This is a journey towards minimalism – and I wish I did this twenty years ago. I recently decided that I needed to make a clear effort to uniform dress, and if you’re reading this then you might be interested in starting too.
Uniform dressing has a simple appeal, and is a great timesaver. Many articles refer to Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck and jeans because it’s a great example of a style uniform. The simple appeal is comfort, and it saves time because you don’t need to waste time wondering what to wear. I was instantly drawn to the simplicity of dressing.
Besides, how much time have I wasted in my closet trying to figure out what to wear? Too much time, that’s a fact. How much time have you wasted? Wouldn’t you rather have a peaceful morning where you can save your brain for more important tasks?
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After reading several articles for inspiration, I finally admitted that my closet has a few problems:
- I don’t put away seasonal clothes
- Some shirts only work with certain pants
- Some pants only work with certain shirts
- I keep a lot of too-small clothes handy (because I’m slowly shrinking)
- I keep clothes that attract dog fur for no practical reason
I didn’t realize that so many of my clothes were limiting; so removing these difficult items seem like a great place to start simplifying my wardrobe.
Are your clothes limiting like mine? Start looking at pieces you wear the least, and ask yourself why they haven’t been in the rotation lately. Any garment that is damaged, ill-fitting, or just not you anymore (undesired color or style) is well positioned to be recycled, donated, or sold.
To recycle, donate, or sell?
- Sell an item if you think you can; think seasonally appropriate designer pieces. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself consider a local consignment boutique.
- Donate good condition clothes to your favorite thrift store, charity, or shelter. This route is generally the easiest way to lighten up your closet with either convenient shop locations, and all-hours donation options (like bins in parking lots).
- Recycle spent undergarments and any clothes with significant damage. I recycle textiles in-person at H&M. It’s a great way to avoid making direct landfill contributions while receiving coupons. I recycle everything from worn shoes, holey socks, to tired bed linens. I keep a shopping bag in the laundry room to collect freshly laundered recyclables.
Here’s a photo of my closet while drafting this article. It’s full of the options I love, however the paradox of choice is getting to me. Also my closet is full of past style uniforms that I no longer wear.
As you start to remove things from your closet you might see a pattern emerge. Or you may not. Since uniform dressing is really about feeling amazingly you, sit back and reflect on outfits that make you feel like a million bucks. Lay that outfit out, and take mental notes about why that combination is amazing. Is it the fit of the pants? The way the shirt drapes or feels? Maybe it’s the color of the shoe that brings it together.
Really take your time here. It’s essential to know what you like before you can build a successful uniform. I made a list of favorite outfits, shirts, and pants. Then I looked at it briefly each day for a few days before I understood what made me happy and why.
I’ve always been a fan of uniform dressing, but I didn’t really have the vocabulary and intent like I do now. Before college I was mostly all jeans and tee shirts, then while in college I shifted to flowy blouses (namely Express’ Portofino shirts) with leggings or knee-length skirts with a blazer (especially on presentation days).
My closet problems began shortly after graduation, because we moved to a colder region of the country, then I got pregnant. We moved again to a different climate, then had a baby. When Baby Jupiter was six months old we moved again – to the same region where we started. So now I have a large beautiful closet full of clothes that are too small, too large, and out of season. Ugh.
I made myself feel better by arranging my jackets by color. See photo below.
Relax your shoulders. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.
I rearranged my hanging shirts also. I did it quickly by color, but the KonMarie part of my brain took notes with each piece; when it was last worn, and if I even liked it anymore. This ounce of mindfulness helped me focus my thoughts and decide that my style uniform will be (until further notice)
- White shirts
- Black (or near-black) bottoms
- Bottoms MUST have usable pockets
- Any shoe
- Any jacket
- Non-trendy jewelry
Now that I have declared a uniform, I can start donating clothes that
- Don’t fit
- Are non-uniform
- Are dog-fur magnets
“the point of uniform dressing is to make it easier…not to restrict”
Like most people prone to hoarding, I have a hard time letting go of things that still have usefulness. This is simply something that I need to work on. So making a clear decision about my future closet makes it easier to let go of the present non-compliant clothes – at least most of them. My uniform is forgiving towards jackets and shoes because I have always loved expressing myself through jackets and shoes. Besides, the point of uniform dressing is to make it easier to be me – not to restrict or mute one’s self expression.
The easiest clothes to part with will be the pile of Lularoe dresses and leggings. They were the perfect postpartum capsule for me, but I can wear regular clothes now. I may keep one black shirt dress because you never know when you need a casual LBD.
The hardest clothes to part with will be my collection of Express Portofino shirts. An unwritten uniform rule is “no v-necks” and these button downs all have v-necks. But I am already making myself feel better about them by vowing to take an Outfit Of The Day photo with each one before I donate it. Regardless, they are all too small now, and there isn’t room in my life for non-white too-small shirts.
I will certainly keep a few outliers in my closet like some dark shirts, and a light-wash jegging or two. But otherwise I welcome my new parameters because having boundaries helps me find direction. Besides, once I really trim the fat from my wardrobe I can focus on the remaining pieces and replace with higher quality. I might even have the time to find the perfect fitting Oxford; slim bodice, small and high arm holes, with long arms and torso.
What style uniform is calling you?