I’m becoming convinced that everyone has a uniform.
I am privileged to work with a series of high-powered business cat ladies who change up their look every day, but even they always use the same fundamentals. Pant suit in a variety of colors (this is Texas, after all), heeled shoes ranging from sensible to not-so-much, floaty blouse. Sometimes they mix it up with a calf-length skirt, but not often. I’ve no personal experience with their closets, but I imagine they’re jam packed with a bunch of other styles they never wear. When you have to maintain a certain degree of sophistication for your job and you don’t consider fashion a hobby or have the time to mess around with it, it’s inevitable that one will fall back on one’s staples.
Young moms have a uniform too, though it will be different. Yoga pants or jeans, tshirt or tank, skirt for church, sensible shoes. Nothing too expensive since it might get ruined. School teachers swap out the yoga pants for slacks and the tshirt for a button up shirt or a sweater.
Despite what you have in your closet, I am convinced that most people fall back on their uniform: that cross section of clothes between comfortable, personal, and communicating who you think you are and what you spend your day doing.
My roommate has a TON of clothes. But when it comes down to it she always wears a variation on a theme. Silk blouses, good jeans, shift dresses, wedges. She might branch out here and there, but if she’s got a big meeting, a good party, a date, she’ll fall back on her uniform.
So here’s a way to think about Twenty Pieces: Most of us really only wear a small percentage of our clothes, and we probably want to wear even less. What if you put real time and effort into your “uniform” and left it at that?
I know my uniform. Black pencil skirt, black linen slacks, a couple black t’s from JCrew and tanks from Gap Body. Two silk, high-waist patterned dresses, two LBDs, a blazer and four cardigans. That’s what I like to wear, that’s what fits my job and habits, so that’s what I have in my closet.
What’s your uniform? And why do you have anything else?