The uniform I used to wear at my old car dealership job was black and baggy. And it was stifling, especially in the heat of Southwest Florida.
Big, black pants. A large polo emblazoned with the Audi logo. A shiny name tag that identified me to the world as a capable service advisor named Jason Fieber.
If you’re interested, you can see what this uniform looked like by checking out my interview with the Today Show.
I wouldn’t say that I regularly thought about or looked forward to ditching the uniform during journey to financial freedom, but it was something that would cross my mind occasionally.
Wearing something which was designed to identify me with tasks I didn’t want to do wasn’t enjoyable.
However, ironically enough, I still wear a uniform, even though I quit my job almost five years ago.
Why would I choose to do this?
First, one of the biggest benefits of FIRE is the freedom of choice.
You choose what to do, why you do it, when to do it, where to do it, and whom to do it with.
It’s all up to you.
While this is a scary idea to some people, I relish it.
I cherish the ability to structure my life in the way that best suits me. In a world where customization is a premium product/service, I can’t imagine something being more worth customizing than my own life.
As such, it’s one thing for a boss to say to me, “Jason, you have to wear this uniform.”
It’s quite another thing altogether for me to say to myself, “I’d like to wear this particular clothing, uniformly, every day.”
I now proudly wear my uniform in part because I choose to wear it.
What uniform do I choose to wear pretty much every single day?
If you were to run into me, here in Chiang Mai, on any given afternoon (other than a Saturday – my day off), you’d see me wearing running shoes, a pair of Nike Dri-Fit pants, and a t-shirt (usually Nike Dri-Fit).
That’s my uniform. I identify myself by that clothing during the day time (productivity time).
FIRE allows me to wear anything I’d like, but I choose to wear this.
The Clothes Make The Man
I now see the value of a uniform, although it took me some time post-FIRE to crystallize this perspective.
See, the clothes make the man.
What I mean by that is, the “uniform” you wear, if you choose to wear one post-FIRE, sets you up for whatever tasks you want to be productive with.
You end up judging yourself by the clothes you’re wearing in a way that kind of “forces” you to stick to whatever passions you decide to pursue in your life.
For example, I hit the gym six days/week. (I didn’t wake up like this.)
And so it’d be silly for me to leave my apartment at noon in clothes that aren’t putting me in the best possible position to carry out that daily task and actually go to the gym.
How easy it might be for me to skip the gym if I’m wearing shorts and sandals.
However, because I’m dressed for the occasion, I know, for sure, I’m hitting the gym in the afternoon, after I’m done writing and doing everything else I enjoy at the coffee shop.
Moreover, this is is activewear we’re talking about.
It puts me in the mood to be active and productive.
I’m a man on a mission. It sets everything up for me. So when I am at the coffee shop, sitting with my laptop in front of me, I’m motivated to put content together and give it my best effort.
Now, if I were into other passions during my days, I’d be dressed for those occasions.
Let’s say I were into gardening. Well, you can bet I’d be wearing the overalls, gloves, knee pads, and whatever else as soon as I started my day. I’d set myself up for success and drive right out of the gate.
Eliminating Low-Value Choices
I talked about choice earlier.
Choice is wonderful. It truly is.
If you have choices, you have options.
Options give us the opportunity to explore our true selves and live a more authentic life.
But having unlimited choices can overwhelm someone if they’re careful not to prioritize.
This is why eliminating low-value choices from our lives is key to a successful life in FIRE.
And one of the lowest-value choices I can possibly think of is what to wear during the day.
This is one reason why you’ve seen people like Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs (when he was still alive), and Mark Zuckerberg essentially wearing the same thing every day.
The last thing these people want to do is sit in front of a closet and waste time thinking about what they’re going to wear. They likely have their outfit for a Wednesday next March already picked out, because it’s the same thing they were wearing on a Wednesday last March. I know that’s the case for me.
They look the part. They’re dressed for their respective occasions.
Mark Zuckerberg basically always looks like he’s ready to comfortably sit down in front of a computer for a 12-hour coding session. He’s busy with other tasks these days, but that’s how he came up.
Maybe you’ll end up wearing a uniform once you reach FIRE.
Maybe you won’t.
But I’d encourage you to really think about adapting the idea.
Dress for the occasion and set yourself up for success right out of the gate. Eliminate low-value choices from your life.
It’s not a uniform as a concept that’s a bad idea. It’s only the idea of wearing a uniform that someone else selects for me, which identifies me with tasks I don’t want to do, that bothers me.
Now that I’ve been freed to wear whatever I want, I’ve chosen to wear a uniform that best identifies me with the engaged writer, fitness enthusiast, and carefree guy I’ve always wanted to be.
I’ll conclude this article by noting that this concept only applies during the daytime (when I aim to be productive and pursue my passions). I wear a greater variety of clothing in the evening (depending on what I’m doing), although my choices in that department are also limited (by design) since everything I own can fit inside of two small bags.
What do you think? Does wearing a uniform in FIRE sound appealing? Why or why not?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you’re interested in FIRE, which may or may not involve wearing a uniform of your choosing, check out some phenomenal resources that I personally used on my way to achieving financial freedom in my early 30s!