Did you know women spend, on average, 15 minutes every day just deciding what to wear in the morning? Even more, if they’ve had a bad night or a messy closet.
Whether the idea of spending too much time picking out clothes (but never finding the right outfit) is draining your energy, you’d rather prefer wearing joggers all the time, or you have simply decided to experience a minimalist way of life, embracing a personal uniform at midlife would be a great chance to reclaim your time, your style and your sanity.
Anyone who has ever worn a set uniform—to school, for a job, to play a sport, knows that it has its benefits. However, unlike the classic one, which can have the effect of rendering the personality of the wearer indistinguishable, a personal uniform enhances it.
No more morning melt-downs, no more time-wasting thinking about whether what you’re wearing is appropriate for the setting or not, no more going to bed thinking about what to wear tomorrow. This is a chance to elevate your fashion game effortlessly.
In fact, a daily uniform— like that one of Hillary Clinton, Anna Wintour or Vera Wang— simplifies your everyday outfits down to easy outfit formulas so you always know what you’re going to wear.
What’s a personal uniform?
A personal uniform relies on classic, simple items that can make up the core elements of your style: pieces that you can mix and match and which represent your personality. Basically, it’s a specific set of clothes that you would wear over and over.
That might not inspire as much creativity as a seasonal capsule wardrobe can, but it’s a great way to simplify your morning routine. All you have to do is to follow an outfit formula you feel your best in.
Too boring for you? Not necessarily.
If you put together your personal uniform to match your personality, you won’t be afraid of adding key elements which show off your true nature. In this way, you can always create a flexible look so you can still rotate wardrobe staples and keep things fresh.
Besides, you’ll be able to have a wardrobe that empowers you to get out of the house quickly with your self-esteem and decision-making faculties intact and ready to take on the day (as well as saving money in the long term).
How Do I Start?
There are plenty of style icons to look up to when it comes to developing the perfect uniform.
If you are more like a Vera Wang, the late bloomer fashion designer, you will probably put comfort first: leggings and a t-shirt are your building blocks, and as well as Vera, you could rather invest in great accessories, like belts and boots.
Fans of classic style may enjoy following Hillary Clinton‘s passion for pleated pantsuits and blouses, instead.
“When I ran for Senate in 2000 and President in 2008, I basically had a uniform: a simple pantsuit, often black, with a colourful shell underneath,” Clinton writes in her book ‘What Happened’.
The reason she chose this uniform? She enjoys how they make her look and feel. “I did this because I like pantsuits,” Clinton writes. “They make me feel professional and ready to go.”
But what if you love the idea of a uniform but are not ready to fully embrace it? Then America Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, could be your cup of tea.
With her iconic sleek bob haircut, colourful gem collar necklaces, and oversized shades, she loves wearing different colours and patterns to highlight all sorts of designers (she’s a big fan of florals, but might mix them up with patchwork, watercolours, and more abstract motifs), however, her look is always tailored and nipped in at the waist, whether that’s the cut of a dress or a blazer.
What’s more, she’s been wearing the same nude Manolo Blahnik sandals for decades (which the designer custom-made for her), swapping her heeled sandals for heeled boots in winter, and adding a long coat.
The art of mix and match
Actually, most of us wear the same things every day without even knowing it. According to Harpers’ Bazaar, we tend to reach for the same items each day, the same comfy jeans or the same comfy t-shirt or sweater. While the other 80% of our wardrobe sits there waiting for us to plan the next big night out.
Creating -once and for all – your personal uniform will probably end up with you embracing the clothes you already wear with the advantage of streamlining your wardrobe.
Marie Kondo, also known as Konmari, a Japanese organizing consultant, author, and TV show host, would agree to start with removing everything from your closet, and keeping only what currently fits, flatters, and feels good.
Take everything that doesn’t fit right, makes you feel fat, is a bad colour for you, anything you sort of hate but might wear if you have to, and get rid of it. You never know, at the end of the audit process you’ll most likely rediscover hidden treasures you’ve forgotten that you own.
Now, think about what you need to wear every day. If you spend a lot of time at home, a power suit will probably not be the best option. For example, you may love the classic look of a dress and heels, but if you are constantly walking or spend most of your day outdoors, this may be impractical.
The plan here is to choose a personal uniform that suits your lifestyle.
If jeans are your go-to pants, for example, make sure to buy them in different colours that fit you perfectly and opt for a selection of comfortable tops like a box standard, black, longline, short-sleeved t-shirt or turtlenecks.
Try out several looks until you find something that works or even a few style uniforms that you love. The key is to focus on what makes you feel great.
Also, take time to think about what colours you prefer (you can make your life even easier by opting for a monochromatic outfit), which cuts catch your eye, what kind of clothes draw you in as well as which brand always looks good on you.
Is there something you buy over and over, or a kind of dress that always gets you compliments? Then, keep buying that item.
Your personal signature style
Whether you love wearing a pair of skinny jeans, with a silk blouse, and heels, or a skirt with a t-shirt and a black blazer, you’ll come to know that once you have chosen the same base uniform, it will be very easy to get dressed every morning.
The key to it is realizing what works on you personally – says Gwyneth Paltrow on Goop-. At some point I figured out that following trends is not always the way to go, you have to know what works on your body and have confidence (not always easy) that what is flattering is fashionable. I want clothes that move easily from a winter’s morning making pancakes to the school run to a meeting to homework to a dinner party.
Her favourite mix and match? She likes wearing a sweater dress over a pair of leggings and a tank, throwing on an overcoat and finishing with big sunglasses and gorgeous black boots.
Fanny Moizant, president and co-founder of pre-loved designer hotspot Vestiaire Collective is a fan of uniforms, too.
Mine is basically a pair of jeans or high-waisted trousers, a T-shirt or a piece of knitwear and then depending on the day, I’ll wear sneakers, loafers or heels – she said to Harper’s Bazaar-. Everyone is different, so it’s difficult to give specific numbers of items a woman should wear, but I tend to buy different variations of key essentials and staples and then rotate them. I have a lot of T-shirts and jeans and then two or three coats, dresses and skirts to mix in. I always prefer to stand out by wearing one statement piece rather than a full look.
You see, adopting a personal uniform is great for anyone who loves clothes, but hates being a slave to fashion. All you have to do is just add or subtract layers to your basic combo, your laundry and your wallet will thank you.