Phoebe Philo

Is the uniform the answer to morning styling struggle?

7 am, your phone rings. Time to wake up. Like every morning, you stare at your wardrobe, wondering which of all those clothes you are gonna jump in to be ready for the day.

If you are working in an industry where most of the employees are suited up men, you want to wear an outfit that says that you are just as powerful as your male counterpart. If you are working in fashion or advertising, your goal might be to impress you colleagues and clients with your impressive styling capacities.

Regardless what you do, styling yourself is a moment that requires both time and energy. You can consider this beeing a good creative thing to do in the morning but you can also see it as a source of stress and a waste of reflexion.

As a personal stylist, I help my clients make this styling routine easier by creating automatisms in color and shape pairing. By doing so, I want to help them transform a previously annoying obligation in a fun moment.

But at the end, yes, even when you know how to do stuff, even if you have lots of pre-matched outfits in your head, morning styling still takes time. At least a bit.

That’s why some powerful men like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg decided to dress exactly the same everyday.

I hear you thinking: ” ok but Zucky is not precisely a style icon is he? (indeed not) In my job I will never be taken seriously if I do this.”

Assuming you work in a bank, as a lawyer, as an engineer : aren’t your male colleagues wearing exactly the same thing everyday? Yes THIS thing: a SUIT. Therefore, by doing the same there is no reason you would not be taken seriously.

Same in a less formal work environement like a school or an administration. Some people dress almost the same everyday and it does not make them any less professional. That may be the geek of the informatic departement, a Zucky look alike, always in jeans and printed T-shirts or the 50’s something woman at the accounting, who decided to wear pencil dresses with cardigans everyday of her life. Ok, these are no stylish examples, but there is no reason you can not make your very own stylish uniform.

Assuming you work in a creative field: advertising, fashion, design, architecture, art, photography, etc.  You may think styling yourself in a creative way is proof that you are indeed a creative and tasteful individual. True. But making a statement in dressing the same, is just an equally powerful styling choice. As long as the uniform is well chosen of course. It has to suit your personality, represent your work, match your lifestyle and flatter your body.

Like Phoebe Philo (see cover).

How to do you figure out what daily uniform is made for you is the question I’ll try to answer today.

What is my definition of an uniform?

“When you say uniform, do you mean like, a school uniform? Exactly the same piece of clothing everyday?” you may wonder.

For me, the definition, is broader than it sounds at first sight.

I consider men’s suit being a uniform: always the same shape everyday.

And, to me, always wearing a knee long dress with pumps is also a uniform, no matter how different the dresses look from one another.

My definition of a uniform is a work wardrobe where you could randomly pick a top, a bottom and shoes creating an always matching outfit.

The important thing is that you do not have to think in the morning. Not a second.

In choosing the uniform, the first thing you should do is define who you are and what image you want to communicate.

1. The style

When you say uniform, what comes to mind is instantly a minimal style à la Céline.

Indeed, most of the women who consider going for the uniform solution work in environements where this would be the most appropriate choice.

Furthermore, minimal items are the easiest to mix and match with no risk of failing.

But maybe your personnality doesn’t feel minimal at all. Or doesn’t feel comfortable dressed in minimal clothes.

You could be someone who lives in maxi dresses and huge neckaces. Only this. Every of your dresses would match every of your necklaces and that would be your own personal uniform.

Or you could be so rock you would wear only black skinnies, T-shirts, knits, sweaters, biker jackets, men’s coats, brogues and ankle boots. Everything could be mixed and matched and that would be your uniform.

Or you could… ok I think I made my point ^^

2. The shapes

In order to make the random mix and match possible. The shapes of your wardrobe shall always be the same. Or at least very close: like fluid tops skinny pants/pencil skirt.

And if you are to wear the shape shapes everyday, they’d better be making you look fabulous.

 – The top and bottom option

Choose a top, a bottom and a shoe shape that suits you perfectly. Pick one type for the summer, one type for the winter. Add a jacket if required your work environnement.

Complete with a winter coat and a mid season coat.

For instance, if you are a busty girl, chubby in the midsection with long legs and skinny ankles, you could go for fluid tops with soft decolletage and fitted 7/8 pants. In winter, your top would be soft cashmeres. If needed, you would top them with a fluid jacket. For your feet you would have the choice between pumps, heeled ankle boots and a pair of flats. And that would be your uniform.

– The dress option

Choose a dress shape that suits you perfectly and is appropriate for your job. If they all suit you, if your jobs allows every style, that’s ok too.

Choose dresses for every season (light, warm, long sleeves, sleeveless, etc).

Choose shoes for every season. They shall match every dress, so go for basics.

Choose a mid-season coat and a winter coat that matches every dress.

As a result, your uniform could be a dress plus a pair of shoes. No matter how different the dresses are you would be “the girl in dresses” and that would become your uniform.

3. The colors and prints

Minimal is again what first comes to mind when you think of an uniform. A palette of neutrals like grey, beiges, black, navy, white, etc. And no prints.

Truth is, this is the wiser choice if you go for the top and bottom option (with the dress option, you can go as crazy as you feel).

This way, you are sure every color/print matches the other.

However this is possible to include colors and even prints in your uniform.

For this you have two options

– The fun vs neutral option

A simple equation.

Fun tops + basic bottoms + basic shoes = uniform

Basic top + fun bottoms + basic shoes = uniform

Basic top + basic bottoms + fun shoes = uniform

In other words: in your wardrobe only one of the items that makes an outfit can have the fun factor. Once you’ve picked which, stick to it.

Otherwise that is not a uniform anymore and you are back to reading me on a regular basis to figure out how to mix and match those crazy stuffs in your closet. Which is loads of fun ^^

– The color palette option

Every season trend gourous come out with the color of the season and the colors it shall be matched with (for the record, this year’s color is “Marsala”). This creates a magical “color palette” made of main colors and accents where everything matches everything as long as you respect the proportions (use lots of the main colors and bits of the accents as their names imply). Problem is: those colors are ephemeral and you probably won’t find them in shops the year after.

Another type of gourou also creates color palettes: the image consultant gourou. According to your skintone, hair and eye color, he classifies you as a “soft autumn woman” or as “cool summer woman” and gives you a color palette made of colors that you may not find in stores because they are not trendy right now or that may not match your personnality.  (Even if, as a style coach, I agree that some colors may flatter someone more than others, I think that these rules are too complicated to follow in everyday life.)

You can get inspired from these two theories to create your very own color palette.

In order to make it easy, I recommend you to stick with mainly neutrals and add a few accents that both suit you and your style and will be always easy to find in stores.

For instance, you could have a work wardrobe made of greys, white, navy, beige and hints of greens and yellows.

Many personalities have their uniform that make them instantly recognizable. Others are chameleons.

I am more of a chameleon I guess. Maybe I’ll find my “color” when I’ll grow older?

And you? Do you feel like wearing a uniform?

Greetings from Elizabeth and her pastel outfits (since june 1953)!


queen elizabeth wave

18 Responses to “Is the uniform the answer to morning styling struggle?”
  1. Mica says:

    Merci, Aloïs, pour cet article intéressant et utile! Je cherche toujours mon uniforme quotidien (mais j’ai beaucoup d’options grâce à tes conseils!!).

  2. Evelyn says:

    I’m a chameleon, too. I love to shift my style (even dramatically) every day, which is my form of creative expression, but can also confuse others. My boss once asked me, what I was all about, as I wore a marine summer style the one day, and let out my dark rock personality the other day. It goes d’accord with my feeling, and as long as I feel wonderful, i think it’s fine.

    With colour, I do it that way: I narrowed down my palette to black, grey, wine red and small dashes of white. These are the colours I feel the best in. I don’t stick to them religiously, but allow myself to have a few items in other colours, like a blush pullover, a dark blue hoodie, etc.

    And this is how I choose this colours: I went through heaps of tests to determine my colour type (soft summer) and got a list of my ideal colours. I picked those I liked, and now everytime they are trending, I might wander and hunt for these items. This year, I’m overly happy with “marsala”, as I have a huge passion for “bloody” red hues. I’m on the hunt for a high quality, edgy, blood red everyday leather bag right now, and I really hope I can find one this season!

  3. Laura says:

    I’d love to see a few sample uniforms beyond those at the top – especially things for fall / winter. I want to do this but end up too plain whenever I try

  4. Cécile says:

    Merci pour cet article Aloïs, comme toujours intéressant. J’ai plusieurs uniformes, ou plutôt des réflexes vestimentaires. Je trouve que le terme d’uniforme ne me correspond pas trop, car parfois je sors complètement de ma routine pour oser davantage, mais je dois avouer qu’en ce moment j’aime bien les blouses imprimées avec un slim noir ou bleu marine, ou bien les tenues complètement monochromes (souvent encore noires ou bleues marines, parfois j’ose du blanc). C’est pas dingue d’originalité mais ça permets quand même pas mal de variations avec cette base de départ. Je peux, par exemple booster ma tenue monochrome avec un accessoire contrastant. De même, ma silhouette n’est pas la même avec une blouse imprimée à manches kimono qu’avec un chemisier imprimé fleuri. L’air de rien, je m’amuse sans me prendre la tête. J’évite seulement le trop moulant en haut, et les froufrous, volants…. J’aime quand la coupe du vêtement est sans chichi.

  5. Nicky says:

    I am a preschool teacher who loves creative style. For the past year or so I decided to wear a long linen apron over my regular clothes(JApanese style) while I am in the classroom. It obviously protects my clothes from paint and sticky fingers. It also identifies my role as a teacher and it helps me fret less in the morning about what I will wear. It will be mostly covered by an apron anyway!

  6. Véronique says:

    J’aime beaucoup cet article! Il me rappelle des souvenirs… J’utilisais ces techniques ( en plus simple!) avec mes enfants. Un été, j’ai acheté sans le faire exprès des vêtements qui s’assemblaient tous entre eux ( bas kaki et jeans, hauts corail, rose pâle, blancs…) pour ma fille de six ans. Le matin, je la laissais s’habiller seule (ce qui m’a évité de nombreuses discussions fatigantes!) et c’était toujours harmonieux! Je n’aurais jamais pensé à le faire pour moi… Merci Aloïs de toutes ces bonnes idées, je vais plancher sur cette nouvelle perspective et étudier le contenu de mon armoire. J’étais un peu découragée par ce que je trouve mes tenues dénuées de style en ce moment mais cet article me donne envie de m’y remettre!

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Super! Tu me raconteras

      • Véronique says:

        Je pense avoir trouvé mon uniforme! Des derbies ( des nude et des noires), des pantalons un peu retroussés, des chemises et des pulls loose. Pour les couleurs, du denim, du prune, du gris et du Marine. En couleurs “accent”, du moutarde ou du bleu clair. c’est sans doute un peu basique mais ça devrait fonctionner. J’ajouterai des bijoux pour féminiser un peu. Merci encore pour tes excellents articles! J’aime beaucoup le dernier aussi mais je ne suis pas encore prête pour le tartan.

  7. I enjoyed reading this article because I can relate to the topic. I go through this almost everyday! Well, I mostly work from home but when I have to go out in the morning for meetings and appointments it takes me longer to choose what to wear than getting ready itself. Hahah! I can be ready in 30 minutes but choosing my outfit for the day is another story. When I’m getting ready in the morning for my appointments, I tend to just wear the so called “uniform” almost the same style that I always seem to wear on a daily basis. I just don’t have lots of time choosing my outfit in the morning. But there are days that I actually make an effort to style and mix and match my outfits 🙂

    Another thing that takes me long to choose my outfit of the day is when I’m in another country for holiday, sightseeing and traveling. Arrgghh!!! If I want to look stylish while exploring the city, I have to force myself to get up at least an hour earlier just so I can have at least 30-40 minutes extra to choose my outfit. I know it’s crazy but I like to look stylish but practical when I’m traveling. And of course who doesn’t want to look good on photos? hahha

    Marj from: Fashion Travel Accessories : Fashion Girl : Fashion Travel

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