearing the same thing all the time, I just get really sick of hearing about it when I deviate.

        I may compliment someone on an article of clothing, but I make a conscious effort not to be like “oh you’re wearing X, you rarely do that” because I’m on the receiving end of it and it’s really annoying. Maybe I felt like wearing pants one day!

      1. Manders*

        The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. It’s a very cute romance novel (but not a great how-to guide for appropriate workplace behavior).

  45. Sensual shirtsleeve*

    Good grief. The boss is weird.

    I’ve worked with people who wore the same distinctive item to work almost every day (or duplicates of it). I wondered about it internally, but never cared. I wouldn’t comment on it, or think about it for more than a minute or two.

    Someone wearing the same trousers or generic looking shirt twice a week? Would not notice.

    (OTOH I’ve seen people wear dirty or scruffy clothes to work, and if you do that often I would be a bit puzzled. Eg one man who wore shirts until the cuffs were frayed through, or a lady who often wore dirty flipflops. But excepting that extreme I would hardly notice).

    1. Llama Wrangler*

      I had a boss once who would wear the same very distinctive shirts every week. Usually, he would stick with a daily theme (the Tuesday shirt with the thick baby blue & pale yellow stripes, the Wednesday shirt with the horizontal red & green stripes, etc, etc) but occasionally he would wear the same shirt twice in one week. They were always clean and obviously crisply starched. We thought it was weird but never dreamed it was anything other than a choice of regimented convenience.

  46. stitchinthyme*

    Okay, there’s one of the advantages of being a woman working in a male-dominated field: I suspect most of my coworkers wouldn’t notice what I was wearing unless I came to work naked (and maybe not even then, as I have my own office). It’s why I tend to stick to jeans and t-shirts — it’s not only more comfortable, but I don’t see the point of dressing up when no one will notice or care anyway.

    1. MashaKasha*

      Same here. I also haven’t worn makeup to work in years. Not a single person has ever noticed.
      We are only allowed jeans on Fridays, but I have quite the collection of cords. They are comfy, do not violate the dress code, and nobody cares otherwise.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        Yeah, I don’t wear makeup either. Never have in my entire adult working life, not even at the one place I ever worked that required a suit. No one has ever made an issue out of it — makeup is just not a requirement in my field. (Personally, I think it shouldn’t be a requirement in ANY field, except maybe people who do or sell makeup for a living. If men don’t have to wear it, women shouldn’t either.)

  47. Allison*

    When I was younger, some of the meaner kids in school would accuse you of wearing a dirty shirt if you wore it twice in one week, so even in my adult life I try not to wear the same top or dress twice in one week, unless it’s a very mundane top like a white t-shirt paired with a skirt, but I don’t repeat outfits during the week, because I worry someone will think “didn’t she wear that on Monday?” Heck, I feel weird wearing something on Monday if I wore it Friday.

    I keep telling myself, when I do laundry mid-week, that it’s not a big deal to wear something on Monday and then again on Thursday, no one’s going to notice or care, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I don’t want anyone to perceive me, rightly or wrongly, as unclean or disorganized.

    But when it comes to things like pants, skirts, and blazers that don’t have to be washed between wears, I do think it’s okay to repeat things, as long as you mix up what you pair them with. Mundane things can be worn often, more colorful or eye-catching styles should be spaced out. You don’t want to be The Woman With the Red Pants, or The Man With the Crazy Tie, because that kind of identity can lead to you not being taken seriously.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      When I was younger, some of the meaner kids in school would accuse you of wearing a dirty shirt if you wore it twice in one week, so even in my adult life I try not to wear the same top or dress twice in one week, unless it’s a very mundane top like a white t-shirt paired with a skirt, but I don’t repeat outfits during the week, because I worry someone will think “didn’t she wear that on Monday?” Heck, I feel weird wearing something on Monday if I wore it Friday.

      I do the same thing for the same reasons. I won’t even re-wear the mundane top to work in the same week. When I have meetings with people I only see once a month, I make an effort not to wear what I wore last month. And this morning I was actually concerned that my black top/tan bottoms outfit for today wasn’t different enough from the completely different black top/tan bottoms I wore Friday. Because I have issues.

      I have an coworker who wears black knit pants almost every day. I don’t know if she wears one pair over and over, or has several pairs. Nor do I care. So I don’t know why I think anyone’s going to notice or care if I re-wear my favorite pants twice in a week. Well, yes, I do know. Because people like my old middle-school nemesis, or the OP’s boss, are out there.

      (Also? Being so judgy about re-wearing clothing and what it might “indicate” is so, so very inappropriate.)

      1. CMDRBNA*

        Yes! When I was in elementary school I had a pullover sweater with a hood and a sports team’s name on it, and I wore it like it was a jacket, and I got SO MUCH FLAK for “wearing the same shirt” more than one day, even though it wasn’t a shirt and I was wearing other clothes under it.

        I’ve always been the sort of person who doubles down on stuff like that so I started wearing it every day out of spite.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Same here. I grew up in a middle to upper-middle class area, and my family was definitely was not classified as such; we struggled quite a bit and I usually had hand-me-downs since I was the youngest and at least 12 years behind all my siblings. When I was in school people definitely noticed when you wore something more than once in two weeks, let alone week. They were very hung up on that stuff and it was definitely a comment on your family’s finances and your hygiene habits. Not only were you too poor to have enough clothing to last you two weeks, but you obviously didn’t wash your clothes. Because of this, I still have the hang-up and make sure I don’t wear something twice in one week, and the only things that get re-worn before washing are cardigans and the very occasional pair of pants if I only wore them for a couple hours. Although, like Rusty says, I don’t feel the same about other people, so it really says more about me that anything.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          And it’s still going on, because when I ask my teenage daughter why she needs So Many Shirts, she says people will call you out if you were the same one more than, like, twice a month.

          1. Salyan*

            I’d like to know how people have the mental space to notice, much less remember, what outfits others wear over the course of a MONTH! Wish I had that kind of memory.

          2. Stuff*

            This happened to me. Eventually, I learned I would be hated and sneered at no matter what I did so I’ve gotten over it as an adult. But the process sucks and I would be pleased if we could find away to stop that nonsense in schools. Uniforms help, but I’m of two minds on it. The best way to stop such a behavior is to make it difficult to do, sure, but it doesn’t necessarily change the malignant attitude… so I don’t consider it a full solution.

            1. Observer*

              Well, uniforms actually does help change the underlying attitude as well, though. One it gets kids used to the idea that the same looking clothes might not actually BE the same clothes and that the same clothes could have been laundered in between wears.

              I’ve seen kids who would otherwise have at least 6 outfits (private school running Sun – Fri) who would only have 3 uniforms, because who can tell the difference, and laundry was being done more than once a week anyway. Or 6 shirts, but 2 or 3 skirts, because you don’t need to wash a skirt after one wear once a kid hits a certain age.

              But, I agree that schools also need to do better about bullying and just about teaching about baseline tolerance and handling differences better.

          3. LCL*

            I remember that from my schooldays. That was so long ago, I had hoped we would be over it by now.

    2. Observer*

      I’m sorry you went to school with bullies and that it affected you so badly. It really sounds pretty miserable.

      But, in any functional workplace, this is totally and completely a non-issue. There is no issue of “OK” or “not ok”. And no sane person is going to see you as not clean or organized because you wore something twice in one week.

  48. BTW*

    Pretty sure when I was pregnant before the warm weather hit, I had 1 pair of maternity jeans. I had 2 other super comfy pairs of maternity pants that I rotated in every so often but otherwise, I wore those jeans all. the. time (with a wash mid-week of course) I wouldn’t spend a ridiculous amount of money on more mat clothing just because my boss said something and the same would go for regular work clothing as well. As long as you are clean and presentable, I’d ignore why your boss says. If she’s so concerned about it then by all means she can foot the bill for your new wardrobe ;)

    1. K.*

      My best friend had a tiny maternity wardrobe because as she put it, she didn’t want to buy a whole new wardrobe for a condition that is by definition temporary. She borrowed what she could and bought maybe a week’s worth of business formal maternity clothes, and that was that. People just had to deal with seeing her in the same thing sometimes.

      1. many bells down*

        I worked for a YMCA that took clothing donations, so when I was pregnant most of my wardrobe came from the donation pile. I had some really weird hideous maternity wear, but it was free.

    2. DiscoTechie*

      This ^ My work maternity wear consisted of two pairs of dress pants, one black one gray, that were cycled every other day for both pregnancies. No way I was going to get the absurdly priced maternity pants for a temporary condition. Beside beyond work they didn’t get much use as I would immediately change into yoga pants giant t-shirt when I got home to put my feet up (a nice requirement of pregnancy). I also have the added bonus of working in an engineering firm where clothing is judged on the “does it cover all necessary body parts? metric.

  49. not so super-visor*

    This makes me laugh b/c when I used to have 5 pairs of identical black pants. There was no way for anyone to know if I wore the same pants more than once. Not to mention, how does your boss know that you didn’t just do you laundry or pick-up your dry cleaning and these “same pants” are now clean. As long as they’re clean and in good repair, it shouldn’t matter.

  50. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    This also reminds me of a post I saw online. First date: guy wears nice shirt. Girl thinks “nice shirt.”

    Second date: another nice shirt. Girl thinks, “hey, another nice shirt.”

    Third date: first shirt again. Girl thinks “that one again?”

    Fourth date: Second shirt again. Girl sighs and thinks “he has two shirts.”

    1. Murphy*

      Haha, I actually have an ex who only wore this one style of black jeans. After a little while, I did notice and asked him if he had multiple pairs or only one. Thankfully, it was multiple.

    2. Allison*

      Even with my casual wear, or my “going out” clothing, I try super hard to space out my clothing so people don’t think “oop, there’s that dress again, gee she sure wears that one a lot.”

      I recently read a book about fashion in England during WWII, I was shocked at how few clothing items most middle class women had, and that really did just wash clothing often and no one seemed to care that if a woman cycled through the same 3ish outfits each week.

      1. many bells down*

        Dress shields! They’ve fallen out of fashion, but the best way to have your dress not smell is the disposable armpit-sweat-protectors. You don’t have to wash things nearly as much if the major source of funk is removed. Fabric stores like Joann’s still sell them.

        It wouldn’t help those of us who can’t eat anything without spilling it on ourselves, but it’s a great idea otherwise.

      2. CR*

        Historically, women didn’t wash clothing more often necessarily, but they always wore an under layer (a shift or slip for example) which would absorb most of the sweat and grossness.

    3. CM*

      I follow Colson Whitehead, a novelist who wrote “The Underground Railroad,” on Twitter. He recently posted that he saw somebody with a copy of his book and was going to say hi to her, but then noticed that he had on the same shirt as in his author picture on the back of the book. So he didn’t say anything, because he was worried that she would think he only had one shirt.

      I guess she follows him on Twitter too because she then posted, “That was me!” To which he replied, “Hi! I have more than one shirt.”

  51. Adele*

    Ha! When I decided to simplify my very stressful life, which included leaving a management position for a much lower-level administrative/financial one, I also decided to simplify my wardrobe. My de facto uniform became cotton twill trousers (most were stone colored) and a plain white nice t-shirt (with a green, a blue, and a black one thrown in because I already had them). In winter I added a variety of sweaters because my mom likes to give me for my birthday. I biked in good weather and took the bus in bad weather so I liked clothes that were washable and, for the most part, bleachable. Everything was ironed and clean and I added jewelry or a scarf. The one day a month when I interacted with ANYONE, I dressed in nice black trousers and a blouse–my boss would see me and say, “Oh, _____ day already?” I know my minimal wardrobe was commented upon unfavorably by our clotheshorse director (she always looks gorgeous but her hobby is shopping and she earns more than three times my income) but my boss didn’t care and I was well within the dresscode, more so than many of my peers.

  52. Justin*

    I have 5 pairs of work pants (not including suit pants that I don’t wear separately) and they’re all black and grey. And I will wear them 3-4 times before i get them dry cleaned (usually not in a row, but that has happened). It’s only an issue if wrinkled/stained but then the issue is the wrinkles/stains, so.

  53. Us, Too*

    This boss is crazy. If billionaires like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg can wear identical clothing daily I’m pretty sure it’s not indicative of a finance issue. Sheesh.

    This really isn’t something that matters to normal people. There are typically actual work related things that occupy attention.

  54. Terey*

    Your boss is a loon. Everybody does this, especially with neutral colored pants. Most of what I wear to work is some combination of the same few pieces. Who is even noticing such a thing?

  55. Quinalla*

    Re-wearing pants? That is really normal and yes, you can’t always tell anyway because a lot of people buy multiple pairs of the same pants – I know I do as a woman and so does my husband. Shirts/blouses/dresses, that’s a little more noticeable and not something I’m personally comfortable with repeating, but you certainly could and I see it as no big deal. Is your boss ok with you wearing the same shoes in the same week? Accessories?

  56. ArtK*

    OP’s manager is projecting her issues onto strangers. She’s got a hangup about money and clothing, but is trying to use other people as the bad guys.

  57. Kimberly*

    I would drive this boss batty. I hate clothes shopping. I have some severe contact allergies and several types of laundry products cause reactions. When I find something that fits I tend to buy a couple in each color. I always were slacks and usually a short sleeved top of some sort. I have actually had some pretty heated arguments about how someone saw that as unprofessional – only because it was the basic style every day. When I point out the men wear the same style every day I’m was told but women have more options and should wear dresses/skirts at least as often as they were slacks.

    Sorry if you expect me to sit on the reading rug and dash across the playground daily (I’m a teacher), I’m going to wear slacks and decent shoes. Wear a loafer that is appropriate with slacks and has good support on doctors’ orders.

    1. CM*

      This is even weirder than the OP’s letter. Why is it anybody’s business how often you change your style?? Do you have some sort of professional duty to wear the full spectrum of women’s clothing?

  58. LKW*

    I travel. I’m usually out of the office 4 days a week. I usually bring 1 – 2 pairs of pants for the week.

    When I worked in Belgium it was standard practice that you wore the entire same outfit Mon/Tues and new outfit Wed/Thurs and a third outfit Fri. Everyone did it. I loved it.

    If you wore the same dress 5 days a week, sure I’d be a little concerned but unless your stained or smell, I see no issue.

    1. Xarcady*

      I used to work with someone who would wear each outfit two days in a row. And it was clearly the same exact pieces of clothing. One or two new people would ask about it, but no one really cared or commented on her clothing choices. And she was a professional, in a customer-facing position.

  59. Falling Diphthong*

    I think this is a two-types of people thing. There are people who notice that you wore grey tweed pants on Monday and then again on Wednesday. And there are people who, when quizzed Wednesday, would be pretty sure that you wore clothes on Monday, they would have noticed if you were naked. Or if you had worn fuschia with giant animatronic ruffles, or a light-up sweater of dogs chasing squirrels, but anything that fell within the office uniform category of clothing didn’t register as worth noting and remembering.

    The only time it might make sense to point out the repeating clothing is when the perception of struggling is holding someone back from being taken seriously. And even then, ‘struggling’ would translate more to the same increasingly wrinkled, frayed, or otherwise sub-professional-norms outfit–something where it looks like they own one set of clothes and are not doing laundry, not where it’s conceivable they bought 5 pairs of khakis and 5 blue oxfords and stopped thinking about their clothing after that.

    1. many bells down*

      I am so the second type. I mean, I’ll notice something that looks cute, or something bizarre. But if you wore the same pair of gray pants a few times a week it would be probably 6 months until I had the vague realization that you wore gray pants a lot.

    2. Government Worker*

      I think this is true. I notice my coworkers’ clothing only to the extent that I am trying to figure out whether my own is appropriate. Some departments here are a bit more formal than others – I notice the men in those departments are more likely to wear ties or jackets and I see fewer people in jeans on Fridays, so when I’ve got meetings where I want to make a good impression on people in those departments I tend to choose more formal outfits for myself. I’ve also noticed that a particular coworker wears a lot of sleeveless tops in the summer, but that’s because I’ve wondered if it’s appropriate for me to take off my jacket or cardigan if the shell underneath is sleeveless.

      Otherwise? If I’m looking directly at a couple of the coworkers I see most often I might be able to tell you whether they’ve worn their current outfit before. I definitely can’t tell you what anyone in my office wore last week, including myself.

  60. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I have a couple of distinctive pieces that I wear to work frequently — a patterned blouse (blue, yellow, white, and black) , a patterned dress (that I’m wearing right now; too many colors to list) — and I’m trying to get over my own hangup around wearing them more than once a week occasionally.

    I also have a “Monday uniform” (that includes a distinctive jacket) that I wear during the cooler months. I decided to wear it every Monday to eliminate one decision from my Sunday evenings/Monday mornings. It’s delightful. I announced it to my boss (off-handedly, but it was definitely on purpose — I wanted her to know it was a thoughtful choice and not a random weirdness. A non-random weirdness!).

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      One more thing: As a fat woman, I know that I’m much more harshly judged (as “sloppy” or “unprofessional”) when I don’t look pulled together (or even when I do). So I’m frankly more attentive to this sort of thing than I want to be.

      Dressing for work is complicated (for everyone, but especially as a woman, and especially as a fat woman — I’m also very tall so that adds a degree of difficulty).

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I admire your approach & think it’s a good one, but if one were concerned about repeats, you could always do a 6-day rotation instead of having a “Monday uniform”. I mostly hang out by myself in my office, but I have the same weekly meetings and those are the only times I see my coworkers. Someone who only saw me on Mondays might think I wore that outfit every day. (Which, it really still doesn’t matter if they think that, but I guess I care a little!)

  61. JaneB*

    One of my male colleagues has a system where he basically wears the same outfit every day, but a different sweater. For a while he had a two-sweater rotation – I only realised this when students who were on the same class schedule as one of the sweaters commented on it in a class evaluation (it was a very distinctive red and green pattern, once I did notice it).

    1. birchwoods*

      Ugh, this. I’m in academia and most of us will wear the same outfit twice in a row (even noticeable things like a bright orange dress). Which is awesome and I love it that no one cares! But when I’m teaching I have to carefully plan outfits to make sure I’m not giving any easy opportunity for students to comment about my appearance. I’m young, female, and petite, which is apparently the magic combo for (usually older male) students to try to find fault in me, even about things that don’t relate to the class.

      1. JaneB*

        I’ve gone a bit the other way as a female in academia (middle aged and not petite in any dimension, which helps, but even when I was new to it and both thinner and younger, I wasn’t very good at it) – I have a clothing pattern (wide-legged black trousers, tunic tops, Shoes My Feet Like) and I stick to it, and mostly wear variants on the same pieces if I like one. I have decided that if they comment on my clothes it means there was nothing for them to complain about in the class, therefore I WIN!

  62. Is it October yet?*

    Mark Zuckerberg wears the same clothes to work every day. The only thing I can assume about his finances is that I will never be as rich as him.

    1. E*

      Excellent point. Finances are not universally reflected in what folks choose to wear. I’m sure there have been quite a few rich philanthropists who choose to wear ratted old sweaters instead of expensive dress clothes, whatever the reason. Perhaps the poster can tell the boss that they choose a smaller work wardrobe to minimize decision fatigue, spend more time on work, and avoid worrying about what everyone else chooses to wear.

  63. Decimus*

    I literally buy multiple versions of the same pair of pants. I also re-wear the same pants during the week unless they become visibly stained or dirty. (And yes, I am male.)

    I propose if it comes up again the LW simply say “but these aren’t the same pants, these are an identical pair” (even if the truth is they are) and as long as they aren’t visibly stained that ought to be the end of it. If it isn’t then the boss is probably being discriminatory (since I really do doubt a man would get into trouble for the same thing).

    1. Betty (the other Betty)*

      That’s what I was thinking! If LW doesn’t want to fib, they could answer in an ambiguous way such as, “Yes, I have a lot of clothes that look alike.”

      Personally, I have a lot of clothes that look alike. When I find pants that fit, I usually buy 2 pairs. And will wear them more than once between washes if they are still clean. And let’s not talk about my black t-shirt collection.

  64. MicroManagered*

    Sounds like catty, high-school thinking… That’s the last time I can remember anyone tracking how often people wore a particular item of clothing.

    1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I had flash-backs to a locker room conversation. Two girls were discussing how they hadn’t worn the same outfit in the two months school had been in session. I still can’t quite wrap my head around someone having that many clothes, but as a kid from a poor family who was just happy if I had clothes that fit, it was mind boggling!

      1. many bells down*

        I might *have* that many clothes, but I don’t go through my whole wardrobe in two months. More like “I’ve done laundry and now my green shirt is clean. I like green! I will wear this again.”

  65. Rookie Manager*

    My only issue with rewearing pants is that I am British and rewearing your underwear *and* your boss noticing make me a bit squeamish.

    However my partner wears the same suit every day for a week before changing the next week, he normally has 2 or 3 suits in rotation. Nobody has ever said anything bad about it. As a woman in a job with a greater range of situations somedays I may wear jeans/tshirt and the next a suit. However my favourite black trousers are worn at least once a week, sometimes more and noone has ever commented. I also frequently rewear cardis/jumpers/hoodies before washing. (Pants though, I never rewear them!)

  66. Sara without an H*

    The only time I’ve ever talked to an employee about wearing something multiple times was in connection with body odor. “Odd Bob, it’s time for a fresh shirt…”

  67. Gwen Soul*

    It makes me feels o good that others re-wear clothes between washing. I thought I was weird! And that others also have just enough for the week and not a huge wardrobe. I wear the same six dresses on rotation I think.

    1. Been there*

      The US has a bit of a neurotic obsession with clothes washing.

      I was talking to someone once about wool sweaters. I think I wash mine about once every 3 months. You would have thought I said that I only bathed once every 3 months. They are fine if left to air out and since I always wear a layer under them they don’t get soiled or even come into contact with skin. I don’t see anything wrong with rewearing clothes without washing.

      1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

        Plus, if I remember correctly, I believe wool is antimicrobial? That’s what my friends who make wool diaper covers say, anyway.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        Washing and “hygiene” in general, although I think some Latino/Hispanic communities are even more so. As if a human smelling like a human instead of a field of flowers was anathema. Over washing is bad for you, bad for your clothing, and bad for the environment, so there.

        Bathes tw0-three times a week after workouts

      3. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

        As a knitter, I heartily endorse your sweater-washing timeline. The fibers can break down if you wash them too often, and good wool deserves to last.

  68. Been there*

    I’m the most boring work dresser in the world.

    I have 5 pair of black pants (2 of one brand, 3 of a different brand) (summer and winter versions) and I always have 5 ea white tank/tshirt/long sleeve shirts. I buy multiple neutral sweaters (white for summer and gray and black for winter). I have 2 black blazers. The only parts of my ‘uniform’ that are colorful and vary are my blouses and my socks.

    I think I do have a couple of brown pants/tops combinations, but rarely wear them.

    I also travel for work. I’m on the road about 1/2 the month. So I don’t want to worry about what I pack. It all goes together and the only real variation is the winter vs. summer sweaters and the tanks vs. long sleeve or tshirts in the winter. I don’t want to have to consider what color shoes to bring or if I pack the wrong combination.

    I don’t really care if I wear the same sweater more than once in a week as I consider that a layer. And quite honestly nobody would be able to tell a clean pair of pants from a previously worn pair since they are the exact same style.
    I think the boss is a bit weird with this comment. As long as the previously worn clothes don’t smell or have stains it’s fine to get multiple wearings in one week.

  69. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    Right now I have … less than 10 pairs of pants total. 3 of them are identical black. 1 is grey (same style as the black). One other black pair that’s a different style. I also have a brown pair that doesn’t fit quite right but I need a brown pair. I also have a few pairs that need to go to the tailor for one reason or another, I’m just lazy and haven’t bothered.

    My issue isn’t money. My issue is I can’t seem to find pants that fit me right without going to the tailor. Which is everyone’s suggestion to me but it’s SUCH A GIANT PAIN. I finally found a style pant I liked (the four pairs!), and then The Limited went out of business and I was sad sad sad.

    So, yeah. I repeat my pants A LOT. They are solid colored. I’m pretty sure no one notices … except when my good friend and I, who have the same grey ones, wear them on the same day – WE notice and usually high five. (We are both all kinds of sad these pants are not readily available anymore!)

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      If you are straight size, have you tried Express or New York and Company? If you’re plus size, maybe Eloquii? I know the disappointment of finding something you really like only to have it no longer be manufactured for one reason or another. And yes, I too use a tailor…..I drop stuff off, pay him, and don’t go back to pick it up for months at a time….such a pain to make the trip across town to an area that I no longer go regularly.

      1. Emi.*

        I have NY&C pants that fit! I’m too tall/skinny for most pants, but these ones fit (I let the hems down). They’re wearing out more quickly than I’d have hoped for the price, though (black fabric rubbing to blue, the corners of the pockets tearing, etc), so YMMV.

      2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        I used to wear NY&Co a lot, and I’m honestly not sure why I stopped. I should go back. They always have classic styles and good prices.

        The pants that I have that need to be tailored are Express. I love their pants for quality, but they are always just a little too long and not quite right in the waist/thigh.

  70. stk*

    The only places I can imagine this being true are some areas of the fashion industry. Otherwise, I really can’t think anyone would care! If you’re clean and presentable, a day or two of wear is just not going to matter.

  71. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

    It’s totally reasonable to wear pants more than once in a week. What bothers me most about this situation is the boss’ comment about finances. Okay, let’s say that someone really has only been able to afford one pair of dress pants; how is that anyone’s business and why does it reflect poorly on them as a person? We all have different seasons of financial stability; why in the world would a dip in finances indicate something negative about the someone? Why does rewearing pants imply an inability to take care of oneself? (Also: just because someone waits an entire week to wear something again doesn’t mean laundry has occurred in that week. Not that I have personal, repeated…maybe constant experience with this sort of thing or anything of course.) This person sounds kind of rude and judgmental.

  72. The Cosmic Avenger*

    This is SO not the boss’s business.

    I have multiple pairs of the same color slacks, and the same color polos. While I may rewear them depending on the circumstances, I may also be wearing an identical piece of clothing to the one I wore earlier. (Usually I keep them as far as possible in the rotation, but stuff happens.)

    Unless the clothing is otherwise inappropriate (revealing, dirty, garish, etc.), or you’re in a very conservative (finance) and/or image-conscious (fashion) industry, it shouldn’t matter.

  73. MegaMoose, Esq.*

    I actually do make an effort not to repeat anything during a week, but I’ve got a lot of clothes (I’m a thrift store nut with a large closet) and coming up with outfits for work makes me happy. I do wear skirts multiple times between washes, although usually a week or two apart. In any case, it’s a very silly thing to judge someone on. I rarely notice what other people wear, and assume that the feeling is mutual.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      Oh yeah, for a while I wore the same dress every Monday because I was getting used to an earlier wake-up time and it was an easy outfit, but no one said anything.

  74. UniqueUnicorn*

    I have a few ~unique~ dresses and skirts that I love and you better believe I have worn them on a Wednesday after having worn them on a Friday. My laundry gets done on Sunday. If someone notices I’m wearing the same thing this week that I wore last week, I don’t care because it’s clean and it looks good.

  75. Marcy Marketer*

    There are so many comments agreeing with Alison! But I just want to throw a little additional advice in there…

    My boss had a long purple sweater she wore multiple times a week, and it definitely affected my opinion of her ability to look professional and represent us to other departments, especially as it eventually became rather worn.

    Is it possible that your gray pants are looking worn? Is it possible that people are talking about it and it’s affecting your reputation? Or did it get a noticeable stain that is making it obvious when you rewear it? Just try to think about her comment to see if you can find any truth in it.

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      I have a sweater that I keep at my desk for warmth only. It’s definitely worn and kind of raggedy. I take it off any time I leave my desk because I know how sad looking it is, but right now it keeps me warm in this refrigerator they call an office and I can’t afford a new one.

      1. Marcy Marketer*

        I promise it was not that kind of a sweater (I also kept an office sweater at that job). It was more like a shirt, like one of those longer ones you wear with a belt and leggings.

        My biggest issue is that it was looking really worn (unprofessional) and also as a leader for our team, she had to work with a lot of people in order to advance our team’s interests and looking professional was a part of that.

  76. SarahTheEntwife*

    1. Isn’t minimalism “in” these days, or have we gotten past that fad already?

    2. Unless they are neon lime, ripped, or really obviously stained, who pays that close attention to pants?? Well, apparently this boss, but I strongly suspect she is the only one around who even notices.

  77. Granny K*

    If your boss is assuming something financially-related about your wardrobe, maybe she should assume you need a raise. And then give you one.

  78. CatCat*

    How odd. I pretty much have a capsule wardrobe for work. My black pants make an appearance at least twice per week. I doubt anyone notices. And even if they did, I have a hard time anyone would care let alone take any mental energy to make assumptions about my finances or cleanliness.

    The boss is a loon on this issue.

  79. A Certain Party*

    Your boss needs an introduction to the wardrobe capsule concept.

    The whole idea is to stick with a range of neutrals – my favorite is black, taupe or tan and ivory – and buy a few accent colors, like burgundy, aubergine and forest green. Yes, you may wer the same item twice a week, it you pair it with something new.

  80. ms-dos efx*

    With my voluptuous thighs I have to have a pretty large rotation of pants if I want any of them to last more than a couple months. That said, I have 10 pairs of the same leggings because of this and someone might easily think I re-wear the same pair during the week. (I try not to, just so they’ll last longer, but I do re-wear most of my clothes at least once before I wash them.)

    As long as there’s no hygiene issue, like you’re not re-wearing clothes that got food spilled on them or smell sweaty, I think it’s pretty rude and classist to give you a hard time about it. And with something as generic as gray pants, how could she know you don’t just have a bunch of them?

    I’m not sure how you should handle the situation now that she’s mentioned something to you, but you definitely are not alone.

  81. Hannah G.*

    Definitely agree with Alison’s response! I wear the same pants a couple times a week at least. There have even been times I’ll wear the same blouse twice.

    That sucks your manager associates finances with wearing the same clothes more than 1x per week. I’m an avid saver and do not want to spend money on having an extensive wardrobe when its not necessary. I have 4 work pants and probably 6-8 blouses that I wear on a regular basis.

    Unless you were wearing stained/smelly clothing your boss really has no say in how often you wear something.

  82. Anon today...and tomorrow*

    OP, your boss is weird. I work with a very small group of people and honestly couldn’t tell you if one of them were to re-wear the same outfit, nevermind the same pants, in a week. The exception to this is the bright pink and orange shirt the woman who sits at the front desk wears on rainy days. I’ve seen her wear it three days in the same week on a particularly dreary and rainy week. I have literally worn the same jeans 14 days in a row (washed at night every few days!) and nobody said a word.

    I recently read an interesting article where a woman decided to try a year of wearing the same exact outfit everyday: dark pants, a dark/neutral colored shirt, and a belt. She wore it to everything…dressing it up or down with accessories and shoes. Very few people commented on it during the year. She said that during the first month is when she got the most comments. It was an interesting article and really made me think about what was in my closet and why it was there. I did a big purge after reading it. I wish I could find the link.

    1. CMDRBNA*

      I wonder if she wears it to cheer herself up or if it’s a superstition thing, like it’ll chase away the rain? Like wearing a lucky shirt during a football game? Either way it sounds rather charming.

      I’ve kind of stopped buying clothes once I realized I was just buying more of the same things I already owned, like black and white striped tops or long-sleeved black sweaters.

  83. Shannon*

    As long as the pants are clean, I don’t really see the problem. I tend to buy fairly neutral clothes, so I can mix and match it.

  84. GarlicMicrowaver*

    Your boss is being unreasonable and for her to interject money into this is a serious boundary violation. Unless you work in the fashion industry, it’s not a faux pas to wear the same black slacks multiple times. You can’t get more basic or universal than black slacks, which are meant to be paired with different shirts. You’re doing nothing wrong. I would consider a conversation that could go something like this:

    “Hey, I’ve been thinking about our conversation regarding my wardrobe. I get the sense you’re concerned I may be misrepresenting myself or the company based on my clothing choices. Whichever slacks I decide to wear are always neutral in tone for mixing and matching and are always clean and well presented. You mentioned finances in your rationale. To your point, it’s not financially feasible for me to have a different pair of slacks for every day of the week and hope you can appreciate that stance. I’m confident I’ve been a good-standing employee over the past year I’ve been here and I hope we’re on the same page in that my wardrobe choice doesn’t cloud your judgment of my professional performance. Short of buying a new wardrobe, is there something I should be doing differently? Perhaps you can point me in the direction of a dress code document. If not, I’d be happy to ask HR myself. ”

    Good luck. Ridiculous.

    1. GarlicMicrowaver*

      On second thought, leave the line about it not being financially feasible out. I was trying to help you prove a point but it’s none of your boss’s business. Heck, it’s none of MY business for assuming, so my bad. Focus more on the fact that you’re a good performer and that your choice in pants should not impact her (or anyone’s!) perception of you as an employee.

  85. Former Retail Manager*

    I would not assume OP had financial issues. I’d assume she is really on top of her laundry….followed by envy about being so on top of said laundry. Your boss is nuts. No need to change your dressing habits. And if she really wants you to buy more clothing, maybe she can give you a raise. Obviously, don’t say that, but I’m sure that shut her right up.

    1. Mayor of Llamatown*

      This. I don’t often do my laundry on a weekend – and once I do the laundry, I have no memory of what I wore earlier in the week.

      Capsule wardrobes are getting to be so popular lately, and are so smart budget-wise, that hopefully it will be more common to see the same skirt or top more than once a week.

  86. FCJ*

    I only have a couple of pairs of jeans at any given time that fit and aren’t starting to fray. Since this is pretty anonymous, I’ll say that sometimes I’ll wear the same pair for a week straight. I don’t sweat or smell much, so as far as I know nobody notices.

    Also, I honestly couldn’t tell you whether the people I work with do the same thing, because I’m not paying that close attention to their pants, of all things. For all I know my boss has worn a different pair of pants every day, or the exact same pair six months running. I have more important and interesting things to think about.

  87. Sled Dog Mama*

    OP your boss would die in my workplace, 90% of my co-workers wear scrubs everyday. and While I’m sure that all have at least 5 sets since they are all the exact same style/color it’s impossible to tell if anyone is wearing the same item as earlier in the week.

  88. Jady*


    Heck I’ve worn the exact same pair of pants in the office an entire week in a row many times. And I did that in college. And high school. And middle school. And every previous job I’ve had…

    I also had a surgery on my stomach years ago that required me to wear a specific time of loose pants for a few months. I bought 4 pairs of the same pair and I still wear them years later.

  89. bookish*

    Gosh, I can’t imagine anyone (including the boss) noticing that an employee has worn the same nondescript black pants more than once in the same week, let alone thinking that’s a problem. And like… the concern that it’ll make it look like LW’s finances aren’t good?? Like… who is responsible for LW’s income? This company. And probably to an extent, this boss. Are they actually underpaying LW and worried it will show??

    I’m just trying to think of a situation where this would be important… probably someplace very image-focused like a Devil Wears Prada situation, right?

    But also I come from a pretty casual workplace, and I have a pair of black Ann Taylor leggings that are very thick and look like business pants (of course I wear tops long enough to cover a lack of pockets or zipper) multiple times a week.

  90. clotheshorse*

    I bike commute to work so I bring in maybe two months of clothing at a time. Right now it’s three pairs of pants and seven tops (including ones I can layer, like a button-down and a cardigan to go over it). I shower at work before changing into my work clothes so I personally don’t think they take on a smell, and I bring a fresh pair of undergarments with me on my bike every day. In two months on a day when I have a car, I’ll swap out all my work clothes and shoes for different ones.
    When I first started bike commuting, I was so nervous that someone was going to “notice” that I wore the same sweater twice in one week. I super stressed out about it, carrying full panniers back and forth every day so I could be stylish … only to (slowly) realize that a) I really don’t care that much about my coworkers to try to impress them and b) honestly no one ever notices what I’m wearing. I’ve also thought about doing the “personal uniform” thing (aka steve jobs, mark zuckerberg, matilda kahl) – I bet it would be nice.

  91. OldJules*

    I am short and thus are limited to certain brands. When I find something great, I buy a few pairs. I wear the same color in a week. Who pays that much attention to other people’s clothing? I might add a generic jacket (which is kept in my work locker) for meetings. But unless they are limey green pants which you wear a few days in a row… that is weird…
    Caveat, some industry requires more dressing up than others. In those places, I would not be caught dead looking the same more than once a week.

  92. the gold digger*

    When I started working at an engineering company three years ago, I saw almost nothing but men who wore the same thing all the time as far as I could tell. I started wearing the same clothes pretty much every week. I have a few skirts, a bunch of white t-shirts, a bunch of black t-shirts, and some amazing leopard-print heels.

    Even if anyone notices (I doubt they do), nobody cares enough to say anything.

  93. Jennifer*

    You can get away with it as long as it is not a distinctive item of clothing. My rule for rewearing clothing is that it needs to go about 2 weeks in between wearing before going back in the rotation. But if you’re just wearing the same old pairs of khaki pants all the time, nobody will notice unless there is something distinctive about them. For example, the time our music teacher sat in gum and then wore the same pants the next day. We all noticed that in middle school :P

    1. OxfordComma*


      I don’t get this. Unless you’re in the fashion industry or you’re wearing dirty clothes, which is not the case here, I’m missing why the boss even begins to care.

  94. kc89*

    It’s not a big concern of mine, but I do wonder if my co-workers think I wear like the same 2 shirts over and over again. I have like 10+ polo tops in various shades of black/gray/navy because they are easy and comfortable and fit the dress code.

  95. brightstar*

    Personally, I have about three pairs of work pants that I wear and three skirts and a few dresses that I interchange. I tend to switch out the same two cardigans every other day.

    As a manager, I wrote here on an open thread because I have an employee who started wearing the same pair of distinctive pants every day. Since she did not initially do this, my concern was that something had happened where she couldn’t get access to wash her clothes. I only noticed this because she wore the pants with visible dirt for three days in a row. She has access to a washing machine, I told her to make sure her pants are clean and left her alone about it. It doesn’t impact her job performance and the only way I can see this being really pertinent is if there is also a hygiene issue.

  96. Lesser Tiffany*

    When I worked for a law firm I had 5 pairs of dry clean only pants. Two pairs were black and were the same fit from Banana Republic. Not only did I wear identical pants during the week, I also only dry cleaned them like once a month.

    Your boss would hate me.

  97. AthenaC*

    I regularly re-wear pants within a week. At this point in my career, I always wear different shirts, different accessories, and different shoes, so the look is completely different.

    But especially when I go out-of-town, I pack very lightly and I joke that I “depend on the people around me not to look too closely from day to day.”

  98. TheBeetsMotel*

    I wear a different shirt every day, but rotate two or three pairs of pants throughout the week. This is super normal. I’d say shirts/tops should change daily, as they tend to vary in style more than pants and there are more noticeable wrinkling/ sweating issues to consider. But I couldn’t tell you if my co-workers wear a pair of pants twice in a week.
    And let people wonder about my finances. That’s not my duty to explain it theirs to worry about.

  99. thutacap*

    The comments seem to be overwhelmingly of the opinion that wearing the same item of clothing more than once a week is OK. But what should the OP say to her boss? If she ignores the comment, might her boss ask bring it up again & wonder why the OP is ignoring her advice? What’s a polite way to say “I’ve thought about it and disagree/am willing to deal with the fallout of people thinking what they will about my wearing the same pair of slacks twice in one week.”?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’d ignore it until she brought it up again, and then I’d say “Luckily, I don’t think I know anybody who’s judgy enough to make assumptions about my personal life based on the fact that I might wear grey pants twice in one week.”

    2. stk*

      If she brings it up again, I’d maybe say something like, “Can I ask why you’re concerned about that? It doesn’t seem to be a problem when others wear trousers more than once, as long as they’re still clean and work-appropriate of course.” I don’t think that there IS a reasonable response, but that frame allows the boss to provide one if it exists, while still pushing back.

  100. Beezus*

    I usually wear the same two pairs of jeans to work every day/week. I work in an office job now, but even when I was a personal shopper, I often wore the same high waisted black skinny jeans several times a week and just mixed up what I wore with them. Pants are hard to buy, man.

  101. Erin*

    Here’s what you say: “I’m a size ___, so if you’d like to pick up some pants for me that you would deem acceptable that’d be so great, thanks! Otherwise, I’m going to continue to manage my finances as I see fit and continue to wear comfortable, clean, and professional clothes to work that I already own.”

    No seriously. When I saw this headline I was like, “She washed them, right? Then what’s the problem?”

    I completely agree with your logic on pants and often wear the same pants several times in a week. A blouse, maybe not, but again, assuming you washed it I don’t see what the problem is.

    I would continue to wear what you wear and not give it another thought. If for some reason she brings it up again you could maybe say (true or not): “I’ve reading a lot about living a minimalist lifestyle and have donated a lot of my clothes recently. I always wear professional and clean clothes to work and my budget doesn’t allow new clothing items at the moment.”

    A blogger I follow, Cait Flanders – Blonde on a Budget – writes a lot about living a minimalist lifestyle and she’s definitely mentioned owning significantly less clothes than she used to. She might be a good person to reach out to about this and see if she has a better go-to phrase than mine. Also it’s a great blog.

    But yeah, you’re not nuts or unprofessional, your boss is.

    1. E*

      I like your recommended response, except I’d shorten it to “I always wear professional and clean clothes to work, so I don’t understand the issue.” You’re meeting dress code, you are presenting a nice image to clients/customers/coworkers. This person is telling you that they believe image requires $$$. You do not. Don’t worry about it.

  102. Mabel*

    Your boss would probably hate it if she knew that I get almost all of my clothes (that I get lots of compliments on) from thrift stores. I started doing it out of necessity, but I discovered that I can get very nice, good looking clothing – much of it clothes for work – with each piece under $20 and sometimes under $10. And sometimes I can even get brand new items (with tags on them) for $6-$12 (like the shorts and blouse I bought last Friday). This means I can shop as much as I want and have nice clothes and not spend a lot of money on them. And the profits go to charity. Win-win!

    1. Nicole*

      Same. The clothes I get the most compliments on are the thrifted ones. Thrifting also let’s me play with new to me trends, prints, whatever without spending a ton.

  103. Nicole*

    This is … pardon the pun … crazypants.

    Has your boss not heard of the professional uniform?

    Or a capsule wardrobe?

    It’s a thing now.

    The less headspace I have to rent to worry about what to wear to work, the more headspace I have FOR work. As long as you don’t smell and your clothing isn’t stained, I say go for it.

  104. Small but Fierce*

    I wear the same exact black cardigan every day with a dress or blouse and the same exact pair of jeans. All accompanied by the same exact pair of black flats. Of course, I wash them every week. It’s probably noticeable, but as long as there aren’t any stains or smells, I don’t see what the issue is.

  105. BubsAnon*

    I once worked with a man who wore tan khakis and a light blue short sleeved button up (oxford?) every day (except the day of/before his fave college football team’s game day – then his top was a team polo).

    He said it made his laundry & morning routine easy & freed up his time for more important things. He was in corporate IT. He always looked nice and was, for MANY other reasons, one of my favorite people at that job. I miss him.

  106. Lesmarling*

    I agree. As long as what you are wearing is clean and meets the office dress code, why would it be a problem?

    Recently I’ve adopted a “work uniform” even though I work in a casual office, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! I bought 5 of the same black blouse that work with a few different pairs of jeans/slacks and black flats. That way all I have to do is grab one of the blouses and any pair of pants — one less thing to stress about in the morning! If I’m feeling fancy I’ll add a scarf or a cardigan :) I’ve literally never had anyone comment. I even asked a close colleague and she said she hadn’t even noticed. It has made mornings so much nicer and I don’t feel the need to spend a lot of money on my work wardrobe.

  107. ...with a K*

    I used to work with a guy who wore the same blue shirt every single day. No one noticed this but me.

  108. Media Relations Manager at a private undergrad college*

    I wish OP could say “if the company is worried that people could see my clothes and decide there’s an issue with finances that would harm the company’s reputation in some way, the company could consider giving me a clothing allowance.” That might set her manager straight, or get OP some free new clothes – either way a win.

  109. Michelle*

    I found a great pair of slacks- fabric, cut and they are so comfortable. I bought 5 pair. No one has ever noticed and/or said anything so I think your boss is too hung up on wardrobes.

  110. Professor Ronny*

    I’m the most boring dresser in the world. I own a bunch of black pants and white shirts and I wear a white shirt and black pants every single day that I work. The only thing that varies are my ties. In 20+ years of doing this, not one person has even noticed enough to say anything to me. Of course, I am a guy and, as AAM says, guys can pull this off easier than gals.

    1. Allie Oops*

      To your point about it being a gender issue: on two separate occasions, when I wore a white buttondown with black slacks to an office job, somebody commented that I looked like a cocktail waitress. Now I only wear the white buttondown with gray slacks.

  111. Stock Assessment Scientist (Marine Biologist)*

    My husband actually stood out in his office because he didn’t just wear white or blue shirts under his suit. He looks better in bright colors so I bought him dress shirts across the rainbow. Red, purple, and dark blue were my favorites he wore, but he got lots of compliments on his clothes. I on the other hand, just bought 3 pairs of pants at Banana Republic that I wear, one in blue, grey, and black because for the first time I was able to find a pair that fit my waist and inseam. Sometimes I throw in a dress or skirt during the week to mix it up, but I wear the same three pairs of pants every week. I have enough tops to go a little over 2 weeks without repeat, so there is more variety there, but I’m still rotating through my entire closest every 3 weeks maximum. As long as you are clean and look put together, I wouldn’t worry too much about people noticing.

    1. KR*

      I’m always buying my husband colorful clothing – he looks so nice in colors but doesn’t buy them for himself. I wear work wear like you do. Change out pants and the shirts are a toss up.

  112. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

    This thread has inspired me to conduct a social experiment- I’m going to create a 5 or 6 outfit rotation for use M-Th for however long I decide to continue it (I want more outfits than days to avoid folks who see me at a weekly meeting to see the same outfit, and Friday is casual so I don’t want it in the rotation). Let’s see (a) if anyone notices, and (2) if I feel any differently about my work wardrobe (either bored with the repetition or freed from the pressure of choosing an outfit).

  113. Gwen*

    I’m super into fashion and have been known to obsess over whether I’m wearing the same thing that I wore the last time I saw someone (my friends: literally no one notices/cares), and even I think this is baffling. Like Alison said, a super distinctive/flashy top is one thing, but…plain work pants? I would be super tempted to be like “oh no, don’t worry, I actually own 365 pairs of the exact same pants so I never have to repeat them.”

  114. NonProfit Anon*

    I work part-time in fashion so I am very aware of what I wear and when. That said, most of my clothing consists of work appropriate solid black dresses and I change it up with a scarf or statement necklace. I can make the same thing look totally different. I would notice if someone I worked retail with re-wore something to work because most of the pieces are memorable. But in my office job? I wouldn’t notice at all unless again, it was a “statement.”

  115. Merci Dee*

    I read an article a year or so ago about a woman who found the perfect work outfit for herself . . . and then proceeded to buy 5 sets of it, and wore the exact same outfit to work every single day for several years. She said that it helped trim down her time to get ready every morning since she already knew what she was going to wear. And she didn’t have to worry about shopping for additional outfits and worry about whether something was going to look nice on her or not. She had other clothes for the weekend, but those were her work outfits, and she stuck to them. And nobody ever had a bad thing to say about it. She mentioned that a few other women at work heard about what she was doing and why, and others began to adopt the practice, as well. I think it’s a smart idea, if you’re working in an environment where a uniform (or those “team wear” polos with company names embroidered on the chest) are not required.

  116. Halls of Montezuma*

    Haven’t read through all the comments, but OP, check 2 things:

    1. Are you wearing the same thing two days in a row, making it look like you never made it home the night before? If so, you might want to at least change your shirt/shoes. It’s no one’s business if you didn’t, but that’s something (especially for women) that tends to make people think inappropriate all-night partying and not last night was laundry night.

    2. How could she tell it was the same pair of pants – was there an obvious food stain or other dirt, or did they smell of anything from yesterday? Rewearing pants (especially dry clean items) is very, very, normal, so it’s worth double checking to make sure this wasn’t a conflict avoidant way of saying you’ve walked around with a mud stain on your rear for 3 days this week.

    If those two things aren’t applicable, I think you can safely write your boss off as wacky in this area and decide if that wackiness is worthwhile to humor or not.

  117. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

    Interesting judgment on the part of the boss. My finances are great BECAUSE I choose not to spend on, say, more clothing than I need to cover my body professionally from day to day and that includes rewearing clothes. I owned 3 identical pairs of jeans and slacks and rotated them weekly but no one can tell that’s what I was doing then, just like they couldn’t tell I’m rewearing my only jeans during the week now. Except if I have telltale stains, but obviously then I’d wear other pants while I washed that off.

    Two of my best friends have totally opposite approaches – one has a huge wardrobe and never rewears anything, the other has ten of the same pants and ten of the same shirts and five pairs of the same shoes. Both male, no one has ever made a comment about how they need to change their clothing one way or the other for fear of their finances being judged.

  118. OlympiasEpiriot*

    When I find something I like in my size, I buy at least two. This is even if it is an emerald green silk satin blouse that you can see from a satellite. Several things I have are in multiples of half dozens.


  119. Woah*

    I outright fib on the few occasions toadbrains have decided to comment on my wardrobe and state I have multiples of things. No time for toads.

  120. Government Worker*

    I wore the same three pairs of dress pants, plus jeans on Fridays, for my first year or more at this job. I recently bought two more pairs of pants, and the main reason was that having more in the rotation means they’ll last longer and having some newer ones means they won’t all wear out at the same time. Plus if I rip or stain a pair I have more leeway to wait and find something that fits well instead of having to rush to replace it.

    How many pairs of shoes do most people have in their work rotation? I’m female, and I wear the same pair of plain black nearly-flat ankle boots every day (I never wear skirts or dresses, only pants). I sometimes worry that it’s noticeable and that someone might think it’s weird, but I hate shoe shopping and just don’t want to have to think about it.

    1. Some sort of Management Consultant*

      I HAVE a lot of shoes but I get stuck on a certain pair and wear them everyday.

      I have these really comfy but kinda dressy Ecco sneakers I’ve worn like… 60 out of 80 days this spring/summer.

      And a trusty pair of black boots that I’ve had for several years and that I wear both in spring and fall.

      Basically, I assume people don’t look at my feet too often ;)

    2. Colorado*

      I’m with you. I have four pair of work pants I rotate because “when I lose the weight” I will buy more, haha! And for shoes, same pair of Dansko’s every single day, tennis shoes on Friday. I have plantar fasciitis and can’t deal with shoes.

      Boss is a loon!

    3. LadyKelvin*

      I have one pair of low black pumps I wear every day, they are pretty new as they just replaced the black flats I used to wear everyday. I do have a large collection of shoes, though, so sometimes I wear an outfit that deserves a fabulous pair of shoes.

    4. azurelunatic*

      I had slightly more at my last office job, because:
      1) one day out of the month I had transcription duties, so I wore what were basically slippers to operate the audio control pedal
      2) the normal shoes needed repairs so I bought new shoes and retired the old ones to backup

      They were leather hiking-style sandals, and are the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn, which was good because I had a foot injury for much of my time there. (Someone once gave me a backhanded compliment about wearing “nice shoes” to a concert; the problem with wearing any shoes other than the comfortable ones was that the “nice” ones made me feel like the Little Mermaid — not Ariel, but the one who was walking on knives. Fashion police and accessibility are not friends.)

  121. Some sort of Management Consultant*

    I was just considering whether I was going to where the same outfit I wore tomorrow as I wore today (really cute and comfy blue peplum top and black pencil skirt, if anyone’s interested).

    Definitely wearing it again tomorrow now.

  122. CheerfulPM*

    At first I thought that the OP might be in a law office where the dress code is rather formal, so I hopped over to my favorite blog for professional style advice and found this:

    Personally, as I’m still working to get back to my pre-pregnancy size, I only have a few pairs of work pants and skirts that fit right at my current size. I think as long as you’re taking care of them, not wearing anything with obvious stains or dirt, that you should be fine!

    Could be that the grey pants are more of a “statement piece” than OP is aware? That said, one of my current pairs of pants is white, and those easily are worn twice a week during the summer!

  123. RL*

    I worked an internship with another student who had exactly five work outfits which he wore on the same day every week. It was five identical pairs of gray pants with five different shirt/tie combinations. Monday was always a dark red shirt/tie, Tuesday was blue and so on. It was definitely noticed but it wasn’t a problem. Everyone has their own quirks.

    1. Rockhopper*

      Many years ago, when I was in high school, we had a math teacher who wore the same thing every day–slacks, a button front shirt, tie, and cardigan. But one day everything was blue, the next day it was all green, etc. He had 5 color combinations and after a month in his class you could tell the day of the week by what color he was wearing!

  124. Some sort of Management Consultant*

    And washing/laundry!!

    I wash my more jeansy/slacksy pants every few weeks. My dress pants (that I admitted wear less often) every few? Months?
    I steam them and remove stains in between but I definitely don’t dry clean them more than that.

    My skirts I wash every few weeks too. I think. I don’t keep track that well.

    I steam or wash tops and dresses a lot more often but generally not after one wear.

    And I sweat A LOT. (And I don’t stink, promise. )

    Basically, most clothes, especially professional wear, do better when washed less often and aired out/steamed/whatever in between.

    So I guess the OP’s boss would think I was either gross or very very poor.

    (And before anyone asks, I wash and change underwear, camis and socks everyday.)

    1. Some sort of Management Consultant*

      “Washing after every wear as the clean and proper clean thing to do” is one of my pet peeves, in case it wasn’t obvious from my comment. Heh.

  125. beanie beans*

    This reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where the woman always wears the same dress. Does she wash and wear the same dress every day or have 100 of the same dress?!

    But seriously, 1 – who notices that specifically what pants someone is wearing?! *I* don’t even keep track of which pants I’ve worn over the week! 2 – Tell them it’s a different pair no matter what. Not that it should matter, but that would end the conversation if you just say that every time. “Nope, I know they look the same but that was a different pair.”

  126. caryatis*

    LW says “I have about five pairs of pants that are not jeans”, so, why can’t she wear a different pair of pants every work day again? 5 pants = 5 days, without even getting into the possibility of skirts or dresses. I agree the boss is being weird, but it’s a good thing to go along with your boss’s idiosyncrasies when it can be done without any harm or inconvenience to you.

  127. AMP*

    The Washintonian (via Corporette) had an article about a woman who has worn black slacks, a white top, a grey blazer, and pumps every single day, for over a year, and loves it. If Mark Zuckerburg can wear the same thing every day, so can you!

  128. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    The lesson I take from this story is that OP’s boss does NOT have enough work to do.

  129. SheLooksFamiliar*

    My work wardrobe is mostly black or grey slacks and blazers, with tops in various colors to suit my mood. When I find slacks that flatter my post-menopausal figure – not an easy task – I buy a few in those colors, and maybe a glen plaid if I’m feeling playful. I’ve managed to get promoted and recruited through the years, so wearing black slacks 3x a week is not an issue. Letter writer, your boss is focused on the wrong things, and I hope you ignore her. Better yet, I hope you find a company where you aren’t under that kind of scrutiny by an immature boss.

  130. Sue*

    Unfortunately, I can’t get away with wearing tops multiple times in a week, but pants….oh yea! Unless there is an obvious stain (which sometimes doesn’t become obvious until AFTER I get to work…doh!), I will wear the same pair of pants a few times in a week.

    I yearn for the day I’m comfortable enough with my position to go all Mark Zuckerburg/Steve Jobs and just wear the same thing every day. I don’t think anything would be said at work currently if I were to enact this, but it would definitely be “looked down on”.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Srsly. How can this boss tell that OP is even wearing the same black pants, and not doing like Steve Jobs who had a closetful of $200 Issey Miyake black turtlenecks?

  131. Uniformly*

    Three years ago, I decided that I was never going to wear pants again. Rather than search fruitlessly for the perfect pair of trousers to fit my increasingly awkward shape, and then go through multiple rounds of changing every morning because nothing ever looked or felt right…I decided that pants were not a necessary part of my wardrobe. I found a few flattering dress styles and bought them in every color available. With warm leggings in the winter. (Because they are stretchy and don’t have a constricting waistband or a fly at the roundest part of my lower tummy, leggings are superior to pants.) Yes, some people have noticed that I wear basically the same thing every day, just in different colors. But every day I walk out the door feeling cute and COMFORTABLE with no effort at all. Haters to the left.

  132. Mephyle*

    The irony! “If someone notices someone, say, wearing the same dress or shirt multiple times, they might assume things about their finances.
    Yes, they might assume their employer isn’t paying them enough. Yet this was said by the boss, who is OP’s interface with the employer.

    1. LAP*

      My thought exactly. It would be tempting to respond snarkily to that comment, “Oh, do you think you should pay me more? Well, if you insist!”

  133. KarifromVolunteerServices*

    Subtle sexism at it’s best. There was a news anchor from Australia that wore the same suit every single time he was on air for a year! And no one noticed.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I was thinking the same thing. Men never get called out for this, but women do. It’s irritating.

      1. LAP*

        In fairness, it mostly seems to be other women who point it out. The vast majority of men don’t notice that kind of thing.

  134. GreenDoor*

    My husband has worn the same pair all week, just to prove the point that no one notices. He’s noticed other men doing it too – he can tell by the presence of a food splotch that appeared after lunch on Monday, that’s still there on Friday.
    I happen to sew my work clothes. I wore the “same” dress for a week – the same pattern/design in five different colors. No one noticed. I got compliments every day.

    You can totally do this with basic black/brown/navy/khacki solids. I think it would be more noticeable if it was a less conservative color or a print. Add to your wardrobe as you see fit, but don’t sweat it.

  135. Beancounter Eric*

    Unless they get dirty, I wear trousers two days in a row. During warm weather, I alternate two short-sleeve shirts Monday through Thursday. Friday is cargo pants and a polo.

    Never had a comment one way or another.

    Cover the parts which need to be covered, dress tastefully, and if you want to wear the same trousers, shirt, etc. several times in a week, do so. As long as they are clean, who cares??

    I sometimes think offices which have hang-ups like this boss should contract with a uniform service and provide “acceptable” work clothes for their people. Want to issue khakis and dress shirts – YAY!!

  136. EmilyG*

    I wish I could find a good link on this more easily, but I’ve read that the amount of clothing that people own today is more than people did even fifty or a hundred years ago. Not even thinking of 18th century people or anything–early 20th c. people owned less stuff and washed it less, because it takes forever without machines. This idea of owning a massive wardrobe is a historical novelty or aberration.

    For myself, I think owning a smaller amount of clothing is less wasteful. (Plus the strategy allows me to buy higher-quality stuff, but I usually buy it on sale anyway.) I try to rotate my pieces but it’s mostly about making them wear evenly and spread out my laundry/dry-cleaning efficiently.

  137. Student*

    I’m sure this has been covered in the comments above, but – did you check to make sure the pants don’t have a stain or tear somewhere noticeable after your boss brought this up? Especially on the parts that are hard for you to see, but easy for someone else to see, like the rear/crotch/back of the legs?

    I’ll re-wear the same pair of pants for a couple days in a row, as long as they aren’t getting sweaty/stained/ripped. Nobody ever notices, or if they do, they don’t comment (and I’m 100% certain several of my co-workers do this, too). I try to check for stains in the back regularly, though, because my work is sometimes dirty. If I didn’t check for stains, it’d be really easy for me to sit in or rub against something greasy/slimy/dirty, not notice, and wear the same stained pants for a couple days.

  138. Chriama*

    So all the tech “greats” who have a work “uniform” are unprofessional? Just tell her you’re emulating Steve Jobs and you actually have 3 different pairs of the same pants.

  139. Paralegal*

    When I find something that I like that would work for my work wardrobe, I tend to buy at least two of it. Usually in different colors, but it’s noticeable that I’ve got the same sweater in blue and purple and I sometimes wear them in the same week. I similarly have two of the same pair of pumps (again, different colors – a nude and a black pair). No one has ever said anything to me, but perhaps this is because it’s clear they’re different articles of clothing even though they’re the same style. That said, I also only ever have three pairs of work pants, max, and will wear the gray or black pair multiple times throughout the week (the other pair is black with a windowpane check pattern – very distinctive).

  140. AW*

    …they might assume things about their finances…

    In other words, people might assume that I don’t pay you well. I think your boss just told on herself.

  141. Ailin*

    One of the reasons I love working in the medical field. I have 2 pairs of identical navy blue scrubs and nobody says a thing. I do wash them after every wear though, just because I come in contact with all sorts of things.

  142. SubwayFan*

    Inspired by this article:

    Through a combo of hating deciding what to wear in the morning and having a reduced wardrobe due to a major weight loss, I have exactly two suits that I wear every single day to work. One is black and one is navy blue. I have a few different tops that I wear with them, mostly white/cream or a light pattern. I have exactly one pair of shoes I wear to work with these suits (black patent chunk heel loafers). No one ever notices that I wear the same 2.5 outfits every single day. Often, if I get a comment at all, its “you look nice today.”

    Also see:

  143. Sid Viscous*

    I have four pair of pants, ranging all of the way from navy blue to charcoal grey to black. One pair is a little too short and one is a little too worn, so I wear the other two throughout the week. No has mentioned this to me, which either means that there is no issue or that they assume I am hopeless.

  144. This Daydreamer*

    Michelle Obama recently revealed that her husband owned precisely one tuxedo through his entire presidency. He wore exactly the same thing to every formal event. Not a single person in the world noticed.

    Your boss needs a hobby.

  145. Akcipitrokulo*

    See if that was me? I’d be tempted to wear the same outfit (through the washer dryer every night of course) 5 days a week…

  146. Slippy*

    If you work in IT you can get away with wearing the same thing two days in a row. Almost everyone has been through an all-nighter.

  147. Manager-at-Large*

    My father was a work uniform pioneer I suspect. He was an executive at a bank and for at least the last 10 years before retirement he wore a blue Oxford cloth shirt every day. Different suits, different ties, but he had 10 or 12 of the identical shirt. I tend to follow the example of others here: if it fits, buy 2 or 3. Stick to black and gray for trousers; sometimes different colorways in tops when I go with multiples. Probably have 7 or 8 tops for work in rotation, some work better in winter than summer. Some work better with jeans than slacks. One suit and 3 shells in case I have to dress up more than 1 day.

  148. DJ*

    To be honest I’d love to tell your boss where to stick their comments! Men wear 1-2 sets of pants per week and we already have 2 sets of clothing one for work the other for outside of work so there’s nothing wrong with having 1-2 sets of pants and several work tops. Who wants to spend all their wages on clothing that we would never wear otherwise.
    Also with some bosses the level Of wage paid vs their expectations of what you can afford can be wildly mismatched

  149. Lynn Marie*

    Well! Do let’s all start living in fear that others will assume something about our finances.

  150. Red 5*

    I had a boss (actually a set of bosses) who didn’t think I dressed well enough, and thought that my work pants were not professional enough.

    They gave me money and told me to buy new clothes. I did, but they still didn’t like my taste so they eventually implemented uniforms for the office.

    IMHO, if your boss thinks that wearing the same pair of pants twice in one week is some sort of scandal, then she can give you some money for more pants. That’s still a jerk move, and she’s still wrong, but at least you’ll have new pants you didn’t pay for.

    Otherwise, ignore her. I would have no idea if the guys in my office wear the same pants every day. Add that to the fact that I do laundry three times a week, so I rewear stuff all the time. She’s out of line.

  151. kindnessis*

    This is so incredibly ridiculous. Someone has too much time on her hands if she is monitoring how frequently you are wearing your clothes.

  152. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

    If it is unprofessional to wear the same pair of pants twice in a week, then I have been unprofessional almost every week of my entire working life.

  153. Non-Prophet*

    OP, your boss has a strange hang up about this. I frequently buy multiples of professional clothing items that work for me. I bought two of the same exact basic black dress from Talbots and frequently wear the “same” dress twice in a week (ie., not actually the same, but someone would think they’re the same if they didn’t know I own two). No one has ever said anything about it, and I doubt anyone has noticed since I usually style it differently.

    On the extreme end, my husband always wears a blue dress shirt to work. He owns 12-15 of the same blue shirt, from the same brand…because he likes it and it looks good on him. Some if his team comment on it out of amusement, but no one has once told him he looks “unprofessional.”

    All that to say, unless you work in an extremely image-conscious industry, it seems like this is an issue particular to your boss. In most places, what you are doing would be totally fine.

    If you’re looking for a way to respond to your boss, you could say something like, “I’ve decided that I like having a streamlined professional wardrobe. It allows me to better focus on important tasks like reconciling the TPS reports.”

  154. she was a fast machine*

    lol whut. when I worked at low-paying toxic non-profit that had insane dress code rules(think 80s style “women must wear hose in everything” nonsense) I wore the same pair of slacks every day because I literally had no other clothes that fit in the dress code, and not a single person batted an eye. I’m in a better place now and have more variety in my wardrobe, but if I know I’m going to be doing certain activities I’ll re-wear the same item in a week, with no big deal. what your boss said is bizarre.

  155. Daria Grace*

    The only time anyone notices in my office cares is when multiple people accidentally dressing identically. Current record is 5 people (all wearing black & white striped tops with black pants). We have a photo on our wall to commemorate the achievement

  156. FormerHoosier*

    My husband is an attorney and he wears white shirts nearly every single day to work. They are always fresh shirts but he is very tall and thin and so only one brand/style fit him. Even though he is wearing different shirts, no one would really be able to tell because they are identical and I am positive that he has worn the same pants in the same week. When he started he had three suits and a sports coat. One had to be reworn to get through the week. I can’t imagine that anyone questioned it at all much less thought anything about his finances. But I also agree that being cautious and frugal is not shameful.

    And I have at least five pairs of slacks that are nearly identical and have definitely worn them in the same week. Who cares? This is what people do. I understand requiring a certain type of pants (such as black or khakis or something for certain jobs) but can’t imagine requiring that someone wear a different pair every day.

  157. JessaB*

    My father was the best at shopping with me, his routine was try on x. If you love it and it fits, buy x in whatever colours you want but buy many of them. So if I loved a pair of black trousers, I’d either have them in 3 colours or I’d have 3 pair of them. Do I have to embroider numbers on the pockets to prove they’re not the same pair? Heck I had a set of pinstripe ones in red, grey and navy. Same pair of trousers. I would not be surprised if someone conflated “Oh pinstripes again, it’s the same as Monday if I wore the grey one day and the navy another.”

    As far as I’m concerned, as long as the dressiness of the outfit is appropriate level for the office (ie not shorts and sandals in a suit and tie place.) Neat, clean and not obscene is the way to go.

  158. Ruth (UK)*

    Wow, I wear the same pair of trousers many many days in a row. Usually about a week at a go to be honest. However, I have a very casual office. I also only have 2 regulars jumpers, and one is favourite over the other and worn way more often. I change my shirt every day, but i have several of the same shirt (twice in blue, twice in black, one stripes and one green). I don’t think I could cope if I had to change all my clothing items every day!

  159. SleeplessInLA*

    Personally, I would never wear the same shirt or pants twice within the same week but it’s a personal preference that I would never impose on anyone else. The boss seems to have a personal hangup (which I can relate to) but was out of line for suggesting the OP is doing something wrong by not following her standards.

    I suspect the OP will now second guess herself every time she gets dressed for work which is awful and unnecessary.

  160. Former Employee*

    For any woman who has trouble finding pants, I recommend the wearever line by J Jill. They come in misses, petites and womens sizes. The pants are elastic waist and the material is stretchy. There are also various jackets and tops that are part of that line. All are machine washable, tumble dry.

  161. Ruthie*

    I have two pairs of pants and two skirts that fit and that’s basically what I wear. And two pairs of work shoes. My lack of fashion sense must be abundantly clear to the folks I work with, but last week my boss told me that I’ve influenced her and she bought some simple, lightweight tops like mine that match all the bottoms I wear to simplify her wardrobe.

  162. Willow Sunstar*

    I would personally not wear the same thing two days in a row. But if it’s like on Monday and then on Thursday, and not the exact same outfit, who cares? It’s not as if you couldn’t have done laundry in-between.

  163. It's-a-me*

    Who the heck even notices if pants are worn more than once? I would just assume either they wear for 2-3 days in a row (TOTALLY fine) or they have a bunch of identical pants (I sure can’t tell the difference between most of mine).

    I have enough shirts to not repeat for 2-3 weeks, I only have enough good work pants that if I didn’t wear for 2 days in a row, I’d run out by the weekend – then what happens if I don’t have time for a load of laundry?

    Unless you’re actually getting sweaty and/or staining the clothes during the day, it’s fine to wear them again – from a sanitary point of view and (in my opinion) a professional point of view.

    (I think there was a study not long ago about how often you should wash jeans, which found that something like constant normal wear in cool weather for 3 straight weeks had no noticeable difference in blind tests – anyway, conclusion was we all wash our clothing far too often.)

  164. Tracey Matthies*

    A male morning television presenter here in Australia recently wore the same outfit on air every day for a year. No one even noticed or commented.

  165. chi type*

    I haven’t seen anyone else mention it so I will say- your letter says you own 5 pairs of work pants so you actually don’t need to buy anything not to wear the same pair twice a week. Maybe assign each pair 1 day of the week?

  166. Cassie*

    I used to have a ton of clothes and would be really bad about remembering to wash them until some mice got into my closet and I was forced to cleaned out the whole thing. It was super gross. I ended up throwing away a bunch of clothes and adopted something like Project 333 to manage my work clothes:

    I have 4 pairs of pants that I wear to work so it’s inevitable that I’ll wear at least 1 pair twice in the same week. I’ll designate 10 tops (either stand-alone shirts or a cardigan-shell combo) that will be worn for the next 3 months, which is about 40 work days. Each top gets worn 6 times (essentially every 2 weeks, +/- a couple of days), then washed and put back into storage. If I get a stain or something is smelly, I’ll wash the shirt off rotation but I’ve been pretty lucky not to get stains on my clothes.

    I like this system because it simplifies choosing what to wear each day – I only have 10 shirts to choose from, plus I’m most likely not going to wear the same shirt two days in a row. And I probably won’t repeat a shirt too often, because of my self-imposed limit on how many times in the three-month rota that it can be worn. It also is forcing me to be more selective about buying new clothes and more willing to let go of clothes.

    I usually don’t remember what my coworkers are wearing – out of the 13 coworkers I saw today, I think 1 person was wearing lime green, 1 person was wearing a black t-shirt which I think he always wears black t-shirts?. The rest of the people, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what kind of shirt they were wearing, much less pants (shirts are usually more noticeable than pants because who looks at other people’s pants?!)

  167. Angel*

    This boss is insane. I finally had this revelation that I could exist in my real life with the same principle as holiday packing: pick one neutral and two colors that go well together, and coordinate everything around those. So I’m moving basically toward a capsule wardrobe, but not quite to that extreme. I do like to wear colors, after all.

    My regular “uniform” for class is a knee-length cotton skirt and a camisole with flats, and a cardigan or shawl if it’s chilly. I work in food service, so my work clothes are jeans, non-slip shoes, a camisole, and my work shirt. (The job gave me one shirt, and I work 5-6 days a week, so I can’t just wear it alone or it gets super gross.) After my closet purge (which is on a temporary basis while everything else lives in storage for a few months so I don’t regret getting rid of something prematurely), I own one pair of jeans, two skirts, four camisoles, one pair of flats, and one pair of non-slip shoes. I literally can’t wear different clothes every day!

    And granted… finances are pretty tight. But I’m happy with most of my wardrobe fitting into a single dresser drawer! I would have a wardrobe this size even if I had $1,000 to spend on clothes — they would just all be nicer clothes. Don’t judge people based on the number of clothes they wear or how often they wear the same pieces. What a shallow, ridiculous, arbitrary way to classify human beings.

  168. Annie Mouse*

    I have a uniform issued which is slightly different. But working 4 or 5 days in a row with only 2 pairs of trousers means that, unless they get covered in something unsavoury, they get worn twice before being washed. Shirts we have more of so they can be worn less and the undershirts we wear are one day only things. I can’t afford to wash 3 items at a time a couple of times a week.

  169. MB*

    I have several pairs of boot cut jeans from Dorothy Perkins because they’re the only ones that really fit me after several years of searching and trying on and hemming and whatnot. And since they only become available once or twice a year where I’m from, I always make sure to stock up. I can wear them with flats, boots, sneakers, sandals. I also have several sleeveless button-down shirts (mostly in black and shades of blue) and V-neck cardigans (in navy, burgundy, gray, and black) from Uniqlo.

    1. Aeth*

      Hurray for DP’s! That’s where my work bottoms come from too, they’re always the best fit. I only have two pairs of work bottoms though – one pair of black trousers, one pair of black jeans. They last two to three days, I change when I get home, and do a clothes wash weekly. I do not see the point of running half-full loads in the washing machine and don’t have a great deal of space for clothes storage. I mean, I did used to have a lot more but I’ve just not been replacing and sticking to what I need. I really don’t understand OP’s boss’s problem. It does seem to be based in elitism.

  170. Lisa Poirier*

    There is something wrong with your boss. And it is classism, but in a weird sartorial form. Please do not second-guess yourself. You are not the problem.

  171. Former Teacher*

    When I was a classroom teacher, I once had a mid-year student evaluation that complained that I didn’t dress stylishly and that I often wore the same pants twice in a week. While intellectually I thought the comment was ridiculous, if effected me enough that I did spend Christmas shopping so I had enough pants not to repeat during the week.

  172. Pants Pants Pants*

    When I find pants that I like, I buy 3-4 pairs, so it looks like I’m wearing the same pants in a week but I’ve never had anyone comment on the fact.

    Keep on doing what you’re doing. Your boss is off kilter here.

    1. Former Teacher*

      The comment was from a student, not my boss (don’t think my boss would have noticed!). Students say a lot of off-kilter things ;)

  173. OP*

    Hi! OP again. Thank you so much to everyone that commented, it made me feel a whole lot better about the situation. I’m saving this thread as it makes me feel a whole lot better in general as I’ve always been self conscious about my appearance and it’s nice to know that I’m not alone.
    My boss has never brought up my appearance since this incident, so I think it may have been a one time thing. As I’ve stated previously, my boss tends to be more strict on our dress code due to our closer interaction with the public vs. the rest of my building. This is more visible in the summertime than the rest of the year (I’m in academics and everyone tends to be more on the casual side of business casual then as there are less students/parents/community around).
    I’m trying to make sure I don’t pick up any incorrect expectations about what is normal when I do move on from this job. This is the first time that something my boss said really stood out to me as- ok this doesn’t seem like something anyone would care about, thus the letter.
    Again thank you everyone who responded :) Hope to see you all more as my lurking adventures on AAM contiune.

    1. Reliquary*

      Good grief. I’m faculty, and your boss’ expectations are out of line. (Have you even *seen* what the faculty in the sciences wear? Joking, but not really!)

  174. Scott M*

    Hell, I often wear the same pair of Dockers 2 days in a row. All they need is a quick touch up on the ironing board and they are good for another day.

  175. azurelunatic*

    That is … really off, even for something doing something visible like front desk work. Pants are the third hardest to shop for, after shoes and bras.

    My office wear has been some combination of black skirt and black top, for years. I am afflicted with Eris’s own luck, and have encountered more mustard/paint/ink/ketchup/grass/coffee/ectoplasm than I want to contemplate. In the interests of not having to do heroic amounts of laundry, I switched to the easiest color for professional upkeep. Since I’m on the upper edge of plus sizes, I buy multiple copies of whatever thing I find that works, on the supposition that I will never find it again.

    My manager in my last office job made two comments about my clothing/grooming that I can recall. One was to ask how I got my glitter nail polish so awesome. The other started out as politely declining an extra logo-emblazoned hiking jacket that had been handed off by another department (ridiculous tech company swag) until I told her what size it was, and she gleefully accepted (we were about the same size, so she trusted my word that it was likely to fit her). Raises didn’t include any criticism of my attire. Not ever.

  176. CdnGinger*

    That boss is very weird. I’m a teacher, and I get a student teacher (or more than one) every year. Student teachers don’t get paid for their practicums; essentially, they are paying thousands in tuition at university for the privilege of learning and doing someone else’s work for them. I had one who was a newlywed, she and her new husband had just bought a house, so she was extra broke. As I recall, she had about seven wardrobe pieces she mixed and matched for the five weeks she was with me. Her clothes weren’t high-end (think Rickis or H&M) but they were always clean and pressed, and she always looked great. Her work was excellent, as well. I remember when I worked with her that I often thought “it’s amazing what she can do with a capsule wardrobe”, and not “she must be broke and this reflects badly on all of us”.

  177. Nkai*

    I dont have many clothes so when i go to school i wear a adidas jacket ALMOST EVERYDAY (got it from my step dad) and wear only 2 pair of jeans. A black one and a blue one. I always wear that jacket with the black pants. My mom is very little on money and these clothes (the pants and jacket) is what i feel confident in so i wear it almost everyday :( Wish i had more clothes :(( People make comments that i am poor and always wear the same :( I hate all thr comments about my clothes

  178. Aerin*

    Sometimes I’ll have that moment where I go to put something on, and I’ll realize that it’s very similar to what I wore a couple of days ago, or it’s Tuesday and I wore it Friday and washed it over the weekend.

    Then I’ll ask myself, “Hey, what was *literally anyone else* wearing yesterday?” And then I’ll put the damn thing on.

    FWIW I get nearly all my work clothes at thrift stores. If you can find a good one, most of the pieces will still be in pretty good condition. And if you find one in a nice part of town, some of it might even still be in fashion! (I miss the Beverly Hills Goodwill so much. Bunch of designer stuff that had been worn once.) I know you said it’s a bit of a drive, so maybe it would be better to save up and do one big shopping trip to limit that part of it.

  179. LM*

    Alison is right that most people won’t judge and say you’re bad with finances if you repeat clothing items throughout the week. For one, as she rightly says, it’s not a character flaw at all to live on a budget. Secondly, you might be rolling in cash, but just not prioritise spending on different clothing items, which are really just random coloured fabrics we put on our body. Maybe you prefer to channel your funds through to hobbies, or food, or homewares, or anything else besides clothing, really. The late CEO of Apple was surely in a positive financial position, yet wore the same black turtleneck and jeans all the time. Same with the CEO of Facebook who often wears the same grey hoodie.

    In Australia, a male TV presenter ran an experiment where he wore the same navy suit on-air every day for a year, and nobody noticed at all. Whereas when his female counterpart repeated an outfit (after weeks or months) it was jumped on. So there also is a gendered element to it definitely.

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