Uniform Thoughts

Whether you call it a uniform or a signature style, there’s a lot to be said for having a simple, coherent grouping of clothing that can be easily assembled and suits one’s tastes and lifestyle.
Even Anna Wintour, who probably has unlimited clothing options has developed a very consistent uniform.

Aside from the precision bob hairstyle, her signature style includes a printed dress (usually just-below-knee length), a short necklace, sunglasses.

Variation on a theme

I’ve been coming back around to the idea of a workday uniform (or three) and have noticed some side benefits along with the main course of ease and consistency.

Focus. Now when I shop, it’s much easier to remain focused on my foundation pieces, and not get distracted by items of clothing that don’t have potential to be uniform components. Those “fun” items that promised to add some verve to outfits but were rarely worn no longer beckon.

Frugality. I need fewer items, and am far less tempted to spend on pieces that aren’t part of my core wardrobe.

Fast. SO much quicker getting dressed for work in the morning. It’s like Garanimals for adults.  One bottom, one top, one jacket or sweater, accessories and I’m done.

Fun. Surprisingly, I’m having fun with style again. It’s less of a struggle, and I can focus on my accessories for variety and to keep my look current.

Do you have a uniform or signature style? Does it change over time?
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29 Comments

  1. July 10, 2012 / 11:58 am

    You’ve really got this look nailed, Sue — you look effortlessly chic and completely you! (and are those “our” Fluevogs? 😉

    • July 11, 2012 / 4:19 pm

      @materfamilias, actually they’re J.Crew flats. I still have and love the Vogs, but find the heel more difficult to wear these days. They’re “date night” shoes now.

  2. July 10, 2012 / 12:45 pm

    I’m with you on letting accessories provide the variety.

    Nearly every morning, I put on a pair of dark blue jeans, a solid bright or dark-colored knit top, flat shoes or boots, and if it’s cold, a short merino-wool cardigan or fitted pullover v-neck.

    My work is casual so I only occasionally substitute dress pants or skirts for the jeans. Dresses with more interesting details are reserved for social occasions.

    I’ve found that keeping everything uniform makes it easier for me to monitor the condition of my wardrobe, too. I’ve gotten better at noticing when something looks worn and needs replacing.

    And I’m finding it really fun to shop for accessories. I’m building quite a collection of scarves, costume jewelry, and shoes (especially ballerina flats– there’s so much variety even in that one style.)

  3. Anonymous
    July 10, 2012 / 12:56 pm

    Et voila, bien dans sa peau! C’est parfait comme ça.

    Orane

  4. July 10, 2012 / 1:09 pm

    Hmmm, good question. I don’t know that I have a signature style. But people often say that something looks “just like me”. Given that I go from jeans and jacket to vintage dresses in bright colours to neutral suits, I wonder how that is.

  5. July 10, 2012 / 1:11 pm

    You look like you’re having fun with your accessorized ‘uniform.’ Such a great idea to simplify dressing for work. Your pointy toed red flats add the perfect amount of color to this ensemble.

    I do rely on basic backgrounds that I love and fit well. As I think about it, that’s a uniform for me.

  6. Elle
    July 10, 2012 / 1:50 pm

    So funny. I work in a stodgy conservative office with few other women. (Sounds fun, eh? But that’s another story.) When we have company-wide meetings, there will be 75 men and about 5 women. I know ahead of time what each of the other women will be wearing – I guess we all have our uniforms: 2 conservative business suits (skirt or pants), 1 inappropriate short tight skirt suit with a low-cut top, 1 inappropriate short dress, and me. My uniform is dark dress pants (Ann Taylor had been my favorite, but Brooks Bros if I must), knit top, and contrasting jacket. Like Sue, now that I’ve settled on that, I am always on the lookout for pieces that mesh and work for me. I’ll spend more per item, but I buy a lot less.

  7. July 10, 2012 / 2:07 pm

    Your uniform is pretty much mine, even if I’m not in the workplace. I like to dress decently, even if I’m spending the day at home.

    It is nice to occasionally break away from the uniform though.

  8. July 10, 2012 / 2:30 pm

    Wonderful examples, Une Femme, of uniform dressing, from the extreme (Steve Jobs) to the modified (Anna W.). I love your “Four F’s”, as well as your actual uniform; you seem comfortable in your skin as well as stylish and confident. I hope you will never give up your fabulous scarves, as you simplify?

  9. July 10, 2012 / 2:52 pm

    An excellent read, thank you. I do not have a uniform, and lead a pretty simple lifestyle in a suburban area in the Pacific Northwest. One component of my wardrobe I have always kept in mind are accessories: costume jewelry, scarves, shoes or handbags. My friends say that is because I am French. I don’t know about that, but I think accessories are indispensable to “dress up” basic pieces, as well as to establish a signature style. I can do without following the latest fashion, but I would not part with them! 🙂 Hope that makes sense. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  10. July 10, 2012 / 4:24 pm

    I definitely have a seasonal uniform–from October through March it’s tailored slacks with a lightweight sweater, usually cashmere but can be a blend. I wear a scarf or some kind of statement necklace to accessorize. I’ve been collecting and wearing scarves since my college days (whether or not they were in style at the time!).

  11. July 10, 2012 / 5:21 pm

    Pseu, you look fabulous in this look. Really, don’t change anything because it’s perfect.

  12. Anonymous
    July 10, 2012 / 5:35 pm

    I love your uniform and I think you look great! My uniform is a sheath dress with a cardigan or blazer and heels or a pencil skirt, silk or white cotton blouse, and heels. I wear jeans at times but never pants. I don’t even own one pair of dress pants. I only wear neutrals except I have two red dresses. The only accessories I use are wide belts. When I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago with a group of teachers, the only man in the group was pointing out “Leah” outfits in the store windows (black pencil skirts, white blouses). I like that I have a recognizable style. It does make shopping and dressing easy.

    Leah

  13. July 10, 2012 / 6:52 pm

    I keep thinking I want to wear all skirts and tops, then I think no I want to wear all athletic pants with pretty tops, then I think no I want all dresses. I like to be creative with my outfits but I do think it is helpful to have some kind of direction and not be all over the board especially when I love being frugal as well. If I was Anna…..please stop me!! I would be wearing the most fabulous clothes ever!!! The more flamboyant the better!!!! My hair would be luscios and long flowing and I would throw away the dark glasses for ever. And since I would have drivers to drop me off at the curb I would wear the most incredible sexy shoes ever and not worry about comfort. If I was Anna I would not dress like her.

  14. kathy peck
    July 10, 2012 / 1:22 pm

    Absolutely have a uniform, and have no interest in shaking it up. Jeans, shirt or tee shirt, blazer, jacket or cardigan or pullover sweater (depending on the season). In the winter I wear mostly short boots or loafers. I think all your reasons for a uniform are perfect and I’d like to add one – at this age I know what I feel best in, and have little interest in experimenting or moving out of my comfort zone. I’m glad to see you back to yours – it’s always been my favorite look on you, and evidently it’s yours too.

  15. kathy peck
    July 10, 2012 / 1:23 pm

    Wanted to add that I also dress in all neutrals, even “pops” of color (other than a small clutch or something) never work for me. I just don’t grab for them in my closet.

  16. sisty
    July 10, 2012 / 3:05 pm

    Great examples! At first glance, it looked like you were wearing a collared shirt, but then I realized it was your scarf. Did you intend that? Either way you look great.

    I’m experiencing the four Fs as I go this route myself. My uniform is a lot like yours, except sometimes I’ll mix it up (like today) by wearing black pants, a black shell, and a white jacket (or sometimes a white shirt worn open as a jacket). I’ve been wearing loafers or ballerinas, but your pointed-toe kitten heels look so great I’ll have to reconsider.

    Scarves make me hot so for now I’m sticking with necklaces and earrings.

    Will you change things up for the winter?

    • July 11, 2012 / 4:21 pm

      @sisty, yes in the winter I’ll also wear dresses/skirts with legging or tights and boots.

  17. July 11, 2012 / 12:02 am

    I have noticed your uniform as I’ve perused your site. You look fabulous! As we get older and know what we look good in, a uniform is our best choice. It also helps us avoid trends and fads in which we might look — ridiculous.

  18. Gretchen
    July 10, 2012 / 5:45 pm

    Hmmm, is it possible to have a few uniforms? Winter tends to be skirt or pants (jeans on wkends) with cashmere turtleneck or crew neck. Every other season is button-down shirt with skirt, pants, or shorts. I mix it up by adding shirt dresses and wrap dresses, or adding a cardigan, sometimes substituting the button-down with a tee. Even my accessories are pretty uniform…pearls. Same old watch, link bracelets on one arm, bangles on the other. Sometimes scarves, sometimes a necklace. Even my shoes are all kind of similar, although the colors vary: loafers or mid-heel ( no higher than 3in, and only on sit-at-a-desk day) high-end shoes are a must, considering how boring my clothes are. I’m finding the older I get, the less pattern and color variation I can tolerate on myself. I’m guessing the patterned wrap dresses will be phased out eventually, too.

    • July 11, 2012 / 4:23 pm

      @Gretchen. Absolutely, I have a couple of uniforms that rotate in and out with the seasons.

  19. Pam @ over50feeling40
    July 10, 2012 / 11:54 pm

    I think I am getting closer. I just have to cage my creative temptations…when I get around prints and colors, I just want them…but really, I am happiest with more neutral based looks and with simpler ones. I am still working on it….but I believe I am making progress. The outfit I am wearing in my post today….I love and it is very neutral yet creative…that is what I am looking for almost every day because I feel the best in it. OK, I am rambling kind of like my wardrobe rambles at times!! 🙂

  20. tammy Silverstyle
    July 11, 2012 / 2:26 am

    Your last few posts have made me think about purging. I’m a thrift junkie and it is taking over my closet. I have yet to find my signature style. Who would think at 54 I would struggle with that issue! Thanks, maybe because of you I’ll get their sooner then later:}

  21. Terri
    July 11, 2012 / 6:02 am

    In spite of keeping a blog, I’ve realized that I have a “work” uniform. It’s a pencil skirt, a button dot blouse, and a jacket or cardigan. Sensible heels. And there’s still lots of room for variation. I like your uniform.

  22. July 11, 2012 / 5:09 pm

    Great basics and I love the pop of red in your IPhone case and flats!
    I’d love to see that uniform modeled with all your different scarfs!

  23. M-C
    July 12, 2012 / 8:54 am

    I think it’s worth pointing out that Steve Jobs’ uniform was designed for him by Issey Miyake.
    Yes, it makes life easier to have one. But I tend to get bored easily..

  24. July 13, 2012 / 2:48 am

    I hadn’t gotten to your post yet.

    Great minds think alike:). My uniform is my best friend…

  25. Brianna M Headley
    July 17, 2012 / 1:08 am

    Geez, he’s like a cartoon character…

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