The term “work uniform” might make you think of what you’re told to wear if your job is at a restaurant or hotel—but in fact, having an at-the-ready assortment of office chic attire is just as important for corporate women, even (and especially) those who haven’t been given a strict dress code to follow. We don’t mean the term “uniform” literally, of course, with your name embroidered below your collar—nor do we mean that you should live in an endless cycle of trousers and blouses, either.
But, a more figurative interpretation of the word uniform—which is to say, having a defined type of clothes that you feel good in–will make your life easier in so many ways. The wardrobe uniform is a complete and total game-changer, both for your style and your peace of mind.
There comes a point in every woman’s life where you just don’t want to stand in front of the closet every morning, stressing about what to wear. There are too many other more important things to worry about—and spending time plotting effortlessly chic outfits day after day shouldn’t be one of them. A uniform allows you to maintain your stylish life all while getting the top priorities done day in and day out.
The key to putting together the most effective daily uniform is tailoring it to your likes and needs, seeing as what works well for one woman might not work for another. So, how do you figure out your uniform? Follow these steps to learn how to build the perfect wardrobe uniform for your style and your life.
1. CONSIDER WHAT’S IN YOUR CLOSET
First and foremost, think about what’s already in your closet and what pieces you find yourself wearing again and again. You’re going to want to build your uniform around these items. Are you more of a dress person or pants-and-a-top person? If you love dresses, then commit to dresses as your daily uniform and build from there. If pants and blazers are more up your alley, do the same.
The one thought pattern I’d urge you to avoid here is judgement. If your closet is stuffed with dresses, don’t think, “Why am I such a girly girl? I need to buy more trousers!” Own that flair for femininity! And similarly, if you’re constantly running out of hangers for your consistently growing supply of trousers, don’t berate your love of a nice crisp pant. Your closet is revealing to you what styles you prefer and feel most comfortable in—this knowledge is gold.
From here, home in on the silhouettes you love, look good in, and feel comfortable wearing. If your uniform wardrobe is going to be a dress, decide whether it’s a sheath, an A-line, empire waist—whatever you feel the best in. Do the same with your pants and top combination so that your closet is full of pieces that really work for you. This isn’t to say that you must commit to wearing the same exact dress every single day. The idea is that you would fill out your closet with more pieces that fit within your wardrobe uniform to save yourself valuable time and mental space—it’s one less thing to think of during what’s usually the most frantic time of day!
2. LOOK FOR COLOR PATTERNS
While we’re still in your closet, let’s take a glance at what colors are hanging from those hangers? Maybe you’re like us and you lean heavily on black and white pieces. Or, maybe emerald green is your go-to color. Nail down your color scheme based on what’s already in your closet, as well as your skin and hair color.
Again, you aren’t tied down to wearing only these hues; instead, use them as a starting point. Even if you only like to wear black and white, you could look for black-and-white patterns and prints, shades of black or white, or black and white in different fabrics. There is so much room to be creative and have fun here. Whenever you want to add some color, work it in with a bold lipstick or bright accessories, like a colorful tote bag or eye-catching drop earrings, to mix things up.
Time-saving hack: organize your closet by color and wardrobe piece, so, for example, you have all of the black pants next to each other, and then all of the navy, perhaps organized opposite the blouses and dresses. This way, you’ll be able to grab your favorite color pairings together quickly.
3. THINK ABOUT YOUR WARDROBE FORM AND FUNCTION
So now you know what types of clothes you like the best, as well as the colors. It sure would be nice if you could just wear those every day and call that your uniform, but alas, it’s not quite that simple. Not every dress is work-appropriate (we’ve all had a wardrobe malfunction or two with a neckline that seemed to grow throughout the day!) and then there are those pants that look fabulous in the morning but are as wrinkled as an elephant’s skin by the end of the day.
When your closet is full of clothes you both love wearing and love how they look, but rarely wear, getting dressed in the morning can end up being quite a hassle. So you need to take a hard look at everything you own and decide: is it really work uniform-worthy?
To answer that question, you need to figure out what you actually need from your clothes. Do you need pieces that can transition well from work to play? Or, maybe you need pieces that are more comfortable and machine-washable? If your closet is overflowing with formal suiting, but your company culture favors the jeans-and-a-blazer look, you don’t want all of those interview suits getting in the way of that cute moto jacket you’re much more likely to wear regularly.
Assess what your greatest issues are with your current wardrobe in terms of how it functions and then tackle them head-on by figuring out solutions. For example, add more wrinkle-free or wrinkle-resistant pieces into the mix, stop buying dry clean-only clothes if you’re frustrated with the endless dry-cleaning cycles, and if your feet are always killing you, start investing in shoes that are both stylish and comfortable.
4. CREATE A SEPARATE PLACE IN YOUR CLOSET FOR YOUR WORK UNIFORM
A dress that isn’t practical to wear to work—but still makes you feel fantastic—deserves a place in your closet—as do those fabulous stilettos you can wear for exactly 25 minutes before wanting to take them off. The key is to create separate sections in your closet for those Monday through Friday go-to items, and those more occasion-specific pieces you wear less frequently.
It takes some work upfront to make these assessments about each item in your closet—because yes, you really will be holding up a skirt and deciding whether it belongs in the “once in a blue moon” or the “wear everyday” section. But the effort will be worth it when you shave off valuable time every morning ruminating about what to wear to the office.
Enjoy those extra minutes with your family, catching up on the phone with a friend, or maybe stopping into your favorite café before you start your real morning grind!