Simplify your wardrobe and your life
Written by Meghan Salgado
Uniform dressing has been interpreted in a few different ways. Some say it’s fewer pieces all in the same color family, making outfit selection a breeze. Other people think it’s a basic silhouette from wearing chinos and a button down. And for the truly committed among us (see: Silicon Valley giants, presidents) it means 7 of the same shirt and 7 of the same pants are hanging in the closet. Some may also say that men already have a uniform — the suit. But with less formality in the dress codes of modern offices, it’s time to reclaim the uniform and make it your signature.
Why a uniform
The work uniform is attractive for 2 major reasons. It’ll simplify your life and you’ll look good always. Picking one outfit and sticking to it takes some serious confidence, but a work uniform conveys a personality that is disciplined, focused, and maybe a little intense. If you’re committed enough, this new look may become what you’re known for in the office, and it’ll say a lot about who you are before you even open your mouth.
The work uniform is made to make your life simpler, not more difficult. If you’ve ever engaged in a round of “What do you want to eat?” “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?” then you’re familiar with the phenomenon of decision fatigue, or how the more choices you have to make, the less thought you put into them. While a uniform might not be able to solve all your headaches, it will eliminate one of the first choices you have to make in the morning, and clear up your mind for the more important questions in life (like whether you want tacos or sushi). Kick off your spring cleaning with your closet and part ways with the stuff you just don’t wear anymore. You’ll discover that your mind is clearer with less clutter and it will also shorten your morning routine.
The clothes you choose to put on in the morning tells the world who you are. Whether it’s that girl from the coffee shop or your boss’s boss, you want to leave a good impression. Wearing a work uniform guarantees they’ll never catch you on the day you grabbed a stained button-up or a fraying sweater. When you’re wearing something you already know you look good in (a well-cut shirt or perfectly tailed pant) you’re more confident and sure of yourself. If it’s done right, a uniform can turn into your own personal suit of armor. Base your selection on something you already wear often. If you take a look in your closet, you’ve probably been subconsciously selecting similar pieces that make you look good. Find 4 blue button ups, and 3 pairs of camel chinos? Go with a similar aesthetic, and it will feel natural.
Some suggested combinations
Not sure where to start? While uniform dressing is most successful when you have a good understanding of your own personal style, we’re here to offer a few fool-proof combos for every office dress code. Make sure to choose something that makes you feel your best and fits your company culture. When in doubt, tick the formality up a little so you’re not out of place at that quarterly meeting or client lunch.
Working in an industry where creativity is key can make uniform dressing seem unappealing. Your company culture most likely allows for some color and unique touches without seeming out of place But remember that with a daily uniform, consistency is the name of the game. If you think you’re going to wake up every day and feel like wearing tangerine, go for it. If not, add that touch of personality elsewhere, whether that be a cool print on your shirt or some color in your accessories. And just because you’re wearing the same thing day in and day out doesn’t mean you’re some uncreative stiff. You might find your mind has actually been freed up to think more deeply on projects and come up with more out of the box solutions to problems.
Business casual is already the murkiest of dress code (and has a definition that can vary greatly based on region). How do you choose a uniform without finding yourself in situations where you’re dressed vastly different than the rest of your colleagues. Remember, it’s almost always worse to be a little overdressed than underdressed. Choose a uniform in a darker color palette, which will automatically add some formality, and stay away from any fabrics that are too utilitarian (no denim anything). If you live in a colder climate, adding a sweater or overcoat is great for dressing up your daily look.
If your office requires business formal, you probably already operate in a pretty rigid dress code, with what you can and cannot wear clearly spelled out for you. Your everyday uniform will obviously consist of a suit, solid color shirt, and tie. You can take it a step further by committing to that 7 shirts, 7 ties look, but with how much structure you already have in your life, this might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
If you’re going to commit to wearing the same thing every day, you certainly have to have more than one of each. You’ll also need to take preventative steps to stop all that wear and tear that comes from constant washing and wearing. Extending the life of your signature pieces will be a huge money-saver.
- Line dry when possible: Heat is the ultimate destroyer of your wardrobe. While it’s tempting to just throw your clothes in and forget about them for an hour, taking the time to air dry will extend the life of your stuff and save you money down the line.
- Buy from higher quality retailers: As we know, buying from fast-fashion retailers may mean competitive prices, but those clothes won’t last too long. Repeated buying will add up faster than one initial investment.
- Quantity is key: Uniform dressing can be an upfront investment. You’ll need between 7-12 shirts and 3-5 pants depending on how comfortable you are re-wearing items without washing. This step is key to keeping your clothes in good shape, and the best way to do that is to give them a break between wears.
- Get a stain pen: With uniform dressing, spot cleaning is going to become your new best friend. It’ll keep you looking fresh, and that immediate attention will help you avoid overwashing.
If this all seems like too much for you, try it for just a week. You might be surprised how much this little shift will impact your morning routine.
Photo of Meghan Salgado
SOURCE: THE GENTLEMANUAL