quick (fashion) questions: what’s your ‘uniform’?

4.27.2006
(an old wardrobe_remix photo of mine from 2006…it is a pretty typical representation of my own daily ‘uniform’, even 3 years later. all my everyday loves and staples are represented: a denim jacket, a warm colorful scarf, some variation on a sweatshirt, an interesting pair of shoes/boots, and my favorite thing to wear, hands down, a pair of jeans.)

***

i have asked this question before, but it’s a great question and it’s been a while, so i’ll ask it again:

what is YOUR ‘uniform’?

do you have a ‘uniform’ at all? or are you, in some sense, a ‘different’ person every day, playing with vastly different looks and pieces, so much so that we, as a viewer, could not pigeonhole you in any way?

what pieces make up your personal ‘uniform’, if you have one?

why do you have that particular ‘uniform’? what purpose in your wardrobe and life do those pieces serve (practical or otherwise), and, if you can articulate it, what do you feel those pieces or the total look represent or symbolize to those with whom you interact, or to those that see you?

by the way: i am not necessarily referring to what you wear to work (or are forced to wear to work as the case may be)…rather, what do you ‘typically’, generally wear on a given day (in case that somehow wasn’t clear!)?

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(see also: more discussion about uniforms (in conjunction with my mention of the exactitudes project), here)

29 comments

  1. Sal

    I do mix it up pretty regularly, but on any given day that does NOT fall during summer, I’m in a pencil skirt and tall boots. I’d say 9 days out of 10.

  2. Nadine

    A dress in colour (it’s still summer here). In winter, a dress over jeans with some knitwear on top, although I’d like to change that as I hate jeans (it’s the belt). Anyway, always with the dress.

  3. Leya

    i wear the same type of thing every day.
    basically, i have a work uniform and a weekend uniform.
    work: grey/black/blue color palette. a gray peacoat layered over a cardigan, button down shirt, slacks, mary janes, and a headband.
    weekend: color palette now includes bright colors. a t-shirt (usually one from threadless), hoodie (aa), jeans, and converse. oh, and funky socks.

  4. Pansy

    Definitely a dress with a pair of tights and a cardigan. It’s simple, comfy, and I can play around with the colors of everything so it doesn’t get boring. I really have to remind myself to step out of that zone sometimes, though!

  5. chloe

    jeans, t shirt, cardigan, and flats-usually minnetonka moccasins. if i’m at work, the moccasins become nice flats and the t shirt becomes a nicer shirt, and if it’s summer, it’s tank, denim shorts, lightweight cardigan, and flip flops.

  6. eyeliah

    And I think I answered last time you asked, although it may have changed. 😉 I’d say, skirt, belt, cardigan, loafers. Pretty standard go-to for me.

  7. Marieke

    Everyday: slacks, a patterned or textured button down, a bright cardigan, and flats that match. I tend to wear mostly blues and reds/pinks. As limiting as a uniform can seem, it gives you a nice constraint in which you can play around with colors, textures and patterns. Plus, it makes getting dressed in the morning a lot easier.

  8. Nadia Lewis

    – white button-down shirts
    – colourful handknit vests
    – wide-leg trousers
    – A-line skirts
    – handknit cardigans
    – handknit lace (triangle shawls)
    – colourful gauntlets
    – black coat

  9. Susan

    Work days: This tends to be season-appropriate trousers or pencil skirts, blouses, button down shirts, plain sweaters. Usually black.

    Weekends: This tends to be jeans with tall boots and leather jackets or coats, weather-permitting, and in summer, dresses and sandals.

    Home where no one can see me: The crappiest, holiest, most mismatched, paint-spattered sweats or tshirts and shorts that should never be seen in public.

  10. Kate Sloan

    I try pretty hard to resist having a uniform. I feel like my style hinges on “playing a different character every day.” French geek, 80s prom queen, androgynous boi, 50s housewife, etc. Lately, however, my uniform consists of a cashmere sweater (I have three: one black, one red, & one blue striped) over a skirt or dress, with black tights & a pair of boots. I usually add accessories – a string of pearls, a knit hat, or a big sparkly cocktail ring. This kind of outfit is simple & therefore easy to pick out quickly in the morning. It’s sophisticated, but also very casual & comfortable. & of course, whenever I wear cashmere, I get a lot of hugs! 🙂

  11. sallymandy

    Winter: jeans, layers of turtle or long sleeve tissue tee; sweater; always a warm scarf; and boots or Doc Martens. Summer: working on a new summer uniform built on white cotton blouses in varying styles, ankle-skimming cotton pants or knee skirts, and Haviana flips in different neutrals.

    I love the dress + tights + cardigan idea, but not sure it would work for the over forty set.

  12. Annika

    My uniform is a work in progress. Looking back, I can see that I’ve had one in the past, though I never thought so at the time.

    In college I wore little black silk slips. I’m sure that wasn’t ALL I wore, but that’s all I remember wearing.

    In my early 20s, my uniform was black capris, short sleeve button-up shirts, and little silk scarves around my neck. It was a great uniform because it went from work to the rockabilly clubs.

    More recently, before I was a mom, my uniform tended to be cute pants or well-worn jeans and a cute t-shirt or maybe a sleeveless top. A hoodie or pea coat over if it was chilly. Sometimes I mixed it up and wore a calf-length skirt with a turtleneck sweater – I loved that look.

    When I was pregnant I wore anything that fit, and started accessorizing with scarves again, bigger ones – my pink pashmina made an appearance almost daily.

    Since becoming a mom I’ve lived in a body that doesn’t fit in any of my clothes. My uniform = anything that fits. Jeans, t-shirt. The only thing I’ve been happy with is wearing a lot of necklaces. It’s been a very slow journey to a) get myself into shape and b) figure out what to wear. Recently I’ve been living in a pair of Navy 13-button pants, rotating with a few knee-length skirts. I’m working on tops now. Simplicity 3835 is sitting on my desk with some fabric, waiting for me to get the nerve to start cutting. Also I’m really into vests all of a sudden. I cut the sleeves off a thrift store sweater and I’m looking at some amazing knitting patterns.

    I’ll be honest, though: most days, my uniform = my pajamas.

  13. Franca

    Basic cotton tops/shorts/zippy tops in various bright colours, layered over each other. On the bottom I will wear either (a) jeans or cords and red converses or sneakers (if I know I’ll have to get changed that day) or (b) a skirt with coloured tights and either boots or ballet flats in blocky colours. I like brooches/buttons/pins and scarves for a bit of detail.

    I love colour blocking because there is an almost infinite number of possible colour combintations to keep things interesting, and little brain power is required, because everything goes with everything.

  14. Olivia

    My winter uniform comprises of…
    – knee high, flat leather boots (usually red or red/brown)
    – black leggings, a-line denim skirt (I own way too many of these)
    – a simple T or long sleeve sweatshirt
    – a short, fitted cardigan if needed
    – if I’m heading out then a black raincoat, fuzzy orange scarf and a patchwork leather bag come with.

    My summer uniform is more about belted vintage dresses over baggy jeans with flats.

    It’s always a mix of comfort items with something interesting/vintage.

  15. Frowner

    Hm…I have uniforms, for a year or two. Then I have new ones. This winter I’ve been biking through the snow, so it’s been full knee-length skirts or very stretchy A-line above-knee ones plus a knit shirt plus a cardigan or pullover, plus double tights plus my various chunky German boots.

    Summer is always difficult for me. I bike, so I don’t like to wear skirts because it’s always too hot for tights and I don’t like to bike in a skirt without tights. I don’t like to wear socks, but I don’t like the idea of messing up my lovely weird ankle-strap chunky maryjanes by being all sweaty and barefoot.

    I think that this summer is going to be very skinny pants (mostly carefully collected from the thrift stores) hemmed to the ankle and various work-appropriate yet still attractive cotton shirts. Plus my two pairs of pleated eighties mens’ pants, hemmed just above the ankle and worn with knit shirts of some kind.

    If you’re not particularly thin, or if you just plain have wide shoulders and a reasonable amount of muscle, it’s very difficult to find suitable summer shirts. Everything is cut on the assumption that all women have narrow shoulders and a small ribcage, even if things are then sized up.

  16. Lizzy

    I work with kids and don’t have a uniform but do have a dress code so I pretty much just wear black trousers, black shoes/trainers and either a longsleeve top or a cardigan/sweater. Has to be long sleeves to cover up my tattoos. The rest of the time I like to mix it up but i’m a big fan of layering and usually end up wearing a cardigan of some description. I love dresses too and am working on expanding my collection of these through sewing.

  17. meligrosa

    My constant uniform has been colorful tights, waist-emphasized line or belt, ankle boots/booties/sneakers dresses or a skirt and earrings. does my bike count? b/c we are attached at the hip since 2001…
    Anyways I love wearing crazy prints, colorful get-ups, I havent worn pants in ages and I love it when my friends tell me they saw some crazy ass print/dress/outfit and thought I’d be the first one to wear it. 🙂

  18. Kaeti

    That necklace! Hehe, I loved that particular octopus design sooo much that I had it worked into an etching-inspired pen-and-ink design and tattooed on my upper back. 🙂

    My “uniform” during this time of year would be a beret, a soft shawl wrapped a hundred times around my neck, a feminine blouse or shirt (cotton lace is a plus) over a cami, finished with either layered sweaters or a blazer. I lived in my Frye campus boots all winter, but I just received a pair of lace-up English riding boots that will get equal wear while the weather permits!

  19. e.

    Great question. I think you may have hit on part of why dressing through this pregnancy has been increasingly difficult for me… I can’t wear my erstwhile “uniform”! And I think I had just developed a new one, too: wearing a belt around my natural waist, whether over a cardigan, with a pencil skirt, over a dress, or any other base ensemble. It made me feel put-together and emphasized a part of my body that I liked. Now, I feel like my uniform is flat-boots-and-stretchy-things.

  20. miss fitz

    i miss my catholic school uniforms something awful. 12 years of not having to think about clothing so weekends i looked forward to it. anyway, winter reporting uniform now is a black turtleneck or cardigan over dark cords or twill pants. warm ugg boots most days (i spend a lot of time waiting for comment outdoors in the chicago winter) and red leather boots the rest. also some sort of scarf tp add color and more warmth.

    summer uniform is a chopped up t-shirt and a denim skirt. pretty much always. summer work clothes are too fun to uniform.

  21. dearilou

    About a month ago I went to work in jeans and a sweater and three of my rather shocked coworkers pointed out that I was not wearing tights and a dress. That is my uniform. Tights and a dress. And usually my black mary janes.

  22. Stephany

    As hard as I try to mix things up, I tend to stray back to jeans, flats, and two or three layered tee-shirts. Not really runway-worthy, but comfy.

  23. danielle

    i really feel like i’m the best representation of myself if i’m wearing anything silk paired with black denim or leather and a bright pair of shoes and a nice silk scarf. I love texture and subtle color – but I don’t mind going all out in saturation with the shoes. I think the play on masculine/feminine is a big deal for me, I love finding the ultimate balance in those energies. Also, as long as I’m wearing some sort of animal print (sans cow and giraffe, those don’t don’t in my book), i’m feeling ok.

  24. melanie

    I’m trying to make this the year I start dressing better since most days I spend at home with a baby and don’t change out of my flannel pants until I have to leave the house. I would say my current out-of-house uniform are dark jeans and a black turtle neck sweater or a black t-shirt. This is a lot different then what I would like it to be because I’m not afraid of colour and don’t know why I wear black all the time. This spring I’m hoping to sew myself a new summer wardrobe.

  25. elliebelle

    It’s funny you ask this. My friends and I were having this same conversation last weekend. We were all deciding what type of “looks” we generally go for. Myself, I think I am pretty standard a mix between a boho look and a preppy look, jeans or pants, with usually a longer t-shirt, or woven shirt, with a shorter cardigan over it, and boots or flats of some sort. Then ALWAYS a necklace (I have all different kinds) and some basic earrings. Sometimes my cardigan is longer and my shirt is shorter…but being petite, I don’t usually have on too much fabric or I look like my clothes are too big for me! Oh yes, and VERY often I’ll have a scarf on too. It’s cold in Wisconsin! As far as what it says about me, I’m not sure. I’m definitely more adventurous with my fashion than many around me (small town) but I’m not overtly wild. So I’m not sure.

  26. kaye

    Hi, I read your fantastic blog once in a while and thought I’d randomly answer this question. My uniforms last for several days or as long as I’m in a particular mood or phase, then are left behind, pretty much forever (it’s probably a manifestation of some kind of horrible commitment disorder). The last few days my uniform has been anything that incorporates:

    accents: flapper fringing, ruching, chains
    colors: navy for clothing, a mix of pastels and primaries for accessories
    shapes: very close to the body underlayers, wrapped/sculptural accessories with volume only around the neck, at the hemline and near the waist (all volume is in the center of the body).
    articles: textured silk, lace or velvet leggings, cropped tight boleros, scarves

    The overall silhouette, if one can be gleaned from such a pastiche, is vaguely 1920’s and probably cliche and recession-bound, though I’m not sure how to explain the Uzbek boots I have been wearing with it all.

    I love your uniform here: a testament to color’s ability to make everyday clothes look extraordinary.

  27. buttercup_rocks

    During the colder months I favour jeans in a dark wash, with a brightly coloured and/or printed top and a shrug or cardi, plus a correspondingly loud scarf or shawl of some kind. Brogues or chunky, flat boots, and nine days out of ten I carry the same bag – a capacious black leather Olsen shoulder bag with frills, (yep, leather frills), it’s very 80s and, since I often wear black shoes, and my favourite overcoat is black, it usually works.

    In the summer it’s printed dresses with a vintage vibe or tunics with cut-off leggings, plus the ubiquitous shrug either way. If it’s cold enough to merit them, I’ll opt for coloured tights. Flat coloured sandals or ballet pumps; bags variable to match whatever I’m wearing. If I’m honest and could get winter-weight equivalents of the kind of dresses I wear in the summer I’d probably dress the same all year round. Why? I prefer the way I look in dresses and the ease of one-stop dressing.

    While I dress for comfort, I also dress to be noticed. My work is largely creative, or involves working with creative people, so I dress to reflect that. As a fat woman I also dress to dispel negative stereotypes – like ugly, lazy, slovenly, unkempt, declassé, etc. – and to indicate I have no desire to be “slenderized” or render myself invisible.

  28. Mai

    my uniform is a dress, belt, tights, heels or flats and a wool coat. i sometimes i had a more in-between wardrobe, i’m either very dressy or really casual in jeans and a sweater. i think you do a great job by incorporating so much color with your jeans, so it looks dressy.

    i’m excited that i get to see you and the lovely fam next weekend.

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