My hairdresser, a very handsome young man, wears the same attire every day: a black Hanes t-shirt, black jeans that are cut off just above the knee, black socks and black leather high top boots. Any skin surface that does show is covered with some colorful and pretty magnificent tattoos.
Now, you’d think that he just throws on what he was wearing the day before, but no. This is an extremely well thought-out uniform. He directs the same perfectionist’s critical eye to his attire that he does to each hair on each head of hair he cuts. He orders Hanes t-shirts by the package of three and tries on each one to make sure they’re cut exactly the same. As is sometimes the case, one will be slightly off, and back it goes to the factory. Regarding the jeans, he has his artfully cut off and then tailored exactly to fit his body by a not-inexpensive European tailor.
This young man is supremely comfortable in himself and his style and has honed that style to an art. The all-black outfit is the frame for his “ink.” I envy him. I can’t see myself going to the same extreme, but I’m leaning in that general direction: find something that works and repeat it.
In Shopping for the Real You I talk about uniforms and why they make our lives less stressful. If you have something that works for you, you don’t have to reinvent yourself every time you get dressed. So here are a few ideas about how to find and work with your own uniform. If you’re just uninterested in the entire concept of uniforms, think about these in the way you might think of a go-to recipe when company is suddenly coming over – simple things you can throw together at the last minute and still look decent.
1) Pick a few classics that work for your body and wear them repeatedly. Your “classic” may be something very different than the buttoned-down version. It might even be a leather moto jacket instead of a blazer. Simply changing out a different blouse, sweater, a statement piece of jewelry or scarf will make it suddenly new each time.
2) The reverse of that: Find a great piece of jewelry or a scarf and make that the “statement” of your uniform. The more drama in the piece or the pattern or color, the more simple and classic you want to go with the rest of the outfit.
3) One of my favorite memes: If the shoe fits, buy it in every color. When you find something that works for you in cut and style but you get bored wearing the same thing every day, buy the new item in different colors, if they work with your own color palette. That way you can keep your jacket and skirt or pants consistent and still look fresh.
4) When you find a combo that makes you go “Aha! Yes!!” hang the pieces together in your closet to grab when you need to dress for those occasions. Or at least take a pic of it to refer to on your phone. At our age it’s hard to trust your memory when a closetful of clothes is staring back at you.
5) Finally, if you have to wear an actual uniform (at our age? Well, maybe if you play oboe in the symphony or serve as an usher at the local theater) and it’s completely the wrong color or style for you, you can always tart up your make-up a bit, or wear sparkly earrings, or best of all your beautiful, warm smile, which is, after all, the very best “uniform” money can’t buy.