Style, Wardrobe

Should I Have a Uniform?

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to an article from W, “The Divine Art of Uniform Dressing.” I was immediately intrigued by the title and subsequently the article, which interviewed several individuals on their particular uniforms, the decisions surrounding them, and their personal sense of self. Some wear the exact same things every day; some wear the same general style. However, their personal uniform is immediately and recognizably theirs.

I’ve been thinking a lot about uniforms lately, and have written a little about them, too. Most of the people interviewed for the W article discuss how having a uniform frees up mental space and time in the day; they’re not constantly pondering what to wear, or how it makes them look, or what signals the clothing sends. Tonne Goodman says it best, I think: “There’s safety in a uniform, because you know that it works, on all the different levels that are important to you: practicality and acceptability—that you look okay on many occasions.”

So this article is making me think. I spent years of my life in uniforms, both school uniforms and self-created uniforms, like the picture for this post, and honestly, it has a greater appeal now than ever. But what would be my uniform? Turtlenecks are an obviously choice for fall and winter, and I can’t tell you how drawn I am to the Faye pants by Ann Mashburn. I tried them on at a trunk show a few years ago and honestly haven’t stopped thinking about them.

But that would be a significant departure from my usual fairly preppy look. I’ve written about feeling my style shift away from classic, old-school preppier pieces here–in fact, it was one of my first blog posts. I’m finding myself drawn to simpler, more elegant, yet still timeless pieces. I like the Faye pants because they are comfortable, elegant, and certainly practical. I’ve written about my love for turtlenecks before, too. But then what about the spring and summer? I suppose the turtleneck could be replaced with a nice blouse or one of my favorite striped shirts.

In any case, the idea of a uniform does have a lot of appeal. But then there are additional questions. Would I stick to the same style of pants and tops? Would I grant myself a little more flexibility–for instance, wear dresses in the summer, if I wanted to–or would I stick with the same thing year-round? Or would I have different uniforms for each season?

It’s something to think about, and definitely something I’m going to seriously consider as we ease into 2022!

9 thoughts on “Should I Have a Uniform?

  1. Okay, loved the article. Thank you sharing!

    The idea of a uniform has always been appealing to me, and I’ve built my wardrobe accordingly, focusing on (surprise!) classic, high quality pieces. I’ve never regretted limiting myself to certain colors, silhouettes, patterns, and brands. Living in Austin makes this easy, since I can typically wear the same neutrals all year round without having to worry about seasonality. *That being said* the past few months I’ve been opening up my closet to some more “modern” pieces, typically dresses that can exist on their own and don’t need to be styled with a sweater, pair of pants, etc. It’s just the refresh my brain needs after two years of sameness, while still focusing on longevity and not going too trend heavy.

    Ultimately, uniforms exist to serve you, and if yours isn’t, it’s time to figure out what will. Uniforms encourage consistency and create a “signature,” yes, but they’re also allowed to change. I say you finally get those Faye pants you’ve been lusting over and start playing dress up to figure out what kind of uniform *feels* right to you!!

    1. Such a good one, and so inspiring!!

      Yes, I agree with you–longevity is crucial, but right now, I’m actually dying for a little bit of “sameness” that I at least can control!! I think I will get the Faye pants post-no-shopping-month!!! You’ve inspired me ❤️

  2. I think I’m older than you but suspect we have had a similar preppy uniform over the years. Now that I’m 40 I find it leaves me feeling a bit like an aging sorority girl, and not in a good way! (I am an aging sorority girl but don’t need to cling too tightly to that!). Anyway, go for the Faye pants and see how you feel wearing them. I am finding that some evolution is good but struggling a bit myself to find the next step.

    1. Hi Lauren–thank you so much for stopping by! My uniform has definitely been fairly “classic preppy” over the years–and you’re right in that I feel I’ve outgrown it a bit, too. (I am thirty-one, so there is not much of an age difference!) My grandfather wore almost the same “summer uniform” as me every day throughout the summer–khaki shorts, polo shirt, worn out boat shoes, but as the preppy look comes and goes out of fashion, I feel as though I’m a caricature of myself, and not in a good way. So I too am looking to evolve slightly, and struggling a bit as well. I want to be myself but not be too “trendy,” either. I will get the Faye pants after my no-shop January, and we’ll see how it goes from there!! Please keep me posted on your style evolution as well! 🙂

      1. You are much younger! And still young enough to look cute in that super preppy style but it becomes a little more challenging as you age. And I’m not sure I want to look cute at 40 anyway! Caricature is a good word to describe it though- I know exactly what you mean.

        1. I definitely have a young-ish looking face, and as I run a nonprofit, I do value seeming older–or at least my age! So it’s time for a little change 🙂 I hope you have a great week, Lauren!

  3. Love the article! It reminds me of a book I stumbled across when I was nearly 30; Crisp and Carroll’s Doing it with Style. It was freeing to me because, at the time, I really needed someone to give me permission to do my own thing. I think more than advocating for a uniform, per se, this article encourages one to own one’s style. Just as a beautiful home will gently change over time while also remaining somehow the same, so will the expression of our style.

    Your Faye pants could be your exception for January. 😉 If you’ve been dreaming about them for this long, they probably really do represent your style. 🙂

    1. I will have to check Doing it with Style out of the library! I think defining one’s style in its purest form might be a lifelong endeavor, but definitely worth it. I’d love people to just say, “that’s so Sarah!”

      I’m thinking about it! If there is a sale in January I will go for it. I have a gift card to Ann Mashburn so it wouldn’t even count as my exception if there was a sale! 🙂

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