When my oldest child was in 6th grade, she came home one day from school and announced that the girls in her class were making fun of her because her clothes didn’t match.
Her classmates had a point: my daughter’s clothes were a haphazard combinations of colors and patterns, chosen solely on the basis of what was clean and felt comfortable on her skin. I never said anything because if she was happy with how she looked, what else mattered? And who decides what “matches” anyway?
I gave her a few options to consider. If the teasing bothered her, I could help her get dressed in the morning. If she needed new clothes, we could go shopping. Or, she could keep her routine as-is.
She rolled those choices around in her head for a minute, then shrugged. “I think I look fine.” And that was that. Never heard another word about it.
The work uniform
I thought about that conversation this week, when I took the #1week1outfit challenge. I wasn’t worried about colleagues’ judgment, but I did wonder what wearing a “work uniform” would feel like and if anyone would notice. Would I be as sure in my choices as my daughter? Here’s what I wore, five days straight:
- Navy and white striped sleeveless top (washable)
- Navy silk suit jacket
- Off-white slacks
- Allen Edmonds Park Avenue oxfords
- Handmade Lisa Stewart leather earrings
Decision fatigue is real
By the end of the week, word had traveled, and a few colleagues had even joined the challenge. Everyone felt that wearing a professional work uniform was either 1) freeing or 2) confining. What was interesting to me was that both camps had men and women in them, as well as what I would call creative and non-creative types.
Buy less, buy better
I shop for clothes a few times a year – usually when I am forced to go to the mall for something else – and believe in quality over quantity. But over the years, I’ve still accumulated way too much stuff. If I decide to go the “work uniform” route like Melinda Kahl, I want to buy a made-to-measure suit, a few blouses, and be done. It will be expensive, but less than what I spend now. I’m researching custom women’s clothing now, and would love to hear from anyone who’s gone that route.
Minimalism is a small (no pun intended) but growing movement, as more and more people discover the joy of less. One helpful blog I came across recently is Paris to Go. It’s got directions for creating a small wardrobe, and living a minimalist, zero-waste life.
I’m so glad I took the challenge and look forward to simplifying my morning routine. I’ll post more soon; meanwhile, if you have tips, do share! A work uniform may not be for everyone, but in the words of my daughter, I think I’ll look fine.