I got in trouble for wearing the same dress every day

A reader writes:

I have a question about work attire and what I consider my “work uniform.”

I work in a professional office of about 12 people. We’re in a small town and therefore are a bit more casual. The office dress code is officially business casual, and we have casual Fridays where most people, including our boss and owner of the business, wear jeans. I work as an admin assistant/receptionist, so I have a more front-facing position than anyone but the boss and his associates, who receive clients. No one has ever had any issues about the way I dress until recently.

I recently discovered this dress. I bought it in black, and I fell in love with it because I think it looks put-together enough for work while also being insanely comfortable. I also learned that the dress brand sponsors a 100 day challenge, where people wear the dress 100 days in a row and document it, then can submit photos for a gift card. I admit that I love the brand so much that the gift card incentive was enough to clinch it for me, but I also like the idea of investing in more sustainable pieces and having a professional yet comfortable “work uniform.”

I started the challenge, and when at work I usually put it together with tights and nice flats or booties, and I throw a cardigan or jacket over top, and accessorize with different jewelry and scarves. Everything I wear with the dress is what I would wear (and have already worn) to work before the challenge. It honestly feels dressier than my previous work clothes, but I feel like it fits the vibe for our office. I didn’t say anything about the challenge except to my husband and some friends, so no one at work knew. I made it to Day 37 before anyone said something.

Jan is our office manager, and she’s been known to be a bit of a busybody. She’s not a direct supervisor (we all report to Owner/Boss) but she sometimes acts like one because she does all the ordering for the business, and she also does payroll. She’s also a friend of the owner’s mom, so I think she feels like she can report back to our boss about issues she perceives in the office? She caught me in the break room a week ago Frdiay and said, “Wow, you really like that dress, you wear it a lot.” I sort of responded with a vague, “Yep, it’s a great dress.” She then went on to question why I wasn’t wearing jeans, like the rest of the office. I said something like, “Oh, this dress is way more comfortable to me than jeans,” which is totally true. Plus, casual Fridays aren’t “you must wear jeans” Friday. Just an option to be more casual, and sometimes the boss participates but sometimes not. I figured it was always up to me if I wanted to dress down. Jan made a couple more comments about how she’d seen me wear the dress a lot lately, and I realized she was going to fixate on this (she does this for other things, too!) so I decided to just tell her about my challenge, figuring it’d get her off my back. I said something to the effect of, I was doing a sustainability challenge and wearing the same dress 100 days in a row, so she’d see me wearing it a lot of different ways.

Well, it backfired spectacularly. The following Monday I was called into my boss’s office and he looked really uncomfortable but said he had to talk to me about how I presented myself at work. I immediately began to panic internally that I’d said or done something inappropriate but then he said, “Jan tells me you wear the same thing to work every day, and she has concerns about hygiene.”

I was kind of stunned, so I stammered out, “What concerns?” He hemmed and hawed (clearly he didn’t feel comfortable talking about my dress, which … same) and finally I realized that when I told Jan about my challenge, she assumed that I wasn’t washing it for 100 days. I was mortified but I rushed to explain that while yes, I am currently wearing the same dress every day, I do wash it and I take a lot of care with my presentation. I didn’t want to outright ask if I stank at work but Alison, I know I don’t. My husband would have noooo problem telling me if I did before I left for work in the morning. This was clearly Jan misrepresenting the issue.

I thought that once my boss understood that I was washing the dress, and if there were no issues with my hygiene or the dress itself, then we could just drop the issue. He seemed relieved when I explained, then said, “Well, just to be on the safe side, probably best to vary things up.”

I was stunned and frankly, insulted. This was coming from the man who wears the same sports coat to work every day. That’s none of my business, and frankly, I figure if I want to wear the same dress every day, and change things up with accessories and other pieces of clothing, that should be none of his business. For all he knows, I could have seven identical dresses and wear a different one every day. I was still rattled so I just said “Mhmm” and got back to work.

But then I got home and got really upset. The challenge isn’t the issue—I can always put on the dress when I’m home from work, which is what I’ve been doing this past week. But I liked the way I dressed, I was comfortable, and I thought the dress looked good. I feel like Jan, for whatever reason, didn’t like that I was wearing a dress on casual Friday (when everyone else was wearing jeans) and decided to make a mountain out of a molehill by going to our boss with (unfounded??) concerns rather than talking to me about it first. (She hasn’t said a single thing to me since about my clothes, but she gave me what I thought was a smug look when I came in on Tuesday wearing something else.) My husband says I should just do as my boss says, but I feel like this is a ridiculous request and since there isn’t a real issue with what I wear, I kind of want to keep wearing my dress anyway. But I also don’t want to get in trouble.

We don’t have HR (small company) but I feel like this is absurd. Can I really get in trouble for continuing to wear my dress every day? Should I do as my boss suggested and vary things up to “be on the safe side”? Does that mean I can maybe get away with wearing my dress some days? Should I talk to Jan and explain that I do wash it frequently? I would really love to go back to wearing my comfortable and classy dress to work, without it being an issue.

Jan’s a real busybody.

If you’re clean and you look professional, who cares? Many, many men wear identical outfits every day and no one comments. Jan and your boss are making an issue of this because you’re a woman, whether they realize that or not. I can practically guarantee you that if Jan complained that Bob in Accounting wore the same suit every day, your boss would not have spoken to Bob about it.

I think you should keep wearing the dress if it’s important to you. But in theory your boss can indeed tell you that you need to change it up, or penalize you in some way if you don’t. Theoretically, you could then have a lawyer help you argue that you were being subjected to different rules based on gender. Whether you’d want to expend the money and energy on that is a different question, as is how it might affect things between you and your boss. Sometimes people decide it’s worth it, and sometimes they don’t.

However, I think it’s likely that your boss won’t take it that far. He doesn’t sound like he really cares about the dress himself; it sounds like he’s just trying to appease Jan. If you make it clear that by appeasing Jan he’ll create a different problem he’ll need to deal with (you) and allude to how gendered this is, there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll back off.

Go back and talk to him again and say, “I was surprised by our conversation, because I’m confident that my appearance is professional and polished. Lots of people wear identical items multiple days in a row — men with suit jackets, for instance. I take a lot of care with my appearance and put a lot of thought into accessories and my presentation overall. I don’t think a man would be told he needed to vary his suits, so I don’t think I should be told I need to vary mine. However, I didn’t want you to think I was simply ignoring our conversation.”

If he pushes back, you could say, “I want to make sure I’m clear: Are you telling me that I need to change what I’m wearing even though I look professional and am in compliance with our dress code, just because Jan thinks I should look different each day?” You might also ask whether men in the office will be told the same thing about varying their blazers.

I’m betting that your boss hadn’t thought this through and was just trying to make the situation go away … and that once you push back, he’ll backtrack. But if he doesn’t, then you’ll have to decide how much capital you want to spend and how okay you are with things becoming more contentious.

Jan sucks.

{ 1,016 comments… read them below }

  1. Sara without an H*

    Jan sucks.

    Not arguing with this, but I think the boss in this scenario also sucks. He should have shut Jan down as soon as she brought up the issue.

    OP, whatever you decide to do, I think you need to set up boundaries with Jan. Be polite and professional to her but do not share any personal information with her.

    1. OhNo*

      Have to agree, here. It sounds like the boss himself had no concerns, but was just parroting whatever Jan said in hopes of making it your problem to solve. All those questions you asked him? He should have asked them to Jan first, and made sure she had already talked to you about it, before ever even considering pulling you in for a meeting.

      And I agree, no matter what else you decide to do here, Jan should be cut off from any and all personal information going forward. It sucks that you have to work with such a busybody, but cutting her off from information will hopefully solve the worst of that problem.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Oh, I so wonder if Jan told his mom who then told him, so “he had to.” Because OP adding the detail that they are friends seems significant.

        1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          This was my thought. Plus if Jan and boss’ mom have been friends a long time it might be slightly (or depending on the dynamic, not so slightly) ingrained to just “do what Auntie Jan says”

          This is obviously not a great dynamic, but it’s certainly a thing that happens when small businesses hire family and friends. Like Alison said, push back one more time, point out the possible sexism, then if that doesn’t work, accept that you’ll have to do this to keep your job.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          That’s where my brain went too – with a side of “does mom have any stake in the company” that means boss has to listen/do what mom says.
          If mom had fronted any seed money to get the company started originally, it could be mom has some unwritten behind the scenes power that Jan exploited.

          I do think a conversation with boss where you ask why all of a sudden your clothes are being policed in a way a man’s repetition of clothing pieces wouldn’t be is an interesting one to have though.

          And as a person who loves and lives in their jeans – I would pointed refuse to wear jeans around Jan for a very long time to make the point that not all people find jeans to be super comfortable.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            It’s very possible that Jan has to be placated because Mom has to be placated. Maybe it’s seed money for the business, or Mom is providing childcare for Boss’s kids, or something along the lines of “support with strings attached” and one of those strings is Jan.

          2. Slipping The Leash*

            I would buy an identical dress and wear them both. When she bothers you, just say “this is a different one.”

            1. JJ Bittenbinder*

              Or go full “my employee changes appearance dramatically at midday” from a few years ago. Costume changes midmorning! Hats and scarves and statement necklaces. Wigs, even.

              You need to to change it up? How’s this for changing it up?

      2. Sharkie*

        Yep. I have been in work situations before -especially in small offices- where the admin or office manager gets a bee in their bonnet about something small and petty so the boss just brings it up to the “offender” to keep the peace. Just know that Jan is weird and dont share personal information with her.

          1. Casper Lives*

            Oh really?? I’m interested! I had an office manager like this. She was such a pain, I was thrilled when I left so I’d never have to be subject to her whims again.

    2. Anononon*

      I don’t think anyone’s saying that the boss doesn’t suck.

      This is the second post of the day, and the second time that when someone has expressed frustration with a coworker (instead of their boss/management), there’s been pushback/implications in the comment section that frustration should only be directed at management and not coworkers.

      I’m not saying that this particular comment is specifically saying that OP can’t be upset at Jane (and, yes, I recognize that it specifically says Jane sucks), but I’m more getting to the fact that it seems like we can no longer be upset at coworkers, only management. I’m being hyperbolic and a bit facetious, but I am seeing this general trend.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I don’t think it’s that commenters are saying not to be upset with coworkers, I think it’s more that they’re saying people should be upset with management, too. And that makes sense to me, because often management is responsible for creating the conditions that allow the coworker problem to exist, or at least for allowing it to persist. So it’s not just that the coworker is being awful (because usually they are), but management is allowing and/or enabling the awfulness.

        1. shedubba*

          Management is also often the person in the situation with the authority and responsibility to resolve the situation, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect them to do their job. When a problem with a coworker arises because management refuses to manage the coworker, you have a management problem.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Oh, absolutely. I’m just saying that, a lot of the time, it’s entirely reasonable to be upset at the coworker for being crappy, and to be upset at management for not dealing with it, or not doing so effectively. It doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario.

      2. Cold Fish*

        Unlike the other post, I think this is a perfect situation to be upset with coworker and not necessarily with management. Boss did not handle things well, but he is not creating the problem… Jan is.

        1. pancakes*

          He is indeed creating a problem by parroting Jane’s comments and telling the letter writer to act on them without having put any thought into whether it makes sense to do so. It’s not quite the same problem as Jan being a busybody, but it is a problem nonetheless.

          1. Cringing 24/7*

            This. Boss created a problem by bringing it up to OP at all when there was no logical reason to do anything but shut down Jan’s comments about her coworker’s bodies/style/hygiene.

      3. Artemesia*

        Virtually all problems in the workplace are management problems. This one glaringly is. Workers have little leverage over co-workers but managers do. The OP should have handled this different but the core problem is a manager who allows a busybody to disrupt the office.

          1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

            Arguably it was dumb to tell Jan about the challenge, because to sorta makes it seems like she’s just doing this for a coupon. That said it really doesn’t matter, as long as the dress is clean and professional.

            1. many bells down*

              Personally, I might be a bit worried about a co-worker if I noticed they were wearing the same thing every day (tbh that’s a big IF). But if they told me it was a challenge I’d think that was kind of cool. Like, they have a reason that isn’t “can’t afford clothes” or “too depressed to get dressed”.

              1. pancakes*

                Someone with either of those two problems would be unlikely to reveal that they’re struggling with money or depression to a coworker unless they’re also a good friend, and would probably be better off not revealing either just to gratify a coworker’s nosiness. There are very few scenarios where it makes sense to ask someone why they’re wearing what they’re wearing, and this — clean dress, varied and office-appropriate accessories — isn’t one of them. It doesn’t suggest untreated depression or very precarious finances, either.

              2. CleverGirl*

                Neither of these (“can’t afford clothes” or “too depressed to get dressed”) would really apply if they are taking the time to accessorize every day with different jewelry, cardigans, etc, anyway.

              3. Ellie*

                Same – the challenge thing is a good explanation for why its the same dress every day, and why she wasn’t wearing jeans. The OP was wise to clarify that. I can sort of see Jan’s point too if she really did misunderstand and think it was the exact same unwashed dress for 100 days, although she’s still a busybody for mentioning it at all. The OP’s boss should have just gone back to Jan and explained that there was no hygiene issue.

              4. Reluctant Mezzo*

                A lot of people thought I was wearing the same slacks each day, but I was careful to point out that I had three black and two blue slacks because they were on sale, and that I had all the outfits picked out as I pulled them out of the drier and hung them up (I was careful to say this my boss, who was more concerned about dress codes, was passing by because I knew what she was thinking). And if they saw the same five blouses each week, well, nobody said anything because I was still dressed more professionally than half the rest of the office.

                1. allathian*

                  I frequently wear the same shirt (casual office, so it’s usually a long sleeved patterned t-shirt) two days in a row. I never notice what people are wearing, unless it’s particularly stylish or stands out in some way, and I expect most people don’t notice what I’m wearing. Certainly nobody’s ever accused me of bad hygiene.

              5. Kicking-k*

                Heh. I am incredibly indecisive first thing in the morning and can barely pick an outfit. On most winter work days, I wear one of a few very similar sweaters (which I make do several days) and a pair of black jeans (I have several the same). It has occurred to me to wonder if people would think I wear the same outfit for too long. But most of my office is WFH (I’m not) and when literally no-one may see me, I can’t make myself prioritise variety over warmth and comfort. When it’s not so cold I wear more varied things.

                I’d heard of the dress challenge and been tempted. Maybe in spring…

                1. Kicking-k*

                  ETA that I change out the tops under my sweaters, but rarely take my top layer off at work in winter.

            2. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

              I did the 100 day challenge, and it can take some effort to specifically avoid all mention of the repeat wearings when people make a note of it. Mentioning the challenge wasn’t a dumb thing to do at all; it was just a natural reaction to being hounded about the reason that the same dress (not even the same outfit, just one piece) was being worn often. LW didn’t just dive in with the explanation of the reward at the end of the challenge; she gave plenty of other logical responses first.

              1. Princesss Sparklepony*

                Former Admin Turned….

                If you do the challenge, is it the same exact dress every day or is it maybe the same dress in different colors. Like you have three you rotate between? Just wondering how it works. I sort of like the idea, but I’d want some flexibility.

                1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

                  It’s the same dress, but the one I used was a sleeveless one, so it looked like a jumper on some days and other days I put a pullover over top. Some folks get very creative at tucking up dresses to make then like tops, or pulling them down and tying them to make them a long skirt, or whatever. For me it was basically a foundation piece- I wore a Darn Good Yarn wrap skirt over it once or twice and also had a nice backdrop for my many scarves and shawls. But some days I just threw on tights or leggings underneath and a cardigan over top for a basic look.

            3. Erica*

              I’ve seen this challenge advertised, and the reason it’s called “sustainability challenge” is you’re NOT just doing it for a coupon, you’re doing it to prove to yourself that it’s perfectly feasible and enjoyable to own a few quality clothes rather than 200 fast fashion pieces. Massive production and disposal of cheap clothes is becoming a huge problem because clothing manufacturing is so water and energy intensive, and people increasingly buy a $10 trendy top, wear it for a month, then throw it away.

              So, it sounds like the challenge really worked and LW proved you can look work appropriate and varied with just one piece. And Jan has chosen to be on Team Wasteful Shopping here because she somehow feels threatened by that.

              1. Erica*

                But if you’re washing it every single day, then there’s goes the sustainability part, because now you’re wasting water and electricity, and putting unnecessary wear and tear on your washer. And if she’s washing it every day, and wearing it the next day, then she’s almost certainly drying it in a clothes dryer, not on a clothesline, so that’s even more energy being wasted, and another appliance being over-used to death.

                Also, no matter how high the quality, the more often you wear and/or wash a garment, the sooner it will wear out. That’s why it’s NOT really cheaper in the long run to own just a few clothes; it’s actually better and cheaper in the long run to have a wardrobe that’s large enough that you don’t have to wear the same thing twice in one week, because then your clothes will last longer. I have cheap Wal-Mart clothes in my closet that are 10-15 years old, for that very reason.
                If she keeps washing that black dress every day, before long it’ll be gray, even with washing it in cold water.

                1. Jen*

                  It is a sustainable dress. Wool has antimicrobial qualities and also doesn’t smell when hung up overnight. Many people participating in this challenge regularly wash their dress, just not every night and few people are using a dryer to dry the dress, as it dries quickly when hung to dry. I participated in this challenge in early 2021 and wore it to my office with no comments on my wearing the same thing. My dress was also more noticeably the same dress as it was a light purple color. I did way less laundry and even less drying during the challenge. The dress still looks like new, and I wore it long after the initial 100 days.

                2. name*

                  Your clothes don’t recover health when you leave them in the closet. They have the same amount of durability either way. You’re just spreading the same wear and tear over more time, making it more likely they become unfashonable, outdated, or ill-fitting before they wear out.

                3. Erica*

                  Well sure, there’s a happy medium – the single dress is a 100 day challenge, not a rest-of-your-life challenge. The point is that you don’t really need a completely different outfit for every day of the month, or to jump on every passing trend that comes along.

                4. anonymath*

                  Our ancestors owned fewer clothes and made them last, in a few ways:

                  * use wool, as noted
                  * wear a slip and potentially an undershirt
                  * use durable fabrics
                  * line dry

                  The idea that someone is doing an entire single-dress load of washing and drying every night, with maybe underwear and socks thrown in is… interesting. Plenty of folks have done this challenge; why not look up how they’ve done it?

                5. The Price is Wrong Bob*

                  Someone would not necessarily need to wash a dress every day or even every week, you could have 1 or 2 dresses and then a few days worth of dress shields and a couple slips in addition to your undergarments. Then you could really manage to have a much smaller wardrobe and do less frequent laundry overall, because unless you live somewhere that is sweltering and humid all the time, you’re mostly doing the heavier cleaning on the dress shields and your other undergarments. The more durable, expensive dress that needs to keep looking in top shape could then be worn many more times. Do people not know about different types of undergarments or protective methods?

                6. metadata minion*

                  @Price is Wrong Bob — I have never heard of a dress shield and now I have research to do! I know about slips, but mostly as those horrible things my mom made me wear for some poorly-explained modesty purpose.

                7. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  OP said she washes it, but the point is you don’t have to wash it every day. It’s pure wool so it’s naturally anti-microbial and doesn’t make you sweat like polyester. It’s not tight under the arms either, so sweat won’t get on it. You can wear a T-shirt underneath and change that.
                  I typically wear garments for several days without them smelling at all, because I only wear natural fabrics.
                  Synthetic fabrics were sold to us as easy wear easy care, but the manufacturers didn’t mention that they needed washing far more frequently.
                  Men used to wear the same shirt every day, and just change the cuffs and collar since they got more wear and were more likely to get dirty.
                  People didn’t use to shave every hair off their armpits either. Underarm hair has been deemed unsightly, but it does actually play a role in absorbing sweat so it gets on your clothes less.

                  Modern fashion is basically very bad hygiene and the socially acceptable response is to shower and change your clothes every day, and that’s what’s not sustainable.

              2. Anonymous4*

                I think Jan has chosen to be Stick Nose Into Situation That’s None of Her Business because that’s just how she is.

          2. A Feast of Fools*

            I would have told Jan that I loved the dress so much that I bought several of them, and that I have fun coming up with different accessories and other clothing items to wear with it. “Black is such a great blank canvas; don’t you agree?”

            Because I wear the “same” black pants to the office everyday (pre-pandemic). It’s not literally the same pair, it’s five of the same thing (because I’m too lazy to wash clothes more than once a week).

            But buying more than one of a favorite garment (or shoes!) is A Thing.

            1. WindmillArms*

              This is the quickest way to a solution. Bring up to Jan (and Boss, if needed) that you bought a second identical black dress and you’re rotating them. There, now you can wear the same dress every day!

              1. JJ Bittenbinder*

                It is the quickest way, yes. I’d still be irritated that I had to do this, as opposed to the boss actually acting like a boss and straighteneing Jan out and Jan MHOB—but I know that it’s the sanest course of action and would be controlling the things I can control and letting go of those I can’t.

            2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              Yeah, I have over a week’s worth of the “same” pants and that’s the only kind of pants I ever wear to work. When I find a pair of pants I like, I stock up and then introduce new pairs as others wear out. That way the same things fit in the same places in the same pockets every day. The every 3-5 years Changing to New Pants when they all wear out, my stockpile has run out, and the style has been discontinued so I have to start over is a big, annoying thing in my life.

              I do something similar with shirts, but on the advice of a previous boyfriend (who also used this clothing strategy) they are all different colors/patterns. No one notices that all of your shirts are the same style if they are different colors. I’m basically just a palette-swapped version of myself all week. He’d buy one of each color on offer, and I’m somewhat more picky as I have theories about which colors and patterns do and do not look good on me (I had opinions about which colors looked good on him too, but this was not something he was concerned about in daily wear), but it’s a good compromise if you want to wear the same thing every day without everyone noticing. (I’ve been working in the same small office for over 5 years and no one has ever commented except for the woman who was in a clothing MLM, and she was just noticing that I wasn’t buying her stuff and never wore leggings/tunics.)

              If the OP is long-term-committed to this dress in particular, I suggest that she buy it in a second color as soon as it makes financial sense to do so, and perhaps add a third when finances allow. Most people will not notice or care that the cut is the same if the color is different (plus that would be an extremely ridiculous complaint to make to the boss, since you wouldn’t have the possible concern about lack of laundering – “make my coworker wear dresses with different necklines!” or whatever is going to be met with bafflement or eye-rolling, particularly if being explained to a boss that has never followed women’s fashion or ever given it much thought), so being able to rotate several in different colors should settle the issue as well as ease laundry logistics a bit.

              1. Chris*

                I am the same way. I will buy multiples if I like something. I have had jobs that require a uniform and one that was casual dressy. I much preferred the uniform it takes the thought process out of picking what to wear everyday. My last job I bought the same color shirt and pants based on the companies brand colors and wore the same thing everyday. It wasn’t the “same” since I had multiples of the same item buy I’m sure it could have been mistaken for the same. I say wear what you want and makes you feel comfortable who cares what everyone else thinks!

              2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

                I also tend to buy multiples of the same garments in different colors. When a chain store started closing their locations, I’d go to pretty distant towns to visit the ones that were still open so I could stock up on my favorite pants.

              3. Artemesia*

                LOL. I think I am on the 8th pair of the shoes I wear every day and I live in fear they will be discontinued as they are so perfectly comfortable. I always stock up when I find something perfect.

                1. Galloping Gargoyles*

                  Can you share what brand/style of shoe it is? I find it really difficult to find comfortable, work appropriate shoes.

              4. Anonymous4*

                I have several pairs of the Basic Black Pants I always wear to work, and I have a dozen or so long-sleeved t-shirts and turtlenecks in different colors, and those, plus a handful of sweaters and a dozen or so scarves, are my winter wardrobe.

                I splurge on scarves. And you can wear the same pants, shirt, and sweater with three different scarves and jewelry, and get three different looks.

            3. GreyjoyGardens*

              I have an old, old, old style book called “Cheap Chic” and it recommends just this – finding an outfit (whether it’s a top and bottom or a dress) that suits you and is of good quality, getting several, and wearing them into the ground. Then you have fun accessorizing with scarves, jewelry, etc.

              I actually bookmarked the site LW linked to because I do love that dress. It will be part of my capsule wardrobe.

              Oh, and Jan is a real peach. Who cares what you wear to the office as long as you are clean, neat, and don’t smell bad? Obviously this doesn’t mean “wear a bathing suit” but it does mean “if someone is in office appropriate clothing and practices good hygiene then who cares if they wear the same thing day in and day out.” MYOB, Jan.

              1. Fluti314*

                Sorry, I know this party is of topic! But That dress is awesome. I have it, and they promptly sent me my coupon when I sent them my photos of wearing it. It’s a $100 coupon, but the way.

            4. allathian*

              Honestly, it boggles the mind that someone would find it necessary to wash their pants after wearing them for just one day, unless they get visibly dirty. I have three identical pairs of jeans in rotation (casual office, most employees wear jeans at least occasionally if not every day), and I normally wear a pair for a week, unless I spill something on them. I’m fat and I hate shopping for clothes, so if I find something nice that fits, I’ll buy several of the same kind.

              1. Kicking-k*

                Same. I don’t get particularly dirty day to day, and I assess whether something needs to go in the wash when I take it off. Jeans are usually fine to do several days. I don’t have a dryer so washing stuff that doesn’t need it… no thanks!

              2. Chrs*

                The main reason I wash dress pants after one wear is to shrink them back into shape. Jeans, I’m happy to wear several times because they don’t tend to bag out as much.

              3. Kaiko*

                As someone who leaks a bit when I sneeze / laugh / lag on getting to the bathroom…my pants are worn once before I wash them. Try not to be bogged by different bodies and how they work.

        1. Anononon*

          But just because the problem may ultimately lie with management, it doesn’t mean that OPs can’t also be annoyed/frustrated with their coworkers for acting shitty. There’s a trend here, and perhaps more globally, to act like people with work problems can only be upset with management.

          1. shedubba*

            They can be upset with both. I don’t think anyone is saying you can’t be upset with crappy coworkers for being crappy coworkers. But sometimes trying to convince your coworkers to be less crappy is clearly going to be a futile effort, and you’re going to get better results by getting management to actually manage crappy coworkers.

            1. Anononon*

              Eh, but I have seen comments that have essentially said “well, the real person you should be mad/upset/frustrated at is the manager/boss/supervisor.” That’s what I’m pushing back on.

              1. pancakes*

                Pushing back on a comment that’s doing something else isn’t quite pushing back on that, no.

      4. Smithy*

        I think the trend is because it’s where the problem actually is and it’s also more predictive of future support/challenges in your work life.

        There will always be irritating people at work. But it’s hugely different to hear your boss say “yeah, they suck – *shrug*” vs “they suck, so I did x, why don’t you do y and we’ll do z together” vs “they suck, and I’m going to do xyz and you don’t have to do anything”. It becomes an issue of how much time you have to think about the irritating person at work and manage them as opposed to someone else either doing it with you or for you.

        When there’s an irritating person why you know your boss has your back regarding – it’s far easier to not be bothered by them. Because you know you don’t have to constantly prepare for a management/HR battle.

        1. Xenia*

          In this case it’s even worse–the boss is saying “they suck, but I don’t want drama so instead of doing the proper managerial thing of telling the drama llama to knock it off I’m going to give you a dress code request that is at best rude and at worst pretty sexist”.
          Gross.

          1. Salymander*

            Yep. Jan is a horrible, obnoxious busybody who has appointed herself the gender police. Boss is lazy and would rather make an employee give in to gendered bullying (and possibly have to purchase new, expensive clothing for no good reason!?!) than tell Jan to mind her own business and stop being an officious, sexist jerk.

            Yeah, this whole situation is super gross.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            The only thing stopping me from going straight here is that the problem person in this case is Jan, someone he has possibly known since he was a kid, and who may also be able to pull influence levers with the bosses mom. We also don’t know what Jan told boss – as he did partially address the issue as a hygiene concern.

            But I will agree that boss could have handled Jan’s complaint a lot better once it became clear in that meeting what was really going on.

      5. Sara without an H*

        Hi, Anononon — Ummm, if you’ll reread my comment, I think you’ll see that I did not say “we can no longer be upset at coworkers.” I agree with Alison that “Jan sucks” — big time! — but that alone isn’t actionable for the OP.

        The situation, as I read it, is that the OP works in a small office with a busybody office manager and an owner who has a long-standing habit of placating that office manager. Alison gave the OP a good script for managing the business owner and calculating how much capital OP is prepared to spend on this issue.

        As to Jan, the only real solution I can think of is to put her on one of Captain Awkward’s low information diets and never confide any personal information to her again. (I admit, the suggestion that several commenters have made, to buy another identical dress and switch them out, kind of appeals to me.) What else would you suggest?

        1. Anononon*

          Yup, I did read your comment, which is why I specifically said, “I’m not saying that this particular comment is specifically saying that OP can’t be upset at Jane (and, yes, I recognize that it specifically says Jane sucks), but I’m more getting to the fact that it seems like we can no longer be upset at coworkers, only management. I’m being hyperbolic and a bit facetious, but I am seeing this general trend.”

          I’m not suggesting that there’s anything OP can do to fix Jan. I’m only pushing back on the idea that, because OP can’t stop Jan from being Jan, OP should stop being upset at Jan. Which, once again, I’m acknowledging that your particular comment didn’t specifically that. Rather, your comment, goes in line with a trend I’ve been seeing here where there are other comments that have specifically said that OPs shouldn’t get upset with coworkers, only management.

          (I used your comment as a jumping off point because by quoting Alison’s “Jan sucks” as the starting line of your comment, you implicitly made it an either/or. )

    3. Observer*

      Not arguing with this, but I think the boss in this scenario also sucks. He should have shut Jan down as soon as she brought up the issue.

      This. OP, you have learned something very important here. Your boss is not going to handle tricky situations well.

      1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        If it were just this one oddly specific instance I wouldn’t think to much about it. It may be that boss (somewhat rightly) doesn’t feel comfortable talking to a woman about her clothing, and the quickest way he can see out if it is to just flatly tell her to wear different outfits occasionally. It’s not a great look, but it’s not “deeply concerning management behavior”.

        What would concern me more is that there seems to be a pattern of Jan being a busybody and trying to “manage” junior employees. The pattern should be addressed and clearly isn’t. This one issue I’d probably write off as an annoying, but ultimately harmless, decision. The fact that Jan apparently regularly does this kind of stuff and no one stops her is a real problem.

        1. Observer*

          It’s not a great look, but it’s not “deeply concerning management behavior”.

          This goes well beyond “not a good look”. If he’s not comfortable talking to a woman about her clothes, the he has a very simple option. Just DON’T DO IT. He should have shut Jan down to start with. If he genuinely thought that there was a hygiene problem then the fastest and best way to deal with the discomfort once the OP informed him that there is not problem, would have been “Never mind then.” End of conversation. And then REFUSE TO DISCUSS IT with Jan. Instead he told her to “vary up” her clothes “to be on the safe side.” That’s pretty bad right there.

          What would concern me more is that there seems to be a pattern of Jan being a busybody and trying to “manage” junior employees.

          Yes, this is an extremely problematic pattern, and the boss should be shutting it down.

          This one issue I’d probably write off as an annoying, but ultimately harmless, decision.

          Not really harmless to the OP as it is putting pressure on her to dress in a way that she doesn’t for no real benefit to anyone but busybody Jan. And in the context of Jan’s overstepping, that becomes even more problematic. What else is Jan going to mandate?

          1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

            I guess my point here is that everyone has quirks and weaknesses. You’re not going to agree with every decision your boss makes, and that’s mostly okay. Sometimes even the best boss is going to make decisions that leave you scratching your head or a bit annoyed. Assuming that the occasional mistake or disagreement isn’t about something illegal, or grossly awful it doesn’t make the job an automatic “OMG Bees, get out ASAP” scenario.

            Patterns of bad behaviors are more concerning in general. “Jan is a busybody, and this time my boss took her side” is a one time annoyance, but maybe not a job hunting trigger. “Jan is a busybody and my boss always takes her side” is a negative work pattern that may have me looking for a new place.

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, sort of. But Jan’s reaction is clearly sexist, she wouldn’t dream of asking the manager to tell the guys in suits to wear a different blazer occasionally. That’s why I like Alison’s script and the idea about asking the boss if he plans to ask the men to vary things up a bit by wearing different blazers rather than the same suit several days in a row. Given that gender discrimination at work is illegal in the OP’s jurisdiction, a heads-up to the manager about Jan’s attitude could very well spur him to take action.

        2. pancakes*

          If he doesn’t feel comfortable talking to women about their clothes he shouldn’t be such a pushover about doing it just because some busybody wants him to.

    4. AthenaC*

      I guess I assumed that Jan had framed the issue to the boss in such a way that he basically had to say something as a Responsible Manager(TM). So I don’t necessarily blame him for starting the conversation, but he didn’t do a very good job after that. Once any legitimate professional concerns were cleared up (like the hygiene that was mentioned), then that should have been the end of it.

      1. Emma*

        Right, if the boss thought this was an “OP isn’t washing her work clothes” situation then it was appropriate for him to raise it, but once he realised that wasn’t the case he should have made it clear that OP can wear what she wants within the dress code.

      2. pancakes*

        How is it that he wouldn’t be able to perceive any hygiene issues himself, leaving him with no choice but to simply repeat what Jan said? I don’t see any particular reason to excuse the boss from from having his own perceptions.

      3. Observer*

        I guess I assumed that Jan had framed the issue to the boss in such a way that he basically had to say something as a Responsible Manager(TM).

        That only works if the manager is out of the office most of the time. Otherwise, he would know if the OP’s “fragrance” was noticeable.

      4. Delores*

        The OP should wear something fancy on casual Fridays. A ball gown comes to mind. That would make Jan freak out.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Safe from Jan being less than 100% happy, of course. The manager wants *himself* to be kept safe from that.

      2. Alice's Rabbit*

        I’m going to have to disagree with both the OP and Alison, here. Wearing the same dress every day is not the same as tossing on the same sports coat over your clothes when you need to look better for a client. That is so completely different, I honestly don’t know why you even mentioned it. Sports coats are outerwear. Unless you wear it outside on a very hot day for a long period of time, it’s unlikely to pick up much body odor. I mean, do you wash your jackets after every wear? Of course not!
        A dress, however, is the main part of your ensemble. It would be equivalent to your boss wearing the exact same shirt every day. And not the ubiquitous white button-down that is the default of men’s office wear, but literally the exact same shirt. Does he do that? Of course not! He likely doesn’t even wear the same trousers. Especially if you aren’t wearing slips and undershirts or dress shields, this isn’t a good idea.
        I had a coworker who did something similar, wearing the same basic clothes every day, but changing his tie. It’s not nearly as unnoticeable as the fashion magazines claim, especially when you’re in a visible position, like you are. He, too, was told he needed to invest in more than one work appropriate outfit. So no, it’s not a sexist thing.
        I would definitely change things up. OP. There’s a reason the company selling this dress is willing to offer such a large prize for the challenge; because wearing the same dress every day is incredibly weird. We’re talking Miss Havasham levels of odd, here.

        1. Day 48 of the dress challenge!*

          Sorry, no. There are many many many women doing this challenge and it’s not “incredibly weird.” What is weird is being so invested in monitoring what someone is wearing to the point of reporting on them. It wouldn’t be any weirder for a man to wear the same shirt or pants every day as long as they were still clean. It’s only problematic when the repeatedly-worn garment is dirty or stained or smelly. Otherwise, it’s completely none of your business and frankly, pretty strange that it would matter so much to you.

        2. Birch Tree*

          It takes less time for my worn-over-a-shirt polyester blazer to acquire odors than my worn-next-to-the-skin merino wool dress.

    5. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. Jan’s complaint should never have been given this much merit. Other people work with OP and if no one else noticed or cared….Jan should have been asked to MYOB. It makes one wonder what other things people to do appease Jan. I’d push back a bit. OP was changing it up with accessories and such.

      I’d also put Jan on a serious information diet. If it’s not vital for work, she doesn’t need to know.

      1. Observer*

        I’d also put Jan on a serious information diet. If it’s not vital for work, she doesn’t need to know

        100%

      2. Salymander*

        Yeah it sounds like Jan does a fair amount of ruling the roost just because she is such an obnoxious, judgemental ass. She is a petty tyrant, and boss needs to step up and *be* the boss.

        Information diet for Jan sounds good. She seems like the kind of person who can’t be trusted because she will take the most innocuous comment as an excuse to steamroll anyone she thinks is lower in status than she is. And if she can get away with it, she will go after the people over her as well. No wonder the boss is just crumpling before Jan’s BS. People like Jan can spot spineless ineffectualness from miles away.

    6. JelloStapler*

      Right- easy response “how does this affect her work or yours?”

      “It doesn’t” is the answer.

    7. Marthooh*

      I bet the boss thinks this is Uncomfortable Lady Stuff and he just doesn’t want to deal with it.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        Or, as someone pointed out above, Jan is friends with Boss’s mom, and Boss’s mom has a stake in the company (or maybe is financially supporting Boss or providing child care or something else that potentially has strings attached) and so it’s harder to tell Jan to STFU and MYOB.

    8. I mean it's a little weird*

      I mean, I think it is weird to wear the same dress 100 days in a row. Or 37. I never thought about it as a gendered thing before, and technically Allison and OP are right. Jan sucks, but even the least observant person would notice that. But it’s definitely far enough “outside of the norm” and for this reason I think it would be wise for OP to consider whether this is worth spending her political capital on. Chances are, it’s not and would just be easier for her to have like 5 different outfits. Though, technically, it would be wonderful if it wasn’t outside the norm, because women having to have multitudes of outfits, and deliberate each morning or the night before what they are going to wear, and/or accessorize with, because someone like Jan might notice, totally sucks. And should change. I also think the perception between this being wrong and men’s sportcoat being wrong is somewhat dissimilar in that, there is more of an expectation of frequent washing of an item being next to your skin, rather than a sportcoat/blazer, which is by definition, an outer layer. So I can see why Jan assumed a hygiene connection, as it is unusual to wash something that many days in a row. I think the “Sustainability challenge” element also implied this. SO I can’t entirely blame Jan for freaking out at this; even if OP doesn’t “smell” (which sometimes is possible depending on the person’s use of fragrances, etc).

      1. Beth*

        It’s only really ‘outside the norm’ for women though. Men can wear the same slacks and jacket year round, and as long as they’re not stained or smelly, odds are no one will even notice, much less comment. Yes, the shirt changes out for hygiene reasons, but if a guy wears a neutral-colored button down under his jacket every day, would you even notice? Even if you did, wouldn’t you be more likely to assume he’s got 7 of the same shirt, or that he did laundry last night, than to assume that he’s wearing the same shirt, unwashed, every day?

        Everyone needs to keep up with basic hygiene. But it shouldn’t matter whether someone has a visibly different outfit each day, or if they have 5 of the same thing and wear one each day, or if they wear the same exact outfit each day and do laundry each night. Yes, there are social norms that expect women to be more fashion focused, but management shouldn’t be enforcing that as a gendered standard–women should be just as free to take their pick among those three options as men are.

      2. Almut*

        You’d be surprised, how many participants tell us in the challenge facebook group that their colleagues, pupils, friends, kids and even husbands do not notice FOR MONTHS that the other person is wearing the same dress every day, especially not if they change outfits with accessories. (I work from home these days, so can’t really test this.) Regarding hygiene: In most climates, the dress line-dries overnight, so can easily be washed as often as that person feels necessary.

      3. DameB*

        There’s a big gap between “I think it’s a little unusual” and “freaking out.” When I first moved to a city from a very homogenous suburb, I found that the best thing I could do was just think “that’s a little unusual” and then keep my big mouth shut. As I got exposed to more and more things, I realized that my definition of “normal” was very very very narrow.

      4. Silvercat*

        It might be outside the norm, but as long as she looks professional, it doesn’t need mentioning by random people. In an office situation, for many people there’s no reason to wash clothes that are next to their skin every time they’re worn. If the OP looks professional and doesn’t smell, Jan should mind her own business.

      5. Cringing 24/7*

        Honestly, though, no. My coworker could have worn the same thing since I met her two years ago and I don’t think I’d’ve noticed – I’ve spoken to her twice this morning, and couldn’t even tell you what color she’s wearing, much less if she had worn that outfit before or repeatedly. It’s also just not my business.

        Plus, I – as a male-presenting person at work – have worn the same two suits for over three years and have NEVER had them commented on. And, yes, sports coats don’t touch the skin to the extent that a dress might, but slacks generally do, and I’ve never seen this turned around on men for wearing the same slacks (or identical-looking slacks) a million times in a row.

  2. HelloHello*

    If this were me I’d buy a second of the same dress in a different color and then aggressively wear the two of them on repeat… but I have a bad habit of favoring passive aggressive response over direct conversation.

    1. BG*

      Better yet, buy another in the same color. You’re not *technically* wearing the *same* dress every day. Jan can put that in her pipe and smoke it.

      1. Antilles*

        This was my thought too. Especially if you can pull off a completely normal and factual voice – when Jane says something, it’s just totally normal like of course you own two identical dresses that’s perfectly commonplace*.
        *Because it is, as you’d note from the multiple white dress shirts in the average man’s closet.

        1. Maureen Ponderosa*

          How would they even know it’s a different dress? I’d just keep wearing the same dress as you have been doing, and if anyone asks tell them I love the dress so much I bought a second one.

        2. Lora*

          …I do this. Not dresses, but I do have three identical pairs of black pants, the same pants in gray and navy, and four similar looking blouses. I change the sweater / jacket.

          Would be highly tempted to stick a little piece of velcro on the dress, the opposite velcro on multiple little appliques, and swap out the appliques.

          Agree that the best route for Boss to deal with Jan is the Tiger Oil Mike method: What OP wears is none of your goddamned business, OP reports to me and I will decide if she’s dressed appropriately.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I am a guy whose sartorial sense is most generously characterized as “indifferent.” If I find a shirt or pair of pants that fit me well, I will buy a bunch of them. This is in pursuit of my heartfelt ambition of giving as little thought to clothing as possible.

            1. Lora*

              Right? And for women it’s really the pits, because something that fits you well can go out of style in a year or two, and then if you ruin your one item of clothing somehow, you may have to wait decades before buying another.

              Signed, the woman who looked terrible in shoulder pads in the 1980s too, thankyouverymuch.

              1. Salymander*

                Yes, the 80s were a dark time for women with squareish shoulders. I learned to sew just so I could alter clothes with the dreaded shoulder issue. Some shoulder pads were just attached by little strings, but some of my favorite clothes had massive shoulder pads sewn in to the shoulder seam. Why? Why would they do that? Is it cheaper? It was a huge pain.

                Yeah so when I found a nice black dress with the right shoulders (on sale!!!), I bought 3. And I wore that dress alllll the time, until my friends started calling it my Darth Uniform.

                1. Chi*

                  The personal uniform is a thing. I am still trying to find mine even though I work from home. There was a male commenter who said he wants to give as little thought to clothes as possible – me too. If I find something that looks good I am buying a bunch of it. Thank goodness I work at home so I don’t have to deal with jerks like Jan.

                  Mind your business, Jans of the world!

              2. DJ Abbott*

                I used to take things to the tailor to have the shoulder pads taken out when they had been sewn into the clothing.

            2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              I do this as well – and openly too. Why should those of us who are women have to play by different fashion rules than the men around us?

              If it fits well, is good quality fabric, and looks professional, yup I own several of it.

              1. allathian*

                Yup, me too. And I unashamedly wear the same jeans for a week, unless they’re visibly stained. I don’t care for fashion, and never have, at least not since high school. In the late 80s and early 90s, Levi’s jeans were very popular. But they were so expensive that my parents refused to buy them for me, so I got my first job at 17 so I could get them, and after that I bought all my clothes with my own money. And incidentally my parents stopped trying to influence my sartorial choices.

                1. Alex the Alchemist*

                  Yeah I wear the same pants to work pretty much all the time (I’m only in-office three days a week so it’s rather unnoticeable). I don’t like how most dress pants look on me, so once I found a pair at Target that fit me perfectly, I started wearing them as often as possible, and they came with a belt that I can take off which makes it technically two pairs of pants in my mind. My only regret is not buying them in a second color before they all sold out in my size.

          2. Jillian*

            I wear the same pair of black slacks every single day. Not the SAME pair – I actually own 5 pair. They cost $26 on sale and they go on sale twice a year, which is when I always buy another pair or two. I get rid of about 1 or 2 a year due to wear (usually from cat claws or work incidents). It makes it really easy to buy new tops and shoes because they only have to match black. no one has ever mentioned it and I wouldn’t care if they did.

          3. Dahlia*

            I own about 7 pairs of the same black leggings. They fit, they’re cheap, why would I not just keep buying them tbh?

          4. Cheap Ass Rolex*

            Yes I have 4 – 5 identical black leggings I wear under long tops or dresses on 99% of in-office workdays. Different sweaters, etc, but no one has mentioned anything and I’d scoff if they did.

          5. Meep*

            I mean I have several dresses in different colors as well as several pairs of shoes (think black and another color like brown). It is part of being a human that has to wear clothes.

          6. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            I literally have 3 pairs of black pants that are identical, and a fourth pair in grey. This is The Way.

          7. I Do Not Sing Along Thanks*

            I own the same pants and shirts in multiples and literally never wear anything else to work. I do work in a technical job so no outsiders would see me. But literally nobody has said anything about me wearing different clothes. I don’t smell and there are not stains or anything. If they did say something I would shut it down as sexist

        3. KateM*

          I did think at first that OP has several exact same dresses! Because yes, I’d find it troubling to wash and dry without back-up, too.

          1. Salymander*

            If I saw the OP wearing a black dress every day, I would just assume that they bought several of the same dress, and I would think that was great. If I found out it was the same dress, I would still think it was great. Either way, I would think it was none of my beeswax.

            1. Jaybee*

              I honestly can’t imagine even noticing that a coworker was wearing the actual same dress every day. I don’t examine my coworkers’ clothing anywhere near that closely. How does Jan find the time to get any actual work done?

              1. Not a Blossom*

                I might notice if it were just the dress, but with the way the OP switches up the other pieces and accessories, it wouldn’t occur to me that it was the same dress. At most, I might notice that she based her outfits around a black dress or dresses and think “huh, that’s smart.”

      2. TiredMama*

        Yeah, same thought but sewing a little symbol on each one to prove they are different and show her the symbol each day. Hey Jan, dress check, it’s triangle day. Hey Jan, dress check, it’s bird day. Etc. Just so she can feel real stupid.

      3. TechWorker*

        Or just… don’t buy another dress, but tell Jan you have 5 identical ones and wash them at the weekend. What’s she gonna do… follow you home to check?

        1. Emotional Support Care’n*

          I feel like Jan is the type of busybody that would try. I really get this feeling that Jan is an old school type that thinks women should be set dressing as much as they are for actual function in an office, and when LW isn’t wearing a varied, attractive set dressing, she’s failing in that aspect of Jan’s unspoken criteria for her.
          It may be that LW needs to be more direct with her boss. That Jan does not have decision-making powers for LW’s clothing, nor is she the self-appointed female fashion guru of the office and needs to mind her own on this matter.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Or she’d scrutinize the dress to find a stain, or a snag, or a variation in stitching so she can look for it every day.

            1. pancakes*

              She can do that if she wants, and no one has to play along with discussing it with her whenever she brings it up.

              1. Insert Clever Name Here*

                Right? “Jane, it’s really uncomfortable how fixated you are on my clothing. You need to stop.”

          2. Rose*

            Jan is a bully, pure and simple.

            I have the dress in the OP and it is so simple and neutral that someone would have to be watching the wearer constantly. Why is Jan so fixated on the OP and her othes?

      4. Properlike*

        I would even suggest you write to the company and let them know the problems you’re having at work (you can copy this letter.) Might get a discount out of it and buy five dresses of the EXACT SAME COLOR. Have them delivered to the office. Show Jan that you did this for her comfort. OR leave the dirty dress in her office so she can see the clean dress you have on.
        Malicious compliance for a stupid new rule.
        If he weren’t the boss, I’d go into him and say, “I’d love to get some cleaning tips from you because I noticed you wear that jacket every day and I’m curious how you clean it every night when it’s dry-clean only.” :)

        1. Nay*

          +1 for malicious compliance by wearing the same style dress in different colors lol, I would 100% donate to OP with the promise of an update!

        2. Co in KC*

          I love this. The company you purchased the dress from will love this story (and this AAM). The 100 day challenge is such a great idea and guaranteed the only person who noticed was Jan. And wtf. If I had a co-worker who was doing the challenge, I would be their #1 cheerleader. (I have a whole lot of scarves I could contribute to the cause.) In fact, I am inspired and if I didn’t work from home in my comfies, I would do this myself!!

          1. Jen*

            They are probably getting some decent traffic from this too. I’ve been checking out The Dress and definitely pondering a purchase.

        3. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

          This is the best answer and what I would do. I love clothes but when I find something I really like, I get in all the colors that look good on me.
          Yes, I worked retail for a while as well.

        4. bibliovore*

          I love this! I actually do wear the same exact thing everyday. I have the same three trousers and tops in rotation with the Speedqueen and the occasional sweater.

        5. Ana Gram*

          I would absolutely do this. And keep it super regimented! Monday is always blue dress, Tuesday is always green dress, etc.

      5. le teacher*

        I was going to suggest not even buying a new dress but instead just lie and say “oh yeah I bought a few more dresses.” Then just wear your dress.

        1. SeluciaMD*

          100% what I would do. ONE. HUNDRED. PERCENT.

          I’m a manager and I cannot imagine what someone would have to say to me to make me feel like I needed to have a conversation like this with someone on my staff. I’ve had to have the occasional casual like “heads up, next time for a meeting at this level you need to bump up to a shirt and tie (or whatever)” or “hey, just wanted you to know that you can be more casual in this setting or that meeting if you want.” I cannot fathom telling a grown-ass adult WHO IS WITHIN THE DRESS CODE that maybe they shouldn’t be wearing something because another employee has completely unreasonable feelings about it.

          Both Jane AND the manager suck.

          1. Middle management sucks*

            Our dress code is ridiculously subjective. For example, pants can’t be ‘too tight.’ It’s a freaking pandemic, and I’ve already bought new work clothes once because they didn’t fit comfortably anymore. I’m not going to do it again because someone doesn’t like how my pants look when I bloat wince a month (not to mention most of the weight gain only happened after I went on an anxiety med because of my work environment- one known for weight gain).

      6. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I came to the comments to say exactly this. I’m AMAB, but I have bought multiples of the same pants or polo shirts when I find one I like, sometimes in different colors but sometimes identical ones if I really like that color, just so I can rotate it in more often.

        1. darcy*

          Struggling to see how birth assignment is relevant here? Would this apply to trans women but not trans men?

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            As noted elsewhere in the comments, women tend to be judged more harshly for this kind of thing while men frequently get away with the same suit and just changing shirt and tie. The Cosmic Avenger appears to be reinforcing that.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Thank you RabbitRabbit, that was the point; I know I am subject to worlds less of judgment on my appearance and clothes based on my gender, but I still wanted to express my approval of the tactic while pointing out the problematic discrepancy.

              1. ecnaseener*

                I think Darcy’s point was, if you present as male that’s what affects people’s perception of what you should wear. Nothing to do with what’s on your birth certificate – if you’re perceived as male you can repeat clothes more than people perceived as women.

            2. JustaTech*

              Wasn’t there an Australian newscaster who wore the same suit for a year after his female coworker was criticized for wearing the same dress twice in a month or something?
              And no one noticed that he’d worn the same suit for a whole year and he said something like “and isn’t that interesting”.

              1. Lime green Pacer*

                During her first season with Penn & Teller’s Fool Us, viewers noted that host Alyson Hannigan wore the same dress every episode. Nobody commented that Penn & Teller always wore the same suits. I’ll put a link in a reply to this.

                1. Wendy Darling*

                  On a LOT of shows the hosts all wear the same thing for every episode and I assume it’s so they can cut together footage from different tapings and have it not be obvious.

                  e.g. if you watch Taskmaster all the contestants have a “task outfit” they wear for every task, and then wear different outfits each episode in the studio, so it’s very obvious.

                2. Xantar*

                  They actually do this because each episode of Fool Us is made up of several different acts filmed on different occasions stitched together. They have to make sure each episode has at least one successful fooler, after all.

                  You’re absolutely right that people noticed Alyson’s wardrobe without noting Penn and Teller’s though.

                3. shedubba*

                  Interestingly, if you see male hosts wearing noticeably different outfits in each episode, it can actually be a sign that they film multiple episodes in a day. My cousin was on Jeopardy, and they filmed 5 episodes every day. They had him bring 5 outfits for each day he was filming, and everyone had a complete wardrobe change between episodes.

                4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

                  Came here to say the same thing as Wendy Darling about Taskmaster. It gives a lot more flexibility in putting episodes together and editing when you don’t have to worry about continuity.

              2. Jen with one n*

                I can’t find a great link for it, but Will Ferrell has said there was a season of SNL where he wore the same outfit every day and no one noticed.

          2. An enby owl*

            It is possible this poster does not necessarily want to identify as a man but does want to point out that they are being judged by male clothing standards.

            I agree that AMAB is a confusing way to say that since your birth assignment does not necessarily dictate how you are judged by others; some AMAB women and non-binary people are judged by women’s clothing standards.

            I might have said “I am read as male” or “my coworkers see me as a man.”

            1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              “AMAB” also provides hints to what your early socialization was as regards to clothing/fashion. Those of us who were raised as female as children, regardless of current identification, were probably trained and encouraged to notice a lot of details about clothing and color, praised for getting it “right”, and made fun of for getting it “wrong”. I know some friends of my mother would give me a lot of advice on what colors I should and should not wear for my skin tone as far back as early elementary school, and give detailed feedback about my outfits and whether or not they matched well. While I have minimal interest in optional grooming activities and the fancy clothes that require them, I do have a really good color sense and it was the one part of my outfits that usually got praise as a kid.

              I also remember a 4th/5th grade bully whose main tactic would be to scrutinize my outfits to try and point out something that didn’t “match”, usually my socks because I’d wear ones with designs on them. I always carefully did match them, but not by picking a match between the main sock color and the main shirt color but rather something that complimented well and pulled in a secondary color from the other item. I was mostly annoyed because she clearly did not understand how to match clothes as well as I did, but I’d also given up trying to please that type of girl bully years earlier at a previous school, so it lacked the desired controlling effect since I already knew there was no way I’d ever fit in well enough to be part of her clique.

              So anyway, both gendered childhood training and others current perception of your gender can play into this stuff.

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, and also your background. Both of my parents are academics, and my mom comes from a long line of small farmers, she was the first woman in her family to go to college (and only one paternal uncle had a college degree before her). Fashion was an unknown concept to her when she was growing up, and it had no importance for her in her professional life later. I’ve also never seen her in makeup. AFAIK she’s only worn makeup twice in her entire life, once for her high-school graduation photo, and on her wedding day. (Her mother, my maternal grandmother, did wear lipstick when she went visiting, and on Sundays to church, though, and some of my aunts are much more fashion conscious than my mom is.)

                If anything, the lesson I learned from home was that “smart women don’t need to wear makeup or dress to please the men,” and I definitely never realized as a young teen that some (most?) people wear makeup and dress in nice clothes *to please themselves*. I’ve since learned that you can be both smart and stylish, or stupid and frumpy, and any combination of those, although I only learned that when I started wearing makeup in my junior year in high school and realized that it didn’t make me any less smart. ;)

                1. The Magpie*

                  My mom is from a long line of farmers (first to get an associate’s degree, etc.), and she’s actually the opposite! “Proper” clothes for young ladies was very important growing up when it came to church clothes, matching colours, tights or nylons with dresses, looking presentable, etc. I think it was a poor, working class value that got instilled along with manners – we don’t have money, but we know how to “look right” at church on Sunday and nobody can say my kid doesn’t have manners, that kind of thing.

                  She’s not nearly as rigid now as she was when I was growing up (it was over 100 degrees on my wedding day, and I complained about my nylons and my mom said, “What, you’re wearing nylons? In this heat? I’m not” and I almost had a stroke because I only *wore nylons in the first place* because I thought she’d have another wedding etiquette tantrum if I didn’t! OMG! I’ll never be over it), but it really used to be A Big Deal.

      7. n.m.*

        Do you one better—tell Jan you have a wardrobe full of these things when you still only have one!

      8. Anon Supervisor*

        Yeah, I do this in order to extend the life of my clothing and because I hate trying stuff on. I’m super picky about pants, so I buy, like, 10 of them in the same color just in case they discontinue them or change the quality/fit (looking at you, J.Jill). I’m sure there are people who think I only have one pair of pants (and probably only 5 shirts because I have a rotation that doesn’t really vary).

    2. Butterfly Counter*

      Honestly, this was exactly my thought.

      I think it was junior high when someone told me I couldn’t wear the same shirt more than once a week. Maybe even elementary. I have no doubt it’s some kind of classist made up rule to find a new way to penalize those with less disposable income.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        In my experience, I go about every two weeks before I rewear something. If you rewear something more frequently than that and it stands out (i.e .you’re not wearing the same black pants every single day), people will notice and comment. Especially if you get a stain on it–I remember in high school when the music teacher sat on gum and then wore the same pants the next day. Everyone noticed that one…

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          “…I go about every two weeks before I rewear something.”

          Not to be too dramatic, but this sounds exhausting*. I mean, yes, if you get a stain on something, you should not rewear it, but I think wearing things multiple times without laundering is fairly common.

          Back in the days when I went to an office, I had two pairs of black slacks and one gray pair which I rarely wore. My tops, shoes, and accessories changed each day, but the pants got taken off as soon as I got home, draped over a chair, and put back on the following day. It was all washed over the weekend.

          *and fairly expensive for many people either without a washing machine in their apartment or home or who don’t have the income to spend on 10-14 of $50-150 top + pants combos.

          1. Anonymous Hippo*

            I try to go two weeks between wears too, but that doesn’t mean they need washing. I generally just hang them up inside out in the “worn but still fresh” area of my closet. Gives them a chance to thoroughly air out, and don’t get weird comments from people about wearing the same stuff all the time.

          2. Lou*

            I do the same thing – two pairs of black pants but I typically only wear one per week unless I spill something on myself, the pair gets washed over the weekend. I also only have about 5-7 shirts per season (summer/winter), and I pretty much wear each one day a week, wash over the weekend, wear them all again the next week. It does help that I’m in the habit of doing laundry weekly.

          3. Dr B Crusher*

            I just don’t have the space to own that many pairs of trousers, tops, and woollens, given that I’d need at least two seasons’ worth of a lot of things.

          4. Elizabeth West*

            This is what I usually do with pants. Shirts get changed out every day. But I wear two pairs of pants all week with one, possibly two backups in case of accidents. I only wear dresses or skirts in winter when I can wear tights, and then, only rarely.

            On the salaries I usually make, buying five pairs of the same pants I like is an unattainable luxury. Or they’re cheap, low-quality pants and I have to do the same thing again in a year anyway.

          5. Cedrus Libani*

            For the daily-wear items that can be worn multiple days between washes, I always buy two, and wear them on alternating days. (I’ve got bras, jeans, and PJs in the system right now.) Having a full day to air out extends the…uh, “time to aroma” and helps the garments last longer. I label them with “O” (for odd-numbered dates) and “E” (for even-numbered dates) so I can keep track.

        2. Scarlet Magnolias*

          I wear the same LL Bean black pants and (usually) a number of blue floral shirts and a cardigan every day. Plus my Bernie Mev comfort shoes until I switch to boots

        3. Turtles All The Way Down*

          This is called the spotlight phenomenon. People think others notice things about them much more often than they do. As someone who also wore the same dress for 100 days, I assure you that most people don’t notice – Jan is just an unusually observant busybody.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Lately I see a lot of people bring this up when somebody reports that other people have or will notice something about them, and the thing is, although we do think people notice more about us than they actually do, there are certain things people absolutely do notice about others, and a lot of people do notice what people (especially women) around them are wearing.

            It’s not always malicious! In my office a lot of people would notice if someone wore the same clothes every week. Most of us aren’t busybodies, but a lot of us like clothes/fashion and thus just naturally notice the clothes that our coworkers wear. I don’t think any of us would ever say anything or care even a little bit, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t notice. A lot of offices have plenty of Jans, who both notice and care/feel entitled to police it. That doesn’t mean that anyone needs to cater to the Jans of the world, but Aggretsuko isn’t wrong either to want to avoid dealing with the Jans. If they can structure their wardrobe to do so, there’s nothing wrong with that.

          2. Loulou*

            As a counterpoint, I notice all kinds of things I don’t comment on! I think it would be rude to say “is this the exact same dress you’ve worn for the past three months?” so I would say nothing about it.

            Wearing the same dress every day is of course harmless, so if someone did notice it shouldn’t matter unless they’re a busybody like Jane, but I wouldn’t apply the same logic to all examples of “I did X weird thing and no one said anything.”

            1. Spencer Hastings*

              Yeah, silently judging is definitely a thing. It’s almost worse since there’s no opportunity to defend yourself or dispel misunderstandings — the other person is just thinking badly of you all this time, potentially without you noticing.

              I was struck by this on the cheap ass rolls post: a large proportion of the comments were saying “Nobody will notice or care what the LW brought to the potluck, and the fact that she thinks that’s a possibility just shows how self-centered she is.” But then there were other threads full of people going “This happened 12 years ago, but the dish this guy brought to a potluck was so inappropriate/low-effort that it has been burned into my brain ever since…”

              1. Loulou*

                Ha! That’s interesting about the cheap ass rolls.

                But I would add I’m not even talking about silent judging, just NOTICING. I wouldn’t judge someone for wearing the same dress every day but I would think it was strange or unusual. It’s one thing to say “yes, this goes against norms but those norms are stupid and nice people won’t care, so go ahead OP” vs saying “this isn’t weird at all and no one will notice!” Yes, it is weird and people will notice. Weird isn’t the same as bad and maybe people won’t or shouldn’t CARE.

                1. metadata minion*

                  Yeah, I might notice after a while and go “hey, good for them; that sounds so efficient!”. Or “oo, that *does* look like a comfy dress to wear every day; maybe I’ll ask where they got it”.

            2. Turtles All The Way Down*

              Oh, not just me! There’s a whole community of people who participate in this challenge. ;)

              That said, it might also depend on your individual style. If you normally wear dresses in dark or neutral colors, or rotate through black skirts, navy pants, white, gray, and black tops, then wearing a black dress for 3 months with a variety of scarves, belts, and tights might not be as noticeable as if you’re known for bright floral patterns.

          3. Lily Rowan*

            I had one coworker who I knew did notice people’s clothes, and one time I asked her if I had worn the same sweater for two Fridays in a row, because I myself could literally not remember. But she did, and I had! She didn’t care, just noticed.

          4. Momma Bear*

            I’d be tempted to note Jan’s attire and comment every time she re-wore a particular outfit or item.

          5. Barbara Eyiuche*

            This really depends. People comment on my clothes a lot – both negatively and positively. Now I do like bright colors, and unusual shoes, but part of the reason seems to be that I’m fat. It seems people notice what I’m wearing sometimes because they are surprised that a fat person would wear x.

        4. Observer*

          If you rewear something more frequently than that and it stands out (i.e .you’re not wearing the same black pants every single day), people will notice and comment.

          If you work with such busybodies that they comment on wearing something more often than once in two weeks, that’s unfortunate. But that is NOT reasonable nor even normal behavior. Now, if you are stuck with that, you obviously need to decide how much you want to pander to that. But be clear that this is NOT something that people actually really should worry about outside of that kind of dysfunction. Of course if you just PREFER to wear things less often, that’s a different issue. You do you, but don’t pass this off as a matter of “professionalism” or “proper office behavior.”

          Especially if you get a stain on it

          Which has absolutely nothing to do with the situation. Stained clothing are a problem whether you wear them every day or once a month. And the OP is most definitely NOT wearing a stained dress – she’s quite explicit about that. Why make the assumption that “wears the same clothes frequently” = “slob who wears stained clothes”?

        5. Bagpuss*

          I wear the exact same black pants almost every day.

          I mean, I own more than one pair but I bought several identical pairs (and I have some others which are almost identical save for a slightly different waistband, which is almost always covered by other clothes, so no one would know.)

          If any of my coworkers have ever noticed, they haven’t said.
          I also have two identical longline black cardigans, and two others in grey, which are worn most days
          Shorts tend to go in the laundry after being worn and I d washing at the weekend, so they don’t normally get won twice in the same work week, but I don’t keep track of when I last wore something so could very easily wear something on Friday and again on Monday.

          I do occasionally wear dresses – more often in summer when that doesn’t mean also wearing tights.

          I don’t pay much attention to what other s are wearing but I think nearly all of my female coworkers wear the same things more often that once every two weeks, and I am quite certain all the men do.

        6. feral fairy*

          The idea that re-wearing an article of clothing after 10 days (for example) is absurd, and I am saying this as someone with a pretty massive wardrobe. Unless you work at a fashion magazine or you’re famous, no one is going to remember, let alone care, about what you wore earlier in the week or two weeks ago. If you’re washing your clothes and they are appropriate for the environment you are in, it truly doesn’t matter when you wear an article of clothing again. Different types of clothes require different frequencies of wash, so pants can typically go a few times without being fully laundered. If you get a large stain on your pants, obviously it’s a good idea to wash them before wearing them again. That’s a separate issue from rewearing clean-clothing. The concept of having high-quality “basics” to build your wardrobe around is commonly suggested in fashion magazines and it seems pretty out of touch to suggest that clothes should be on a 14 day rotation in this day and age.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            If you wear long-sleeved shirts underneath a blazer or a pullover, it can be months before that outer garment needs to be cleaned.
            Equivalent long-sleeved shirts can be worn under a dress.

        7. Mimi*

          My 6th grade classmates would absolutely have noticed and made my life a misery, but in my adult life (business casual to casual-casual), I will often wear the same dress or sweater twice in a week (and they are distinctive) and no one’s ever said anything. Mind you, my personal style is pretty eclectic, so people may have figured out that I don’t care that much what people think.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            I’ve had a couple coworkers who commented that I wore some specific piece of clothing a lot but the common thread there was that they were judgmental assholes finding excuses to be shitty to me because they didn’t like me. Like I had a grown-ass adult woman look me up and down and say “You’ve worn that twice this week” and kind of crinkle her nose.

            I said “Yeah, I do laundry on Tuesdays,” and walked away. Notably, she had just gotten told off for lying to our boss about something I did. It was middle school bullshit.

            As a bonus I am a fat woman so I have a hard time finding clothes that 1. fit me well and 2. do not suck, so yeah, I don’t have a TON of outfits. I have worn this giant cozy sweater three twice this week and it’s Monday, fight me.

          2. Ellie*

            I don’t wear the exact same clothes, but I have about half a dozen black tops that on close inspection, are almost identical. I also have 2 black skirts and 3 black pants that are identical – when I find good clothes I buy multiple copies of them, so that I don’t have to go shopping again for a while. I’ve never been called on it. I suspect it was the lack of jeans on casual day that did it – I once had a customer come in on casual Friday, and I got so many people asking if I had an interview.

            1. pandop*

              The black trousers I am wearing to work came in a 2-pack of identical pairs. Clearly the company has sussed that this is what we want. Now, if they only had pockets …

        8. A Feast of Fools*

          I once had a sales/marketing job where I was supposed to build relationships with home insurance agents. So I drove to insurance offices 5 days a week, on a rotating schedule, so that I’d visit the same office every 1.5 to 2 weeks. But not on consistent days (i.e., Janet Smith Agency only on Mondays, ABC Insurance only on Tuesdays) due the number of offices and amount of time I’d spend at each office on any given day, etc.

          And since I only popped into these offices every 10-14 days, and because I am a woman, I needed to make sure I didn’t have the same thing on every time I showed up or on back-to-back visits. I bought a calendar/organizer thing just to keep track of what I’d worn to each office.

          Now *that* was truly exhausting.

          1. Anon for a day*

            I had a similar client situation once, in a job where largely the rest of my time was spent in a casual office environment around coworkers and bosses who didn’t care one bit what everyone wore, or how often. As long as we were clean and didn’t smell bad, we were expected to remember our own out of office work schedule and dress accordingly without fuss. Regular client visits just got the standard suit treatment and still nobody cared… but then I was handed one of our most difficult clients, and my contact was an older woman who always dressed to the nines and was SUPER critical of appearances. I had to keep a fashion calendar too, and I never ever want to do that again.

            (To be fair though, I would have overdressed regardless of her nitpicking – because she kept angling to manipulate me into picking up work on-site that was not my responsibility, and my clothes were the most obvious signal that I didn’t belong there. She wanted an extra part-time employee for free.)

        9. Jaybee*

          I wear a cycle of eight patterned button-up shirts to work. A couple of them are near-identical (you would really only know the difference if I showed you them side-by-side) so it probably looks like seven shirts if anyone’s tracking my wardrobe. So I repeat about midway through the second work week. Nobody has ever said anything.

          When I was newer to the work force I had a cycle of only five. Ended up short one week (don’t recall why) but I was a float, working in a different location that day, so I wore the same shirt I had worn the previous day. It wasn’t stained, didn’t smell, I wasn’t exactly working a physically strenuous job. I figured I was in the clear.

          Well, it just so happened that a regional manager several steps up from me was at that location that day. And had also visited the location I had been at the previous day. And…she was also wearing the exact same outfit as she had the day before. Down to accessories and jewelry.

          We greeted each other professionally and said nothing about re-wearing our clothing, and went on to have a very good professional relationship as I went up the ranks there.

          I may have lost track of the point. My point is that if anyone notices you’re wearing something that you wore last week, they’re either a busybody or they’re stalking you. If they SAY something to you about it, they’re rude. It’s definitely not to be expected.

      2. Resident Catholicville, USA*

        I went to Catholic school for grade school and high school and had five identical Oxford shirts. Theoretically, I could have had one (I had one pair of pants at any time) and just washed it as needed. Honestly, people need to not police other people’s bodies- it’s a ridiculous practice.

        1. Little Black Dress Fan*

          Same here! Navy jumpers in grade school and a blazer and skirt in high school.

          I juggled several jobs in college; one was in the communications department of a large hospital. I had two jersey dresses, one navy and one red, and I wore different colored turtlenecks under and different jackets or sweaters over, usually with inexpensive scarves. I looked different every day. But sure enough, someone at work took issue and made sure several low-cost, mail-order clothing catalogues appeared on my desk one day. I got the message, but had no money to buy more clothes.

          It really hurt me.

        2. KateM*

          My kids didn’t go to a school with uniform but we made up uniform for them ourselves – jeans, a hoodless pictureless jumper (we could barely find ONE such!), washed them every weekend. T-shirts, socks, underwear was changed daily. It just made life so much easier – no “oh no what will I wear today”, no “but I want to wear this not that”, etc.

      3. NicoleT*

        It totally is a classist thing. It started in Victorian England – people dressing in many many layers of clothing, dressing children in white clothing… I believe the term “conspicuous laundry” was used to describe this as a statement of wealth. As in, I have enough money to pay for expensive clothes that will need HOURS of work to be cleaned and for the servant to do said work.

        1. Dahlia*

          Not exactly?

          Like layer, yes, but you would usually only wash the ones that touched your skin. So, chemises, drawers when those became a thing, shirts for men. And even then most people only owned a couple of outfits. You’d just change your undergarments daily to stay clean. Everyone did.

          Children were dressed in white because you can bleach the heck out of white cloth to get it clean. Ergo, easier to clean. You have to be more delicate with colourful cloth.

          1. KateM*

            I have read the same about children – they were dressed in white because it was EASIEST to clean.

      4. feral fairy*

        When I was in fifth grade, I had this polka dot headband that I got from a preppy brand that was popular amongst girls in my school. The clothing from that brand was prohibitively expensive, but my mom got me a headband from there which I could wear with my school uniform. A girl in my class asked me in a really snooty voice, “Why do you wear that headband all the time?” I was a weird kid who was picked on a lot, and at that point in time, I just wanted to fit in. I remember feeling really crushed. These types of memories stick out when I look back on my childhood. There are many times when classmates did much crueler things to me, but it’s so hurtful when someone takes something that you like and then ridicules you for it.

      5. Canadian Librarian #72*

        Yep. It’s misogynist classism (or classist misogyny; take your pick). I believe studies have shown that women on average spend significantly more money on officewear than do men, and that they’re judged far more often and more harshly on their appearance than men are. Obviously not all women wear makeup or adhere to normative standards of feminine dress, but the general expectation is that women wear a different outfit every day, wear makeup, do their hair, select jewelry, and so on. The base standard for a woman’s appearance in a white-collar environment is simply higher than the base standard for a man. And it’s bullsh*t.

      6. RosyGlasses*

        Same. I had a cardigan I absolutely loved. In middle school I wore it multiple days in a row one week, and someone stuck a piece of scotch tape on the back of it (which I didn’t know) and then accused me of not washing my clothes. I was already the picked on religious nerd child and that about put the nail in the coffin to ever wearing the same outfit twice. We couldn’t really afford to do anything different but you better believe as a 43 year old I still remember this.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I think if she had the same dress in three different colors–where I thought this was going–it would be less of an issue.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        Yep. I have multiple versions of the same dress in different colours/prints which I regularly wear to work – both ones I’ve bought commercially and ones I’ve made myself – and no-one has said anything about them beyond ‘oh I like your dress!’ Possibly because they look so different no-one has clocked it’s the same basic design, but even if they had I feel like it would be considered rude to say anything anyway.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          There’s a particular Ralph Lauren dress that I have had in three different colors because I found it on sale and it’s incredibly wearable and comfortable for me.

        2. GrooveBat*

          I have an amazing dress that I originally bought in black and paired with different long cardigans. I liked the style so much I bought the same dress in green, then blue, then fuschia. Mixed & matched it with different belts and cardigans, but it solved sooo many problems for me, particularly when I had to travel.

          Sadly, the COVID 15 has made all versions temporarily un-wearable (and the style is now discontinued), but at least I now have a nice incentive to cut back on the gelato.

    4. Lola Banks*

      I would stop wearing the dress to work except on Fridays specifically. Every Friday, Jan would see that damn dress.

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        Yeah, if a further conversation with the boss doesn’t work, this would absolutely be my move.

      2. cat lady*

        my extra-petty self would also skip all accessories that day just to make it more noticeable that you’re wearing The Dress

        1. KateM*

          Or, wear The Dress with accessories every day except Friday, when you wear The Dress without accessories. That would make it casual!

    5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I would have told Jan I had seven in the first plan. Jan wants everyone to wear jeans on Friday because she wants everyone to look the same it be grateful for this largesse or some reason.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I don’t own a pair of jeans. They generally don’t fit me well, so I just stopped wearing them in my early twenties. The idea that being permitted to wear them is a great concession is taking the most trivial aspect of Hippie culture and misunderstanding it.

        1. Myrin*

          I seem to be a very strange outlier in that regard because I find suit trousers so much more comfortable than jeans. I might just have a leg/hip shape which fits these kinds of trousers but I’ve always found (even stretch) jeans restrictive and tight so the idea of a “Jeans Friday” really wouldn’t appeal to me at all.

          1. many bells down*

            I’ve got like half a dozen of these high-waisted size zip cigarette pants from Target and they’re WAY more comfortable than my jeans. I used to think jeans were the only comfy pants but boy since 2020 I’ve given up on anything that isn’t elastic waisted.

            1. Jaybee*

              What pants were you wearing before that were LESS comfortable than jeans? Asking so I can stay away from them.

        2. Day 48*

          Yeah, I haven’t worn jeans since high school or maybe college, which was a looooong time ago. They really aren’t that comfortable and it’s not a privilege to wear them.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Jan’s insistence on jeans would make me, as a person who loves my jeans, put them away for months and blatantly wear something else on Fridays. Just because she loves jeans doesn’t mean that everybody loves jeans – and I’d be all for (within the dress code) passive aggressively making that point by wearing something else and making it all about “oh, this is more comfortable to me than jeans.”

      3. Batgirl*

        Yeah I am familiar with Jans, so I would have said: “I like black shift dressES. I have loads of them, I am not even sure if I like this one the best.” As soon as someone says “You must like your dress” rather than “I like your dress”, trouble is coming and you can’t talk to someone like that as though they are a normal person. Even so, I would buy more of them and say “I bought more dresses, but I am not changing my entire work look just because Jan wants to see me in jeans.” I do think another colour would be a good idea, though, because it would shut her up on the (lame) hygiene angle.

    6. DataGirl*

      In the beforetimes when I went to the office, I owned 4 pair of the same slacks just in different colors because they were comfortable and affordable, and it’s nearly impossible to find women’s dress pants that look good on my body type. If I loved a dress that much, I’d definitely buy it in multiple colors.

      1. Merci Dee*

        A couple of years ago, I replaced the majority of my slacks with 5 pairs of nice, office-appropriate knit pants with an elastic waistband and deep pockets. I got two pairs in black, two pairs in a dark gray, and one pair in navy. Other than the color, they’re exactly the same. Nobody has even noticed, or they haven’t mentioned anything if they have. Meanwhile, I’m scooting around work everyday in nice pants that are really comfortable and coordinate nicely with our work-provided polo shirts. I feel like I won the office-wear lottery.

      2. Artemesia*

        I worked in a tweedy environment and for the last 15 years it was dark back jeans that read as slacks, and turtlenecks and a jacket of some sort. And I think owned about 10 fitted black Ts that I wore with skirts in warm months. Men have the ease of a ‘uniform’; they never have to think much about what they wear. Kudos to women who figure out how to make their lives easier. A basic black dress accessorized is doing that. And it is certainly a more professional look than jeans. I hope the OP can stand down Jan next time she whines. ‘I don’t see you concerned when men wear a blue blazer every day — why do you think women’s wardrobe choices need to be micromanaged?’

        1. Artemesia*

          When I finally found some that fit, I stocked up. Growing up because I was tallish and had a tiny waist but wide hips, I could never find attractive jeans — now that isn’t a big problem but when I first found the magic jeans, I laid in a bunch and also the cord version from the same mfg.

    7. Green great dragon*

      I would be tempted to buy another of the dress, perhaps in a different colour. And then wear the original dress every day, but explain truthfully that I now have two of them.

      1. Lou*

        This is exactly what I’d do, too.

        I think wearing a different color dress 1) likely doesn’t fulfill the challenge OP is trying to do but 2) gives Jan the power of knowing she was “right.” (in quotes because I don’t actually think Jan is right)

    8. Lea*

      I cannot imagine wearing the same thing everyday without buying multiples. They have different colors!

      But also, she should have said she was going for a techy ‘I wear the same thing so I can focus my brain energy elsewhere’ and I hundred percent would lie that I have multiple dresses in this scenario

    9. JSPA*

      Yes, this.

      Bending over backwards…much of what men wear next to their skin is so anonymous as to be untrackable. If someone presenting male wore the same really distinctive shirt every day for 30+ days, there might well be pushback. And unless he said, “I bought a ten pack of the teal and orange plaid,” they might well feel it was “problematic strange” as opposed to “programmer dude efficiency strange.”

      If you want to be known as “the person who always wears the same distinctive thing,” lean into it–make it clear you love it so much that you got multiple.

      As to smell, even with regular washing, something can get funky if worn nonstop, and it sounds like there are days when you don’t wash it; two days is a long time for something skin-adjacent that’s worn all day, and then there are incidental smells that get picked up from food/cooking, or other ambient smells.

      As far as, “husband would know”–smell doesn’t work that way.

      First of all, all people acclimate to smells, to multiple degrees of magnitude.

      Secondly, the odor of someone you like may register as non-offensive to a spouse, yet “too present” for an office.

      Thirdly, there are well-documented, well known differences that track with hormones; the best-described involve menstruation cycling, but there are also weaker, hormonally-based differences that show up as gender dimorphism. Link to follow.

      Making it clear that you are wearing “one of the dress” but not “the same one of the dress” every day should satisfy the concept behind the challenge.

      1. PT*

        I had a professor in college who only had one tie. Everyone noticed. I had him for two different classes- once as a sophomore and one as a junior I want to say- and he only wore that one tie.

        1. It's Growing!*

          My husband was an elementary teacher and later principal for 30 years. He wore a tie every day. What does one give a beloved educator who wears ties? A tie! He has at least 50 ties in every cartoon/kiddie show/holiday known to America. It wouldn’t have mattered what else he wore, the kids noticed the ties and approved.

          1. cat lady*

            My Shakespeare professor wore a different Shakespeare-themed tie every week. Which means a minimum of 15 Shakespeare ties.

          2. It's Growing!*

            I take it back. I just got them out for a sewing project and there’s more like 150! Dresden Plate quilts?

        2. pandop*

          I had a teacher at school that had two ties, his winter tie (brown) and his sumer tie (yellow). No one cared. I eventually noticed because I was in his class for 4 years in a row. But then again we had school uniform, so I wore literally the same tie every schoolday from ages 11-18 (it’s the one thing you’re not likely to grow out of)

      2. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

        So, that dress is merino wool. Which is antimicrobial and doesn’t get stinky easily. Also, I gotta say, my partner is the first to notice if I’m stinky and pretty quick to say something so… yeah. Unless OP’s coworkers are coming up to her daily, pressing a nose to her armpit, inhaling deeply, and charting their findings, I’m pretty sure her husband is a more reasonable barometer. At any rate, I think we can DEFINITELY believe the OP when she tells us that her dress is clean and does not smell when she wears it to work.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Plus, even if she was going 10 days or so without washing it, who cares and how could it possibly harm anyone?

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            …her employer would presumably care, because she’s a receptionist who is the first person clients will see when visiting the office?

            I think OP is absolutely entitled to wear the dress as much as she wants, but this sort of thing is really silly. It is absolutely reasonable to not want your receptionist to turn up clothes that they have been wearing for ten days straight without washing them. And it sounds like the OP is taking care to *not* do that in any case, so…

            1. A Social Worker*

              There’s a weird theme I’ve noticed in the comments on this site lately along the lines of, “nobody should have to take care of their appearance for work.” Like we should all be able to roll up to the office in unwashed clothes and dripping wet hair. Yes, the standards for office wear probably could stand to be relaxed, especially since COVID, but I notice some comments taking it to the level of absurdity. It makes me wonder if those making the comments are actually working in person right now or are still at home and maybe that is skewing their perceptions.

              1. pancakes*

                I wouldn’t assume that someone who is putting as much effort into accessorizing as the letter writer seems to be is happy with dirty clothes or dripping wet hair. If she was, that would be great fodder for Jan to use against her. I can’t quite see Jan not mentioning either!

                1. A Social Worker*

                  Oh I agree, OP seems to be just fine in the hygiene/grooming department. I was referring to the comment about who cares if she wears the same thing for 10 days without washing it. And referring back to the letter about coming to work with wet hair where I was shocked to read so many comments about why people couldn’t possibly make it to work with dry hair.

            2. The Prettiest Curse*

              Eh, I have worked reception myself and would say that the vast majority of the people that you see in person who aren’t your colleagues, you are not seeing every day anyway – so how would they know if you wore the same clothess several days in a row? And in reception roles, you usually don’t interact with people long enough or at a close enough distance for them to notice your clothes that much anyway. (And to be clear, the OP says she washes her dress, but not how often, I just pulled the 10-day figure out of the air.)

              I am all for showing up to work looking neat (yes, with dry hair and clean underwear) and well-groomed. But I think the OP clearly does make an effort to look professional, with all the accessories she uses. So if the dress doesn’t actually smell and doesn’t have visible stains or anything like that, I think it’s harmless – even if the 100 day challenge is a pointless marketing gimmick to which OP seems a bit too attached.

              1. EventPlannerGal*

                I’ve also worked reception and in public-facing roles many times, and all I can say is that I’m absolutely confident my employers would have taken issue with me turning up in the same unwashed item of clothing for ten days straight.

                I agree that the way that the OP is going about this challenge seems fine to me, if odd. I just feel like the “and even if she didn’t wash it then who cares” thing is a bit silly.

                1. Day 48*

                  Your employers would only have known if you turned up in the same unwashed item of clothing for 10 days straight if that garment got dirty or smelly. These merino wool dresses don’t need to be washed every day or even every other day. The last time I washed mine was 19 days ago and I promise you could not tell. I shower, wear deodorant, change my undergarments, and hang up my dress to air every night. The thing I was worried about–cat hair–is also not an issue as it doesn’t stick to the dress the way it does to everything else.

        2. Hapless Bureaucrat*

          I have friends who’ve done the challenge, in fairly high- level office environments. This is indeed the case; the dress does fine smell-wise with general care.

          And OP never said she was wearing the dress next to the skin every day.

        3. Salymander*

          Yeah if anyone should be given the benefit of the doubt, it is the OP. Not only because that is kinda what we tend to do here, but also because OP sounds like a reasonable, nice person trying out a fun new thing that is interesting and for a good cause. Jan should not be given the same benefit of the doubt. She is being sexist, classist, and mean. She is sticking her nose in to something that has nothing to do with her, and she is trying to pull rank by bullying someone and manipulating the very spineless, useless boss. Jan sounds like she is a very unpleasant person to deal with, and she needs to mind her own business.

        4. E*

          Yeah, having spent 10 days hiking with 3 tops and one pair of long John’s, all merino wool, the merino doesn’t smell at all, unlike synthetic fabrics. The only reason for having 3 tops was to allow for temperature variations! The rest of my liking buddies all had more clothes than me, and we’re constantly complaining about how much they stank, while asking why I didn’t.

        5. JSPA*

          Oh, that does make a difference. Wool bike jerseys are like magic, that way, for body odor.

          But they’ll still hold onion and garlic smell, if you cook in them. And if you overdo the woolite, or store them in cedar, they will smell of one or the other (which isn’t a problem unless someone’s allergic or hates the smell, but it can be distinctive).

          Whether someone acclimates to a smell has to do with all sorts of variables (air flow, high among them–if you’re both breathing the same contained funk in the same small space with windows closed for winter, it’s very different from living in a climate where cross-ventilation is an option, year-round) or if it’s a smell that really permeates (thinking here of various sorts of smoke smells).

      3. doreen*

        Certain clothing articles are somewhat generic – if a man or a woman wears a white shirt every day, it won’t stand out. Black or beige pants everyday won’t stand out. Jeans everyday won’t stand out. That’s in part because there’s an assumption made about certain items – if I wear black pants or a white shirt or jeans every day, there’s an assumption that there are multiples because plenty of people have identical or nearly-so multiples of those items. Other clothing items are more distinctive and people are less likely to own multiples of them in the same color. I have a coworker who actually has a blue-and orange plaid shirt- and if he wore it every day, someone would certainly speak to him about it. A black dress- I’m not sure which side of the line I think that falls on , although I suspect the price tag makes it less likely that someone would buy multiples in the same color.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          With the price, though, we only know it because the dress was linked here. If my coworker started wearing a black dress every day, I might notice but wouldn’t go any further than “Sarah’s wearing a black dress” — it might be this $138 one or a $20 from Old Navy for all I know. That’s especially the case if she’s wearing it with things that change the silhouette (belts, scarves, blazers, sweaters).

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        No just no. If you’re washing your body or wearing the right slip it’s just not a problem. A fitted tshirt will suffice to isolate armpit odor. A long sleeved long linen tshirt…that’s what I’m looking for.

        1. JSPA*

          This depends on the human, on the climate, and on the cut of the dress, and whether it’s designed for something underneath. (I can’t see wearing a T-shirt under drape-y soft merino, myself–seems like it would cling and pull oddly–but that’s just me). I had indeed not clicked the link before opining about how long an item can be on skin before smelling. Merino is pretty well magic that way.

    10. Triplestep*

      But this completely negates the reasons for the 100 day challenge, which is more to the point. The idea is so prove to oneself we can live with less.

    11. PB Bunny Watson*

      I love this idea… but I might have more fun with it. “Oh, yes, can you tell I love it? I love it so much I bought several, though I stick with the different black dresses for work. I’ve got them in Onyx, and Obsidian… and of course, as you can tell, this one is Jet Black.”

      1. Kit*

        Yes, go full Sterling Archer on it! “Oh, I have a dozen in regular black, and another dozen in a slightly darker black…”

    12. Jamboree*

      Heck. I’ll take it a step further and NOT buy a second dress but tell Jan I did (I bought four more dresses! One for every day of the [work]week!” ) and wear that same damn dress every day until I wore holes in it. THEN I’d buy that second dress and start all over again!

      But also I already have that same style dress in 3 different colors bc it’s so comfortable.

    13. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      Or, given that the OP really loves that dress, buy more of them in a few different colors if that’s financially feasible. That way, she can wear the dress style she loves and no one can claim that she’s wearing the same thing every day…although really, both Jan and the OP’s manager blundered terribly in this.

      Jan should have kept her mouth shut and the manager should have “explained” to her that it’s none of her blessed business. But that didn’t happen and it won’t happen, so it’s now up to the OP to work with the situation she has; a nosy colleague and a spineless manager. (And bosses wonder why so many of their employees don’t want to return to the office…sigh!)

    14. fhqwhgads*

      If I’d been asked about this – in the initial Jan situation as soon as she was getting nosy about it – I would’ve told her I had multiples of the same dress. Even if it weren’t true and I were washing it nightly. But that’s mainly because I have experience with nosy people and finding the route that gets them to go away fastest. If Jan had still complained to boss, and the boss conversation still happened, I think it’d be less likely he’d have gone with the “just in case” bullshit if it started with “you misunderstand, I have 5 of this dress”.

      1. allathian*

        The dress is merino wool, that doesn’t need to be washed so often, certainly not daily. Jan needs to shut up about this, and the manager needs to grow a spine and tell her so. At least a part of the problem is undoubtedly Jan’s friendship with the owner’s mom. This is the kind of thing that’s much more likely to happen in small businesses (12 employees + the boss) than in larger ones.

    15. Beth*

      This was my solution also. Or just continuing to wear the same dress, with different accessories every day (in my case, it would be a very wide range of jewelry and scarves), and declaring, if asked, “No, this is a different dress. It’s by the same designer.” Boss probably can’t tell anyway.

    16. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I have in the past given the impression that I had multiple items that looked very similar. It is my go to response when someone accuses me of wearing the same thing more than once in a week.

    17. Just Another Librarian*

      I have one particular comfortable dress, with pockets, that I own 6 of in 4 colors, two colors of which are very similar. It’s great. I just reach for a dress in the morning.

    18. Dark Macadamia*

      Buy the same dress in a new color and then wear ONLY the new color on repeat, as if the issue was the color and not the item :) “But Jan, I haven’t worn that dress once since you complained, how could you still be upset?”

    19. The Price is Wrong Bob*

      I am rude and would send an online link to dress shields, a slip and a pack of underwear. In case she was unclear how to care for expensive clothes and what undergarments to wear to preserve the life of your business or formal clothes.

    20. GlitsyGus*

      This is exactly where I went. Rotate literally every other day. That or wear the one dress three days a week and something else the other two. Always wear the dress on Friday. You are changing this up as instructed, that is all that matters. Malicious compliance is totally my go-to in these kinds of situations.

  3. Abe Froman*

    New business idea: I start a company that does nothing, but just hires office busybodies. Pay them really well, give them some pointless busy work, and let them mind each other’s business all day. I figure I can get lots of companies to pay me to take them off of their hands.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          It’s really well done, most attempts like this tend to be too over the top, but it hits all the usual main points and it IS a massive issue for women. Remember the male news anchor who did it and no one noticed until he raised it?

          Just feels…oogy.

          1. Artemesia*

            Jan should receive a link to the male anchor who did the ‘wear the same thing’ to make a point and so should the feckless boss.

          2. Indigo a la mode*

            I looked this up and would just like to reinforce the point: Karl Stefanovic wore the same blue suit on air every day for A YEAR after his female co-host’s appearance was scrutinized. A YEAR with no one noticing.

      1. ZSD*

        Are you saying you think this is a fake letter, designed to get us all to click on the link to the dress?

        1. Pennilyn Lot*

          Well there is basically a full paragraph of copy about the dress and the challenge and the author really puts a lot of emphasis on how much they love the dress and want to wear it all the time. Maybe it’s not, maybe it is, we’re not allowed to speculate here anyway – I would just be skeptical as discussion forums are ripe targets for astroturfing and viral marketing.

          1. This is a name, I guess*

            Except the dress is sold out in all sizes and colors….I feel like they should wait until they have the dress in stock before embarking on viral marketing!

            1. Birch Tree*

              This is my chief annoyance with both the 100-day challenge and their constant Facebook advertising. I’m not going to pay now for a dress that doesn’t ship for two months. I can’t tell if this is a deliberate effort to make them look popular (we just can’t keep these things in stock!) or whether it’s poor planning.

  4. Sara*

    I am petty so I would also start wearing dresses EVERY Friday just to aggravate Jan more. But that’s probably not helpful.

      1. Rage*

        Yes, wear the black dress Monday – Thursday, but then wear a DENIM dress on Friday. With pearls or diamond accessories. And flagrant heels.

        1. OhNo*

          Better yet: same dress, different color. Black dress Monday through Thursday, exact same dress but in a dark navy blue on Friday.

        2. Lady_Lessa*

          I don’t wear blue jeans ever, but I love my denim skirts. Don’t wear them to work, I’d rather have something that I don’t mind getting stained. (chemistry lab worker)

          1. JustA___*

            I’ve seen a few headlines about how dresses over jeans are “coming back into style”.
            “It’s fashion, Jan. Deal with it.” *hair flip*

            1. Jaybeetee*

              I’d believe it. I own far more dresses and skirts than I used to, and for years I lived in jeans at home and dress pants at work.

              I think part of it is covid and the proliferation of dresses similar in style to the one OP linked – comfy pullovers. With a pair of leggings, it’s practically as comfortable as lounge wear, but you look more put-together than, uh, hoodies and leggings.

              1. Salymander*

                Yeah and then when Jan gets snippy OP can just bat their eyes and say, “It’s casual Friday, Jan. Of course I’m wearing jeans?!?”

                Because Jan just suuuucks. And I bet the boss would just ummm and sputter and do nothing. He sucks too.

    1. Ginger ale for all*

      Why not recruit some like minded friends at work to join in with wearing dresses? Bonus points if you can get a guy to join.

      1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

        Not for nothing, but the brother company to the one who does the dress challenge also does a shirt challenge for men.

  5. Purple Loves Snow*

    Oh, this makes me angry on many levels. Out of sheer pettiness, I would buy this dress in every colour I liked and wear nothing but the dress every damn day!

    Please send an update once you talk to your boss.

    1. UKDancer*

      I actually do this sometimes. I found one dress for work that I really like and makes me look kickass awesome. So I bought it in 3 different colours and sometimes I alternate them on different days of the week. I daresay people laugh but I don’t care about that.

      I also tend to have multiples of the same pair of trousers because I find it difficult getting trousers that fit and suit me. So when I find a pair I get it in all the colours I can.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        When I started at my current job in the early 2010s, I was surprised to find out during my employee orientation that there were no jeans allowed in the office ever. No casual Fridays, nothing. “Alright,” said I, went online, and ordered the same pair of corduroy pants in five different colors. Wore them to work every day for at least a year. They were just as comfortable and low-maintenance as jeans, but compliant with the dress code. We didn’t have a Jan and nobody ever said anything.

        1. Purple Loves Snow*

          I do this too with bottoms. I have the same pair of pants in 4 colours that I rotate my tops with. In the summer, I have the same skirt in 2 colours and rotate my tops with it. All my tops are worn all different seasons and just change from pants to skirts for summer. I have one pair of dressy jeans for work on Fridays, and one jean skirt for summer Fridays.

          My work uniform is basic neutral bottoms with patterned blouses. No one says boo to me about it.

      2. MissBaudelaire*

        I have many pairs of the same style of leggings. Most of them are black. No one would know if I was wearing the Black Ones for Tuesday or fresh ones. And no one should care as long as I don’t smell and they aren’t caked in filth of look like I’ve been snuggling a cow or something.

      3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Same here! If I find a particular kind of pants that fit and look good, I will get them in more than one colour/print (when money allows), because goodness knows when I’ll be able to find something good again.

    2. Kara*

      Out of sheer pettiness I would keep wearing the same one dress every day, but you’re a better person than I am!

    3. SakuraKyoko*

      I would be tempted to buy the dress in a similar but technically different color, so that at first glance it looks the same, and when Jan complains you could say “Oh this is a different dress! The other one is black, this one is dark forest green/dark purple, see?”

      But I’m the kind of person who would thrive off of watching Jan fume over it.

      1. Kaittydid*

        This is exactly what I’d be tempted to do, too. I bought 5 of the same shirt in 3 colors and wore them with 3 of the same pants in several colors for a couple years. No one cared at all.

    4. JT*

      …and also ask the boss for a stipend since you are being told that you need to expand your wardrobe for work.

    5. Salymander*

      Yeah for some reason this letter just pissed me off so much on the OP’s behalf. There have been a lot of AAM letters that were about objectively terrible and even dangerous things, and I felt awful for those OPs, but this letter infuriated me soooooo much because Jan is just so petty and spiteful for absolutely no good reason. And boss is just so passive and useless. Ugh it just pissed me off. What a pair of jerks.

  6. Bookworm*

    People like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have been known to wear the same outfit (maybe not the exact same clothes but just buying a bunch of the same thing) every day. If you’re not stinky and the dress doesn’t have holes in it then what’s the problem??

    Both the boss and Jan are in the wrong. What a ridiculous thing to get upset about. I’m so sorry that happened to you, OP.

    1. Chris*

      Right! There are entire books written about decision fatigue that reference how people like Steve Jobs wear the same thing every day.

      I work in the field of sustainability and if I proposed this in my office, people would join me. OP could also consider sharing some articles about how wasteful the clothing industry is and the impact it’s having on the environment and climate.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        A younger Steve Jobs was also rumored to smell very bad according to the biography by Walter Isaacson, so he probably DID wear the exact same clothes every day, without washing.

            1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

              I know… confirm the info is in biography or directly confirm the stench?? which is it?

              1. It's hot chocolate season*

                if you search “Steve Jobs shower”, you’ll find several articles about how he didn’t believe in showering. I’m not sure how this relates to him washing his clothes, though.

    2. nona*

      Yup – lots of people develop a “work uniform” even though they aren’t in a job that requires a uniform. Because some people don’t like shopping, Jan.

    3. FridayFriyay*

      When men do it it’s edgy and their focus and lack of attention to material things is inspiring. When women do it they’re grungy and don’t care enough about their appearance. Funny how that works.

      1. Observer*

        Exactly. Talk about double standards. Clean, neat and put together? That’s absolutely reasonable to expect from someone public facing. “Provide some variable scenery” is NOT reasonable.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Elizabeth Holmes did manage to get away with using the same work uniform as Steve Jobs and actually managed to use it as part of her personal brand. (Though her charisma and the massive fraud apparently distracted people from judging her clothes too much.) The next female CEO that tries the personal uniform concept will probably get accused of trying to distracted people from nefarious activities, though … sigh.

    4. Artemesia*

      In the town where we did our careers, we were very active in opera circles and one local big shot — an excellent architect and his wife who were also active in those circles were known to always dress the same. We would see them at galas, at donor events, in the donor room during intermission — always in the same attire. They were quite elderly and he wore black pants and sweater with a cashmere black blazer and she wore either the same thing or the same look with a skirt and big chunky statement jewelry. He was balding with white hair and big black horn rims; she had a short do dyed in that weird red/blond that elderly women often adopt. They always looked fabulous. Just totally elegant. The pieces were obviously very high quality in fit and material, but it was always the same black combo. I thought it was great.

    5. Kicking-k*

      Barack Obama had a work uniform, too. I think it was blue suits and a lot of identical shirts, and ties that were enough similar that none ever looked wrong. He reckoned with all the decisions he had to make each day, he wasn’t going to decide what to wear too.

    1. Salymander*

      I know, right? I mean, some letters just make me ragey. As I was reading, my spine got straighter and straighter and my fingers curled up like claws. My husband looked over at me like, “oh crap.” Jan is so horrible and petty and mean. She is an officious, classist, sexist jerk. And boss just sucks.

  7. 5 Dresses*

    My solution to this is to tell Jan you’ve purchased four others. You wear one each day and then wash all five on the weekends. This doesn’t have to be true. It shouldn’t be true. It’s just to shut her up. You just wear the same dress.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      This. “Jan, you’ll be glad to know I’ve bought more dresses so I won’t be wearing the same one every day.”

      “But… this looks like the same dress.”

      “Oh, sure, they look alike. But they’re different dresses. So that hygiene issue you were concerned about won’t be a problem.”

      1. Salymander*

        I love that this sounds like OP would be acting really over-the-top solicitous of Jan’s approval, while at the same time being really obviously a case of malicious compliance.

        “Well Jan, this is clearly a different dress. I bought all these dresses because I need to wear a different one every day. Because of the importance of hygeine. So this is a different black dress than the black dress from yesterday. Because of hygeine. And I have another black dress to wear tomorrow. Because of hygeine. Hygeine, Jan. Hygeine is very important.”

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      This is a brilliant idea. If Boss brings it up again, I’d say follow the scripts Alison laid out, but if Jan mentions it, totally do this.

    3. BeenThere*

      This is exactly what I would do. Once someone is unreasonable you are allowed to lie to them. I’m pretty sure I have learnt that here and it has made a massive difference in my sanity at work.

      There is so much clothing waste in the world I refuse to comply with the expectation that women need to wear something different everyday. I live in Silicon Valley so wearing the same thing everyday in the same color is a goal and considered an achievement not weird. I’ve been spending the pandemic perfecting my minimal wardrobe and a very happy with my collection of scarves to change things up. Now if I could get companies to stop discontinuing t-shirts that work for me I’d be so happy.

      Jan can go procreate with herself.

    4. Phony Genius*

      You can suggest that your closet looks like Marge’s on the Simpsons – every hanger has a copy of her exact same green dress.

    5. Harper the Other One*

      I love this solution. I know people have suggested buying the same dress in different colours – and if I loved a dress/pair of pants/shirt that’s what I’d do – but the OP shouldn’t HAVE to spend more money if they don’t want to.

        1. Nay*

          Alison, will you take donations so OP can get the dress in 4 more colors and maliciously comply? Thank you!

    6. Lady Alys*

      In theory I love this idea, but OTOH I don’t like that it suggests to Jan that she has even a molecule, an atom, of any sort of say in what someone else wears.

      1. Sciencer*

        I like that it is so absurd (especially if OP claims to own FIVE of the same dress) that Jan will know it’s a lie, but won’t be able to do anything about that. So I think it does kind of the opposite of what you’re worried about, by throwing in Jan’s face that her opinion & actions were absurd and that she in fact has zero power over the situation despite her attempts to claim it.

  8. Stitch*

    I definitely can’t be the only person who’s been literally required to wear the same clothes everyday (I worked for a theme park and the only issued one uniform at a time).

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Oh man, I worked at a food place one summer in college and my black sneakers that I was required to wear every day smelled so awful by the end of the summer that I threw them away. The clothes I at least washed regularly, but nothing to be done about sticky stinky sneakers.

        1. Stitch*

          I was given a poll but provided my own pants for a job at a pizza place. They never, ever stopped smelling like pizza. I washed them 4 times with all sorts of stuff and my dog still got excited around me.

          1. Starbuck*

            My black Subway uniform pants were like that. There was just no getting that specific Subway smell out of them (even after working there for years, I never did figure out which ingredient(s) it was that led to that distinctive smell).

        2. knitcrazybooknut*

          My college boyfriend wrapped his in duct tape to keep them together. That’s college restaurant work for you (at least in the back of house).

        3. Artemesia*

          Sneakers worn daily do that. When I had to do that, I sprayed that foot powder/deodorant in mine every evening and that did help a lot. There are also charcoal packets you can stick in them over night.

        4. ThursdaysGeek*

          I worked in a shoe repair years ago, and I immediately knew when someone came in who worked fast food. That stale grease smell doesn’t come out of shoes.

        5. yala*

          Same. I was a dishwasher, so they just wound up splashed with food-water constantly (it was also my job to bring the mats outside, hose them off, and bring them back in, a job that was impossible to accomplish without being soaked). Did not keep those sneakers.

    1. CAS*

      Major fast-food restaurant that serves millions. One brown polyester uniform. I washed it every chance I had. But if I was on the closing shift one night and the opening shift the next morning, nope. It had to wait. So gross to put on that greasy uniform after handling the fry baskets the night before.

    2. MissBaudelaire*

      Worked in a hospital laundry, was only given four uniforms for the five day work week. We made Friday casual, wherein you were supposed to wear a t shirt from the hospital, but could wear your own pants.

      1. Salymander*

        I worked in a medical office part time during high school. I made a very tiny amount of money. They expected me to buy uniforms out of my own miniscule earnings, and when I bought one pair of uniform pants and just reused them I was chastised by some of the nurses. Teenage me just shrugged and started wearing my own business casual type clothes instead. I was kinda brazen and sassy about it, and eventually they stopped bothering me about it. Within a few months, all the women in that office had switched to business casual rather than the 1970s polyester nightmare uniforms. Those uniforms were gross, they made people feel gross, and they cost way too much money. They were scratchy and nasty and had enormous bell bottoms (in 1987!) and it felt like wearing a tent made of sandpaper. I think that they had all kept wearing them as a kind of hazing ritual. But no one should have to wear those pants.

        Now, a nice black merino dress would have been so much better. That is my kind of uniform.

    3. PT*

      I worked somewhere that issued people one uniform at a time. We had an employee get issued one at hire then *go up to full time* and he was still only allocated that one t-shirt (it was BYO pants) because no one had thought to issue him more shirts as he started working more hours. It looked icky and was starting to smell because he rarely had time to wash it between shifts.

      I unlocked the closet and gave him two more. It was ridiculous. The t-shirts cost us something like $7 each. There was no reason to be so stingy with them that you had a customer facing employee looking and smelling dirty.

    4. Red 5*

      I’ve worked a few jobs with uniforms (usually only uniform shirts and strict rules on the pants you could wear with them). At one they gave me two shirts, so one was usually in the wash when I was wearing the other (or so they suggested anyway). Another gave me five shirts, and I just bought two pairs of pants I alternated. Another one gave me one shirt, and only one shirt, with the option to buy more if I really wanted to.

      At that last one, the supervisor for my department told me that everybody just wore a thin white undershirt and washed the uniform shirt once a week because nobody wanted to spend a stupid amount of money on a shirt they’d never wear anywhere else.

      But yeah, there are plenty of jobs where a person will need to wear the same outfit every day, potentially the exact same shirt every day, and it works out fine. They usually aren’t even allowed to accessorize it either.

      If you aren’t working in an environment where you’re getting super sweaty and gross and you haven’t spilled your lunch down the front, you can go further between washings than most people think you can. But that’s a fraught topic with a lot of people, especially people like Jan.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      Not clothing, but accessory-related – a former colleague of mine used to work in a hospital environment and she told me that she wore the exact same lanyard (as required for ID) every work day for something like 7 years and it never got cleaned. I’m sure it had a lot of unpleasant stuff on it by the time she left that job!

    6. Kicking-k*

      I was remembering my school uniform days when I had one wool-blend kilt, one sweater and one wool blazer. The sweater got washed weekly. I don’t know if the kilt and blazer were ever cleaned at all during a school year. (Clean shirts and tights, though.)

      My kids also wear school uniform and it usually does 2-3 days, but they’re young and get dirty.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        That actually was what I often wore on casual fridays back when I liked to wear dresses all the time! Or like a chambray shirt tied at the waist. I genuinely recommend that, not even as any kind of message to Jane but just because I think it would be a very cute look with that particular dress and a fun way to mix it up a little on Fridays.

  9. awesome3*

    Sometimes jeans on casual Fridays can be more of a headache than not — see running around in the 100 degree heat when a cool cotton dress would be much preferable. Does your boss defer to Jan a lot in order to avoid conflict, or did it seem like a specific thing to only the dress?

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes. I don’t like the way I look in jeans as a rule because I feel they don’t flatter me and I’m not wild about the fabric. Given a choice I’d either wear slacks or a long skirt. Jeans on Fridays only really works if people want to wear jeans on Fridays and not everyone does. So I think those who don’t should be left alone.

    2. MistOrMister*

      My office does casual wear (i.e. jeans) every friday and holiday, Thanksgiving through New Years and Memorial Day through Labor Day. At one point we asked if we could switch to casual all wintet instead of all summer since jeans can be so uncomfortable when its super hot but would be welcome in winter. Got an immediate no on that one. No consideration at all…

    3. LizM*

      Yeah, I’ve never viewed denim Fridays as a requirement, just to dress down. I also don’t like wearing jeans if I have to sit all day, they’re just not comfortable.

      A work appropriate casual dress can be a lot more comfortable.

    4. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

      I had a job where I could have gotten away with dark jeans on any given day, but I chose to wear dresses for like a year straight (three colors of the same knee-length dress, primarily, paired with a variety of cardigans. Gasp.). When I finally wore pants, one of my coworkers said she thought the dress thing was a religious conviction. I laughed and said, “Oh, no, I’m just lazy and throwing a cardigan on over a dress is easier than putting together an outfit.” Dresses are SO much simpler sometimes. And more comfy if it’s hot out.

    5. ahudson91*

      OP here. My boss doesn’t necessarily defer to Jan but there’s this office culture of “Oh, Jan is annoying and we should all just deal with her because she’s harmless” which is an attitude that I’m suddenly rethinking. My boss will go against her wishes or ideas sometimes when she’s being ridiculous about work issues but he does it in a way that’s very non-confrontational and kind of just solves the problem behind her back if it’s brought up to him, but more often than not I think he leaves us to deal with her when it’s absurd little stuff. But this is a woman that, when I first started working in this job, found out a coworker was having an outdoor wedding and for months kept asking what they would do it it rained, and kept saying stuff like “but where will you get pictures done if it’s raining?” and “will the tent be big enough if it rains?” and “will you have umbrellas?” It drove us all crazy!

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        Oh my god she thinks she’s the only one who ever thinks of…really obvious concerns. If you play dumb about anything she will never, ever catch on that you’re not serious.

      2. Kicking-k*

        Ohhh. That makes a lot of sense.

        I have known a few Jans who would make a repeated big deal out of non-issues like that. How tolerated it was depended on the context.

  10. WomEngineer*

    Not sure if it solves the problem, but it would be kind of funny to respond to anything Jan says about the dress with “thanks, it has pockets!”

    1. Talley Lach*

      I’m picturing this in my head, and literally LOLing!
      Jan: “That dress again?!”
      LW: “Thanks! It has pockets!”
      Hahahahaha!!!

    2. J*

      Perfect! (I actually own the dress in question, and it DOES have pockets! It’s an awesome dress. I haven’t done the 100 day challenge because I do not have my act together, but I definitely thought about it.)

      1. Day 48*

        Do it! You don’t have to have your act together as much as you do when you think you have to wear something different every day!

    3. Super Doctor Astronaut Peter Corbeau*

      I was hoping someone would notice this, too!
      IT. HAS. POCKETS. JAN. Do you know how rare that is??

      1. CanadianPublicServant*

        Hahaha, I totally used the “find” function once I saw the photos of the dress and its awesome pockets!

    4. Salymander*

      Ding Ding Ding! Winner!

      Because good pockets in a dress are a rare and precious thing. And because this comment is the right combo of sass and matter-of-fact information giving.

    5. Media Monkey*

      so many who people who sew their own clothes are obsessive about decent pockets that most pattern designers include them as a matter of course!

  11. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    One of the hosts of the Australian version of The Today Show, Karl Stefanovic, famously wore the same suit for a year, without telling anybody, as a way to point out the disparity of expectations for appearance and clothing variety between men and women.

    Link in the replies.

    1. Certaintroublemaker*

      That was the first hung I though of—send boss a link to that story, where Karl really lit into sexist standards.

      1. Don P.*

        ‘Stefanovic did change his shirt and ties over the year-long experiment, but otherwise he looked much the same from day to day. “No one has noticed; no one gives a [care],” he said.’

        I have some guesses about what [care] replaced, but I’m keeping them to myself.

        1. My dear Wormwood*

          If you look for an Australian news source, they don’t bother to censor it. I cackled at “give a [care].”

      1. fhqwhgads*

        The complaints about that one were incredibly stupid because that show doesn’t film episodes as one unit. They acts are edited together after the fact, like Shark Tank (last I checked). Hence host and judges wearing the same thing every episode for continuity.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      I recall seeing somewhere that Barack Obama wore the same tuxedo to all formal events for his entire presidency and no one ever really noticed or commented. Michelle Obama… did not wear the same dress to all formal events. (Didn’t she wear different dresses to different Inaugural Balls on the same night, even?)

      I’m going off memory of an article, or maybe it was a line in her book, so maybe I’m wrong, but it’s pretty believable.

      1. londonedit*

        There’s always a huge fuss made in the (tabloid) press whenever the Duchess of Cambridge wears a coat/dress that she’s worn before. I bet Prince William has worn the same suit multiple times and no one cares!

        1. UKDancer*

          Personally I am glad she wears the same thing more than once. I mean that seems entirely reasonable and shows that she’s fundamentally a sensible woman. It really annoys me that the tabloids make a fuss of this.

          1. Rocket Woman*

            Not to mention the items she wears are nice designer items that cost a lot of money! And they are made to last and meant to be reworn. I would much rather see her rewear those nice items then buy new for every single event. I agree with UKDancer – it shows that she is sensible!

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              She looks lovely, her outfits are nice, and like you said, expensive and made to last. I can’t understand why anyone is upset that she *gasp* wore the same dress, just with a new belt. Accessories are a cheap way to jazz up an old look. I’ve bought several dresses that I could dress up and dress down because that just makes sense.

              1. Starbuck*

                Well, they’re “upset” because it gives them something to write about her outfit, after she’s so rudely deprived them of the opportunity to write about whatever new designer it is that she’s picked this time.

                Seriously, the best way to solve this issue is by not giving a rip about the royals. As long as there are people who care about their clothes and personal lives, there will be people writing something, anything about them to capitalize off that interest.

          2. Insert Clever Name Here*

            I read somewhere (probably reported by “sources close to the Duchess who prefer to remain anonymous”) that it’s an intentional decision. I like it :)

          3. starsaphire*

            I remember seeing articles in the tabloid press excoriating Princess Anne because she re-wore a dress some forty years later, and they published the two photos side by side (one of them, obvs, in black and white) and made scathing commentary about it.

            Doing a quick Google shows that the Daily Mail almost constantly blats whenever any of the British royal ladies re-wear anything, but Anne is apparently a popular target. No one ever notes how hard Anne must work to have stayed the same size all this time.

            Isn’t it odd that there’s never any comments about the men? I swear the princes all have dress uniforms and like one dark blue suit or something…

        2. Artemesia*

          She is profligate and wasteful for wearing a new dress for every event and look, she stooped to re-wearing things to events, how embarrassing. Women can’t win on this one.

          I agree that shifting the frame for the boss to ‘sexism’ is probably useful and sending him that link to the Australian newscaster’s experiment. No man in that workplace has ever been chided for wearing the same blue blazer — or the same pair of jeans.

      2. Observer*

        Michelle Obama… did not wear the same dress to all formal events.

        The press would have SHREDDED her if she had had the AUDACITY to re-wear something. Also, if it was too expensive (see the fuss about her sneakers) or not expensive enough (somehow not “respectful” enough). Or “too casual” (see all the stories about her bare arms!) I could go on, but you get the point.

        Of course, in her case it’s not just sexism at play, but it is a huge part of it.

    3. Buni*

      I came here specifically to see if anyone had mentioned Karl Stefanovic, because I love him so much. What he did was amazing, but honestly any time I’m feeling down I just go youtube vids of him – if you can find clips where he’s broadcasting with his brother too (also a journalist) it’s just gold.

  12. Warm Gooey Cheap Ass Roll*

    I’ve worked with several Jans, and they were all passive/aggressive ninjas. I’d just keep wearing the dress and tell the boss it’s so comfortable that you bought three of them. And definitely tell Jan, I promise she’ll drive herself insane trying to figure out if you’re lying.

      1. Alice*

        The other three are in the wash. My goodness, Jan, I need to wash my dresses, do you want me to come to work in a stinky unwashed dress or what??

      2. Red 5*

        She definitely is the type, but that’s a request you could absolutely laugh off in a convincing way and not have to comply with. “Why don’t you bring them all in to prove that you have more than one?” “Oh Jan *laugh* You’re so funny, bring them all in, that’s hilarious, as if that would be necessary or even a normal thing to ask of a person. Haha.”

        Then glare a few daggers at her back as she leaves.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I’s be tempted to return the awkward to sender. “Jan, are you suggesting that there is an issue with my hygiene? If so, what specifically are you saying you have noticed? If not, why are you obsessed with what I am wearing? ”

      Or go to the boss and say you feel uncomfortable that Jan is obsessed with you to the extent that she’s tracking what you wear, and that you are getting a definite stalkery vibe from her behaviour, quite apart from the sexism, and will he speak to her to make clear that she needs to stop.

      If she doesn’t back off I’d actually explicitly say to the boss that it is sexist and discrimintory and you know that he’ll therefore want to ensure that it stops right now, before it becomes a problem. Be clear that you are raising it with him as a specific example of sexist bullying by Jan.

    1. Anonym*

      I’m exploring their catalog – love it! Thanks for the (incidental) recommendation, OP. You have great taste!

      1. Blue wall*

        I own 5 of their dresses and have worn them almost exclusively for the past 3 years- love them!

        1. Local Garbage Committee*

          I was debating buying myself one as an end of pumping present and now I am decided!

          1. Tricksie*

            I really hoped it would work for me, but it was too itchy for my skin. It’s really soft for wool, but I’m apparently very sensitive to wool. :(

          2. E*

            Merino is fantastic against the skin. I generally can’t wear wool against my skin, and can do merino no problem. My mum is a bit worse than me and can only do high quality merino, but it’s definitely not scratchy at all.

        2. Storm in a teacup*

          So just ordered one after reading this!
          What is the length like? Am worried it’ll come out long

      1. It Me*

        Yeah I messaged them a couple of years ago asking when they are extending their size range (it’s not like this is very tailored clothing that requires extensive pattern adjustments) and got the standard response about how they intend to offer more sizes in the future. I wisely did not hold my breath.

    2. Ye Olde New Englander*

      I totally did, too! Got the black. If it works I’ll order at least 2 more in other colors. The perfect dress! Thanks so much for posting it, LW!

    3. DameB*

      I hate dresses (JEANS FOREVER!) but I own one for my dressy occasions. It’s awesome. I highly recommend.

  13. Prague*

    The point of a workplace uniform is ease. But I’ve had to casually point out that I have four of the exact same blazer and three of another style (all in black) before after some comments, so I feel your pain. Sometimes you need to message, unfortunately.

    Key point: Jan doesn’t need to know that you’re wearing the exact same dress every day, or how many you own.

    Rather than a sustainability challenge, talk about having workplace uniform, how easy it is, how it makes things faster getting ready, how you no longer have to sort laundry by color (bonus points if you throw sideeye at Jan on this one – even if you didn’t before), how you have a creative styling challenge that you enjoy, it’s so much easier to travel because everything matches, etc.

    Jan and the boss need to get a life.

  14. Kay*

    I read an article about a woman who bought the same dress shirt and slacks to be her work outfit and she got flack until she pointed out all the men in the office who wore the same shirt tie and jacket everyday and no one says anything to them. It’s sexism that most people have even me would at first be wth unfortunately but I’d push back. A simple comfy outfit you didn’t have to think about every day is gold.

    1. Windchime*

      I think I read this, too. She bought multiples of each; a plain white blouse (but it did have an interesting collar or something, so it was distinctive) and plain black slacks. I remember thinking how *easy* it would be to get ready for work. No thinking; just reach in and grab a top out of the closet.

      I used to work with a man who had a distinctive cashmere sweater; it was light blue with an argyle pattern on the front. It was a handsome sweater and it looked good on him. He would wear it for several days in a row and at first I thought it was weird, but honestly he didn’t smell at all and what was it hurting? I learned to shrug and not worry about it; maybe Jan needs to do the same.

  15. Riley and Jonesy*

    Oh this drives me wild with irritation at the unconscious sexism. Anyone saw that male Australian news anchor who wore the same suit every day to call out this micromanaging of women’s workwear? No one noticed FOR A YEAR! Meanwhile his co-anchor had to change up what she wore daily.
    I work in healthcare and I have 5 paires of black t-shirts and trousers on rotation under a white tunic. If it’s good enough for Zuckerberg, it’s good enough for me. Jan can go do one!

    1. Angstrom*

      I’ve worn the same navy-blue work pants(rotating a few pairs) to work almost every day for years. My daring change of pace is the same style in black. I’ve never had a comment. Hmmm….could it be because I’m male? ;-)

      If your work “uniform” is appropriate for your work, it is appropriate for your work.

  16. blackcat lady*

    It’s unfair but (1) Jan is an annoying busybody and (2) you’re vulnerable because you’re female. There was a male TV reporter – Miami maybe? – that wore the same suit on his show for something like a year. AND NOBODY NOTICED! Unfortunately you’re now on Jan’s radar and she is going to make your life miserable. It’s sad she has such a pathetic life that she grabs power over a non-issue like this. Every time you pass her silently say to yourself what a loser.

  17. Bluebelle*

    This is ridiculous. OP is changing it up every day with a different cardigan, blazer, tights, shoes, accessories. In the before times when I would travel for work, I would often wear the same basic black wrap dress and do the same for several days. Or take 3 dresses and 1 blazer. Capsule wardrobes are a thing, and this is exactly how it is done. That lady needs to get a life and mind her own business.

    1. You Can't Pronounce It*

      These staple pieces are ideal. My grandparents had 5 kids. They were not rich by any means, but people would always comment to my grandmother how they were loaded. It was simply because my grandmother knew how to buy these staples and change up outfits.

      Unless Jan is funding OPs wardrobe, none of her business.

    2. Red 5*

      Seriously, I probably wouldn’t have thought of it in the moment but I’d probably just keep on doing what I was doing and if she brought it up again be like “Wait, are you not up on the latest trends? This is a very fashionable forward thinking choice, all the cool kids are doing it.” Or you know, something that sounds natural and not like a made up script in a TV special.

      Because honestly being more sustainable and conscientious with your clothing choices IS the cool and hip thing right now. Capsule wardrobes and having a handful of basic staples that you accessorize instead of a lot of different unique items IS trendy. So Jan is the one who is out of date and also pushy and wrong.

    1. BeenThere*

      ….and start referring to it as “your Friday dress”.

      Loudly recommend it to anyone as more comfortable than jeans particularly within earshot of Jan. Don’t forget to comment about pockets.

    2. Wisteria*

      And for some more useful advice, I do think circling back to your boss is a good idea, but I would not make the points about men and suits unless men wear suits at your office. What I would do is reiterate how seriously you take wearing clean clothing to work and that you are taking Jan’s concerns seriously (lie if you have to). Then non-confrontationally inform him that since there are no hygiene concerns, you are going to start wearing the dress daily again for the sustainability challenge, and would he prefer that you resolve Jan’s hygiene concerns by talking with her directly or does he prefer to have that conversation with her himself? Again, non-confrontational.

    3. This Old House*

      I’d say to finish out your 100 days wearing the dress daily, and then go ahead and wear it every Friday as your casual outfit of choice.

  18. cmcinnyc*

    First, I would like to thank OP for the link. I am definitely buying that dress.

    Second, Jan sucks. Third, the boss sucks.

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      The way the back of the dress is over the shoulders is adorable. It really does have a nice cut to it.

    2. SpEd Teacher*

      It wouldn’t surprise me if this is partly some sort of guerrilla marketing thing by the dress maker. (But if so, it’s good.)

  19. You Can't Pronounce It*

    This dress looks very similar to several of my pieces and I love it for the very same reasons! We have jeans on Fridays as well, but I love my dresses so much, I don’t always wear jeans. My boss will sometimes comment on if I have an interview since I’m not wearing jeans, but I just love how comfortable it is and I feel nicely polished in them!

    I am with some of the others though, I’d either still wear the dress without getting a second one; and if Jan continues, I would ask how does she know I don’t have more than one? She won’t and you don’t have to tell her if you do or not. Just leave the question hanging and walk away. Or, I’d make sure to wear a dress every Friday until I personally just felt like wearing jeans.

    1. Talley Lach*

      Now I’m picturing this conversation:
      Jan: “That dress again?!”
      LW: “You think this is the same dress?! Interesting,” and walk away. . .
      Jan: . . . ?
      Hahahahaha

  20. Middle of HR*

    Literally just came to say I have dresses from this brand and they are fantastic. And Jan is the worst, and your boss not standing up to her is also annoying as heck.
    I probably would be one of those people who buys a second dress and just alternates to mess with Jan. And I’d definitely continue to wear dresses on Fridays.
    The advice from Alison is on point.

  21. a question*

    I would ask for the metrics of everyone in the office being observed on their clothing choices. Why would OP be singled out? Probably a stretch, I wonder if this would be discrimination? Jan needs a reality check. If boss wants OP to wear a new wardrobe perhaps a discussion for a raise to buy new items would be in order.

  22. TCHR*

    Sure, Jan you are a busy body and the literally worst.

    The dress is super cute though!!

    I wear the same two sweatshirts and same pair of jeans the two days I’m in the office every week during the long winter in the frozen tundra I live in. It’s basically my dream work uniform (if I can’t have leggings/sweatpants on). Nobody’s gives a crap.

  23. BA*

    Jan sucks. So does the boss.

    I think it would be SUPER AWESOME to go extra formal on Fridays. Like going to the gala formal, just to give Jan something new to fret about.

      1. Salymander*

        Yes OP could just flounce around all Friday.

        But I think OP should finish out the 100 days first, then do this on the first Friday after that. And when Jan inevitably comments, OP can say, “Well Jan, I wanted to wear something different to work today. It is casual Friday, after all.”

  24. CatCat*

    What is up with the boss?

    “Well, just to be on the safe side, probably best to vary things up.”

    Be on the safe side of WHAT?

    Does he not believe OP that she is clean and hygienic?

    1. Rey*

      When even the boss is afraid of standing up to the busy body, methinks the problem has gone on too long. Imagine how different this entire scenario would be if Boss had written in, because I think Alison’s advice would be to tell Jan that she doesn’t need to monitor her coworkers’ clothing. Imagine a world where bosses everywhere earned their title and pay by actually telling the busybodies to stop.

    2. MissBaudelaire*

      Right? Safe side of Jan coming in to whinge? Is Jan the Clothes Police? Was it an elected position? Can she be voted out?

    3. Bagpuss*

      Yeah, when you speak to him again just say “I know you suggested that I “vary things up” to “be on the safe side”, but I’m really uncomfortable with my clothing choices being monitored and policed in this way, and with Jan being encouraged to think that her interference is acceptable.

      If you yourself have any genuine concerns about how I present, then obviously you are free to raise them with me, but I don’t think that Jan’s prejudice against my wearing a similar outfit every day should force me to go buy a lot of extra clothes because Jan doesn’t approve of my current work wear. “

      1. cmcinnyc*

        THIS is the key: “Jan being encouraged to think her interference is acceptable.” YES. I’d add that to the update with the boss.

    4. yala*

      Also, OP already does? She wears different accessories with it.

      Tho tbh, I *would* get a second dress in OP’s case, just because washing anything that often is gonna wear it out faster, and it’s always good to have a back-up Favorite Clothes

  25. By Golly*

    I’m familiar with this dress and the challenge, & this post just confirms all my fears about doing it. Even if there were no Jan in my office to report to a boss, I have been afraid that others would notice and perceive me as less professional for my wardrobe choice. AND I’m super aware of the discrepancy in gender norms here, having just agonized over wardrobe choices for an interview process where I knew male counterparts would just out on slacks and a shirt like every other day. Would love hearing if others have tried this challenge and how it worked out for them. Or, do women have work uniforms similar to khakis and collared shirt for men that they like?

    1. MistOrMister*

      Honestly, if you had the dress on black and changed up your jewelery and, most especially, wore different cardigans every day, I’m not sure most people would realize it was the same dress unless you are in a very visible position. I don’t tend to really notice what my coworkers wear unlese it’s something incredibly distinctive for some reason. I would likely just think you really liked black dresses. But, if you had it in a different color and wore it daily, I do think it would be more noticeable. I can’t really explain why it would seem different to me, but I think I would probably notice someone wearing, say a red dress, every day for a month. Why black would go ocer my head and red wouldn’t, I’m not quite sure.

      1. Stevie*

        I think red would stand out more only because black dresses are so much more common. Well, relatively speaking. It’s not like red dresses are *uncommon*.

        In any case, I might notice if a colleague were wearing the same dress every day in any color, but I would certainly assume it’s being cleaned. I’d probably be interested in where they got the dress, too, if it were so comfortable that they wanted to wear it every day!

        1. Myrin*

          I think red would stand out more only because black dresses are so much more common.

          I would additionally assume that it’s because with a non-black dress, it’s much easier to see its… contours, maybe? Like the way its cut or whether there’s some kind of embroidery or a same-colour pattern or intentionally sewn-in wirnkles, stuff like that. Especially in a certain kind of light, these would be really hard to notice with black dresses, making it much less clear whether we’re talking about one single dress or just five different ones all having roughly the same basic cut.

    2. J*

      I know someone who did this challenge. She worked really hard to accessorize and change it up so the dress looked different every day (scarves, necklaces, blazers, tights/no tights, sweaters, etc.), and she looked amazing. I own the dress too, and honestly seeing her pictures is one of the reasons I haven’t done the challenge. I don’t have enough accessories to be able to create lots of different looks, and going out and buying dozens of scarves and necklaces seems to defeat the purpose of minimalism/sustainability/reducing consumption. Not judging my friend at all–she has been building her wardrobe of accessories for YEARS and all of her pieces are carefully chosen–just, I’m not starting from the same baseline and if I were to try to do this it would definitely be obvious that I’m wearing the same dress every day. It would be, like, the dress WITH black cardigan. The dress WITHOUT black cardigan. The end.

      1. Filosofickle*

        This is where minimalistic capsules and one-dress things don’t work for my brain. Even if no one else noticed, I get suuuuper bored with the same things all the time and I have zero patience for carefully crafting layers and accessories beyond one or two pieces of jewelry. I hate cardigans and scarves especially. I want to throw on 3 things and have them look interesting, brighten up my day, and feel like me. And, for better or worse, a plain dress does not feel like me!

        1. Artemesia*

          I have never given a toss about clothes and if I had a comfortable ‘look’ I happily wear it (did wear it) continuously. You obviously have a different relationship to clothes and take pleasure in how you look and being creative with it — so naturally you would not find this ‘uniform’ approach attractive. To each his own.

      2. KateM*

        Agreed – it seems to me that it would be far more minimalistic to have the same shoes-blazers-handbags and different dresses.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      There is a facebook group for the challenge and there are LOTS of people who have successfully completed it while working in a professional environment. Some are more minimal with their looks than others.

      I bought the dress and attempted the challenge and I breezed through the first 6 weeks because I was working from home. Then we got called back to the office (this was back in the summer when things were briefly looking up re: COVID) and suddenly I got all in my head about it, I think because I’m not naturally a dress person and the dress honestly wasn’t the best shape for me (which didn’t bother me at home by myself but I was very self conscious about at the office), and dropped out. I am waiting and crossing my fingers that they will eventually release my perfect combination of dress style and color so I can try the challenge again.

    4. Aggretsuko*

      https://journal.wooland.com/post/2019/6/11/100-days-in-one-dress
      I note someone in this article DID NOT WASH IT FOR 100 DAYS. However, whether or not anyone notices at work did not come up.

      https://christianminimalism.com/2021/01/25/faqs-100-days-one-dress/
      This one says nobody noticed her rewearing.
      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-9593305/Four-women-viral-100-day-dress-challenge-wearing-dress-day-day-out.html
      People also claim nobody notices.

      1. Jayess*

        100 days is a touch long for me, but I noted that the dress is made out of Merino wool, which has a fibre structure that literally sheds bacteria & odor-causing microbes. It’s a super-fabric, and bc it’s a natural fibre actually shouldn’t be washed often.
        I wash my merino casual wear after about 7 wears. I wash my merino technical apparel after 2, or just rinse to get sweat out.

        1. KateM*

          OK, I read it at first as “after 7 years” and thought “wow”. 7 wears is rather more often, I think.

          1. allathian*

            I did the same thing, and while I don’t wash my merino thermal underwear after every wear, I do wear ordinary panties under them.

    5. Cedrus Libani*

      I’ve worn a work uniform for years. First round: I found a polo that fit me well, and I bought one of every color they had. Worked well, but the lighter colors were stain magnets. Second round: black polos. Each round involved a half-dozen shirts and lasted me ~3 years. I just purchased my third round: black T-shirts, but in a thicker fabric that reads a bit dressy.

      Yes, people notice it, but I’m in tech…it’s actually kind of trendy. Also most of my colleagues have a closet full of mostly-identical button-downs with slightly different patterns, so.

    6. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I wore a black skirt every day to work for a year – I had three of them in slightly different cuts – and no one said a word. They did not even notice that I never ever wore pants. I know because I finally asked.

      I think you need a real busybody like Jan to notice.

    7. higheredrefugee*

      I’m midway through the challenge, no one has noticed and no one cares. If they do, this falls under the “What an odd thing to say to me/comment on/care about” category for me. These dresses can be easily be worn professionally every day, including in formal places like courtrooms, legislatures, and in front of administrative/regulatory agencies. For all of them? Maybe not, but we don’t comment or pass judgment on men in the same way, it is time to MYOB in 95% of American and European workplaces.

      1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

        I did the challenge in the Sierra dress in washed navy, which is a sleeveless style. I wore it to a wedding (long silky cardigan and a handknit lace scarf), to a funeral (black fitted cardigan and black tights), on an airplane, lots of walking around campus for Family Weekend at my kid’s university, cooking Thanksgiving dinner (with an apron), running high profile meetings at work (cardigan or jacket and maybe a scarf) and weekends at home including moving furniture (hoodie, leggings, and sneakers). Even when looking at the photo album of all 100 days, people have commented that they can barely tell that it’s the same dress.

  26. Cold Fish*

    OOOH, this makes me so mad for you OP. It is indeed sexist. I’d probably just continue to wear the dress. If boss talks to you again about varying things up just say confused “But I did… I wore my purple cardigan on Monday, my green scarf on Tuesday, etc.”

    I’d also like to point out, there are people who do not find jeans all that comfortable. I am one of them. I’d much rather wear a dress or skirt any day of the week! Even as a kid, I wouldn’t wear jeans. Ok, ok, there were a couple of years in my teen years where I wore mostly jeans. But it was an anomaly, I swear.

    Just out of curiosity, how is the dress holding up wear-and-tear wise?

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      I don’t like jeans. They fit funny on my legs and I don’t care for the way they sit on my waist and hips, and they’re expensive and wear out quick. I do have some jeggings. But that’s it.

    2. kiki*

      The “why don’t you wear jeans like the rest of us?” question set off my annoyance alarms. I prefer dresses and skirts because I’ve got unusual proportions that mean most pants would need to be tailored to fit me comfortably, including jeans. I’m sure some folks ask the question innocuously but so often it’s code for, “I think you dress too formally and it makes me think you’re snooty and I’ve decided you think you’re better than us.”
      And then on the flipside, when I do wear jeans, people are not ready for this jelly and start treating me differently.
      Just let me wear my loose dresses in peace!

    3. Robin Ellacott*

      I like your script a lot. And then maybe a comment that you don’t see what difference it makes, business wise, if you often wear the same thing.

      Of course people would notice someone wearing the same thing if it is something that stands out. But I just can’t see why they’d care, other than officiousness.

    4. ahudson91*

      OP here! The dress is holding up beautifully! No pilling or weird stretching, as I’ve seen some other commenters speculate on. It’s definitely an investment piece but it’s an article of clothing I can see myself wearing for a long time to come, even after my 100 days are up.

  27. mdv*

    I absolutely want to try one of these dresses, they just aren’t in my budget right now! Jan sucks, you should keep wearing the dress. If she says anything, I would just cock my eyebrow as if puzzled, and ask her why it matters so much to her what you wear? Then put her on the spot by asking her if she has also stuck her nose in anyone else’s wardrobe?

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      It is a really nice dress but yeah I can’t imagine paying that much $ for one article of clothing. I’ve seen similar cut dresses at the thrift shops though. The backs tend to be plainer then the one pictured and the material might not be as quality or there may not be as much color selection, but I have seen them. I have a whole closet of dresses that cost me on average $5-10 a pop. Some times patience and luck of the draw is rewarding.

  28. Marion Ravenwood*

    Ooh, this makes me mad as heck. Like really, what business is it of Jan’s what OP wears to work?! As long as it’s clean and OP looks professional and in line with the work dress code, then that should be an end of it. Alison is also right that there is a strong whiff of sexism about this (a few people above have mentioned Karl Stefanovic but that story was the first thing I thought of when I read this post).

    OP, continue to wear your dress as often as you want, and if you do feel up to speaking to your boss about it then I think Alison’s script is a very good one – although I also understand why you might not want to, at least not just yet. If you start wearing the dress again after that and Jan says something, you might also want to tell her that you’ve had that conversation (not in a huge amount of detail, but more like ‘I spoke to Boss and he didn’t have a problem with it, so I’m going to carry on’), but again aware you might not want that conversation for fear of making things worse.

  29. Jennifer*

    Buy that dress in five different colours and wear them in the same order, every single week. Let Jan passive aggressively disintegrate into full insanity.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I think finding one comfortable dress and buying it in every color is totally normal. (I’m wearing a flannel shirt that I own in every color they offer.)

      But wearing only one color is unusual, if it doesn’t “read” as something you would obviously own in multiple identical iterations. When someone wears a blue oxford and khakis every day, we assume multiple iterations of those garments, not one set that the person launders every couple of days–depending on how much you sweat and your propensity for spilling things on yourself.

      1. FridayFriyay*

        I don’t disagree that it’s perhaps perceived as more unusual, or that the assumption is that it is one dress rather than multiple identical button down shirts and pants, but I think it’s telling that the items that we assume are in duplicate are coded as menswear. Like why is it so inconceivable that someone would own multiple identical dresses? The dress in question is cute but somewhat basic. Women’s clothing is almost never coded as basic enough to make that assumption – I think that’s part of the problem and the unconscious sexism here.

        1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

          As a woman who owns something like five cream/ivory shells, I’m going to push back on this. The shell/shirt is the inexpensive piece that coordinates with the rest of the outfit (slacks or skirt, jacket or cardigan or what-not, tie if you’re a man). Go basic with that and make sure you aren’t in a situation in which your only clean shirt/shell/camisole doesn’t coordinate with the suit you’re wearing that day.

        2. pancakes*

          J. Crew sold basics in different colors every season very successfully for years and years. From the mid-90s through the early 2000s, at least.

  30. CreepyPaper*

    Ooof I feel this because I basically dress the same every day for work and in the past I’ve had people ask if I own more than one pair of trousers.

    My response was ‘yes, and a washing machine and tumble drier too’ and then stalk away.

    What gives people the right to comment on what ANYONE wears?! Grr. No advice, just pitching in with the collective rage at Jan!

  31. Wilton Businessman*

    I would only wear that dress once a week. On Friday. Every Freaking Friday. Until either Jan left or I died. I would not give Jan the satisfaction of leaving over a dress, I would make a point to stay there and wear that damn dress until it was on it’s last thread on every Friday. I might even buy another one just so I have a backup when this dress is threadbare.

  32. learnedthehardway*

    This is ridiculous! I’d keep going with the same dress, and vary the accessories, jewelry, etc. Make it a public thing that you’re doing the sustainability challenge and get the rest of the office to cheer you on.

    I had about 10 pairs of the same stirrup pants in high school (dating myself), and apparently, it affected perceptions of me until someone I knew saw them all drying on my mother’s clothes line one day. I hadn’t realized – but I made a point of telling people at school that I had those 10 pairs after that!

    1. BeenThere*

      BeenThere had forgotten entirely about stirrup pants and is now waiting for them to become fashionable again, like straight hair with center parts.

      1. Kicking-k*

        I’ve had straight hair with a centre parting my entire life, because my hair will not do anything else! Luckily it suits me reasonably well.

  33. ATX*

    I’m kind of on the opposite side of this and find the 100 day thing quite strange for a professional workplace, regardless of how often you wash it.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      Why is it different than a man wearing a navy suit every day? Just like a man in a suit, you don’t wear it IDENTICALLY for 100 days – you change accessories, shoes, etc.

        1. JustaTech*

          Why?
          Like, as a “I’d be bored out of my mind” thing or in a “eww, gross” thing?
          Suits are expensive (because of the complexity of the construction of the suit jacket).

          For bored: well, there are a lot of interesting shirts and ties out there.
          For cleanliness: The suit itself (jacket and pants) shouldn’t be coming in contact with the sweaty bits of the body (torso, mostly). As long as you change your shirt, undershirt, underpants and socks, then the suit itself shouldn’t be getting sweat-dirty. (Spills are something else altogether.)

      1. ATX*

        Wearing the same color suit and the same suit every day are 2 different things. I would say the same thing if it was a male writing in about wearing the same exact suit every day.

      2. NaoNao*

        I think the only case I can make against it is unless it’s 100% merino wool or something it will likely get pilled, faded, stretched out or worn out with repeated washings. I suspect that even washing it twice a week (which seems fair for a garment worn 5 days a week) it gets a bit…less than fresh looking, and while that’s really more of a nit-pick, I could say “worn out, threadbare clothing that’s visibly on its last legs isn’t quite professional”

        But that’s really stretching a point here.

        1. allathian*

          The point with merino wool is that it’s naturally anti-bacterial and anti-odor. You don’t need to wash it after every wear , but airing it out will be beneficial. Granted, I don’t wash anything except my underwear and socks after every wear, but I digress.

    2. You Can't Pronounce It*

      Why? My husband has an actual uniform he has to wear to work. They only provided 2 shirts and they only collect them to wash once a week. He works with materials that he won’t wear his shoes into the house and he doesn’t want those shirts coming into our washing machine. He works in an office setting. I’m not sure if they provided more to the guys on the factory floor or not, but his job does take him out to the factory as well. If he has to wear the same shirt multiple times under these conditions, why can’t someone working in a cleaner environment do the same?

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        When I worked fast food I only had two shirts. Standard was to give one. Even washing it daily and spot treating with dish soap, it was still greasy and kinda grungy.

    3. LDN Layabout*

      Eh, men do it all the time and a lot of ‘professional’ jobs have uniforms where people don’t have 5 different sets of the uniform.

      You can also style outfits differently to wear the same thing differently.

    4. ElizabethJane*

      But really, why? Uniforms are actually a thing for a lot of places. Plus there are numerous studies showing that removing the emotional/mental requirement of choosing clothing every day has benefits.

    5. bunniferous*

      If it’s basic and you change accessories, what is weird about it? For that matter if it is clean and within dress code, who the heck cares? BTW the US military is VERY professional and I have it on good authority they dress pretty much the same every work day….

    6. Important Moi*

      I have mixed opinions.

      When you’re not required to wear a uniform to word and your a woman, people do monitor what you where. It is sexist. Men aren’t monitored the same way (see the newscaster example above).

      That being said Jan doesn’t like LW and this interaction was a way for Jan to put her dislike for LW on display.

      1. ATX*

        My comment has nothing to do with sexism, I would say the same thing about a man. I agree that Jane went overboard, my comment has to do with the 100 days same garment thing. Reminds me of those instagram people who try to challenge the norm and post all the time about it, feels fake and disingenuous.

        1. Melinie*

          OP didn’t advertise the challenge or tell anyone about the challenge. She’s not posting about it on Instagram for her coworkers. I don’t see how a person who is doing her job, dressing professionally, and minding her business is fake and disingenuous because she wears the same thing every day.

    7. Loulou*

      Yeah, it’s strange. Jane is a busybody and I would never say anything about it, but it’s absolutely strange to wear literally the same garment every day! I’m sure all the people who are fighting with you about how it’s not strange do not do this themselves!

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I have one pair of pants that I really like, that fit well, and that make me feel awesome about myself. I wear them M-W, wash Wednesday and then wear them again Thursday – Friday. Occasionally I wear a different pair on Thursdays if the favorite pair aren’t dry (I hang dry my pants) when I need to get dressed. They’re the exact same pair as the other ones (literally reordered from the same link when I realized how much I loved them), but fit differently because women’s’ clothes suck.

      2. Purple Cat*

        IDK, for me, it’s not so much arguing whether or not this specific practice is “Strange”. It’s arguing that it’s a sexist practice to police women’s clothing and that needs to stop.

      3. Dahlia*

        I don’t think it’s strange – many, many people in retail and fast food only have one or two uniforms.

    8. kittymommy*

      We can sit together. I’m just stuck on that it’s literally the same one dress, not multiple copies of the dress, but literally the same garment.

      1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        (Raises hand) Me too. Steve Jobs had many, many black turtlenecks. My father literally rotated his suits: the most recently-worn one would be hung up on the far left, and the next morning, he would wear the one on the far right. His shirts matched all of them (which were either black or navy) and he varied his ties.

        As a practical matter, I’ve heard that it’s not good for the garment to wear it so frequently. Running shoes last longer (i.e. more mileage per sneaker) when rotated. Bras aren’t supposed to be worn two days in a row, even if you wear the bra several times between washes. I think I’ve heard the same thing about wool?

        1. Observer*

          The practical issue may be correct. But that is the OP’s business. The only person who has any standing to weigh in on that is the OP’s husband, assuming that her clothing budget affects the household budget. Otherwise? NO ONE. And if the OP’s clothing budget doesn’t affect anything else, not even her husband.

      2. Observer*

        And I’m stuck on the fact that someone thought it was their business to even ask about it.

        I wear only skirts. Most of my skirts are black – you would never know if I’m wearing the same one or not. If someone asked me, they would not get an answer. (Of course, this in my current position, where I have the capital and standing to shut down this kind of nonsense.)

    9. PolarVortex*

      I had a coworker who wore the same dress at work in the same way as the OP with mixing it up with items. Honestly thought it was ingenious, she always looked extremely put together, and didn’t have to think too hard about what to wear in the morning. And she looked better than me, who wore the same 5 company tshirts every week with two different dark jeans.

    10. Koala dreams*

      I also find it a bit strange, but that’s the point, isn’t it? It’s meant to get people to question their biases. Personally I find it inspiring. It makes me think of those (men) bus drivers who wore skirts to protest the sexist uniform of their bus company.

      1. JimmyJab*

        Yah, I find a lot of things my coworkers do “strange,” i.e., I wouldn’t do them that way, but I never say anything about it or really give it more than a moments thought. WHO CARES.

    11. Sloanicote*

      Yes, honestly this is one of the few times I disagree with Alison. OP has every right to wear what she wants but this seems to me to be quite a silly thing to spend your limited office capital on. Wearing the same item of clothing for 100 days is going to raise eyebrows even if it’s a nice item, and that’s the point – it’s a marketing strategy by this brand to attract attention. Why risk your standing in the office to be part of a brand’s marketing? Totally agree that Jan sucks and it sounds like the boss agreed, but I think OP would be probably taking it a bit too far to go back to the boss and demand that she be able to do this non-work-related thing at work. Save that for something you need in your career, like being sent to an important conference or getting to use your leave or something, IMO.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I personally would probably not spend capital on this, but OP seems to feel very strongly about it so I do think it is a reasonable thing to spend capital on if it is important to her. It seems to me a very clear-cut issue, and it seems like the boss doesn’t really care much so I think there is no reason for OP not to push back at least once.

      2. Melinie*

        It reads less like steadfastly adhering to a marketing ploy and more like not enjoying one’s body+clothing choices being policed by an office busybody with a gossipline straight to the owner/boss.

    12. Turtles All The Way Down*

      It wasn’t really until after WWII that people even had enough clothes to put together several weeks of different outfits every single day. And lord knows they didn’t wash their dresses after every wear. That’s where things like aprons came into play.

    13. Advertising Shouldn't Be Free*

      Why get yourself into controversy at work so you can advertise for a dress you already paid for? That’s what these “challenges” are, free advertising for the company. The reward doesn’t even cover the cost of the dress, and given the markup on clothing, the company will at least break even, if not make a profit.

  34. Higher Ed*

    According to the product description for the dress, it “wants to be worn every day of the week” so tell Jan you’re just doing what the dress wants.

  35. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I read the letter and thought, “Jan would’ve had a real problem with Steve Jobs.” Then I read the first paragraph of the response, and realized that no, Jan wouldn’t have had a problem with him at all. Now I’m sad and angry.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        That’s irrelevant, since OP washed the dress after every wear. That’d be the same as Steve running his turtleneck through a washer/dryer (or taking it to a dry cleaners, whatever he did with them) and then wearing it again.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          FWIW, the OP probably isn’t washing the dress after every wear – it’s really not necessary. Wool is naturally anti-microbial and odor-resistant so the common practice is to hang the dress overnight to air it, spot clean as necessary, and give it a full wash every 1-3 weeks.

        2. Wisteria*

          It is relevant, since Jan didn’t go to the boss until she believed that OP was wearing dirty clothes.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Jan went to the boss the next business day after she got the information out of OP that OP wore it every day. Not because the dress was dirty or smelly, but because she now *assumed* that it was.

            1. Myrin*

              Yeah, if I were to speculate, I’d say that Jan probably wouldn’t have dared approach the boss if OP had said “Oh yes, in fact, I like the dress so much that I got five identical ones!” because she’d know she wouldn’t have a leg to stand on; now she can at least pretend this is about hygiene.

      2. Software Dev*

        Is there a practical difference between wearing the same turtleneck every day and wearing a different but identical turtleneck? For that matter, how would anyone know if Steve Jobs wore the same turtleneck 100 days in a row?

      3. Observer*

        Not really relevant – Jan was getting in the OP’s face before she knew that it was actually the same dress.

  36. ElizabethJane*

    Jan is actually the worst.

    I have one of these dresses and I also did a 100 day challenge with it. Even without the challenge I wear it 2-3 days a week because
    1. It’s comfy AF
    2. I like not having to think about what I’m going to wear
    3. We should be rewearing our clothes. Say no to fast fashion.

  37. Late to the Party*

    I just looked in my closet and I have 5 pair of the same black pants, one for every work day for the week.

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      This letter made me think of a former coworker who had a identical pairs of black slacks at the perfect junction of skinny legged meets office acceptable. She wore them every day with various different tops. And unless she spilled something on them no one would have any reason to know if it was 1 pair or several of the same brand. But she looked professional and didn’t smell so why (in a maze of cubicles with no face to face customer contact) would it matter?

    2. Filosofickle*

      I think of pants as completely repeatable, much more so than tops and dresses. Basic dark bottoms are virtually invisible unless they have a distinctive cut (in which case they wouldn’t be basic!)

  38. Falling Diphthong*

    A quibbling thought:
    Wearing the same jacket every day is pretty unremarkable, whether that’s a leather jacket, a tweed sports coat, your school letter jacket, or a simple black cardigan. That shrug doesn’t automatically translate to clothing in contact with your skin.

    1. Wisteria*

      I thought this as well. I do think Jan is absurd, but I don’t equate wearing the same outer wear every day to wearing the same garment against your skin everyday.

      1. Becky*

        I don’t understand why this distinction makes a difference? If you wash it regularly, why does it matter if it is touching your skin?

    2. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      1) “Contact with your skin” alone does not a dirty garment make.
      2) Which is a moot point because OP has been washing the dress.
      3) You know that suit jackets and suit pants go to the cleaners together, right? You don’t send the pants separately because it would cause them to fade at a different rate than the jacket and they would stop matching.

      1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        A few generations back most people only had a few sets of clothes. A couple of very day sets, Sunday clothes, and really fancy occasion clothes. So wearing something for more then a few days was normalized then. Our clothes don’t really tend to get that dirty setting in an office chair in front of a computer unless we dripple coffee and donut crumbs on them.

        1. UKDancer*

          They also tended to change the underneath clothes a lot more often than the top clothes. So a woman washed her chemise and her petticoats more than her dress. The dress was not usually in contact with her skin because of the layers in between.

          This less frequent laundry was also due to the lack of modern conveniences. Washing was difficult and time consuming which is why people tended to have a “wash day” because it would take most of the day and was strenuous. My Nanny as a newlywed used to make Monday her wash day and Tuesday her drying day because it took all day to wash things in the dolly tub and then let them dry and put through the mangle.

          1. UKDancer*

            Also the clothes people wore were natural fibres (wool, cotton or silk) which don’t smell as much as some of the modern mixed fabrics. Polyester has many benefits (and doesn’t crease for one thing) but it holds smells more than cotton. I don’t need to wash my cashmere sweaters as much as I do my poly-cotton t-shirts.

          2. GreyjoyGardens*

            In Little House in the Big Woods (Laura Ingalls Wilder, popular children’s author) she notes her Ma had a saying, “Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, mend on Wednesday, clean on Thursday, churn on Friday, bake on Saturday, rest on Sunday.” Stuff done by hand was so time consuming that days of the week were dedicated to it and in a certain order (so that clean ironed clothes were mended, butter churned in a clean kitchen, baked goods made with fresh butter).

        2. The Prettiest Curse*

          My dad grew up in an Irish Catholic family that had 5 kids and no money. (Late 1940s/early 50s in the UK.) Like his brothers, he had 1 shirt with 6 changeable collars for the week and 1 Sunday best shirt to wear at church.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Which reminds me of my childhood, where we got a weekly Saturday night bath. If I was lucky I was one of the first ones in, if not, it meant bathing in tepid, grey water. As a middle child, I wasn’t usually lucky. But we did always have clean clothes. Hand-me-down, out of style, and ill-fitting, but clean.

    3. Bye Academia*

      Yeah, I kind of agree with this. It seems to be an unpopular opinion, but someone wearing the same dress every day (vs. rotating the same/similar ones) would give me pause. At least for me, I absolutely cannot wear the same shirt or dress twice without washing it. Pants, sweaters, and coats are usually okay, but I need to let them air out for at least a day in between rewearing or they can get funky. I can’t imagine washing a dress like that every day (it would be bad for the dress!). Anyone (man or woman) rewearing pants or jackets often probably wouldn’t be remarkable to me, but the same dress or shirt would. I mean, even when men wear the same suit every day the shirt is usually fresh.

      That said, I think Jan and the boss are taking it way too far. People are different, and just because I would smell wearing the same dress every day doesn’t mean the OP does!

      1. Sloanicote*

        Yes, I admit it would give me pause, in a way it wouldn’t if it was five identical dresses. I also think it was dumb of Jan to take this to the boss, and dumb of the boss to take it to OP. I also think OP digging in on this point is adding even more drama to something that never should have escalated this far.

      2. yala*

        tbh, I would think pants would come into contact with more “things that make me want to wash this” stuff than shirts.

      3. Observer*

        but someone wearing the same dress every day (vs. rotating the same/similar ones) would give me pause

        HOW WOULD YOU EVEN KNOW? That’s the first problem with the whole scenario. Why was Jan even commenting on the OP’s clothing. Beyond that, as long as it’s clean and non-smelly it can be all sort of weird. It still would not matter.

        There is absolutely no doubt that sexism is at play her. No one would ever question a man that wore the same eg blue oxford shirt every day to confirm whether it is the same shirt of multiple pieces of the same shirt.

        1. Salymander*

          Yeah I think I wouldn’t pay any attention if a coworker did this. Maybe I would notice, but unless they smelled really bad and I had to work very closely with them I wouldn’t care. Because I have things to do at work, and worrying about someone else’s clothes isn’t one of them.

          Jan clearly has too much time on her hands.

        2. Bye Academia*

          My comment was based on the context of what we know now, after OP shared the info.

          If I were her coworker I would not spend any thought on what she was wearing, and would probably have assumed she was rotating similar dresses if I had even noticed at all. I certainly wouldn’t have asked her about it.

          Jan is totally out of line.

      4. allathian*

        It’s merino wool, not polyester. You don’t wash wool after every wear, and because it’s naturally anti-microbial and anti-odor, you don’t need to do so, either.

      5. Elysian*

        I’ll admit I’m a busybody, but I would probably try to clandestinely smell the OP if I noticed her wearing the same dress. I would smell so much if I was always wearing the same dress/shirt – my armpits (along with my feet) have an amazing capacity to sweat and stink no matter what I wear. And stain. Everything I own has pit stains and smells that I cannot fix… Mostly I would be jealous of anyone that could pull this off without smelling or staining. I wouldn’t tell the boss.

  39. AdequateArchaeologist*

    I mean, I’ve had coworkers wear the same field pants everyday for like 10 days in a row. As long as they don’t smell worse than the rest of us, or the truck, at the end of the day no one cares. As far as I’m concerned you were going above and beyond by washing your dress consistently.

    But seriously, how petty do you have to be to go to your BOSS over how someone else is dressed? Why would you even think that was a legitimate use of time? I agree with Allison- bring it up to your boss and put him in the hot seat. (I also like the suggestions of commenters above; buy two in the same color, wear one on Fridays. Go wild.)

  40. middle name danger*

    I might’ve lied and said I had multiples of the same dress so people couldn’t pretend it was unhygienic but as a front-facing receptionist, it makes sense to skip casual Fridays. You’re the first impression people get from your company!

  41. AVP*

    Well, you just sold me two dresses from this company! Not The Dress but I hope they see this and give you a referral discount.

      1. Sloanicote*

        I did suspect the brand marketer wrote this letter to promote this brand/challenge, but I admit to having a suspicious mind after spending the last two years thinking about stealth marketing.

  42. Anonny*

    This one made me pause. I absolutely think Jan is a busybody and your boss sounds like a pushover who just wants the problem to go away, and Alison’s scripts are really great for having a follow-up.

    That said, if I worked in an office environment where we don’t have an established uniform, I would absolutely notice if a colleague wore the same thing 3.5 months in a row. I know you’re varying your accessories, but you didn’t say by how much–if it’s just minimal changes, the same-dress-thing is going to be noticeable. I don’t think it’s unusual for colleagues to wonder, and the more people who wonder the more people will comment.

    Do you have any good/better friends in the office that you could run this by for a sanity check? Maybe a disinterested party could let you know if you’re adding enough variation?

    I do agree this could quickly become gendered, but I also notice and wonder when a guy wears the same suit over and over. I don’t think it’s as polished as having a couple pieces that you rotate.

    All that said, you keep doing you — this isn’t a huge deal and def not one to the level Jan made it. Just be aware that more than her are likely to notice, and it might be worth having a couple other low-key, casual scripts about it handy.

    1. ElizabethJane*

      Counter point – you don’t “think” it’s as polished but is there any basis in reality for that? Maybe this is one of those things that actually needs to change. Sustainability in fashion is actually a huge issue. There are gross human rights and environmental violations happening in the industry and we need to address those. Just like non-natural hair colors it’s not something that actually matters or impacts work at all. Even if people are noticing or finding it odd, that’s 100% a them problem and not a letter writer problem.

      Now, I agree that the letter writer should be aware of people’s perceptions and decide if that’s a battle she wants to fight, but “people will think strange things” is not a reason to avoid challenging the status quo.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        The general expectation is not to wear the same thing more than once a week. Based on an assumption that people are doing laundry weekly. So that means you would need 5 work outfits, which isn’t that many if you buy things that last. Not even 5 complete outfits, because honestly things like black slacks all look a lot alike.

        1. Wisteria*

          “The general expectation is not to wear the same thing more than once a week.”

          Whoops, guess I’m hosed.

        2. AnonBeret*

          That’s…insane. Most clothes absolutely do NOT need to be washed after every single wear. It’s actually bad for the clothes! And will make them wear out much faster! I can guarantee I’ve never worked anywhere with that expectation (and I’ve worked in a range of offices) and that everyone wore things multiple times before washing as long as they didn’t smell or have stains or anything.

          1. allathian*

            Thank you. I felt like I was shouting into the void, so many people seem to assume that you need to change your clothes every day. The only clothes I change every day are panties and socks.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          When I first heard it, as we were getting ready to move to the US, that “Americans wear a different outfit every day of the week”, my first reaction was that I was being punked. Who has the money or the energy, or the closet space, to maintain all those outfits? That’s how it looks to the rest of the world. Of course, being new in the country, it wasn’t in my power to change any of that, so after I found my first job, I had my dad drive me to Goodwill (I did not yet have a car or know how to drive) and walked out of there with, not five, but TEN different work outfits! Two full garbage bags of work clothes for about $30 in 1997. But, like… it’s still a weird expectation. Sadly, one of the too many weird assumptions I’ve heard of surrounding work clothes. If you’re dressed too nicely, you must be heading to a job interview. If you are wearing the same thing you did yesterday (or you look like you are), you had a ONS and came back to work after an unplanned overnight stay at someone else’s house. Will this crapola even end? Who even has the time to monitor what their coworkers wear? I shared an office with a teammate for two years and I couldn’t have told you what they wore on any given day. Only time I paid attention to my coworkers’ outfits was when they were something I wanted to emulate myself. Not because I was acting as self-appointed clothing police, geez. We let the Jans of the world dictate “the general expectation” and now the Jans are getting out of control, I mean look at what happened to OP.

        4. Spencer Hastings*

          “General expectation” on whose part? Seems like there are a lot of people who do not actually expect this!

        5. Critical Roll*

          Whose expectation? I am in a professional environment and often rewear pants over the course of a week, which (to my knowledge) no one has ever looked at askance. I admit I space out distinctive items a little more, but that’s more about my preference for variety. But neutral staples? No. And a black dress that’s getting full accessories like a cardigan or scarf is a neutral staple. The argument that things that are worn frequently must not be washed often enough is absurd, unless there’s a law against weeknight laundry no one’s told me about. Demanding women vary their clothing is arbitrary, sexist, and classist , and we should combat those things to the extent we can in ourselves and others.

          Okay, that turned into quite a rant. TL;DR: vague assertions of “expectations” don’t hold much water.

        6. MCMonkeyBean*

          Whose general expectation is that? My husband often wears the same jeans for a week straight at least and no one has ever commented or cared.

        7. Observer*

          he general expectation is not to wear the same thing more than once a week.

          Where does THAT come from?! It sheer nonsense, to be honest.

          Based on an assumption that people are doing laundry weekly.

          Which is a silly assumption. Especially since many items to not need to be washed after every wearing. Of course, it also depends on the person…

          o that means you would need 5 work outfits, which isn’t that many if you buy things that last.

          FOR YOU, it’s not that many. For others it a significant burden.

      2. ElizabethJane*

        Editing to my rambling about sustainability – the best way to address the issues of fashion is to buy less and re-wear clothing.

      3. Anonny*

        Maybe it does need to change! But until it does in a larger way, OP as you say needs to be aware of perceptions and decide how much of a battle/political capital to spend on it.

        Agree that I would love to see more sustainability in fashion and health/beauty.

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      Yeah, same. I get that philosophically it “shouldn’t” matter as long as you keep it clean etc. But the fact is that it does matter. Personally this is not something I would like to spend any political capital on.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Having already lost the challenge by wearing something else at this point, I think OP should let it go now. The takeaway is Jane is petty and sucks, the boss is probably not going to quash her when he should. I don’t think going back to wearing the dress every day to make a point makes a lot of sense.

        1. Turtles All The Way Down*

          She hasn’t lost as she mentioned changing into it when she gets home. The company recommends wearing the dress 8 hours per day, but there’s no rule – she can wear it as a nightgown, or for 5 hours after work, or anything she likes.

      1. miro*

        And also, is it that noticeable? I mean, it’s a mid-length black dress–pretty basic and plain (in a good way!) if you ask me. I truly don’t think I would notice, and while I’m willing to accept that I may be particularly oblivious, I’d also suggest that plenty of other people probably are too.

        And in the end, I’m totally agreement: who cares?

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        … Literally her boss cares?

        I agree with Anonny that Jan is a busybody and boss is a pushover. But if your boss calls you into the office to talk about something, you can’t dismiss it as something no one will ever care about.

        1. miro*

          I think the “who cares?” here is more in reference to the fact that it shouldn’t matter/isn’t anyone’s business rather than an assertion that nobody does care (and even as I’m typing this out, I realize that the phrase “isn’t anyone’s business” is similar–much like “who cares?” people use it as a statement of how they think things should be, not necessarily how they are)

        2. Wisteria*

          The comment from Annnoy was not, “wear a different dress bc your boss told you to.” Their comment was, “wear a different dress bc people will notice if you wear the same dress.” To which I respond, “who cares?”

          Regarding the boss, I could use a lot of words, but honestly, “who cares?” still sums up my response. There is plenty of room to push back here.

    3. Jennifer*

      I would definitely notice just because I’m human but unless there was an odor, I wouldn’t say anything. I’d just file it under ‘people do things I don’t understand sometimes’ and leave it be. But I think that you’re right. It’s probably a good idea to have a script ready to go about it in case anyone asks.

          1. Sloanicote*

            And, does OP really want her reputation to be “the girl who was really invested in wearing that one dress for three months” versus “the girl who is really good at her job”? Now she knows that both at least one office busybody and apparently her boss care enough about this to suggest she mix it up a little, I say forget the challenge, you can still have low-maintenance and comfortable style without this level of commitment.

    4. Pool Lounger*

      You’d notice, sure. But would you care? Would you say anything? As long as the person didn’t smell what would be the problem?

      1. Anonny*

        I certainly wouldn’t, but not everyone has that boundary. Jan is on the ruder end of things, but I could see someone else asking in a more casual way just out of curiosity, not to stir up trouble.

        I’m just saying humanity is diverse, and if OP wants to wear the same thing every day, some people might notice and ask her about it. She should prep a couple scripts that she’s comfortable with.

    5. YetAnotherAnalyst*

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think I actually know any men who own more than one suit (and certainly not more than two).

      1. Bad Unicorn*

        Are those men wearing suits to work every day? Because I would absolutely find it strange if a man wore a suit to work every day but had only one suit, with no second suit to change into while the first one was being laundered.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, I associate “only owns one suit” with “only wears a suit to job interviews plus the occasional funeral.” If someone wears a suit every day, then I do expect the suit to vary. Or, to create the impression that that person bought five identical versions of the suit so he never had to think about matching again.

        2. Harper the Other One*

          Speaking as someone who recently had to buy my spouse a suit… to get one that looked like he wasn’t wearing a Halloween costume because the fabric was so cheap, we had to spend over $400. He does not in fact have to wear a suit daily, but if he did, we couldn’t have afforded a second right away. We would have figured out good ways to spot treat any accidental stains and gone to the local dry cleaner who will do Friday evening dropoff/Saturday evening pickup for probably 4-6 months until we could swing a second one for him.

          1. Observer*

            to get one that looked like he wasn’t wearing a Halloween costume because the fabric was so cheap, we had to spend over $400.

            This is a side note – but that is A LOT. Where were you shopping? Is husband really large, small, skinny or otherwise of “unusual” size? Because this is not typical of what guys in my circles pay. Not that you can’t pay that much, or even more. But it’s not hard to get decent suits for substantially less when dealing with more typical sizes.

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              My husband is of average height and weight and I also paid around $400 for a new suit for a family member’s funeral. We live in a large metropolitan area and I went to: Dillard’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom Rack, Kohl’s, and finally Men’s Wearhouse (where I purchased a suit). That was a sale price.

              And for anyone wondering why I was doing suit shopping instead of him, the family member died on Sunday and the funeral was the following Saturday — my husband is a teacher and his school would not give him any time off for bereavement. My company offers bereavement leave which I was able to use.

          2. Bad Unicorn*

            Yes, there’s a reason formal dress codes tend to only be required in higher paying professions.

    6. Critical Roll*

      This is one of those things that deserves collective pushback. How much attention are people paying to their coworkers’ clothes? More than I do, apparently. But even if the generic you notice things, unless the person’s clothing is unprofessional or unsafe, it is absolutely nobody’s business and we should be applying collective pressure to ending this aspect of policing appearance as an okay thing to comment on.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it’s genuinely impractical to suggest that people apply collective pressure to the boss to not care about some aspects of workers’ appearance.

        As someone said upthread, this is not where I would burn my workplace capital.

        1. Critical Roll*

          I see nothing in the letter that suggests the boss cares about what LW is wearing. The boss cares about getting Jan off his case. So this is actually a chain of two crummy things from the boss: appeasement of a wrong-headed busybody, leading to arbitrary/sexist/classist appearance policing. You can make the argument that the latter isn’t a hill to die on, but it’s got decent teeth to put the brakes on the “appease Jan” train, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor.

        2. Hippo-nony-potomus*

          I certainly wouldn’t burn workplace capital on a “challenge” that gets me $1/day in store credit.