Cringe at the thought of wearing the same outfit two days in a row? Embracing uniform dressing is a power move for boosting your confidence.
You’ve undoubtedly read before that Steve Jobs’ iconic black turtlenecks were a uniform he devised. He claimed that not having to decide what to wear each day saved him time and brain power.
You probably don’t want to wear a black turtleneck and thin metal frames for the rest of your days. But creating a uniform style definitely has its advantages. Hollywood stylist Karla Welch is known for her staple outfit of a blazer and jeans, designer Carolina Herrera is always wearing a black midi and classic white shirt, and Vera Wang is never seen in anything but head-to-toe black. And of course Anna Wintour has this way of dressing down to a fine art, with her fitted pencil dresses, dark sunglasses and nude heels.
For the Iris Apfels of this world, a uniform is the last thing you want and that’s okay. But if you feel a bit rudderless when it comes to your style or that changing your look day after day is draining you, it could be the secret to dressing with ease.
Make it work
Rule number one has to be to own it. This is your uniform, so if the thought of wearing a jumper and trousers everyday bores you to tears, that’s not for you. Yes, a muted palette can work well but if you want to wear fiery red everyday you absolutely can. The secret is in carefully selecting a style that works and having enough items to rotate throughout the week. It’s that simple.
There are tricks to getting away with wearing the same type of outfit everyday of course. What you choose needs to fit well, to avoid looking sloppy. Think great tailoring — that is why so many people rely on a great blazer or fitted cigarette pants. Very often outfits we throw together last minute look unkempt because we haven’t paid attention to fit. You need to know how things look together. The beauty of uniform dressing is that you know that this outfit looks exactly like you want it to, no twirl in the mirror needed.
It also needs to fit your lifestyle. Wearing a co-ord suit may be too much in a casual office environment, and while Ellen Degeneres always looks polished in a jumper, slacks and runners, not everyone can get away with such a relaxed look day-to-day. Think practically and ensure that you will be comfortable in what you’re wearing — you’re going to be spending a lot of time in that outfit.
The obvious key to a uniform is that you need multiple options of each item to get you through the week without panicked late night washes. You don’t have to buy five pairs of the same pants in the same colour and style (though you could). Instead, invest in a couple of options in a colour and cut that suits your style that you can keep in rotation. If they have fun details all the better.
You can keep it basic — how often do we see high-end designers wearing plain cashmere jumpers and jeans — but don’t be afraid to have fun with it. It’s your uniform so make it your own. If that means having a fun collection of slogan t-shirts, jackets in amazing textures or wide leg trousers that make you feel glam everyday, go for it. That’s all the better — people will notice this confidence.
It’s the simple things
That brings us to the benefits one is meant to gain from uniform dressing. It is of course all subjective, but there are a few things that add up. Having a uniform for your work week signals to your brain that it’s time to focus. This really helps to focus your mind. Without panicking about what to wear, and having a really focused and considered work wardrobe, your mornings should go much smoother.
You will know exactly what clothes you need to have ready to go on a Sunday evening. This makes your laundry routine much easier. You may initially have to invest in pieces. But you will save in the long run when you don’t buy frivolous purchases that don’t work with the look you’re going for. You’ll know when you need to replace an item, and can embrace the buy once, buy better mindset that is so crucial to sustainable shopping.
Don’t overthink it
What about the downsides? People could notice, or you will be so bored! First of all, this idea that it is embarrassing if someone ‘catches’ you wearing the same outfit multiple times in a row is an unnecessary hangup from our Celtic Tiger days. Clothes became a status symbol, and it was all about the more the better, as throwaway culture took hold. But we need to get back to that old traditional idea of having your ‘good’ coat and your ‘good’ shoes. You invested in them, you minded them and you mended them. It’s what you wore when you had to look your best, and it was as simple as that.
Same same but different
As for boredom, that’s all about what you wear and how you wear it. No one ever feels fed up wearing their favourite things. That’s why your uniform should be uniquely personal to you. Update with accessories to keep your look fresh. And if your clothes get old and worn — great! That brilliant coat has done its job. You’ve worn it to death and you can’t ask any more of it. Clothes are made to be worn, so rather than letting pieces you love lie idle in your wardrobe, put them to work and make them work for you.