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The M Dash

Live with purpose.

Sunday Outfit Planning: A Wardrobe Experiment

March 02, 2018 | Filed in: Your Closet

This New Year, I made one simple resolution: Get dressed faster. Often finding myself rushed in the morning, I wanted to save two precious commodities: time and mental energy. I decided to conduct an experiment in outfit planning for the week, setting time aside on Sunday to do it (yes, kind of like what I used to do in kindergarten). Here’s what happened.

The Theory

I hypothesized that outfit planning for the week would save me time and mental energy in the morning. By committing to wearing the clothes I’d laid out, I would minimize decision-making and save brain power for the office. I was also interested to see which pieces I’d choose—would I gravitate toward tried-and-true looks I knew would work, or would a leisurely Sunday planning session inspire me to get more creative?

The Method

I’m a checklist person—a J, for Myers-Briggs aficionados—so I started by listing the days of the week in a Google doc. Under each day, I added any factor that might affect my outfit choices, such as the weather forecast, evening plans, and meetings where I’d have to look extra sharp. Next, I went day by day and put each outfit on a hanger. I lined up the hangers in my closet in Monday-Friday order so I wouldn’t have to do any rifling through the closet. Altogether, this process took me about 45 minutes.

outfit planning for the week

Arranging my hangers in order meant no frantic searching in the morning.


I saved time each morning, but not overall. It typically takes me ~10 minutes to get dressed in the morning. ~45 minutes spent planning my outfits on Sunday over five days comes out to ~9 minutes per outfit, or ~1 minute saved per day. That said, concentrating my styling efforts to a single afternoon made me feel as though I’d gotten significant time back. And since I will likely repeat those outfits in future weeks, it was a time investment that will continue to pay dividends. 

The mental energy I saved was tangible. Each morning, I woke up with a strong sense of relief knowing I wouldn’t have to decide what to wear—or realize last-minute that the dress I had in mind was sitting in my laundry basket. I suddenly had time to eat breakfast at home before heading out the door, which, as it turns out, is a lovely way to start the day. I do my best work in the morning, so arriving to the office clear-headed (and well-fed!) gave me an extra productivity boost. One unexpected benefit was the peace of mind I felt in the evening—I was significantly less stressed about the coming workday knowing that I’d have zero decisions to make before getting to work.

I was surprised by how much fun I had planning (and wearing) my outfits. Without any time pressure, I found myself experimenting with new pairings—a few of which are now part of my regular rotation. I also gained insights about which pieces I gravitate towards. I found myself reaching for my most comfortable pieces, most of which had a good amount of stretch. Finally, the experiment showed me where the holes in my wardrobe are (I need more jackets!).

I would absolutely do this again. Reaching into my closet and pulling out a pre-set outfit felt like a superpower: I got to the office earlier, avoided pre-work stress, and felt confident in what I was wearing. While this method requires a bit of effort up-front, the mental energy it saves during the week makes it worthwhile.

The Outfits

Monday: The Soho skirt in black + the Fey top in black + the Vanessa pump in red

outfit planning for the week

My Soho skirt and Fey top feel like pajamas, so they’re perfect for a Monday morning.

Tuesday: The Lydia dress in charcoal + the Didion top in waterfall

outfit planning for the week

After work on Tuesday, I headed to dinner with friends. The Lydia dress and Didion top was the perfect blend of put-together and casual.

Wednesday: The Cobble Hill skirt in plaid + the Zora top in navy melange + the Vanessa pump in black

outfit planning for the week

I had a big presentation on Wednesday, so I wanted to project confidence. The Cobble Hill skirt and Zora top made me feel powerful and chic.

Thursday: The Oshima pant in black + the Peggy top in ivory + the Ono cardigan in black + the Cecilia earrings + the Small Victory necklace

outfit planning for the week

The temperature dropped a bit on Thursday, so I knew I’d want to cuddle up in my Ono cardigan and stretchy Oshimas.

Friday: The Gwen dress in charcoal + the Ono cardigan in black + the Matte satin belt in fir tree

outfit planning for the week

On Friday, I went straight from work to a double date! The Gwen dress transitioned perfectly, and the Matte satin belt provided a pop of color.

Photographs by Yan Ruan.