My Mom was a dental assistant in the 70’s, which meant starched white uniforms, thick white stockings, white rubber shoes and white linen caps. How that made any sense as they chair-side assisted bleeding gums is beyond me.
How about the stewardesses (now known as flight attendants) in those fitted dresses that looked constricting just during the seat-belt demo – what would have happened if they had to activate the slide?
Let’s not forget the postal uniforms that have not changed in 40 years, still some non-descript depressing gray polyester something.
Then of course the brown uniforms, we all know and love as they deliver your Zappos orders, haven’t changed much over the years either.
Shall we talk Catholic school uniforms? Oh let’s not even go there, as Brittany Spears couldn’t even affect change!
My point is – a uniform is a uniform is a uniform – yawn!
Today I read the story about Matilda Kahl who decided to wear a uniform to work for a year just because she couldn’t deal with making decisions every day. What did that get her? A spot on every talk show in America. Somehow I think that was the real motivation, especially when I read the fine print and saw that she actually loves being creative with her clothing on her days off. I linked the story here so you can form your own opinion of whether this is an earth shattering unique idea, or there is simply absolutely nothing interesting about the idea, just like there is nothing interesting about her uniform.
Whatever happened to fashion-is-supposed-to-be-fun?
Indivuality, authentic style, ooh I look and feel pretty today…
Over the last few months I have had many clients who are transitioning into the next chapter of their lives and absolutely want a change and want to discover their new sense of style, but are clueless where to begin.
They have been wearing uniforms for decades and now find themselves liberated of the chains and free to move about the stores, but they are at a total loss and are beating themselves up. Here’s a bit of their self-talk: this sucks, everyone else looks so stylish, I don’t know where to start, what to buy, what to pay, what looks good or bad on me, I give up, this is too freaking complicated!
First off ladies, give yourself a break and realize that the art of dressing has not been on your plate for decades and now that it is let’s embrace it as something positive, rather than drudgery.
Because you haven’t spent years perusing catalogues, shopping in stores, or even pining over the latest styles, it may take some time to navigate the landscape, so start simple by establishing your comfort zone.
Here are the 6 basic declarations most commonly extracted from women as I dig deep into their psyche. Pick the ones that suit you best!
1. I Prefer Pants
Okay then, pair down all the skirt and dress mistakes in your wardrobe. Possibly get it down to one fabulous LBD and use the rest of the real estate to bump up your pant wardrobe.
Fine-tuning – figure out what style pant best flatters your body type. Do you have long skinny legs? Then maybe a trouser cut will add a bit of volume. Curvy girl? Perhaps a boot cut will help balance the proportion. Read on for a deep-dive in buying pants by body proportion. The point being, establish your comfort zone and don’t stray too far from what you know, like and trust because no doubt the off-base purchases are what will sit in the closet and never see the light of day.
2. I Prefer Skirts
Do you love your legs? Then by all means stop hiding them and wear skirts! Skirts can be worn with pumps or flats and they can be dressy or casual.
Fine-tuning – again, figure out what style flatters your body type. Options are numerous – slim, A-line, short, midi, patterned or solids. Read on for additional tips on dressing by body proportion.
3. I Prefer Dresses
Well halleluiah! Dresses have come a long way baby. You can be dressed up or dressed down. Many women struggle with the structure of jackets and pants and love the simplicity of popping on a dress.
4. I Prefer Blouses
If you have a combination of blouses and cotton shirts in your closets and those rigid cotton, must iron, button front shirts are never being worn, then donate them as finger painting smocks and feel free to shop the blouse aisle.
Fine-tuning – do you like sleeveless, ¾ sleeve or long sleeve? Do you like patterns or solids? Do you like florals or geometrics? Tweak your preferences and only shop within your parameters. Keep it simple!
5. I Prefer Sweaters
Do you prefer sweaters to jackets? Great, then deep dive there.
Many former corporate women don’t want to put on jackets anymore – too much of the past uniform. Be sure to donate those jackets to a place that caters to women who are looking to enter the job market.
Fine-tuning – Do you prefer cardigans to v-necks? Quite possibly you haven’t even assessed this but put on a V-neck, stand in the mirror and see how your top half looks! Some v’s are too high making the girls look broad horizontally. Now try on a cardigan – but again watch for the shape of the front – some of the ‘crew’ neck cardigans look dorky if buttoned! Then again they look dorky if unbuttoned because what is supposed to happen at the neckline? So there’s your answer – a v-neck cardigan is the way to go. Fine-tuning ladies – fine-tuning!!
6. I Prefer Jackets
Do you prefer blazers and are definitely not a sweater girl? You guessed it – if you are not wearing those sweaters, get a purge bag.
Fine-tuning – If you are a jacket girl like me, let’s define what you like about jackets. Do you like long, short, single breasted, one button, two button, double breasted? Do you like solids or tweeds and what fabrics are you attracted to or opposed to? Look at what you own, but more importantly look at what you ‘like’ that you own. Now shop only for those going forward!
Define your uniform in your new terms and shop with purpose!
And remember – you are pretty!