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4 Ways to come up with a functional and fabulous everyday “uniform”

Woman Choosing Clothing


Ashley Jonkman - published on 09/04/17

Tired of deciding what to wear every morning? Here's a great solution that even celebrities follow!

How long do you spend figuring out the perfect outfit for each day? Shuffling through your closet, tossing clothes around, searching for that special pair of slacks or the favorite top that’s just right for this precise Wednesday? Probably more time than you’d like.

Fashionable Woman

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As a kid, I loved the scene in the teen movie Clueless where the ultra-privileged main character Cher has a motorized closet that suspends her outfits above her, parading them before her eyes in a dreamy, futuristic display that showcased her unbelievable amount of clothing. Wouldn’t it be nice to have so much to choose from?

Maybe not.

Steve Jobs, Drew Barrymore, Mark Zuckerberg, and even President Obama have embraced a new trend that’s quite the opposite of my 90s teenage dream (and perhaps for the better) — the capsule wardrobe, or modern-day “uniform.”

The idea of having a smaller wardrobe is inspired in part by today’s push toward minimalism. The rise of “fast fashion” means trends are constantly changing, and clothes are cheap — both in cost and in quality, and many of us end up filling our closets to the brim with items that quickly go out of style, aren’t all that flattering, or simply don’t hold up to repeated washing and drying. We spend too much time and mental energy trying on clothes in the morning, in pursuit of the “right” outfit, when most of our clothes aren’t really a good fit anyway.

Enter: the modern day uniform. What if the key to looking — and feeling — great in our clothes isn’t more choices, but fewer?

In an effort to reduce “decision fatigue” Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire and mastermind behind Facebook wears a simple pair of jeans and dark t-shirt almost every single day. He doesn’t waste unnecessary time or energy on getting dressed — instead relying on the “outfit” that he feels most comfortable in and works well for his daily life.

President Obama decided to do the same while in office, telling Vanity Fair magazine, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” Drew Barrymore, who “put her closet on a diet” and pared down to a few quality pieces, gave brilliant reasoning, saying, “I want an outfit I won’t question. I don’t want to be out midday having an insecure ‘I wish I could go home and change’ moment.”

Sure, maybe you’re not an internet mogul, film star, or the leader of the free world, so what good can a uniform do for you?


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Rather than owning a closet full of clothes that you feel “just okay” in, deciding on a “uniform” allows you to find that outfit you feel amazing in and wear the heck out of it. You know that favorite suit jacket, the pencil skirt and blouse combo, or soft, stretchy leggings that make you feel like you could conquer the world the minute you put them on? Why not own a few, higher-quality pieces of that special outfit and give the rest of your less-than-favorite, bunchy, tugging in all the wrong places items away? (After all, somebody else may even be looking to stock their closet with white shirts that you’ve decided have no place in yours!)

Instead of focusing on and managing a closet full of options, a uniform capitalizes on what makes the you feel great, productive and confident, and gets rid of clothing clutter that you never wear anyway.

Interested in paring down your wardrobe in favor of the effortless “uniform?” Here are a few tips to get you started:

Wear your favorite outfit

Whatever it is you feel most comfortable in, take those pieces out of your closet and really look at what it is that you like about them. If you have an office job, your uniform will look different than a stay-at-home mom’s or someone who wears an official uniform to work. Figure out what it is that works for you in your daily life, and focus on finding more quality, long-lasting pieces that complement or enhance that look. Stylist Steven Alan says ,I think it is really just the shape of what you’re wearing and just finding something that is really just flattering and functional and you feel like yourself wearing it.”

Pare down — for real

That pair of three sizes-too-small (or too big) shorts, the dress you don’t have an occasion for, the pair of tights with the too-wild print? Get rid of them. Be brutal when it comes to combing your closet for stuff you just don’t wear. If you haven’t worn it in the last year — you probably don’t need it. Fewer items in your closet means more room to breathe, and more space for the things you actually do want to wear.

Ignore (most) trends

Just because skinny jeans are in doesn’t mean you need to head to the mall to buy a pair for each day of the week. (Unless, of course, skinny jeans make you feel amazing and work for your lifestyle!). Maybe you prefer a more relaxed style jean, or eschew jeans altogether, preferring cotton, khaki, or linen pants for your uniform. Be careful about buying into fads that may not be the best look for your figure or feel for you. Stylist Jenna Lyons says about ever-changing trends: “I think people look best when they feel comfortable, so worrying about a trend is a dangerous thing for most women. There are things I should just not do.”

Color coordinate

Choosing a color scheme or even palette as your base can help your wardrobe be more versatile. No, you don’t have to throw out or give away everything that’s not beige, but having a few solid staples in the same family can help you mix and match with ease. Black, white, gray, navy are all good colors to start with as they’re classic and never go out of style. When Drew Barrymore was paring down to create her own uniform, she made sure to organize everything by color, claiming that single act was “life-changing in itself. The rainbow helps because it’s visually clean. When you grab something neutral, you can then go over to your colors and throw something in to mix it up.”

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