Uniform dressing – November challenge

posted in: Inspiration, Organisation | 78

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.

Conventional “going to the races” outfits

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.

Gandhi in London in his hand woven uniform

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?

 

78 Responses

  1. Theresa in Tucson

    Not the way you describe it with one suit and different tops and shoes, but my basic uniform is a pair of jeans and a camp shirt. I just line up all the shirts on the top rod, all the jeans on the bottom rod and rotate through. Cleaned and ironed garments go to the end and it starts again. Very simple and easy to get dressed in the morning. But then I spent twenty years in uniform so that style of dressing is easy.

  2. Sue Newth

    I will be very interested to see how you get on. As a retired person I really need to make a conscious effort not to dress in a jeans “uniform” everyday. I have lots of lovely me mades and I want to wear them a. for variety and b. to not make daily life to easy for myself….. to easy to slip into comfort dressing !! I looked at the article on the woman who wore the same dress for 365 days and was amazed at how she styled the dress…. most inspiring but it was easy to forget it was the same dress. Please take photos of your styling. Cheers Sue

    • fabrickated

      I will take pictures Sue, but I think they will be quite dull compared to the 365 dress. She made an effort to look very different each day, which isn’t really my aim. But we will see if how I react to my own rules as the challenge progresses.

  3. Jenny

    What an interesting idea. I wonder whether you will get bored constrained by wearing the same neutral colour/style which will limit your style and creativity of putting together outfits. Or maybe it will become a huge challenge to use what you have to take the outfit to different places. But then of course it takes away the ease of wearing a uniform. Hoping to see your own monthly journey on IG!!

    Looking at the pictures of the outfits that the girl who wore the same dress every day, the thing that struck me was that far from being an easy minimalistic approach to dressing it was a huge extravaganza of clothes, styling etc. This was not a girl who limited her wardrobe!

    Like Sue and Theresa above I also wear a uniform, casual trousers/jeans plus top etc for everyday running around and smart casual for meetings/professional/social events. I used the Kondo approach a couple of years ago and it worked for me but I probably need to reassess. It’s surprising how clothes creep in…..

    • fabrickated

      An interesting response, and yes I found the girl with the black dress has such an abundance of other clothes it slightly took away the point (for me). Her black dress sometimes just becomes an accessory.

  4. Shelagh

    Ooo what an interesting idea! I’d love to see photos of what you end up wearing. I think mixing the jacket and trousers with other jumpers and skirts will make it easy enough to get dressed but add a bit of an interest as I would find it hard to wear the same suit day in day out.

    In the spring I chose 10 items and I only wore them for 10 days. Nothing else was added. I found it so fun and easy to get dressed in the morning. Maybe you could do something similar to allow you variety without feeling overwhelmed. Mind you it sounds like you are looking forward to the constraints so you’re probably best just embracing it!

    I recently sorted through my wardrobe and removed anything I’m not in love with and put them in a separate cupboard. I now have fewer clothes in front of me but feel like I have way more options.

    I think I might think of my own wardrobe challenge for November so that we are in it together! Maybe 30 items for 30 days. We’ll see.

    Good luck on your quest!

    • fabrickated

      It would be nice to see your interpretation of a “get by with less – be more inventive” challenge Shelagh. I will take photos and see how it goes….

  5. Elaine

    Not for me! I hated school uniform, and hate the grind of making kids wear it. I hate the connotations of military uniforms etc etc. I hated my years of hand-me-downs as a kid, and my cash-limited wardrobe when I was a young mum.
    Colour batching and a more-or-less approach to style and planning is about it for me, but this will be interesting.
    In my new job, I have a muslim colleague who says she adopted uniform a couple of years ago and considers it to be a huge time saver, as she doesn’t have to think about what she wears at all, just grabs a collection of black garments and off she goes.
    I’m looking forward to what you make of this…

    • fabrickated

      I have had Muslim colleagues too who just wear very “drab” shapeless outfits (to my mind), and more or less the same thing each day, and then others who look amazing with different coloured head scarves which coordinate beautifully. Incidentally my primary school was a convent so all the teachers wore exactly the same outfit day in day out, even in hot weather when it must have been horrible.

  6. Anne Frances

    I take your point and it is an interesting approach. But I wouldn’t wear the same outfit every day – in my view clothes need to rest and hang out between wearings or they bag and crumple with no chance of recovery, and wear out too quickly. Even my husband when working used to alternate two suits, and vary with shirt colour (not just blue and white) and tie. When I was a student aeons ago I started wearing an autumn/winter/spring “uniform” of neutral tweed/wool skirt, white shirt, bright coloured wool sweater and coloured toning tights to match the sweater. With a rather wider range of colours in the shirt, three or four slightly less neutral wool skirts, and three or four toning (but not matching) blazers or structured cardigans (and more use of black or navy tights as thick coloured ones became less available, or at least much too expensive) that same uniform saw me all through my professional working career. Now retired, I wear trousers not skirts, and cardigans more than jackets, but the principle is the same, and means I am neither bored nor in need of an enormous clothes cupboard. So I do agree with the underlying idea, and find your way of expressing it interesting, but I am not sure that I would go along with your application of it.

    • fabrickated

      Hello Anne, and thank you so much for your interesting approach to dressing well, every day. I think you have cracked it, in that you have found a formulae that really works for you and has stood you in good stead over a prolonged period. I especially like taking colour from one part of the outfit and matching it somewhere else, especially when it is not too obvious. Well done.

  7. Liese Sadler

    Over the last 2 years when I returned to sewing I made more clothes than I ever had owned, my closet went from half full to completely full. It was just so fun to be learning and making clothes styles that I could never have afforded buying. And then the realization of all the materialism my closet now represented hit. Especially since the previous 20 years I only bought second hand clothing, getting a few things in the spring and then the fall.

    So I read your post from that point of view and had to chuckle that you are looking to streamline and to do this are going out and buying another outfit. Aren’t we funny that way? So my goal is to wear all the clothes in my closet, remember how much fun it was to make them.

    • fabrickated

      Great observation on the wardrobe explosion which I experienced too. And as you say its funny (if not somewhat contrary or hypocritical) to purchase a new outfit. But my varied wardrobe doesn’t really lend itself to daily dressing. I have three old uniqlo Jill Sander skirt suits (2010) in navy, dark brown and bottle green. I could have chosen one of these for my challenge as they remain wearable today, eight years later. But I felt like I wanted trousers and cotton rather than wool. I have made very few things in boring basic neutrals like a simple navy suit as I don’t find the sewing as rewarding as using more exciting fabrics.

  8. Hari

    How fascinating is that woman from the Uniform Project who wore the same dress for a year! Thankyou so much for sharing the link. And she raised so much money for underprivileged children whilst doing so. Truly made a point about the whole sustainable and ethical ethos.

    I do dislike the concept of a uniform, I’m with Elaine, and the message of cloned mass conformity and obedience that most uniforms represent make me shudder. Makes me want to throw off all my clothes and run free in fact 🙂

    However! Getting back to Sheena at the Uniform Project I found her whole process to be incredibly innovative. Limiting your options can in fact really expand your creativity. I think the trick with her as well is that she chose a multifunctional piece that acted as a blank canvas for everything she added to it. It was fascinating to watch the video of her 365 outfits – her little black number became dress, top, tunic, jacket, under and over layer. Amazing.

    I do wish you luck and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

    • fabrickated

      Interesting and challenging feedback Hari – thank you. If my uniform was an Asda fleece or a nylon overall I don’t think I would have any enthusiasm for it. But I love some uniforms – for example air stewards, doctors coats, guardsmen, the brown coats of men in iron mongers shops, boys school uniforms, beef eaters, girl guides – I like the uniformity that somehow enhances individuality. So to some extent this is to see what happens to the outfits given the main thing is preset.

      • Hari

        As a catholic schoolgirl in Australia our ‘individuality’ was enhanced by tying our jumpers around our waists so we could hike up the skirts on our uniforms 😂

        • fabrickated

          We would fold over the waist band a few times to get the skirt shorter. Also I used to buy the second hand summer uniform so I had a 1950s style dress with a full skirt, that showed off my waist, rather than the plain 1960s sack style (in the 1970s). I also wore my blazer indoors so it looked like I had a suit on, whereas most of my friends wore a skirt, blouse and jumper. Modern school kids seem to have a thing about doing up their ties really short – I’m not sure if that is still the trend or not.

  9. Becky

    I have been toying with this idea for a few years, I just never committed. I wore a uniform in my work for about 10 years, and I was really anxious to get out of it. Thirty years later, I would do anything to get back into it! I dislike spending time thinking about what I am going to wear and contemplating all the new fashions. At my age, I feel it is a waste of time. My problem has been deciding on a uniform that will work for my life.

    Currently my usual style is a bit more casual than I like. I need to find a middle ground between dressy and casual. I will look forward to hearing about your experience, and I think your uniform is a great pick. You may have inspired me to move forward with this idea. There are still ways to be creative with special garments and accessories that can spice up the uniform. Great post!

    • fabrickated

      Thank you Becky. I think the difference maybe in a self-selected outfit, and also knowing that I can change the uniform at any point for a new one, or drop it all together. I like this trouser suit because it combines comfort with utility and classic style. I don’t think I would have made this suit because it would be rather an uninspiring make!

  10. Becky

    I’m sick of consumerism as well. However you have BOUGHT a suit for the November project. Did you really have nothing you could use in your vast wardrobe?

    • fabrickated

      Yes I have three suits in the vast wardrobe, all bought, that have the very neutral basic look I was seeking – all 8 years old. I am bored of them but they still get worn and they have the wonderful quality that they are like background that I can bring to life with other options. But I wanted something new this season. I haven’t bought any fabric for over a year now and other than utilitarian things eg tights, socks and bland T shirts I haven’t bought any new clothes for a long time.

  11. Jay

    Thanks for a thought provoking article Kate. I have extremely mixed feelings about the project! I think it’s a fascinating idea and I will be interested to hear how you get on.
    I have to say I’m surprised – I see your creativity and use of colour online so it seems strange that you’re actively limiting this for a while. But I agree that we’ve reached peak ‘stuff’ and I sometimes have that sick feeling that you get after eating a cream bun when I’ve been on a shopping trip.
    I don’t work any more for health reasons and the main thing I miss about working was the opportunity to get dressed up for work. It really boosted my self esteem. I was always known for my bright red hair and individual style and was frequently complimented. On the rare occasions I wore jeans I hated feeling anonymous! However, when I became ill I became self conscious about my appearance. The thought of getting dressed in my usual flamboyant style made me feel anxious and definitely created an additional barrier to being able to get dressed and leave the house. I often used to wish I could wear some kind of non-religious cover-up to hide my appearance. I think the concept of uniform dressing could have helped here as it would have removed many decisions.
    Without being critical, I do think it’s odd you felt the need to buy something new when you admit to having too much stuff! Personally I think the drive to reduce our consumption is admirable BUT I also accept that within capitalism we can’t escape the pressure to buy more cr*p so I try and strike a balance!

    • fabrickated

      Thanks for your feedback Jay and your interesting reflections on how clothes make you feel, in terms of standing out or fitting in. I have always wanted a boiler suit (like Churchill’s) or a grown up “babygro” type outfit that does everything – keeps me warm, comfortable, but also situation appropriate and stylish. I do love colour and I will wear colour with the navy suit – shoes, tops, accessories, coats, etc. We shall see how it goes…

      I am fine with you saying it is odd to buy something. The alternative would have been to make something like this. But I would have to have bought fabric, and possibly a pattern, and invested hours of time in it when I am tired, a bit stressed and work is full on. I don’t think guilt about buying things does me any good, so I am happy to be open about my lack of consistency and pleasure in the instant hit of buying something that fits well and looks good.

  12. Su

    I like the concept of less is more but not the strict uniform ideal. I wore a uniform for 14 years. Once I had a position that no longer required a uniform it was liberating to be able to express myself more through my clothing. I vacillate between loving the variety in my closet and despairing and feeling overwhelmed by everything in it. I My closet is full and I need to cull the items I no longer like or wear. For those mornings where I haven’t pre-selected an outfit the night before, it can be a few frantic moments to decide on on outift. It happened this week – pulling out my plain dark blue ponte knit dress was the easiest solution to minimize the coordination effort – I added interest with a necklace and a handknitted scarf.
    I hope to do some culling this weekend as I do the last bits of the seasonal wardrobe switchover.

    • fabrickated

      Su – thank you – you perfectly express this point about loving our clothes but having a feeling of too much choice. It’s a nice problem to have after having to wear a uniform for work, but it has its own downside, doesn’t it? I am interested in the plain dark blue knit dress that you have. I have a similar dark green one that just pull on. I usually add coloured tights, a cardigan or scarf, or lively jewellery and that seems to make a very easy and superbly comfortable outfit.

      • Su

        That dress, and a few other items in my wardrobe (skirt/pants), work well because I can wear them across multiple seasons with different accessories ( skin tone pantyhose and a necklace or heavy opaque tights and a lightweight wool scarf/shawl) or tops to look suitable for the time of year. It requires very careful thought into colour, fabric selection and pattern selection to end up with a successful almost 3 season garment.

  13. Hélène

    What an interesting post and challenge you set for yourself, Kate! I will watch your experience with interest on IG. The idea of a uniform might be interesting if it spurs your creativity to make the basics look different every day. Otherwise, I prefer the concept of a core style that makes you feel good everyday but still allows for variations and creative takes. By all means, I keep away from the occasion clothes that look more like Halloween costumes.

    • fabrickated

      Ha ha – you made me laugh with the link between occasion and Halloween!!

      I don’t think the outfits are going to be IG worthy Helene. A blue trouser suit is not exactly “creative”. I am not even planning on trying to make each day very different (almost the opposite). But we shall see!

  14. Paula DeGrand and

    Agree, agree, agree! I’ve been participating in the Goodbye Valentino RTW Fast this year, which was hardly a stretch for me as I don’t buy much ready-to-wear anyway because most clothes don’t fit my tastes or petite figure. The fast was “supposed” to spur me to sew more, but strangely has not–yet. I’ve been gradually paring back my wardrobe instead, and discovering what really matters to me in colors, shapes, style, fit, etc. and what I really wear rather than what I aspire to wear. I am more interested than ever in having a core collection of patterns I know how to sew and enjoy sewing, so I can get on with my life! Even though I am a sewing blogger I have many other things I want to do, and they happen to be labor-intensive (studying languages and taking college courses.) I want to dress nicely and then get on with other business. Consumerism has bothered me just about all my life. I will follow your uniform experiment with interest. I would suppose that devising your own uniform would be very different from having a uniform imposed on you.

    • fabrickated

      A nice reflection Paula – and I think it more or less reflects where I have got to. I sewed many items initially once I really got into sewing (at a level that I could realise more or less what I wanted to created). But then I realised I didn’t really want that many clothes and they felt like a burden. I have lots of patterns and cloth and can, at any time, turn them into beautiful outfits but, like you, I find my interests are moving on to other things. For me work is especially demanding at the moment, and my new interest in photography finds me going back to the beginning as an inexperienced learner. I am producing a sketch book as part of the course and it’s a bit like a blog in that I need to write every week. So, thanks for your insights, and helping me think more clearly about the path I am on.

  15. Rhonda Russell

    I also grew tired of the effort expended to decide what to where everyday. I haven’t heard about the uniform wardrobe but I have developed a similar process. I found a trouser pattern and adjusted it to fit my figure–I’ve found that I am happiest when my pants fit properly. I then found different fabrics to make my trousers. I started out with 6-8 pair but have since added to them so that I’m up to about a dozen. The pattern is the same but the fit is slightly different based on the fabric (stretch vs non-stretch). I then rotate through these trousers and choose tops based on what I’m feeling that day as well as whether they match with the trousers. I also have 3-4 skirts that I’ll randomly wear if I’m feeling like a skirt that day. I’ve found that this has freed me up so that I’m not standing in my closet trying to decide what to wear. I simply grab the next pair of trousers in line and choose a top to go with it! I’m now much happier in the mornings.

  16. Chris - makeandwear

    I like the idea of uniform dressing but don’t think I could do such a restricted version. My most recent job was in an office and I liked having the option of ‘dressing up’ regularly as I’ve mostly worked from home or in casual situations. I loved wearing my self-made dresses, but I did also form a kind of capsule wardrobe of fitted trousers in various colours and a mix of patterned blouses so that I could dress quickly when I didn’t have time to choose an outfit.
    I’ll be starting another office job soon and am starting to remake garments that have been worn alot, so that I’ll have a few versions of the shirtdress or wrap dress that I like wearing.
    I’ll be following your challenge with interest, my only thought was that cord is one of those fabrics that shows wear quickly – fading at knees/bum or bagging out, so may not be up to the job of a weekly suit.

    • fabrickated

      Yes you are right about the corduroy not being as resilient as wool or other fabrics. I have experienced a split in the pants and worn knees in the past. I love wearing clothes to destruction – that is the whole point really. If that happens I shall have to mend/replace/copy the trousers I guess.

  17. Courtney

    I love this idea, Kate. I’m super curious to see how it goes for you. I’ve been moderately to very anti-consumerist for about 20 years, so I am drawn to projects like this one.

    A few years ago, I started culling my closet to mostly black items. I find the color black very soothing, and also a good base for handknit shawls and sweaters. Having gotten things down to basics, I now find myself not too interested in buying things anymore. I admire your embrace of and love for color and realize this exact plan wouldn’t work for you, but some variation on the theme might. 🙂

    This said, now that I’ve begun sewing, I’ve got dreams of sewing more of my wardrobe. I have a making journal and I was writing this morning about the Almost Long pants pattern – I’ve made two pairs (denim and wool) and can imagine wearing these pants near-exclusively as a kind of uniform going forward. Gaining confidence in sewing and knitting for myself seems to be increasing my inclination toward wearing more of a uniform.

    • fabrickated

      Thanks Courtney. If black is your best neutral I think you are lucky as you have so much choice. Navy is not quite as available but has a nice quiet temperament and it goes well with brighter blues, emerald, white, yellow, purple, pink and red. Journaling, and thoughtfully approaching clothes is always illuminating and hopefully helps us make better choices and better use of our time.

  18. Linda of Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

    Interesting idea! My workplace is more casual with what to wear so sometimes jackets I have made don’t even get worn! I made them because I love the process. It would be perfect though if someone was just starting out with a RTW or capsule wardrobe. Then they would be able to start with the trousers and jacket and then add on other pieces. I’m looking forward to seeing what you add to it!

  19. Jean

    My first thought was like some of the others: you are buying something new. But the main point here is not consumerism but the uniform, correct? So will you be able to use a different jacket or pants or will you only switch out the tops under the jacket? It will be interesting to read your thoughts in December. Good for you for trying something.

    • fabrickated

      Oh yes! The main point of this post was to say that I want to try uniform dressing. I could have used an existing outfit but I wouldn’t have done the experiment as I am already bored with my staple navy suit which has already been worn about 100 times. I am not ready to stop consuming so much (although I have given up foreign travel, eating out, alcohol, buying books, fabric and notions). I do buy new clothes (and yarn) when I feel like it without guilt as I know what I like and what suits me, so I rarely waste money. I am not wracked with guilt. As I said above I wouldn’t say I am particularly “green” – I haven’t given up plastic, and my recycling is fairly passive. I cares about stuff but I am essentially pragmatic and non-judgemental. Thanks for your lovely comment.

  20. Viliene

    It is an interesting experiment. I found that I go towards uniform when I am stressed. Not the same trouser suit but the same type of garments worn together: skirt and jumper, trousers, T shirt and long cardigan. I have a fixed set of combinations that take me through the seasons.One colour set for autumn winter and another for the summer when I am working.
    Recently I have started to sew dresses as a way to grab something in the morning with even less fuss.
    I agree with you about consumerism,I have long given up fashion in favour of style and do not at all follow any dictates. But I feel that getting older I feel pressured by too many posessions and have started to give away things.

    • fabrickated

      It’s a deep thing isn’t it? I have this somewhat bizarre fear of leaving my children with too much stuff to clear up after I die.

  21. Linda

    Hi Kate,

    I too struggle with too much stuff, but a point that hasn’t been raised here is the pure joy of sewing. For me this is the main motivator – I see sewing clothes as a creative exercise that challenges my math skills and really provides my happy place. And then I get something new to wear, so my practical side likes that. Fortunately I am a slow sewer, so I have the creative joy without TOO much accumulation – even though I have more than I need. Kondo really helped me streamline my closet, but the other commenter was right, things tend to creep back in. Very interested to follow your challenge, and I love your thoughtful approach to everything. And forget the guilt about buying something, you inspire so many to make, not buy.

    • fabrickated

      Thanks for the support and encouragement Linda. I actually agree completely with you on the joy of sewing, including the maths challenges etc. I have been there and none that, believe me. I used to come to sewing with such alot of excitement, and I really enjoyed solving problems. I guess once you know you can solve most problems it loses some of its challenge. One of the things about cooking (for example) is that you eat your product, so it is gone. But with sewing the product needs storing. With my current interest in photography the product can be stored in a very small space (a separate hard drive actually). I have a whole room for my sewing hobby and one bag for my camera. I think it is this issue that is bugging me.

  22. Dagmar

    You always seem to come up with such fascinating projects! The video of the 365 days was eye-opening for me and also instructive in terms of understanding how she thought outside of the box in terms of what she could do with her dress by turning it into any number of items such that it was no longer a dress. Recently I have been pushing myself to embrace more colour and spice up my appearance so as not to seem/feel older than my years. For me, this meant adding to my wardrobe. Now I am due for a significant culling of the closet so that I can make sense of it all. I wonder what would have happened if I had had your idea and simply thought to add colour to existing basics…Food for thought on my part. At the same time, I realize that I still enjoy incorporating new fashion directions into my overall look as way to present a dynamic and energetic appearance which would be much more difficult to do with a uniform concept. I will look forward to following this new project. 🙂

    • fabrickated

      I am really not recommending this approach at all Dagmar – I feel sure that your colour and spice approach is paying dividends and will bring you the joy that we all seek and deserve. I realise I have two objectives when dressing – pleasing myself and making a good impression on the world around me. At the moment I think pleasing myself requires a down-size, simplification, tidy up. But I want to do this in a way that also ensures I look OK and get positive feedback in my professional life.

  23. Theresa in Tucson

    There is a woman in the fashion industry, (at least I think it is the fashion industry) who wears a uniform daily. It consists of a white shirt, leather string tie, black pants and black shoes. It was discussed on the blogs a while back and someone posted a link to an article on this but I have no idea where to find it again. She did it to simplify her life; men wear a uniform, so why not her. She had multiples of the same garments and just rotated them. The article even discussed the effort she went through to replace the wardrobe (like items were no longer available) when it wore out. Her off-duty and weekend wardrobe was where she dressed differently. And the gal who wore the same dress every day, I don’t think it was the exact same dress. I think she had at least two or maybe three of the same dress. I will be following your progress with interest.

    • fabrickated

      It’s an interesting point about choosing something that will be replaceable Theresa – I did think “what if it wears out?”. I guess its only a month for me so I don’t mind if the suit gets a bit shabby – in fact I am interested in “wear” and “repair” as a concept. I don’t feel so strictly constrained as the fashion industry lady you mention. I will be wearing a wide variety of tops and shoes. In fact I expect I will wear more of my tops and shoes as a result of keeping the main items constant. Thank you.

  24. Linda Pierce

    Fascinating idea! I will befollowing along to see how you get on. I have read the comments above and love the different perspectives. I am not sure that I would like to have a go at wearing a uniform. I have sewed a lot of very colourful items for my wardrobe and love wearing them all!

    • fabrickated

      I am wondering if a uniform could be very colourful – I guess it could, but it would be more likely to be noticed that your outfit never changes. I have seen similar cord suits in yellow, rust and pink – not for me but perhaps for others.

  25. Hila Willing

    I have been thinking about trying out a uniform for 30 days but for different reasons. Consumerism doesn’t bother me – before sewing I always bought second hand clothes anyway. They were cheaper and not exactly on trend. The only time I wore a uniform (post school) was when I had lost my battle with depression, when I was at the lowest point. I wore my grey ponte jeans, a black t shirt and a dark grey baggy jumper every single day for nearly 2 months. Along with shaving my hair and packing away all my other clothes – it was a way of trying to disappear. But recently, I realised I was ill at ease with my attraction to grey/black fabrics (non colourful fabrics). Each time I have avoided buying a non colourful fabric even though I liked it because it reminded of that period of my life. It also got me worried about whether I was beginning to get depressed again. Anxiety and hypervigilance for signs of depression would ensue. It’s becoming a vicious cycle. I believe I need to recalibrate my relationship with those colours by wearing those colours exclusively while I am alright and not at the lowest point of depression. Does that make sense? I hope so, anyway to cut a long rambling short, its something I am pondering how to execute in my head and while I do that I look forward to seeing how you get on and perhaps get some ideas. Good luck. Hila. x

    • fabrickated

      Oh gosh – what a sad, but hopeful, comment Hila. And thank you so much for giving us an insight in the link between what we wear and how we feel. I had a period in my life, when my children were small, when getting dressed was a strain. I used to wear jogging pants, baggy tops and most of was in non-descript colours. I wore an old, discoloured nursing bra years after my kids had been weaned. I more or less put on what I had taken off the day before, so a uniform of sorts. I didn’t get my hair cut, and I didn’t feel like a gorgeous woman. I think it was a period of depression, or perhaps low self esteem. I think our feeling about colour can include a feeling about being “worth it”, and being willing to draw more attention to ourselves, as well as the intrinsic joy of pink, red, yellow and bright blues and greens.

  26. eimear greaney

    Uniform dressing is so handy, and I definitely started doing this when I started planning my makes, probably as I had more control over colour which I would not have with store bought. I began to understand a bit better of what suited me and how I live (ie I dont go to a lot of parties so why was I making cocktail dresses), and how I could wear all my makes by mixing and matching – and the whole 90s capsule wardrobe concept came back in my mind.

    Knee length (ish) dresses are my go to and I have 3 on rotation. Regarding a proportioned dressing to my height they work the best for me. As I like to wear trousers (more for warmth) I have now added a few knee length skirts this year so I can mix and match sweaters. My wardrobe is not divided to weekend and weekday as most of the stuff crosses over – except for 1 pair of jeans which are truly weekend and yard work!

    • fabrickated

      This is such an elegant approach to dressing Eimear – and it sounds like it really works for you. If we have the right quantity of clothes mixing and matching is a real joy, and just a few simple items in great colours are the best I think. I am paring back as I am overwhelmed with too many clothes and too many choices. I expect after a month in the uniform I may want to break out again. Conversely I may pair it all down further. Let’s see!

  27. Carole Jones

    This is definitely not for me. Although I work at home and only go out a few times a week (and some of that is for yoga/gym/serious walking … which all already involve their own ‘uniforms’) I do love to ‘dress up’ each day.
    I adore colour and fabric (tho’ all natural), and I like to adjust what I wear to suit the weather, my mood and what I will be doing that day (writing/research-wise), as well as adding extra ‘va-va-voom’ on the days I am out at something more unusual.
    For about 2 years, now, I have sworn-off buying new clothes (not counting undies and shoes) and I have returned to making my own clothes. I also upcycle the many items of ‘designer-ish’ gear that I bought – for many years – as part of post-bereavement attempts at ‘renewal’. I also upcycle some charity shop items, often dyeing and restyling items, or using the fabric for something else entirely – although I did score a stash of gorgeous Ankara fabric, recently (and contributed extra, accordingly)!. For me, it is always about colour, fabric and design, as well as embracing as many new ways of fashioning things as possible, but without it costing me – or the Earth – much, in terms of resources.
    I would be bored, feel unhappy and … just ‘not me’, if I only wore my pinstripe navy trouser suit everyday for a month. NB it is 16 years old and has been remodelled twice, and as yet I am not bored with it: plus it still has great potential.
    However, I do think you have made a bold and fascinating decision – it is a marvellous experiment – and I will be very interested to see what happens and how you feel about it all at the end of the month.
    Good luck!

    PS I don’t find that the ‘choosing’ every day takes up time, and most of the making and upcycling is even done while watching TV (except for sub-titled scandisk, etc.).

    • fabrickated

      I think you sound so lovely Carole, with your thoughtful, stylish approach to your wardrobe. I agree with you that if you have made or sourced lovely clothes then getting dressed is quick and satisfying. I am in the same camp. For me it is just that I have too many choices and lots of what I have doesn’t get worn very often. I just have a desire to down size I think so that I have less clutter and less choice. I feel less choice may enhance my creativity, if you know what I mean. Just because something suits me and is “clever” in some way, doesn’t mean I have to make it/buy it.

      I am also, like you, weather conscious and I really dislike being too cold or too hot in my clothes. So the navy suit experiment is partly to see if I can adapt it to cope with a range of weather conditions as much as a range of work and social situations.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on this interesting topic.

  28. WEndy

    I love the idea of a uniform! I pretty much wear one during the work week as well, although I use a formula approach: knit/stretch pants, jersey top, zip jacket or half-zip pullover (required by my employer.) I am already restricted by the jacket/pullover requirement that I actively seek other ways to express my creativity through my clothing. I would feel even more restricted if I stuck to one color palette. I might feel differently if I worked in an office situation where “business casual” was the only guideline. And the ease of minimal choice surrounding wardrobing may reduce some stress and free up creativity for your other endeavors.

    • fabrickated

      Yes, Wendy, you are right. Business casual is my work requirement so I am basing my uniform on that concept. Maybe being restricted does push our creativity – I will watch what happens and report back!

  29. Lauren

    I think this is a great idea for freeing your creative mind to think on other things.

    I don’t wear the same thing everyday but I often find myself wearing the same thing each day of the week. People who only see me once a week might think I only have one outfit. Or more likely, they don’t think about it at all!

    I have always had favourites too, no sooner washed then worn. When I was 19, I had a spotty orange tshirt covered with beaded and sequinned butterflies. My boyfriend at the time asked me if I even had another shirt. I told him I did, but why would I wear anything else when I had this shirt. We didn’t last long.

    I will be interested to see what you think of your experiment at the end of the month and to find out if anyone notices or comments.

    • fabrickated

      Oh Lauren – I love this, especially your point that few people would notice or think about it at all. Few “viewers” can recall exactly what we were wearing, and their opinion on how we look will be an overall impression I think. I also loved the story about your favourite orange/spotty/butterfly/beaded and sequinned top – it sounds very special and wonderful – and how your boyfriend didn’t last long.

      My best, coolest, friend, when I was growing up was a girl who had a swirl skirt made from 1920s scarves in various shades of green and blue. She wore it every day with a couple of different tops. I envied her her easy style and absolutely original look. She didn’t have many clothes but she wore the ones she had with such confidence and aplomb.

  30. pro-uniform

    I spend a couple of months a year at my country (deep, deep country) place.
    I keep a navy skirt, a pair of navy pants, a pair of jeans, six or eight knit tops, and warm jacket there. It’s such a pleasure getting dressed. Skirt, pants, or jeans? Depends on what I’m doing that day. Top? I start with my favorite and work back. I’m planning on taking my city wardrobe in this direction too.

  31. Isabel

    Interesting post and fun to read all the responses! I agree with the sentiment of it all just being too much and trying to find a way to put our foot down, so to speak, against materialism. For me, it is a personal journey of knowing who I am and being profoundly happy with that, and asking myself how do I present that to the world. I want to look joyful, feminine, and modest. I do have a uniform of sorts (I stick to certain silhouettes) to make dressing easier. But I do not think I could use the same thing every weekday (although I do have a denim skirt that I could wear five days in a row without anyone noticing!) But like someone else mentioned, clothes do need to rest in between wears. Anyway, it’s an interesting experiment and I am looking forward to what you discover!

    • fabrickated

      I think the denim skirt that you would be happy to wear every day is interesting Isabel. Somehow we don’t tire of items that work for our personality and life style. I am not too worried about resting my clothes (although I agree about the shoes) as I take them off when I get home (and put on my PJs!) and they won’t get worn for the weekend, when I can launder them if needed. Thank you for commenting.

  32. Janine

    You have written another interesting post and generated a fantastic discussion. I have enjoyed reading through this ( even though I should be getting ready for work ). I agree whole heartedly about the consumerism. I have over several years been acquiring less clothes than what I get rid of and when I get rid of my clothes they are truly had it ( holes , irretrievable stains ) mostly . I still have too many but my mindset does not allow me to just declutter spontaneously. I suppose I too have a kind of uniform like many others have stated but not as diligent as your cord suit idea. Hope you find your answer Kate to your uncomfortable feelings around dressing!

    • fabrickated

      Thanks for the solidarity and support dear Janine. I am thinking of spending some of the Christmas break really downsizing the wardrobe. Maybe it is something about life transitions as well. I find there is some deep stuff in there that I want to confront, but I am not quite ready.

  33. ceci

    So much interest in this topic (and such contrast to the Freida Project, which also generated an outpouring of interest…..). For me, a super messy person, I can’t imagine how I would manage staying clean if I had to have what I wore one day ready to wear the next.

    Looking forward to what happens next!

    ceci

    • fabrickated

      Yes Ceci – I have noticed I drop food on myself. I shall have to try spot cleaning with a wash at weekends! And yes I was suprised by the interest, but maybe we all have some of these feelings of overload and a recognition of how crazy our lives have become.

  34. Jennifer Miller

    Another interesting challenge! I’m looking forward to learning how your uniform month works out for you. Navy is a good backdrop for lots of accessories, wondering how you’ll play with it. Right now as I’m actually trying to build a wardrobe (rather than just having clothes) the idea of a simple rotation of a few, coordinated pieces really resonates with me. We’ll see how it all comes together. 😀

  35. Janet Smith

    What a great idea, Kate, I look forward to seeing your photos.
    I agree with your comments about fashion: I am constantly overwhelmed by people’s “fabric hauls” and “fabric stashes” and their “latest must-have make” on social media: I couldn’t even begin to justify buying 1/10th of what some people proudly display and find the whole business deadly fascinating but repugnant. Why do they need so much fabric and so many clothes ? Why do people buy more than they need? There will be more beautiful fabric produced next year and the year after and the year after……..Don’t get me wrong: I love fashion and adore beautiful fabrics, but do we really need to buy more than we need?

    When I was a kid, my mum sewed one winter outfit and one summer outfit for each of us until we grew out of them; that’s all. She took us to the fabric store 70 miles away from the farm and with each daughter, she would discuss and help choose one pattern and only the required fabric and trim for that pattern. We wore the 2 completed items every Sunday to church and on trips to the city for 2 years or so until we got too big for them and then the process would start again. If the farm did well, she would give herself a rest and buy us a finished item instead of sewing it. For herself, I remember her wearing a winter suit over and over again for years, so I know she made huge sacrifices for her 6 daughters. I shared a clothes wardrobe with one of my five sisters and it was never full. After coming home from school, I changed into the same clean farm clothes every day; the sheep dog and the chooks never minded and I grew up never wanting for nothing.

  36. Ellen Miller

    Many years ago I read about a woman who wore a uniform of black pant and a white shirt so she wasn’t distracting when her clients came to try on the custom clothes she made for them. Originally she wore different scarves everyday but she kept sewing the scarves into the garments so she ditched the them.
    I wear jeans and shirts/sweaters here in New England. I am allergic to wool (very itchy) so everything is cotton or cotton/poly blend and can go through the washing machine. I am often covered in thread (someday I am going to design a set of clothes that look good with thread on them!) or dirt from the garden- where I went to stretch but ended up pulling weeds! I love the unpredictable part of life, and wear a wardrobe to match.

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