The Case for Uniforms
The Freedom of Finding a Look and Sticking to It
Fashion is so much fun. And it is also exhausting...and nerve-wracking...and sometimes even tedious. What is the latest trend and should you go for it? Is that skirt still in style and if it isn’t, do you care? What shoes go with those pants? There comes a point in most people’s lives when keeping up with the fashion set just doesn’t appeal any longer and a noticeable signature style starts to creep in.
It’s something you see with men a little more often. For instance, by the time a guy is 30, he usually has a style of pants and shirt that he seems to just keep buying slightly different versions of, time after time. Maybe it’s various styles of pants but always black, or it’s the same cut in a few different colors. My paternal grandfather was a Wrangler-jeans-and-tucked-in-flannel-shirt man. Meanwhile, my maternal grandfather was more the Dickie’s and white t-shirt sort.
Think Coco Chanel, Albert Einstein, Jackie Onassis, or Pablo Picasso. All people that found a style and stuck with it like a faithful practice of their religion. They found either what looked good on them, or what worked for them in the most efficient way and ran with it.
Women, for whom fashion tends to be aimed at, with the general consumerism of it making use of the easily hurt ego, that signature style usually isn’t to be found until later, when we women grow weary of all the fads. Somewhere in middle age, we find that pair of pants we really like, and that style of shirt that works for us and there it is, a signature is born.
For me, that is black or dark-rinse skinny jeans, some variation of a striped or plain colored top, and ballet flats in the summer. Change the flats to ankle boots and add a cardigan and there is my winter uniform. There are other elements, of course, like my love of big, chunky rings and affinity for scarves and hats. I also forbid leggings outside of the house, sparkles and sequin are a general no-go, and I would rather die than wear over-the-knee boots.
I’m not advocating that everyone’s uniform should be boring or overly simple. Maybe outlandish and over-the-top is your uniform. Maybe it’s formal or sporty. Then again, maybe it is very simple like leggings and a tunic or it’s the exact same thing every day. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Albert Einstein are likely the three most recognizable cases of a person finding a uniform and really sticking to it. Each cited the decision for selecting and maintaining a uniform was it allowed them to free up that space for other thoughts and the time for other work. Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Onassis, and Diane Keaton are all style icons that had very obvious signature styles, aka, a uniform. Although not as strict as the earlier examples, a uniform nonetheless.
Having recognized my own personal style and turning that into a signature uniform has been a genuine relief. I no longer find myself buying things that won’t look good on me or are just flash in the pan fads. I can walk in my closet blindly and grab anything and know that it will go with everything else (which makes mornings and packing for trips so much easier). I can invest in quality pieces because I know that I will still be using them for years to come instead of falling for throwaway items that end up in the donation pile or the trash. I can also buy in bulk for the items that suffer from wear and tear no matter what I do, such as jeans. I tell you what, if Old Navy ever stops making their Rock Star jeans, I don’t know what I will do with myself. But since they are still cranking them out, I can buy five pairs in one go and know that they will work for me like they always have.
I don’t spend time stressing about what to wear, I already know. I don’t spend time debating whether I should or shouldn’t buy an item, I already know. I spend that time on things that matter more to me.