I was going to wait until the end of November to update you on the Uniform project. The thing is I started early (I couldn’t wait!!) and I have some results ready to share with you.
Did I enjoy it? Was it liberating or boring? How did the navy corduroy suit fare?
First things first. The navy corduroy suit was a RTW item, bought on-line without trying on. It arrived a day or two after I ordered it, and I put it on immediately and wore it all day long.
The next day I made a few alterations
- 5cms removed at CB waist, and tapered through to the hip line
- added an extra belt carrier as just three is not the right number
- reattached the buttons on the button fly (why?) as they were not sewn on effectively
- moved the buttons on the cuffs to get a closer fit around the wrists
- I considered changing the buttons on the front of the jacket and trousers, but they were quite nice IRL. If I get bored with the suit I may change the buttons.
I wore the suit everyday. Trousers and jacket. And of course I took the jacket off sometimes as it was pretty warm – either outside or in a heated office. So mainly it just looked like dark trousers. I do know lots of women who wear black trousers nearly every day, so this was not that unusual. And of course many men have a navy suit and maybe a grey suit and they get away with wearing just a few items day in, day out. So what I did was not that different from how many people dress.
I enjoyed it very much indeed. I especially liked putting the suit over a chair at night and putting it on again the next morning. This was the best bit, in many ways. It felt completely stress free. I knew the outfit would work whatever I was doing. It is like a Babygro – complete, in and of itself. Of course it needed a top, and shoes etc. But it solved the what to wear problem completely and effectively. I am not sure anyone noticed I was wearing the same thing. If they did, they didn’t comment. Well one colleague did – he said “Why are you dressing like an architect?”. I think it was a complement in that he noticed the graphic, structural, pared down look of my outfit. But when I started to explain the Uniform Project he glazed over straight away. “Too much information?” I asked and he burst out laughing. The net effect of the uniform project for me was that it, sort of, took clothes out of the equation. Of course positives and negatives, but overall i liked the reduction in noise, variety, change, thought. The Obama quote is appropriate:
“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
I don’t want to compare myself to a President, but I think I devised this project to help me deal with work overload. I am carrying a great deal of stress at the moment and this has impacted on my productivity outside work. Many evenings I am reading a book, watching Netflix or listening to a podcast – usually but not always with a knitting project. There are times when you want to lower the pressure on yourself, and if you find yourself in this position adopting uniform dressing may be a good plan. Given the level of my job I couldn’t just adopt “weekend dressing” ie jeans, T, jumper. But this outfit allowed me the comfort and ease of weekend dressing while still appearing relatively sharp.
Lots of followers and IG friends have asked for a day-to-day account of how I styled the suit. I have a few photos below to show the sort of things I did. These were taken at the weekend with some of the tops I wear for work. These pictures to some extent expressed by intention to boost the suit for a stylish outcome. And I did wear versions of these looks for work.
Here is another group
I hope these images show the kind of versatility of a plain, neutral trouser suit.
However I despite the notion that maybe I would have some fun with the suit, subverting it by “pimping up” the outfit, I actually had little inclination to depart from the obvious. What I thought most days was “can I wear yesterday’s jumper again?” And most days I wore plain navy socks and shoes as well.
The first few days I wore colourful belts. Then I cracked it. Fascinated by uniforms as such, I reached for an ancient Girl Guide belt in traditional brown leather, and an interesting clasp. I tried this on with my trousers, the hooks hanging down over the pockets, begging to carry something for me. Originally I think I had a pencil, whistle, compass and literally a thing for getting stones out of horses hooves. I have just left them empty at the moment but they could carry my headphones, my house keys or even a small camera. My husband says I have become an eccentric. I am beginning to think he’s right. Maybe I have always been one. But I am a happy eccentric.
Very interesting idea. I believe we all have too much choice now – and it’s not always a good thing! (Have you seen the number of olive oil options there are in a supermarket now !?!)
Oh yes!! I find the overload quite upsetting. I have more or less stopped going into shops.
I love your take on this trend Kate and your approach in general. I know you have your hands full already but have you ever thought about giving classes? I would sign up to get your individual styling advice…
Happy to trade styling advice for advice on avoiding overload! It would be nice to meet up May Ling.
Interesting…still not for me though. I can see the point about choice and overload, but I like the choices in how I dress to suit my mood [or to lift it]
I NEED THAT BELT it’s very steampunk- we hang stuff round our waists all the time. You could consider one of these https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/123770011/steampunk-holster-teacup-included-with?gpla=1&gao=1&&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping_uk_en_gb_a-clothing-womens_clothing-costumes&utm_custom1=cadf3832-e52f-4970-9fca-732a68f68ed7&utm_content=go_326226048_20236367208_88504153608_pla-106554537155_c__123770011engb&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI24-u1vO33gIVy7ftCh1A5AYkEAQYAiABEgJ8aPD_BwE
Err Yes! It’s a fun idea. I settled for a small Swiss Army Penknife.
I have to agree, the pant suit is awesome, and you look sharp in all your chosen looks. Aren’t those pink shoes fun!
I am on a mini trip like this, except I have bought five tops, all the same but different colours. I have reduced my wardrobe and have a few choices of pants, dressy, jeans and comfort knit. I haven’t found it boring yet…we will see what happens. My life style is not very complicated, but I too like not having to make choices about what to wear, and can just get on with other things. I’m choosing my selected items month by month.
I love your new eccentric look. Enjoy your day!
Joyce from Sudbury ps…great belt.
Good point Joyce. I always enjoy living out of a suit case for a couple of weeks. It makes you use your wardrobe. I love that. I am seriously thinking of getting rid of all my clothes, and lots of other things besides. I feel like I am bogged down with stuff.
Very interesting to see how you are holding up; all your styling looks smart and office appropriate. But I am equally interested in how the suit is holding up. I have always supposed that clothes worn for a day need to be rested for a day to allow the weave to recover a bit and the fabric to shake out some of the creases. Children in school uniform usually have two skirts/pairs of trousers, even given the very hard wearing cloth school clothes are usually made out of. I would expect trousers worn every day, even lined ones, to be getting baggy at the knees and the seat. How are they doing? How well will the corduroy restore after you have worn it for a month (20 -25 times I guess) with little respite? Intrigued to know!
Interesting question Anne, and I did consider buying two pairs of trousers. I know quite a few men used to do this as the pants wear out faster than the jackets. But I figured I might be so bored with it by the time the trousers clap out that that would be a waste of money.
So – I have laundered the trousers after two weeks, dried in the bathroom and then pressed on the reverse. This seems to revive them well. They are not bagging or wearing thin, but they will in time. I thought maybe at that point I could mend them or reinforce the worn parts, maybe relegating the trousers for weekends, and wearing the jacket with a navy skirt.
I am not sure I agree with the “resting” idea for clothes. They rest overnight and at weekends anyway.
This is so timely as we are trying hard to practice ethical fashion. Your styling is perfect in every photo with bright graffiti touches in shoes, jumpers, scarves. All very artful and flattering. I have a uniform look and find it almost as liberating as my gray hair. Thanks for giving us a peek at how we can all simplify and still be fierce in our looks. That guide belt is so cool.
That is very kind of you Blanca. I think I dressed it down more as a rule, although I haven’t mentioned jackets/coats/hats/scarves/gloves which I have needed to deal with the weather. I will do a second reflection post in a few weeks. The belt is the best and is now being worn every day.
Thanks for the report–this is fascinating. I took the Goodbye Valentino Ready-to-Wear Fast 2018 pledge and in addition to buying no clothes I have been editing out the things that just don’t make the grade. Whatever I put back in will have to rate high in versatility or style, preferably both. If I really want to make day-to-day dressing practically thought-free, I must put more thought into what I make or buy. Thanks for your real-life, tested ideas!
Yes Paula – I think your approach is probably the ideal middle way and probably where I will end up after a few more weeks on starvation rations.
Let’s hear it for eccentricity! You look great in all the variations. It seems the tops determine the look. I like all the variations and I am especially interested in the ruched poet’s shirt. I’d love to know more about that shirt. Will you buy another suit so you can wear one and have one resting? It seems to be an experiment that has gone very well indeed. Brava!
The ruched poet’s shirt is amazing. A complete one off in lilac silk with hand covered press studs, hand stitched top stitching and amazing sleeves. Maybe it deserves its own special blog post….
Yes please on a special
Blog post for the poet’s shirt!
I love this so much that I might have to go find a navy suit! I keep streamlining and simplifying but the oddball stuff keeps creeping in; this might be the framework I need to keep that impulse under control. Thanks for the inspiration, as always!
You are welcome. I think we all have that one item that we would be happy wearing for ever – partly the incessant shopping is looking for it.
Thanks for sharing the pictures…..fascinating that none of your colleagues even noticed; I would think that your years of varied outfits would have been an enrichment of the office environment – I certainly had co-workers whose clothes I enjoyed tremendously. Not as serious minded as your cadre perhaps.
I especially like the idea of a utility belt from which various things can be hung, like the medieval chatelaine belts.
I really don’t think people notice that much. I have had a few nice accessories that have got noticed, and I have perhaps worn them a little bit more with the plain suit. For example I wore my Kente (Ghanaian woven) scarf which stimulated a lovely conversation or two.
My mother used to have a Victorian chatelaine belt in silver and I was fascinated by it as a child.
Ha, who but your spouse and/or children would provide you with an unfiltered opinion, sometimes whether you like it or not! I say embrace your originality/eccentricity and see where it takes you. Going from RTW to handmade to a uniform is all part of your journey, and I predict you will find a great middle ground where the suit could work for those busy work periods and provide relief from your periods of stylish creativity. It’s a lot of work wearing something different every day, especially the putting away of numerous things.
Do you think people at work noticed but were being polite about your choice of wearing the same thing every day? Or did they really not notice?
I don’t think people are being polite – I really think they are oblivious.
And Kerry you are right – the putting away is quite irritating actually. The suit stays out all week and its there to put on. I know it is a small thing but I am really enjoying the fifteen minutes or so a day I used to look at the weather forcast, look at what was in my diary, choose an outfit, maybe have to iron something. It is a relief to avoid this work.
I am on a journey, yes, and right now I have a great deal of pressure at work, so I think these things maybe related to how we are feeling. I am not feeling light and tra-la-la – I am feeling driven, a bit dogged, a bit tired, and this outfit suits me at the moment.
I love the eccentric comment from Nick. But hasn’t he touched on one of the best things about being on the more mature, you begin to take more note of how you want to express yourself creatively, visually, verbally etc and less keen to conform or troubled by other opinions. I watch the agonies of my teens as they desperately try and fit ‘teen style’ and feel judged by their peers.
Personally I’m not sure that your wonderful choice of stylish, well put together (as always) outfits based round the suit goes to the extreme of eccentric but that guide belt. How inspired! I think I have one in the loft……
The eccentric comment was specific to the belt, but I think wearing the same outfit for two months is a bit weird in this day and age. But that is what most people used to do. I know my mum had one suit that she wore for work with two different jerseys, which she wore back to front for a different look! When I go abroad I often notice in less affluent cultures there is much more wearing the same thing day in and day out. I hate the disposable clothes trend and I hate the impact that fashion can have on the young and as you note. I am interested in how long my commitment to my uniform trend will last – I may go further, or back to a more normal approach. Who knows….
I would be surprised if anyone would have noticed the experiment, particularly if they don’t see you every day. The Acquascutum top is a bit of a scene stealer but I am smitten by the gingham and velvet top: something for my To Make list.
Apparently Jim Morrison never took off his leather jeans (which would not have been washable). He was way scummier than you but looks perfectly fine to me in the photos.
Your experiment is very interesting, at the moment I can’t imagine doing the same, but can see that it does simplify life. Do it as long as you enjoy it, when you change your mind you can always stop. Do take care of yourself. Anita from Basel
The girls guide belt calling out for things to carry really made me smile at the end of a grim day, thanks – I may need to deploy some uniform dressing myself
There’s so much to love about this post and about your experiment, Kate.
You’ve been so creative with the clothing and accessories. I’m with those who especially love the belt and sneakers. But that gingham shirt is also genius, as is the sloper. So many good outfits and options!
Until very recently, I was a student and single mother with no outside assistance (financial or otherwise). Since I’ve also always been interested in beautiful things, I had to be creative when it came to buying clothes (as well as everything else). I had very few items of clothing, mostly secondhand. Because my budget was near zero for a very long time, I had to learn to look carefully for well-made secondhand things that would last.
Having a few, carefully chosen pieces of clothing did streamline things, but it also meant being creative with accessories and how I put each piece together.
Even though things are easier for me now, financially and otherwise, my general outlook hasn’t changed. I can now afford to buy something nice once in awhile, and also to buy good yarn and fabric for making my own things, which has expanded my wardrobe and my thinking. But I think I will always tend to have a sort of uniform, made up of a few beloved basics put together creatively. I find it both soothing and fun.