Uniform Dressing Gets An Upgrade
Manifest the year of your dreams by going inward. Renew You 2017 is a month of mindfulness during which we’ll share content that guides you to create a deeply rooted intention for the new year. We’ll help you navigate inevitable obstacles with the latest science on habits, motivation, ritual, and more and equip you with tried-and-true techniques to outsmart even the toughest inner critic.
What do Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and Norma Kamali have in common? They’ve all mastered the art of uniform dressing and the freedom that comes along with it.
This style of dress calls on you to wear a variation on the same outfit every day, adopting the sense of uniformity that men have showcased for decades with the business suit. It launches the private school uniform mentality into adulthood, uncoupling fashion from fuss.
Speak to anyone who has a distinctly minimalist approach to dressing, and they’ll tell you about all the ways in which less is actually more when it comes to your closet. But why? Pared-back cool with an emphasis on staple pieces fits this new year so well: It’s easy, breezy, and chic, with little effort and maximum time for productivity.
Whether you are keeping it casual at the office or strolling around town on the weekends, the secret to true uniform dressing is as much in the key pieces as it is in the right attitude.
Why less is more
Reducing the time you spend deciding what to wear means reserving your energy for all of life’s other endeavors. In a sense, you’re turning minimalism into maximalism.
As Obama famously told Vanity Fair: “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.” Other powerful thought leaders have adopted an unwavering signature look for the same reasons (remember Steve Job’s turtleneck? Mark Zuckerberg’s gray tee?).
And perhaps the best part of uniform dressing is that it doesn’t have to be so prescriptive. Blue jeans and black turtlenecks not your style? Adopt a consistent way of dress that speaks to you.
The formula for uniform dressing
Here at mbg, we think there’s power and intent in eradicating all superfluous detail, clothes-wise. And what’s both a blessing and a curse, women in power have greater scope to send messages with their clothes than most men. If you’re somebody that needs a bit of how-to inspirations, here’s our Rx for a look that will never get dated.
Take one perfect white T-shirt (was there ever a quest for a more worthy endeavor?) from Everlane—for every The Human Women’s Box Tee in Small Print ($22), $5 goes to the ACLU. Add a pair of simple but polished leggings à la French girl like the 04-ply Technical Everything ($198) from Ply-Knits, and a pair of flats like Rothy’s ($125). This new shoe company prides itself on a dramatic level of environmental responsibility. Due to a 3-D knitting process that almost completely obliterates waste, the results are virtually seamless. And the company will recycle them for you when they come to their end-of-life cycle.
This refreshing lack of items is the cleverest way to adopt uniform dressing and never look dated. It’s the epitome of a real woman, one with a job, and a life, to cultivate a wardrobe that’s effortless. Vera Wang told Harper’s Bazaar: “Like most designers, I have a uniform, and mine is a legging. And if it’s not a legging, it’s a pant that’s like a legging.” Similarly, Diane Von Furstenberg said she created her iconic wrap dress because “I wanted something that was easy, that I could wear anywhere, and, you know, it is easy to pack. It doesn’t wrinkle, and it makes it easy to get dressed, so it works like a uniform.”
Cultivating your own unwavering signature style means directing people’s attention to you—not your clothes. It means homing in on exactly what style means to you and then expressing that to the world. It means making your wardrobe a canvas on which you can portray your best self. As Matilda Kahl, an NYC-based art director who has worn the same thing to work for nearly two years, eloquently wrote in Harper’s Bazaar, “these black trousers and white blouses have become an important daily reminder that frankly, I’m in control.”
This piece was co-written by mbg’s associate green and home editor, Emma Loewe.