Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Personal uniform

Found here

Both of us here at Style Salvage have been enjoying Valet in recent weeks, but one article in particular caught my eye.

The idea of a personal uniform is something that I've been mulling over since before we even started the blog. I know without a doubt that, without really thinking about it, I've developed my own personal uniform which consists of jeans, t shirt and cardigan. I own a slightly silly number of dresses and some very nice skirts, but day after day the ease and comfort of jeans appeals to my lazy, comfort-obsessed side. When I write this down, this makes me sound very conservative and boring (and I'd be inclined to agree), but I think it also highlights the importance of smaller details. Colour is very important to me- I'm not a head to toe black person- so lately I've been trying out almost all purple outfits or different combinations of colours. The relative safety of the uniform outfit gives me the confidence to try out more outlandish accessories or outwear- a new cape, a large, flashy brooch or the like.

I think the important thing to bear in mind if you do embrace this idea is to keep assessing and reassessing what you're wearing and how you're wearing it. What properly represented you, or made you look good, two years ago may not be so fitting (in both senses of the word) now that you've lost three stone or got that high-powered job. Just because you've got the formula right, doesn't mean it's always going to be right.

This article just makes me think of non-uniform day at school. Once the excitement of being allowed to wear whatever we wanted died down., it soon became clear that we had all opted for the same thing. T-shirts, blue jeans and white trainers had replaced shirt and tie, black trousers and shoes. What a difference!

After just a few months in to my last job I realised that a definite uniform had been born. A safe, somewhat unadventurous style (similarly to yours) consisting of polo shirt, colorful merino wool sweater, jeans and either my suede bstore lace ups (if I was feeling fancy) or trainers. There was very little deviation from this. The informal work environment had a strange effect... maybe there was just too much choice for me. Of course, a significant chunk of my wardrobe would have raised eyebrows on many of my colleagues faces but that didn't really effect my outfit decisions... it had much more to do with comfort. Another reason is that when I buy something new, I just love wearing it and thus the wear and then wash cycle begins. With regard to shopping, Richard Haines's mentality of having less, but owning quality is one that should certainly be adopted...although at times I feel that there is just so much quality on offer... can't I have both quantity and quality?

However, writing this blog and attempting to keep track of my outfits on wardrobe remix (as well as dating Susie) has pushed me to be more adventurous and change things.
I definitely recommend keeping some form of style diary because it makes you really think about what you are wearing and how it evolves (however large or small) over time. The key to dressing well is to find what best suits you and to have fun at the same time. In a recent feature on WWD Thom Browne stated...“It’s the beauty in the uniformity that I find refreshing. Not having so much choice is what I find refreshing,” Indeed, Browne is well known for his regimented daily habits, which extend to the shrunken grey suits and white button-down oxford shirts he dons every morning. Having rewritten the rules of suiting up, Mr Browne certainly doesn’t deviate from them. I'm just not sure that this is for me... at the moment at least.

Once you've found that secret formula (if it even exists) of a great outfit the key is to tweak as you go, accessories and colour can certainly be experimented with. Have you embraced a uniform?


Ian Brown said...

Excellent post, both of you. The thrust of it couldn't be more on the money. Only a few months ago I would have called myself pretty fearless. I'd experiment constantly. I once wore a tuxedo to work just for he hell of it. It's more fun to dress without a lot of care. Now I don't often put in much of an effort and for me its plainly reflective of mood and attitude.

I'd say my uniform now consists of: a button up, a blazer, skinny jeans, Ralph Lauren ankle boots, or classic Clarks, and some sort of hat.

Matthew Spade said...

i really don't tink i've found my proper uniform yet. but at the moment for uni and work i seem to be going for black or dark blue jeans, cardigan, colourful shirt, boat shoes or brown boots from ASOS and my wax farmer-ish jacket.

i'm still not overly happy with my current uniform but im sure i'll be there one day.

loving the post SS!

Imelda Matt - The Despotic Queen of Shoes said...

I work from home so I desperately try and avoid the whole shorts and tee thing, but I'll admit it's a struggle.

Martin said...

Great post EJ and Steve!

My style uniform is stripes, ugh like you wouldn't believe. From hoodies to polo shirts, big bold stripes and always horizontal. Never too thin, semi-rugby and the wider the better. It's fascinating to me really, but people may call it a one note but aesthetically I can't get over it.

TheSundayBest said...

After looking through the disaster that is my closet, I'm not sure I'm completely against wearing the same thing every day.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting idea. If our clothing is a way of expressing ourselves, then these uniforms (which so many of us fall into) may be the most authentic representations of our "sartorial personalities."

Obviously this uniform is always in flux, just as we are. It also doesn't seem like a conscious decision. While each day's outfit is a reflection of choices, the overall trends are likely more subconscious.

Cool stuff!

Anonymous said...

I like Barry's comment, my uniform at the mo seems to be Uniqlo men's grey cardie, top, badges, patterned/bright skirt and tights and boots.

I'm having to give myself a sartorial slap in the face to wake out of this style coma.

Style Salvage Steve said...

Thanks for all of the discussion around this post. It is something worth exploring further. I see a photo project coming along...
Ian Brown - The longer the recession lasts, (for me atleast) the more chance of experimentation. If I can't afford something I will turn my hand to modification.
Mat ahoy - As Barry Wright out it so well, if a uniform exists it will be in a state of flux, just as our tastes are.
Imedla Matt - I am currently experiencing that very same struggle.
Martin - There is an interesting editorial in the latest issue of i-D which is all about black and white stripes. It shows a surprising amount of variation to be had.
TheSundayBest - I refuse to beleive that your closet is a disaster!
Barry Wright - Well said. The ideas contained within this post could certainly be expanded, a thesis could be born!
Isabelle - We all need that sartorial slap in the face moment from time to time.

Ca said...

Great entry about personal style. I believe in finding somewhat of a uniform, a dress code that works for you. But by all means, try different things and mix it up, go crazy and be adventurous when you feel like it. But it's always good to have a backup outfit, a standard one that you feel comfortable in and know for sure will work.


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