There has been an ongoing discussion in magazines and the press about the idea of “uniform dressing”, especially for women. After all men have a uniform, especially for work. That would be the navy or grey suit, worn with a white or blue shirt, black or brown shoes, a belt and sometimes a tie. While women, traditionally in the west, have been the ones allowed far greater latitude in style and colour.
I have written about school uniform before, and I do find the idea of limitation, uniformity and formula very interesting. In this blog and in my book I have discussed the idea of the capsule wardrobe – a limited number of clothes that all get worn because they are interchangeable and work for all occasions. I am not very keen on “occasion(al) clothes” which fill the racks in our large stores because I think they can be uncomfortable and lack authenticity. If you are lucky enough to go to a wedding or the races or an important event I always think it is better to make or buy something that reflects your core look, rather than something that conforms to an expectation.
The appeal of uniform
- A “signature style” that people associate with you
- An opportunity to downsize your wardrobe
- Ease of putting a look together
- greater opportunity to wear your accessories
- Finding an outfit that really works for your lifestyle
- Knowing you will be comfortable in it every day, what ever happens
- Lower bills on clothes and laundry
I have been thinking about this for a long time, especially since I discovered this, the story of a woman who wore one dress for a year. She was trying to make a point about sustainable fashion and I was very interested in the concept.
Uniform dressing appeals to me partly because I am getting a bit tired of thinking about clothes.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? I find fashion fascinating as a phenomenon. I love looking at styles, and fabrics, textiles and catwalk collections. I have always had a love of clothes and making them. I still do to some extent, but as I noted previously I have this “peak stuff” feeling now. I live in the West, I have a well paid job and a comfortable existence and I have enough of everything I need. I feel I dress well, always appropriately, often with verve and style, authentically and comfortably. I just look at what I have and feel overwhelmed and dissatisfied with the space it takes up and the weight I feel I am carrying. The Kondo approach spoke to me and while I am not Gandhi or a Buddhist monk with very few possessions I would like to go in that direction.
Right now I am just tired of the constant need to change and spend.
I am not especially green or virtuous, but I am sickened by consumerism. I don’t want people ramming things down my throat – new must have “to die for” items. I don’t want to “invest” in clothes (which implies spending lots of money). I just want to be happy in my skin and my second skin (outfit) and move in society in a way that pleases me and others but doesn’t have to showy or ostentatious or new, new, new.
So I am going to give uniform dressing a go. Uniform dressing is close to the capsule wardrobe idea, but avant guardedly minimalist. I am going to buy something as the mainstay as it is not a titilating make. My basic item will be a trouser suit in navy corduroy. I know I could easily make this outfit. The trousers are very similar to my basic trouser block (Winifred Aldrich), and the jacket is really an adapted shirt. It is made from soft cotton corduroy (in Bulgaria), lined with cotton/viscose lining, has slightly interesting buttons, lots of pockets a simple collar and cuffs. It has relaxed, boxy style that is classic but relatively up to date. It comes from Finery, which has a 40% sale on at the moment.
I plan to wear this trouser suit for a month (week days only; at weekends I will wear jeans and hand knitted sweaters as per usual).
I guess the main downside of uniform dressing is that it is boring. If that is how it is for me I may wear one of the two items and bring in a fresh skirt or jacket, but at the moment I will try to stick to the one outfit for the whole of November.
Most of my tops will go with this trouser suit as navy is one of my favourite neutrals. I can wear navy trainers, but also any of my other shoes if I want to jazz it up. I expect the November weather to be cool and maybe wet but it is unlikely to be too warm to wear this.
I will report back when I have done my challenge.
Does uniform dressing appeal to you? Or do you think it is pointless and boring?