Same Clothes, Two Days In A Row

September 21, 2016

When I went to study abroad in France, we had a pretty exhaustive two-day orientation. It included the usual stuff on how not to be an American jerk (remember who was president in 2002), some tours of the old town, and also some tidbits on cultural differences - little things that would be rude or unacceptable in America, but that were totally fair game in France.

We were warned that eye contact with men would be interpreted as an invitation to come talk to us, to which I responded, "Wait! If we want to talk to a guy, all we have to do is look at him?!" much to the dismay of my professors and advisors. Then they let us know that it is okay to use a hunk of baguette to mop up any sauce incroyable from our plate and not let a drop go to waste at the end of a meal.

But by far, the most wonderful tidbit of all was that en France, it is perfectly acceptable to wear the same exact outfit two, even several, days in a row. Can you imagine?! I was overjoyed. In high school, I had a friend whose sole goal was to be voted "Best Dressed." Every night before she went to bed, she laid out her clothes for the following day, including accessories and plans for what she would do with her hair. She had a personal policy never to repeat an outfit within a two-week period. Exhausting. I had grown up going to Catholic school, so I literally wore the same exact outfit every day all year long, except for free-dress Fridays, which didn't even happen every two weeks. In high school, I valued sleep over everything else and could only envy my friend's discipline.

So when they told us this in France, I was delighted. I put my new French practices to use right away. I happily mopped up sauce and ate it on baguette. (Salad dressing, too!) I tried out my man-fetching eye contact skills, but if I'm honest, I was too timid and shy to pull it off. And I excelled at repeating outfits. The laundromats were expensive and I was on a student budget, after all. If something was not dirty, not only did I not wash it, I wore it again. The very next day. I pretty much thought it was the greatest thing ever.

I reluctantly left this practice behind when I left France, but I still long for it. Actually, in Switzerland, I figured since we were sharing a border with France, it was close enough and deemed it fair game. But here in the US, not so much. It could possibly work on the weekend. Or, maybe the same outfit to work Friday and out running errands Saturday? But I'm thinking if I had gone to work in the same outfit two, or even several (!!!) days in a row, there would have been summons for a meeting. Obviously, since becoming a mom, my clothes are never clean enough to wear again at the end of the day!

Cultural differences are so fascinating. Really, why shouldn't we wear the same clothes two, or even several days in a row if they're not dirty and it's a put-together, smart outfit? Would you do it? Do you?

PS - I recently recovered some of my emails from my time in France that I'll share with you next week if you'd like to read them. They're hilarious. France Lindsey was really something.

Join the conversation!

  1. oh girl! i live in china and it is not JUST two days in a row. you just keep that outfit keepin' on as long as it's workin for ya! i work with college students here (so most of the people i'm around daily are students or in their 20s; i'm 31), but i think this is not just a young people thing. most people here don't have a lot of outfits, honestly, so they just keep wearing them. but even if you do, it doesn't matter -- wear what you want for as long as you want! it's so funny, i remember when i was a kid being grossed out because i noticed my dad would wear outfits multiple times between washings. it was college before i stopped washing every item of clothing between wearing! and now...let's just say i've lived in china a while and i have culturally adapted. :) i've minimized my closet a lot and also just feel the freedom to wear stuff over and over (even when i'm in the US probably thinks i'm gross). but isn't it great!? what is the DEAL anyway, united states?!?!

  2. WHAT?!? I had no idea it was such a thing in the US? I noticed that some people like to change outfits every day or in some professions you might have to, but I didn't know it was a cultural difference between US/Europe! I am Swiss French and after living in Switzerland and in the UK, I now live in Norway and I always wear my clothes several days in a row (pants for one week, sweaters for three days and I change whatever is below every day/every two days). I never really paid attention to be honest but I think most people do so too, my husband certainly does! Do people in the US love making laundry so much? It seems like a waste of time, energy and water! But also, do you really think people actually remember what all their colleagues/friends wore the day before? That sounds insane to me :-)
    Haha anyway, very interesting post, now I know Americans probably think I'm gross!

  3. Interesting topic! I would wear pants more than one day consectutively but not tops (but I would wear each several times before washing, especially pants). I like the variety of different outfits. On the other hand, now that I'm on mat leave at home and not much fits, I am totally taking advantage of a same-thing-several-days-in-a-row wardrobe haha! ~K

  4. P.S. <-- Canadian perspective ~K

  5. Wow. Had no idea this was done in France. I wish I could do that . . . dressing for the office here in the US is such a drag having to choose something each day. Just another to worry about.

  6. How I long for a work uniform....never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself saying that but here I am.

  7. Love this topic! In CH I most definitely wore the same outfit three days in row. Part of that was that I didn't have a lot of clothes. I do that more or less here too because of what K said above (not on mat leave, just home with the kids so who cares, except for food or spit-up messes, then I change). I wonder when I finally get into a Montessori classroom what I will do. I would much rather just wear the same thing several days in a row, but children are so observant. When I taught 3rd and 5th grades the kids would always say things like, "Teacher, are those the only shoes you have? Teacher, why didn't you comb your hair today? Teacher, you wore that shirt last week." I don't care if my colleagues notice me wearing the same thing, but do I really want to field those comments from the children? hmmm...

    1. Oh yeah, and yes, please to Lindsey in France emails!

  8. People in the US can be really snobby about re-wearing outfits. I think fast fashion is to blame. If more Americans slowed down to buy quality pieces that coordinated with their whole wardrobe I don't think it would be much of an issue. But the culture we have of pushing new new new really feeds into dressing to impress. Which I don't do. I buy quality items that I enjoy and make me feel good. A lot of classic cut pieces. I don't like most clothing trends. When I worked in an office I had 5 outfits and I wore them one time each week (I had a winter version and summer) and several people who were offended by this I told them; if they didn't like it that they could purchase a new wardrobe for me at their expense and they shut up rather quickly about it.
    I now work for myself and I live in the US and I wear the same thing 2 days in a row as long as I didn't sweat. I have a smaller capsule wardrobe and I love it.
    I don't have kids so I can't say I understand the whole "dirty at the end of the day" thing from that perspective but if you miss it you may want to check out "the daily connoisseur" on YouTube. She also lived in France for school. You may enjoy it. :) Also you could try Ina Garten's trick, she found a style of shirt that works for her and bought it in a bunch of colors and she wears it with black pants. That is all she wears unless she has a fancy event. She always looks stylish and she doesn't have to think hard about what to put on.

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