Hey girl, I have been wearing basically a variation of the same thing every day for years. Once I decided I didn’t need to dress to impress other people, my world changed. I made this fashion choice without really even noticing it. It just became what I wore all the time—my “uniform,” if you will.
Once people realized I was constantly on point, I was asked repeatedly, “How do I find my own uniform?” So I flipped my hair and told them: It’s actually not too difficult a task, no matter how daunting it may seem. Here are 7 simple steps for finding your own everyday outfit formula.
1. What Do You Want to Wear Every Day?
Sweatpants and Uggs? Yeah, girl, me too. Most of us can’t wear our comfy clothes to the office, so let’s look fierce AF instead. What outfit makes you FEEL your best? What do you wish you could wear over and over again? Is it a popped collar and skinny jeans? Maybe it’s your favorite sweater and skirt? Pick one thing—this will be your starting point.
2. What Do You Need from Your Outfit?
Where do you go? What do you do all day? What you do will dictate what you need. Do you walk a lot? You need good (fabulous) shoes. Are you out of the office for meetings all the time? You need a solid (fabulous) carry-all bag. Are you a jet-setter? You need clothes that stretch when you need them to and resist wrinkles. You need mix-and-match pieces that you can wear that make you feel corporate and competitive (and fabulous).
You need to find things that fit YOUR needs and then the needs of your company, in that order. Once you have identified exactly what purpose your clothing serves, finding your uniform is much easier, and hopefully even fun.
3. Choose a Neutral Color Palette
One of the most important factors in a uniform is the foundation of classic, neutral colors. Black, White, Navy, Gray, and Camel will never go out of style. They all play well with each other, they will always look current, and let’s be honest, they’re chic AF. This is the amazing camouflage of a uniform.
Surrounding yourself in a modest color group takes the focus away from just your outfit and brings it back to you. You won’t be known as the woman who always wears wild stuff (I mean, if that’s who you want to be, I love it and all the power to you); you’ll be known as the woman who simply looks effortlessly pulled together. And these foundation colors allow for you to get away with adding a bit of flare (ring, scarf, bag, feminist button) when you feel like it, because they literally go with everything. Most importantly, you immediately eliminate the “does this match?” dilemma, which can be a major time sucker in the morning.
4. See What You’re Working With
It’s best to first separate your clothing into “business” and “casual.” What do you already own that fits your newfound criteria? Surely you have that favorite sweater that fits you perfectly and looks good with so much. Get it out of the closet as the first item in your ‘Keep’ pile. Next, pull out other items you like: items that make you feel good, and that fit you, and that fit the NEEDS we talked about before.
Once you have a good pile, start layering them together and playing around. You may benefit from having a good (and brutally honest) friend by your side—like, the kind of friend who will let you know right away if you’re muffin-topping. You know I’d be there in a second if I could.
As you go, if you haven’t worn something in a year, accept that you’re probably not going to wear it for the next year. Not so sure? Try it on and see if you can make it work with something. If not, get it out of there (start the toss/donate pile) and focus on what you DO wear. Now, check out what’s left. Is there old crap in there? Get rid of it. Do you need to make alterations or repairs to make something work? DO IT! Fit is really important with your uniform, and alterations are everything. All the rest of that stuff? Find a great place to recycle or donate. Dress For Success is a great option that benefits battered women and can be found in most states.
(I understand this whole process may be causing you major anxiety by now. I totally get it, and I’m totally here for you. Remember, this is the beginning of a new era in your daily—one that will make you feel better and more confident all day, everyday. You got this, girl!) OK, back to business.
5. Figure Out What You’re Missing
Now that you have your favorite pieces (like that sweater we keep talking about, those blouses that don’t pull across the girls, or maybe that wide leg trouser that has an amazing elastic waistband) it’s time to make a list of what you know you need. You know what you need to wear to work, so start there. Take a look at what you’ve pulled out and try to pinpoint what’s missing.
I recommend starting with categories. If you have one perfect sweater, you’d likely want a few more, right? (Pro tip: If you LOVE a sweater, go get three more of the same one in different colors.) Remember, the point is to make this easier, not harder. Don’t think of this as a different outfit for each day. Think of it as reusing pieces and not caring if you wear the same thing a couple days in a row (mixed with other pieces, of course). When executed correctly, no one will notice. Guys do this all the time, and no one ever calls their shit out.
6. Build on Your New Foundation
Now it’s time to dedicate a day to shopping. If you don’t like shopping, I’m sorry. I promise time will fly and you will be done before you know it (I’ll also tell you that because you’re going out with an actual list and you know what you’re looking for, it won’t suck too much). Grab that brutally honest friend of yours again (I would, but you know, I’m not there) and set out with your list and a budget.
I recommend stores like Uniqlo, Gap, Zara, and COS to start. They make good clothing and they all offer good neutral pieces. If you can afford to buy it or to put it on credit all at once, good for you. If not, prioritize your list and buy different things at different —no shame in that game, girl, money gets tight. Totally been there. These are going to be the foundation pieces that you keep for as long as you can, so it’s OK to spend a bit. Again, this is why having a modest, classic color palette will work in your favor, because it will truly never go out of style, kind of like Chanel.
7. Get Familiar with Your New Closet
YOU’RE READY! You know I left my closet years ago, honey, but good for you getting comfy in yours! Now you have a classic color palette and strong pieces that you can pull from without having to worry if that top will work with that bottom (be thankful this is just your wardrobe and not your sex life). You now have your own uniform and the more you wear it, the more you’ll mix and match and feel comfortable changing it up. My general uniform rules go like this: An outfit of all one color looks chiiic AF! Navy and black actually do go together! The same look for two days in a row is OK!
Now you can basically get dressed in the dark and look fabulous. Should you decide to throw in that fuchsia necklace you love or that red lipstick you’ve been reading all about, or whatever other accessory that makes you feel like a badass, you can do so with confidence.
Girl, I’m so glad we had this talk.