The Ups and Downs of “Uniform Dressing”

Some people have to wear prescribed uniforms for school or work.  I remember my mom in her white nurse’s uniform during my growing up years.  She enjoyed the ease of getting ready for work and the fact that she didn’t have to put much thought into what she wore.  Conversely, a lot of kids who attend private schools lament the fact that they must wear a uniform, as they are unable to express their individuality through what they wear.

A Different Kind of “Uniform”

This post is about a different kind of “uniform.”  Many people come up with a formula for getting dressed that works for them, and they use this formula when creating their daily ensembles.  A famous example of this is Joan Rivers, comedienne and co-host of the show “Fashion Police.”  Not long after I started watching “Fashion Police,” I noticed that all of Joan’s outfits are comprised of the following:

  • Black top
  • Black pants (occasionally, she’ll substitute a black dress for the top and pants)
  • Colorful or flashy blazer
  • Statement jewelry (necklace, earrings, bracelets, rings)
  • Pumps or other closed-toe shoes (often colorful as well)

The blazers, jewelry, and shoes vary widely, but the black under-layer always stays the same.  Here’s are a few examples of Joan’s “uniform” (source:  Fashion Police Facebook page):

Uniform Dressing - Joan Rivers

The “Uniforms” I Wear

While I don’t host a national television show or appear on stage in front of thousands of people (perhaps one day…), I do have a few basic “uniforms” that I wear for the various occasions of my life.   Here are the three basic outfit formulas I wear on a regular basis (I also include scarves or statement necklaces in many of my ensembles):

Uniform #1 – For Winter / Cooler Months

Long sleeved top, pants/jeans, long coat, boots/heels

Debbie's Uniforms - #1

Uniform #2- For Moderate Weather (Spring/Fall)

T-shirt or tank, pants/jeans, open cardigan, ballet flats or pumps

Debbie's Uniforms - #2

Uniform #3 – For Summer / Warmer Months

Skirt or dress, blazer, sandals

Debbie's Uniforms - #3

Project 333 and My “Uniforms”

When you look at the images above, my “uniforms” are plain to see.  However, I didn’t think much about the concept of “uniform dressing” until I took on the Project 333 challenge.  Over my ten weeks of Project 333 thus far, I’ve worn one of my uniforms so often that I’ve become sick of it!  If you’ve been reading my Project 333 updates, I’m sure you know I’m referring to formula #2 – the pants, tee, and open cardigan formula.

“Uniforms” Have Their Ups and Downs…

Identifying my own uniforms and experiencing “uniform overload” got me thinking about the pros and cons of this type of dressing.  While dressing according to an outfit formula is a great fit for some people, others may find it limiting or boring.

I’d love to get your input on how outfit formulas have or have not worked in your lives.  But first, let’s look at what I see as the positive and negative aspects to uniform dressing…

The Pros of Uniform Dressing

Dressing by means of a formula has a number of benefits, including the following:

It’s Easier to Put Together an Outfit

I’m sure it’s much easier for Joan Rivers to put her “Fashion Police” outfits together than it is for her co-hosts, who seem to vary their looks much more widely.   If you have one or more outfit formulas in place, getting dressed can be much easier – and faster, too.

Lots of Mix and Match Options

If you use the same types of items in your outfits and own quite a few of each item type, you can easily create many ensembles by mixing and matching your pieces.  The reason I included five open cardigans and ten knit tops in my Project 333 capsule was so I could create a seemingly endless number of combinations. I reasoned I would experience more variety and less boredom that way (sadly, I still got bored – more on that below).

Streamlined Shopping

It’s easier to shop when you only wear a few different types of items.  For example, since Joan Rivers only wears black tops and pants, she probably doesn’t even look at other colors or prints of these items when shopping.  She (or whoever shops for her) simply makes a beeline over to the blazers, shoes, and accessories departments to do the bulk of her shopping.

A Signature Style

Many people like being known for dressing a certain way.  Wearing a “uniform” can definitely help you cultivate a signature style.  This can make it easier for others to shop for you, plus you’re easier to pick out in a crowd!  I know one woman who always wears all black and another who primarily dresses in white ensembles.  I know what to expect when I see these women because they always use the same formulas when putting their outfits together.

The Downside of Wearing a “Uniform”

While the benefits above are certainly compelling, there are also some drawbacks to uniform dressing:

Boredom

While some people can be quite happy using one or a few outfit formulas for many years, others are happier when they shake things up a bit more.  Since I gave myself so few options in my Project 333 capsule, I became bored with wearing pants, tees, and open cardigans so much of the time.  I’m looking forward to incorporating new options for getting dressed when I re-visit the rest of my wardrobe following Project 333.

Buying Too Many of One Thing

Sometimes when a person finds a formula for getting dressed that works for her, she may go overboard in buying the components of that formula.  Such has been the case for me with coats, blazers, and open cardigans.  I simply bought too many of these types of items, especially during the past few years.  I erred by thinking that if I like a certain type of garment, I should buy as many as I can (to increase my options, of course).

This philosophy has gotten me into trouble and has contributed to both my boredom and over-shopping. I was compelled to shop more to increase my wardrobe excitement, but I was going about it the wrong way!

Lack of Creativity and Originality

During the course of Project 333, I started to feel like many of my outfits looked very similar, despite the fact that I had included a number of color and pattern options within my capsule.  However, since the shapes of the garments were much the same, the overall look of my ensembles wasn’t as varied as I would have liked.

I did my best to shake things up through new color combinations and the use of accessories. Still, I could have been much more creative had I included a wider variety of garment silhouettes within my Project 333 wardrobe.  Uniform dressing can only be so original and creative, I learned.

It’s Hard to Change the Formula

Once you have so many of the same types of items, it can be difficult to create new outfit formulas, especially if your style aesthetics change.  For a long time, I liked midi length skirts and wide-leg pants and bought far too many of each.

When my tastes changed and I started to prefer knee-length skirts and straight-leg pants, I had to either alter my existing garments or start over again.  It would have been much better to have purchased just a few long skirts and wide pants.  That way, I wouldn’t have had to choose between spending a lot of money on alterations and feeling guilty for not wearing many of the clothes in my closet.

What Now?

As I mentioned, uniform dressing works really well for some people.  If you’re one of those people, then as they say, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!”  As for me, I feel the need to break out of the uniform mold or at least add a few more uniform options to the mix.

Now that I am shopping more consciously and inviting my brain to participate in the process along with my emotions, I will buy more strategically in the future.  That means I’ll buy a few blouses instead of more knits and consider different topper options for my outfits.  I’ll also try on a variety of new silhouettes to see if I can find other garment types to love.  I’ll buy less and think more.

If I hadn’t taken on Project 333, I doubt I would have noticed that I was dressing in a “uniform.” I could see it in Joan Rivers but not in myself.  Now that I see the patterns, I will vary them more often.  I’m sure I’ll still sport my three “uniforms” from time to time (or even much of the time), but I definitely won’t wear them all of the time!

What Do You Think?

I would love your thoughts on the concept of “uniform dressing.”  Do you have outfit formulas that you use when getting dressed?  Do you have other pros and cons to add to my list?

What has been your experience in wearing a “uniform” of sorts?  I always value your comments and I look forward to reading your thoughts on this interesting topic!


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Comments

  1. Very interesting topic! I don’t think too much about what I’m wearing, but I would say that I have a kind of “uniform.” Basically most of the time I throw on a shorter length skirt, leggings, and a tshirt or tank top. Sometimes it’ll be a dress and leggings. I don’t own any pants, so I guess that contributes to my signature look. In fact, my BFF nicknamed me “Angie Pants” several years ago, and often people will pause and look at me for a moment when say “Angie Pants? But I’ve never seen you wear pants.” I’m definitely known for this oddity.

    It does make shopping much easier, which is great, since I hate to shop. I can make a beeline straight to skirts and dresses, and be done with it!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      It sounds like you have a good handle on what you like and don’t like, which is great! I love that your nickname is “Angie Pants” when you don’t wear pants 🙂 Your “uniforms” sound cute!

  2. Thinking about my “uniform” when it comes to my closet, I immediately think of my maxi skirts. For me, they work! I don’t get bored of them. If it’s a solid color, I always pair it with a printed top, if it’s a printed color, I pair it with a solid. The one thing I do get bored with are shorts. It gets really hot here where I live and I despise the hot weather. In fact I only have two pair of shorts that I live in all summer. One is denim the other is khaki. I swear it seems like I only wear a t-shirt with my shorts, it gets boring. But when I have two boys, I have to be quick in the fashion and beauty department sometimes. Shorts and a t-shirt seems to be my most boring uniform.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Can you send some of that summer heat my way, Daphne? There isn’t much need for shorts where I live, but a lot of people still wear them. Maxi skirts are seen a lot here, too. That’s a hard style for me because of my height (skirts not long enough), but it’s a cute summer casual look. I hope you get more days to wear them this year!

  3. I think that if you broaden your definition of “uniform” to include different kinds of jackets and cardigans along with the open cardigan then you might not get as tired of your looks. I could see the jackets you wear with your skirts looking great with pants too. Or belt the open cardigan, etc.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I definitely want to incorporate a few more uniform formulas into the mix and have been looking for other types of jackets and cardigans. My shorter jackets don’t really work with my pants because the proportions are off, but a similar style that’s a few inches longer could be a good option and one I’m looking for. Thanks for your feedback and tips, Juhli!

  4. I want to say thank you for what you are sharing. It helps me so much to see someone else go through what I have struggled with, too ashamed to admit it, alone for so long. So, THANK YOU!!!!

    I have never failed to get value from your posts, and will continue to read everything you post. As many have said, your writing is excellent, you should pursue writing, in whatever from works best for you.

    I found this article, and bookmarked it, because after so many years of wasting time, money and obsessive thoughts on this subject, I feel that what this woman has done is what I feel I need to do now: I Love My Shirt _ New Communitas

    I especially love the last paragraph- there can be enormous freedom in a uniform.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Welcome, Marcy, and thank you for your kind comments! I’m so glad you’re getting value from my posts and that my sharing has you feeling less alone. I feel less alone, too, since I started this blog.

      Thanks for sharing the “I Love My Shirt” article. I enjoyed reading her perspective on “uniform dressing.” I loved the last paragraph, too! My feelings on “uniforms” are evolving, but I agreed with a lot of what was written in that article.

  5. FrugalFashionista says:

    I don’t use the term uniform. Instead, I talk about ‘dressing formulas’. I’ve always loved fashion, particularly the self expression and creativity (there are many other aspects that I deeply dislike – fast fashion for example). But after having children I lost my way a bit.

    I started a thorough wardrobe makeover about 3 years ago when I noticed that I was wearing the same unflattering formula basically every day (bootcut jeans, t shirt or sweater, comfortable but ugly shoes). I gradually bought good quality basics, consulted a personal stylist and had my colors done, and then got more adventurous with clothes. The transformation was really big, and so satisfying that it led to overshopping. During my worst overshopping phases, I bought multiples of the new shapes I had discovered. Still, when my emphasis was on expanding my wardrobe, I was quite unimaginative with clothes, stuck to about two three dressing formulas.

    I don’t know whether you want to expand your number of formulas, but I did this earlier this year during one of my shopping bans. Instead of being bored with the same three basic formulas (and craving new ‘fixes’), I decided to build as many creative combinations as I could from my existing wardrobe. I had a fantastic month experimenting. I raided my donation bag and salvaged clothes from there, taking inspiration from Pinterest and Polyvore. Dressing became fun again and I didn’t spend any money! I identified about ten new formulas and use most of them frequently.

    I’m very happy with my current wardrobe and the variety of formulas. Right now I’m wearing a lightweight dropped-waist cotton silk shirt dress (great sun coverage on a sweltering day) over a tank top with flipflops; a dress is a great ‘get dressed quickly’ solution both in the summer (worn with bare legs) and in the winter (worn with opaques and boots). I have sweater dresses, wrap dresses, shift dresses and cocktails, and love their versatility and ease.
    Other formulas I frequently use:
    * jeans (white jeans are my favorites this year), tank top, chambray shirt
    * jeans with a v neck merino or cashmere sweater, sometimes a scarf
    * patterned or plain cigarrette pants with a plain top or a simple coat
    * skirts (a black shortish pleated leather skirt is a favorite) with a cropped cardigans or blazers
    * shorts suit: city shorts worn with a jacket or blazers (knit and jersey blazers are great)
    * a sweatshirt worn over shorts or skinny jeans
    * jeans with blazers or Chanel type jackets
    * denim cutoffs with various tops.
    * coat dresses and evening coats (a very easy to dress up)
    * a gilet worn over a sweater and jeans
    * a leather pencil skirt worn with a chambray shirt or a knit blazer

    I work from home, but as a classic dresser I feel much better if my clothes are slightly on the formal side. I live in a city where everyone is very stylish and quite formal. The only types of clothes I wear rarely are suits – I don’t even own a pantsuit any more and wear my skirt suits very occasionally. In jeans, I embrace all shapes – skinnies, bootcuts (worn very long), flares, straight legs, varying the tops. I don’t like leggings and wear more formal pants very rarely. I also have workout clothes, but I only wear them if I’m actually exercising. I accessorize everything with chunky bracelets and silver cocktail rings.

    I love building outfits and thinking about the silhouettes. I think I know my personal style and color palette quite well. Clothes don’t intimidate or bore me any more. Dressing does not take long: I tend to keep a few clothes outside the wardrobe (altering the key items every two weeks or so) and it’s easy to devise outfits based on my favorite formulas.

    I don’t think I could do Project 333. I get bored with clothes really quickly and crave variety: rotating what I already have works much better. I keep half of my wardrobe in storage and switch in October and March/April. Having all this figured out, I’m ready to stop thinking about clothes and shopping, and start focusing on other things.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing some of your “dressing formulas” with me and my readers. It sounds like you have a lot of variety in your wardrobe and are always well-dressed. I would like to incorporate a few new “dressing formulas” into my wardrobe and will focus more on that after Project 333. Project 333 was challenging but I learned a lot from it (a post on that soon). I went from one extreme (far too many clothes) to another (too few clothes, in my opinion). I hope to find a happy medium in the coming months…

      Congrats on having your wardrobe well sorted out. Three years isn’t really that long to have progressed as well as you have. Sometimes we can go too far when we cultivate a new interest and spend more time (and energy and money) on something than we originally intended to spend. I still need to work on my wardrobe some more, but like you, I’m ready to focus on other things as well. Best of luck to you in finding balance!

  6. I want to tag onto what Marcy said and also say “thank you” for what you are sharing. It helps me greatly to read your stories about things that I have also struggled with, and felt all alone.

    I like to have a few uniforms in my closet for those days when I’m in a rush and need to get dressed quickly. And in the past I made the mistake of buying too many similar items. Such as a few years ago when ruffles were in, and since that was just about all I could find in the stores, my closet was filled with too many things with ruffles. Those were tossed out when I began Project 333 last year.

    What I’ve discovered with a much smaller wardrobe is that there is less risk of buying too many similar items because I now buy and wear less in general. My current warm weather uniforms, that I’m feeling good wearing right now include: 4 skirts, 2 pairs of shorts, 3 pair of capri pants, 2 pair of jeans, 9 tops , 3 cardigan sweaters, and either sandals or ballet flats,– and everything coordinates together so that I can create different looks. I also have a few pair of wonderful earrings for variety that can change the look of the outfit depending on the earrings I wear.
    But I also have certain items I wear together often, and consider them as “uniform” for when I need to get out the door fast, or if I’m just having one of those “uniform mood” days. Since my wardrobe is so small, I believe I will feel all right letting it go in a few years if my needs change or if I find myself wanting a change. But also, now that I actually “wear” all of my clothes, they no longer last FOREVER, like they did in the past, and this is a good thing!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your summer wardrobe numbers, Terra. It’s helpful to read about how others have created a wardrobe that works for them. There is no one right answer, but I’m glad you’ve found what’s right for you. How wonderful to actually wear all of your clothes! I hope to be able to say that sometime soon. I still have a lot more than you, but I’m moving in the right direction!

      • Debbie, anther reason I’m keeping my wardrobe numbers as low as their are currently is due to space. The closet I now have is much smaller.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          That definitely helps, doesn’t it? I used to have three large closets and things really got out of control then! Currently, I have one closet and that’s helping me to pare down.

  7. In the summer I guess I tend to wear mostly peasant type tops and capri pants or cotton dresses with sandals. I do have some blouses and closer fitting knit tops, but I don’t wear them very often because it’s so hot and humid here. I don’t wear a lot of shorts because most places crank the AC and it’s cold. That takes care of much of April through October. In the winter I mostly wear lightweight sweaters with jeans-either bootcut or skinny jeans. If I want to get a little dressier I wear a sweater dress or black tee,leggings, with a black and some other color printed sweater tunic. I just looked and most of my long or three quarter sleeve tops are knit and a peasant or tunic style. I also wear boots almost all the time in the cooler months with everything- jeans,leggings, dresses. I often wear necklaces, earrings, and/or bracelets with most of my outfits year round. I think I have a good mix of things that are good for my lifestyle, personal taste, and they are comfortable. I have developed a pretty good understanding of what I will actually wear and I don’t think I stray too much from that, but I do buy too much.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your uniforms, Tonya. It sounds like you’ve worked out some outfit formulas that work well for your life and your sense of style. Congrats on that! The buying too much part is a problem, but the fact that you’re conscious of that and working on it is an important step in the right direction. We’ll get there!

  8. Deborah says:

    I think everyone gravitates towards a uniform, which is not a bad thing. I have several different uniforms too. My favorite summer uniform is a lightweight scoop neck tee + a cotton patterned skirt + flat sandals. Debbie, the thing I notice most about your uniforms is the abundance of striped separates and pants that look very similar. I think the open cardigans are fine, because they are each different.

    Your observation about Joan Rivers is interesting. Did you know she sells a clothing line on QVC? She sells simple basic separates as well as interesting jackets, a look like what you see her wearing on Fashion Police. Joan is very petite, so on tv you mostly see her sitting down where the focus is on her upper body. She is also quite knowledgeable about gemstones and jewelry. She wrote a book about jewelry design about 25 years ago, sadly its now out of print, but one might be able to find it on Alibris.com. Joan is one of my heroes regardless of how much cosmetic surgery she has had!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I love Joan Rivers, too, but didn’t know about her book on jewelry design! What I admire most about her is her fearlessness. She really puts herself out there and isn’t afraid to be controversial. I’ve always been much more reserved, but I guess I’m putting myself out there now with this blog, huh?

      Your summer outfit formula sounds nice. I’d love to find some cotton skirts, but they are so hard to come by! So much polyester these days! Yes, I do love my stripes! They are kind of a signature style for me, but I enjoy other patterns, too.

  9. I became interested in uniform dressing when I read about designers wearing a uniform so they could free their mind to be creative. My uniform consists of neutral colored pencil skirts with silk or silk-like blouses or neutral colored sheath dresses always with heels. I don’t do casual often but I own three pair of jeans and I wear jeans with a blouse and heels or ballet flats. I own one dress with a print and three blouses that are not neutral in color.
    My uniform has helped focus my shopping but unfortunately it hasn’t slowed my shopping. There are very few grey sheath dresses that I haven’t felt the need to own.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I like the fact that designers wear “uniforms,” too. There’s something to be said about freeing the mind to be creative! You’re uniform sounds nice, Leah. I can identify with the need to buy more, more, more, even if the items in question are similar. Logically, I know I can only wear SO much, but the desire to buy is NOT motivated by logic!

      • It wasn’t until reading some of your blog posts about tallying the number of times that you wear items that I even thought about how often I wear things. I think I only wore my absolute favorite dress twice this winter – TWICE!! – and it’s my favorite dress. Thanks to you I am now thinking about usage of my clothes. Why do I need more if I can’t even wear what I have (and I do really like my clothes so that’s not an excuse)? That is a profound realization – I can’t wear everything I own very often, even if I want to, and I don’t own that much.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          I’m so glad the tallying concept is helping you! I think it’s common for people to think they’re wearing their clothes more often than is actually the case. I’ve even been doing that with my Project 333 wardrobe. I think the most I’ve worn any item is 10 time, which isn’t really THAT much for 2.5 months. Project 333 is really showing me that I don’t need a lot. I’m happy my journey is helping others to reach a similar conclusion.

  10. Joan is an advocate of “column dressing.” A neutral column makes the rest very easy. A black column is also very thinning.

    Writing from Paris–where one sees many uniforms.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, the column style dressing can be quite slimming. I’ve tried it on and off and appreciated the effect. I would love to see the various uniforms in Paris. I’m sure they are very chic!

  11. Rochelle says:

    Very interesting topic Debbie! I used to wear black leggings, with big sweaters or t-shirts everyday for over 10 years! It was just so easy to stick with this formula that worked well for me. Then one day I got bored. I never wore jeans during all those years and missed them so much. The problem was I had a hard time finding jeans or pants that fit my petite curvy frame. Tapered jeans were all the rage at that time but they were not flattering on me. Fortunately, bootcut jeans came along just in time when I needed to shake up my everyday wear. So I burned my black leggings for good and bought few pairs of bootcut jeans and of course, new tops and shoes to go with them. And now, I wear either bootcut or skinny jeans everyday as long as I keep my wardrobe functional and minimal.

    By the way, you look great in those outfits!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you’ve found a “uniform” that works well for you, Rochelle. I agree that jeans are hard to find and a good pair is worth its weight in gold. I hope to find some better pants and jeans soon. My problem is the opposite of yours in that I’m very tall. Finding good pants/jeans can be difficult but not impossible. Thanks for your compliment on my outfits! I definitely get nervous posting the photos, but I’m glad some people like how my outfits look 🙂

  12. I don’t think of Joan River’s clothing choices as a uniform but as clothing selected to enhance her looks and project a image. The black pants and top recede into the background while the colorful top and light hair frame her face, giving her more of a presence on camera. Many women have narrowed their clothing choices to a formula that works well for them — and they work hard to keep this image fresh and appealing. (Barbara Corcoran usually wears white skirts and bright solid color top, for example.) I don’t think of either of these women as having a “uniform” appearance but a lot of style and moxie. It’s interesting that the idea of limiting a wardrobe to a style or color palette would seem like creating a “uniform.” I have a well curated wardrobe with a limited color palette focused on a classical style. I enjoying the challenge of creating new combinations of clothing from this 90-piece wardrobe (that’s 90 pieces for all 4 seasons). It seems like a lot to me (I no longer “shop” and only buy replacement clothing for stuff that’s bit the dust). I don’t feel like I wear a uniform. I am content with my clothes and I feel that I define my style not my clothing.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I don’t consider wearing a “uniform” of sorts to be a bad thing. It can work well for many people and I often really love Joan’s looks. Barbara looks nice, too, but I’ve pretty much just seen the dresses she wears on “Shark Tank” (one of my favorite shows). I think I’m still honing a way of dressing that works best for me, as are many people. Congrats on cultivating a more minimalist wardrobe and a way of dressing that you love. That’s such a difficult thing for many of us, so it’s a great accomplishment for you to have done it!

  13. Mrs.M in MI says:

    I like a good uniform but I try to have a few different ones each season so I don’t get bored. And I remain open to tweaking them or developing new ones each year so I can add some trends and again, not get bored.

    This summer, my three office uniforms are sundress + cardigan, collared shirt or blouse + pencil skirt, and blazer + nice tee + pencil skirt. I bought new white jeans and it’s been a cool June so my casual uniform is white jeans + any top, LOL.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Your summer office uniforms sound nice, Mrs. M. White jeans can be quite versatile and can be a great building block for casual summer outfits. I like your idea of creating new outfit formulas each season in order to avoid boredom and throwing in a few trends as desired. Sounds like you have a good handle on your style!

  14. lcossco says:

    I’ve been away in the mountains… This was a very helpful conversation! I do have some basic style ‘recipes’ I like to follow too. My only caveat: when you have too few of a basic ingredient in your style recipes, they wear out faster! I find that two or three pairs of shorts hardly make it through one Sonoma county warm season; this year I went crazy and decided I would rotate through FOUR! hahaha… But it was sad: both my older shorts looked like rags all at once. So I am trying out one pair each of dark khaki north face clamdiggers (sporty & modest, in a classic color); a slouchy pair of light khaki cut offs that I made myself from an older pair of current elliot chinos; dark olive linen walking shorts from kohls; and some tailored dark denim joes trouser style short-shorts… The last two can be worn with a little bit of a heel & a blazer for casual dates, bbqs, concerts etc. I admire a smaller, we’ll edited wardrobe… don’t get me wrong! But the downside of too few items in my experience has been the nonstop wearing out and replacement of basic pieces. Very tedious!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      You made some good points. My husband’s shorts looked sad, too, so we got some new ones for him last weekend. I rarely have the problem of my clothes wearing out. Not yet, anyway… Your new shorts sound nice and should offer you good variety. If you wear shorts all summer long, I don’t think four pairs is too many. I love Sonoma County – it’s beautiful there!

  15. lcossco says:

    I am also loving my white jeans! And a white jean jacket my husband bought me last year! (But never together, mind you, so as not to evoke ‘tidy bowl’ girl! Hahaha) but that snap of white just feels so summery and makes everything else look fresh that it gets paired with…

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Love the “tidy bowl” girl reference! White jeans and a white jean jacket are great summer pieces. I don’t wear much white (or even many light colors at all), but want to push myself to wear a bit more during the warmer months. Why not?

  16. I have been dressing by uniform for about 2 decades when I read Elaine St James’ book and decided to only have black in my closet, especially for bottoms. In the summer I wear black linen pants and shorts with colorful linen shirts (short and long sleeve). The style is the same, bought in different colors. In the winter I wear black jeans, black wool knee high socks, a henley top in different colors (can unbutton for the hot flashes!) and a wool sweater. I dress for comfort.

    I AM NOT BORED WITH MY UNIFORM, but I have 2 problems I would like to solve, or make progress on solving, with this site’s help.

    PROBLEM 1: My mediums (12) don’t fit. I have rid my closet of all the clothes that don’t fit, and replaced them with similar items in larger sizes. The large is too big, the medium too small. I’m WORKING ON LOSING WEIGHT, or building muscle and I eat small portions of healthy food. So far, no progress. I have very limited endurance due to chronic medical conditions so there is only so much calorie burning I can do in the course of a day. Working on it with my physical therapist, thrice weekly cardio/strength pool class and dog walks.

    PROBLEM 2: This is the biggest problem: I have an irrational EMOTIONAL FEAR OF SCARCITY so I buy too many of the same thing (e.g., black linen pants on sale from the same vendor). I think this relates to childhood issues of not choosing my clothes (my mother the fashionista did) well into my teens and always feeling like I looked different from my peers.

    I am now a senior citizen and no longer care what I wear relative to other people. I should be beyond my childhood issues, right?

    My solution for this is to STOP BUYING CLOTHES, and to post on this site if I break my rule. I will continue to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit (in the broadest sense). This is a financial, not an emotional fix, which is actually easier. My mother, who was always critical of style, actually she thought I didn’t have one, is gone now. Time to grow up.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing about your wardrobe and style, Sandra. It sounds like you’ve found a uniform that works well for you and are taking positive steps to improve your health and fitness. I think a lot of us can related to the emotional fear of scarcity you mentioned. I know that’s been a big issue for me. Like you, I’ve frequently bought “multiples” and too many clothes overall. I would be happy to help support you in your shopping hiatus. Accountability really helps! Writing this blog has helped me tremendously in terms of shopping less and paring down my wardrobe. Committing to being open and honest about what I have and what I buy has helped me to stay true to my word. I wish you the very best of luck with your commitment!

  17. Thank you, Debbie. I got through a quiet Sunday online without buying apparel. I am deleting unread emails from online retailers. One day at a time.

  18. I am a big fan of uniform dressing and my go to outfit is always: jeans and boots, paired with a blazer and scarf. Unfortunately, I have also gotten tired of my uniform from time to time, and have learned to make small changes to it, to increase my happiness. This past winter season, I still wore jeans and boots, except it was skinny jeans tucked into short boots instead of skinny jeans tucked into tall boots, and instead of a blazer and scarf, I wore chunky knit turtlenecks, which also gave me the warmth and neck coverage I crave on cold days.

    It is challenging to find the balance of how much of a uniform will work for oneself. I have fallen into the trap of purchasing too many skinny jeans and tall boots, to suddenly want to shift to say bootcut jeans and short boots. And my wallet has paid the price for my overspending. Now I try to keep a smaller number of pieces for a given uniform, and have a few uniforms in rotation at the same time, to prevent boredom. So in addition to my skinny jeans and tall boots, and my skinny jeans and short boots, I have a pair of bootcut jeans for the short boots. The jeans and boot formula is constant, but I’ve mixed it up a little.

    I’ve done the same thing with the wash of jeans, instead of 7 days worth of blue jeans, now I have a printed pair, a cobalt pair, a black pair, and some blue washed pairs. Again it’s all jeans, but I have more variety because they are not all plain blue jeans.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing how you’ve made uniform dressing work for you, Lisa. I’ve fallen into the trap of buying too many of particular types of pieces, too, and I’m trying to watch out for that now. It seems your jeans have a good amount of variety, which is what I’d like to find, too. I have SUCH a hard time finding pants because I’m tall and pear-shaped and both are big problems in and of themselves! I would love to find a pair of printed jeans and a pair of cobalt (or burgundy) jeans, but no such luck so far. I’m bored with pants wardrobe because it’s all denim, black, and grey, but at least I’m working to buy better quality and more modern shapes in recent months. I think I might have conveyed that I don’t like uniform dressing in my post, but I actually do. I just was getting tired of MY uniforms. That’s still the case, but I”m gradually making progress. Since I’m limiting what I buy these days and am still making mistakes, it will take time. Patience is not my greatest virtue, but I’m learning…

      • Debbie I can sympathize with struggling to find bottoms. Jeans are easy for me to fit most of the time (I’m a petite pear so as long as the bootcut is petite I am usually ok for the fit) however, work trousers, skirts and dresses are a whole other ball game! I struggle so much with skirts, I eliminated them from my wardrobe years ago. And work trousers, rarely fit properly (fabrics are so important for me, it has to be thick material or lined wool), and dresses are difficult because I like to layer toppers over them.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          I’m glad I don’t have to wear work trousers because I agree that they can be especially hard to fit. Pencil skirts, too. I don’t like that silhouette on me because it accentuates my hips, but I do like straight skirts that don’t taper in at the bottom. Dresses are hard for me because the waist usually sits above my waist (I don’t like the “sack” style dresses that are popular now). I don’t find it as easy to find jeans as you do because of my height. I think I’m also too picky and want my clothes to do the impossible. I need to accept my larger hips and thighs instead of trying to hide them all the time. I know intellectually that all body types can be beautiful, but I still aspire to have a model-type body that I just don’t have. I have the height, yes, but most models are very slim in the hips and thighs. My body hang-ups get in the way of how I dress a lot. I’m going to do a post about body image soon… I used to have a blog about it.

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