I have just recently stumbled upon the concept of “uniform” as in a set of similar clothes that make up one’s wardrobe: jeans and black shirts, or black pants and colorful T-shirts, and so on. It’s starting to look to me like many people adhere to this idea. They are mostly men (read here about A Man in Uniform). But women are bravely looking in that direction too, and sometimes go to extremes, just to prove the point: The Uniform Project, The Little Brown Dress Project.
The first time I read about it, it was in a book about simplifying, and the author was saying that she reduced her wardrobe to only three colors, I believe. Like navy blue, black and white. And her life became much easier. I thought it was smart, although a little too severe. Not for creative types, I thought. Not for those of us with imagination and flair.
I am don’t care much about fashion, but I do like clothes and I like to match them, alter them, make them my own. It doesn’t scare or overwhelm me. Still, I see the benefits of reducing your wardrobe to a few elements that fit your style.
My favorite color to wear is brown. I prefer to call it “chocolate”. I like to pair it with green, teal, burnt orange. Mostly solid colors, sometimes flowery or paisley prints. Sometimes a little dark grey and some black make their way into the bottoms’ colors.
I like to wear long, A-line skirts and loose blouses. Many times I layer with tank tops and cardigans. Sometimes, rarely, I go for jeans and corduroy in winter, jeans and linen pants in summer.
I wear mostly cotton and linen, avoiding all synthetic fabrics, even bamboo lately, because it just seems too processed.
Accessories do tend to become slightly more important. I am trying to reduce the jewelry that I wear. I don’t want to change earrings and bracelets frequently (although I am so tempted to do so). So I am working on wearing one necklace, pair of earrings at all times, except for very special occasions. I am reducing my accessory craziness to a few bags and scarfs. Even in the bag department I am working toward simplifying: this summer it has been a teal canvas tote bag wore alternatively with a small leather pouch, with a long strap to wear messenger style (perfect for vacation days, because it’s light, holding only wallet, phone, keys along with lipstick, perfume and handkerchief). Shawls and scarfs I haven’t been able to pair down successfully yet. I don’t even want to go there yet.
It’s a long process. I don’t know if I want to go as far as a uniform, but I am almost there. People ask question when I’m not wearing one of my skirts. I believe that tunic-style tops are absolutely beautiful (and have a few from India) but I never wear them because… I just wear other things.
So, few colors, few styles, few fabrics, few items.
Benefits of the uniform, as I see them are several,
– When you go shopping, you are not overwhelmed by the choices. They are minimal. You know what you want.
You buy less (save money) because you don’t fall prey to the latest fashion and you can’t find clothes that you would like to have in every shop window.
when you pack for a trip, it’s easy to find a few matching outfits: they all match.
When you get dressed for the day, the choice is easy.
You have your closet full of things that fit and look good on you.
There is no clutter of stuff bought on impulse, that you never wear because it doesn’t go well with anything.
You create a personal style that makes you feel comfortable in your skin at all times.
You think less of clothing and fashion, you feel lighter, more relaxed and happier.
You create a space of order, where according to Feng Shui, energies can flow freely and help you grow and advance in your own life.
You own less, create less waste, help the planet.
There are some disadvantages too,
You have to do your laundry when you have to do laundry, because with a small wardrobe, there won’t be much left to wear.
For those who derive great pleasure from buying clothes, it is a downer.
It takes effort and time to learn to live with less and enjoy it, when you were used to find your bliss in shopping and owning things (lots of things).
But, if you are looking for a change, try simplifying your closet. See how it makes you feel. See if you’re lighter and smiling a bit more often.