I didn’t much care for my high school uniform. An uninspiring green and white plaid blouse, matched with a dowdy green skirt and thick brown stockings in winter. When you looked out over a sea of girls dressed the same way, we looked like a forrest with our tree trunk legs.
BUT, I did like not thinking about what to wear in the morning. I did like the lack of pressure. Whenever a free-dress day rolled around, anxiety about what to wear would come rolling in too.
Fast forward (just a few) years and I’m time poor in the mornings. While I love to plan outfits for special events, there are days I’d be happy to give dressing over to a uniform.
I think lots of women feel the same way — that it would be great to have a wardrobe where you can just grab and go, with zero thought. And look fabulous.
It’s certainly possible, but it needs a bit of thought in the first place. There is a saying in reporting circles — garbage in means garbage out. It refers to the integrity of data, but it can equally apply to our wardrobes when we don’t think about what we are putting into them. Or when we buy that gorgeous top that actually doesn’t go with anything with own.
The idea of having a uniform can form the basis for a working wardrobe. It can let you very quickly identify where your gaps are and what clothing (beautiful as it may be) you are best avoiding.
But how do you do it? How do you settle on the “uniform” that suits you and doesn’t make you feel boring and uninspired?
Deciding on a colour palette that flatters you is uniform step one.
Some folk like all black with the occasional indigo denim thrown in. You can always lift this look with brighter accessories. If you do go for black on black, there are some things to consider. Blacks are hard to match, so make sure the texture of your top and bottom selections are different. Black jeans with a black chiffon top for example. Not all complexions look great with black, but the addition of a scarf or brighter jacket can give the colour lift where it’s needed.
I prefer softer colours – creams, light blues and blush tones for my “uniform”.
Others might approach their wardrobe from a more nautical perspective – navy, white, red with stripes.
Whatever you choose, if your wardrobe is tonal, you will have a much better chance of everything looking good with everything else.
What do you love wearing? Are you happiest as a boho babe or do you prefer an edgier look? When heading down the uniform path, you have to decide what look you are going for. This is the opposite of playing dress ups each morning. Browsing through Pinterest is a great way to gain some inspiration.
For instance, if I have chosen elegant and casual as my “look”, I can use the explore features to trawl through Pinspiration:
Be practical when deciding what works. I love the cream and pale pink look and now that my kids are older I can wear it. But when they were babies it would have ended in disaster each and every time. What you do with your hours will play a large part in determining your look.
The building blocks
Now that you have settled on a colour palette and a look, go through your wardrobe and see what works. Have a play and see what works nicely against each other.
Referring to your Pinspiration, have a look at how the outfits that appeal are pulled together. Hot tip — cover the faces of models. You need to be invested in how the clothes look — not how great the hair and make up are. Keep in mind that separates that go together will give you more options than dresses but that dresses can be used as a separates if you are clever with them.
From here we can arrive at a formula for your uniform.
If you’re a boho babe, maybe it’s long printed dress dress + boots + cute earrings + denim jacket for winter all in the colour pallette you chose. You might alternate in skirts and singlets and a vest. Your jewellery uniform might be drop earrings.
If you’re into the casual tonal look, it could be: light weight top in cream + pale pants/jeans + boots + hat + fine jewellery. Soft denim with a blush top might be another staple.
You find a formula, and you stick to it.
Having a uniform and having a capsule wardrobe are really just variations of the same thing. The holy grail being able to dress in minutes and look amazing doing so.