Fashion / Professional / Style

Work Uniform : make your own?  Yes or No?

One of my favorite spots to stop and read is A Cup of Jo, a blog written by Joanna Goddard. She frequently has interesting content and thought-provoking discussions, décor insights, and family life experiences worth reading about and considering. It is clear that she doesn’t dash down the first thing that comes to her and serve it up to her large readership: her success comes with carefully curated content, and that, my friends, is an example of a timeless tip for successful blogging.

I was on my way to work recently and catching up on the blogs I like to read regularly when I came across this post with perspectives on whether or not to have a work uniform that you make up yourself, and in which circumstances this is actually a blessing to have to make one less decision and save the important and valuable decision-making points for big ticket items. I introduced the post on Instagram to a select audience last week, and finally finished it today. Voilà. You can find me on instagram @nini4nana and discuss there too!

You should really just pop over to her post, linked above, and check it out, but she selects quotes which describe Matilda Kahl’s article about wearing the same thing to work everyday. Matilda is a creative director, yet she wears the same thing to work everyday, and likes it??? That’s perhaps unexpected, no?

And then, my friend anothernicole posted her take on the matter, and was inspired by a post (about getting rid of a wardrobe in exchange for a small, curated, capsule wardrobe) contributed on the Dallas Mom’s Blog by the author of  Crib to Table, who is, by the way, also working on a PhD and in a subject near and dear to my heart: feeding kids the right food according to their development. This is a little bit of a hot topic now that we’re all shedding sweaters and jackets in time for lighter (more complicated) layering situations.

I’m joining the conversation, and thought I’d share a few personal thoughts on self-imposed, non-required work uniforms. Perhaps this exercise will convince me one way or the other, but I will give the writing process a chance to work its wonders nonetheless.

I’d like to begin by saying that the perspectives here are simply my own – to summarize a bit of my About Me:  I am a 20-something perpetual doctoral student of nutrition (it seems at times…) in the medical sciences with a sense of style and beauty, balance, and a big supporter of the arts and creative expression. Stereotypes in the past (although still recent and present) may have suggested in that to be fully invested in your career, you can’t waste precious time worrying about what you wear or all the permutations and combinations of outfits and accessories you’ve already gone through, and how many remain before you’ve exhausted the possible groupings for creating outfits. I’ve felt this particularly in the sciences with my peers, and have made me self conscious at times if I wear lipstick or heels when they may be in sneakers and t-shirts regularly. I have worn my fair share of comfy, and crave it after a day in a stiff dress and heels, but it is definitely a tough pot to stir – what to wear to work?

I’ve gone through many changes in style over the years, and I surely expect to hike through several more transitions in the future. Currently, I’d describe my style as comfy chic. There are a few things important to me when I walk out the door.

Rules to Wear By:

1) it has got to be comfortable so that I can walk, eat, breathe and not wish I was at home with all my might.

2) look like I put at least some effort into being presentable.

3) have something interesting going on – earrings, a scarf, a bright jacket, pretty lip color.

I can’t seem to get away from color, no matter how hard I try to wipe my closet of bright purple or green in exchange for creams, blacks, and grey neutrals. I’ve tried and tried, but eventually realized that what makes me, me , is in part the pops of color assembled in non-traditional ways at times. Acceptance. Today, if you were to peer into my closet, you would find that it has plenty of neutrals and strong basic pieces and I’ve become stringent on any accessories that find their way into my collection. If I shop, I want to do it right so I don’t waste money.

So, if you haven’t been sitting here on Where the BlueBoots Go and combing through my posts for glimpses of outfits (ha – ha), you’re probably wondering do I have a work uniform or not?

Prior to reading Joanna Goddard’s article, I was primed to believe that uniforms were not cool, required, and anyone who wears one must wait for the moment when they can strip it off and wear something pretty.

This is partly based on my own experience as a wee Second grader at a short stint in private school, wherein I started mid-year at a brand new school for me and discovered I had to show up for school without the identical uniform navy pressed skirt, white button up and navy jacket with black loafers that all the other young girls had to wear. A great way to make a first impression, am I right? If I recall, I wore a dark grey wool knit skirt that was once my mom’s (how I fit into it – I haven’t a clue – but looks were apparently deceiving) and was apparently too big so it fell down on my first day of school. Oh, scarring uniform memories… It wasn’t for this mortifying moment, but soon after I went on to public school, which allowed me to wear navy overalls with prints of Russian dolls, from Denmark, and leopard print velour tops and bottoms with sparkly blue butterfly clips, to my heart’s delight.

People in the US infrequently wear uniforms if they aren’t in the service industry, whereas, in Brazil, for example, I’ve observed that most people who work, have some form of uniform. With the exception of medical professionals who wear a defined color of scrubs which indicate if they run with the surgical or the prenatal crowds, or civic police officers, I can’t quite think of another commonly uniformed profession.

Many people do have some form of loose uniform or dress code, however.

At this point in my career, I’m not required to dress a certain way, but now at a time without external requirement, I’ve begun to think it is a good time to consider  if  I could form my own work uniform. Is it even possible? I don’t exclusively like to wear pants, or dresses, or skirts, or suits, so it would be hard to make a standard black bottom a fixed element of my work uniform as Matilda Kahl does with a silk blouse and black pants. I don’t prefer to wear a particular type of blouse either. Often, though, a variant of slacks with a blouse, a necklace and earrings, and flats (boots in winter) make it into my usual outfit for work. Readers, would this count as a uniform? At this point, I’m drawn to conclude that a work uniform might not work for me, but a work standard might. I like to live on the edge (!) a bit and a self-proclaimed comfy chic style certainly has the potential to walk the line between appropriately dressed and under or over dressed. Or else, comfy chic is a camouflage technique, enabling me to go from one environment to another, unnoticed…

Part of figuring out if a work uniform works or not depends on how strongly it matters to you (and me) what other people think (or don’t waste a thought on) how we look at work. Feeling put together and looking put together, I’ve discovered, personally make me feel like I fit my job and can start the day off right- similar to that mythical feeling obtained from “getting up on the right side of the bed.” Maybe after another 10 years, I can revisit this post and, depending on where I am and what I’m doing, I might have a different response. How does that sound?

I’d love to hear what you think, and if you have a work uniform that you’ve come up with, please share how you came up with it, and what it is! Leave a comment below and share if you like.

Happy Wednesday, all!


7 thoughts on “Work Uniform : make your own?  Yes or No?

  1. Love this. Especially like what you say about color. I’m like you–I have to have color. I don’t look that great in neutrals for one thing, but I also FEEL better in bright colors. I also really like your idea of a “work standard.” As much as I would love to overhaul my wardrobe and get a chic uniform thing going on…I also have to live within my present budget. So for the time being, I’m toying with the idea of a kind of work standard, too–at least until I can accumulate uniform items 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment! 👍👍for color too. I’m in awe of outfit potential, though, with a few classic pieces. All my math training makes me want to do probabilities to find out when I would reach the max 😉. Also, I’m wondering if in order to get a capsule wardrobe down, if I would have to downsize first. Can’t I just keep it all just in case it doesn’t work ? 😄 would be fun to try nonetheless.

      • hehe yes i know what you mean. with the capsule wardrobe, you DO keep it all. you just box it up and see how often you need to go back to it. what i’m wondering is—this whole philosophy…what else can i apply it to? are there other decisions i don’t want to make that i could streamline somehow? #potential 😛

      • YES. There are. I once attended a talk by Isaiah Hankel and he said he learned from someone that you only have a certain amount of decision points in a day to spend. If you use it all early in the day, you will be exhausted when you really need to make decisions on big ticket items. Perhaps with more eminence and importance, the outfit conundrums have to go. Also, he suggested always putting things in routines together – your contact lenses next to your toothbrush and comb so you do them all at once. Have a breakfast routine so you’re not standing in the kitchen for ten minutes between the blender and oatmeal. It was a life changing moment to consider my daily allotment of decision making points.

  2. Pingback: This is a post about fashion. | anothernicole

  3. I agree with Kahl on the matter. I like the idea of a work uniform, self imposed or not. It takes away a lot of pressure and makes it easier to just focus on work itself and not other social pressures. That’s just my take though, I’m sure there’s a pretty even split in opinion.

  4. Pingback: The Power Casual Way to Confident Style - where the blueboots go

Leave a Reply