My thanks to J. whose question inspired this post.
J: I appreciate your blog a lot and would love to see you do a post on “uniform” ideas for the different seasons. “Uniform dressing” is pretty popular right now (see for example http://www.racked.com/2014/11/20/7567861/uniform-dressing
http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a10441/why-i-wear-the-same-thing-to-work-everday/) but it seems that most people’s ideas about uniforms are black and white (good for winters, but not for a cool summer like me). I’d love to read your take on something like this!
C: Is this idea is to create each Season’s consistent, best neutral background, and change the accessories as desired? The background might be what reads as B&W on each colouring, or might be something else if that looks better? Or do we stick with the B&W equivalent as the background, for this post to have most value to women’s understanding of ‘uniform dressing’?
J’s reply, in which I am now fully on board:
J: I think that the idea behind uniform dressing (especially since it is usually done for work) is to create a versatile outfit (meaning that it is appropriate for almost any work-related situation) that conveys authority. Authority is especially important for women, more so than for men. Also, a certain lack of fussiness with clothing while still maintaining a sense of what is appropriate hits that sweet spot of “I know how to dress for my job, but I’m so busy doing great work I don’t have time to pay a lot of attention to creating a new outfit every day.” These are the reasons that I think black and white are usually appealing for this kind of uniform dressing– black, especially, is thought to be always appropriate and authoritative but somehow still creative and artistic (read: entrepreneurial)! It is interesting to note that people in caring professions (nurses, counselors– note: traditionally feminine kind of roles) don’t often develop their own personal uniform. For these folks, either a uniform is given (and pastels are understood to be not only completely okay but preferred!) or not thought of. I really think that a lot of this comes down to managing gendered expectations and thinking through what it means to be “feminine” or “masculine”. Uniforms in themselves, especially personal uniforms, communicate a certain “male” approach to dressing– this can be strategic for women to use sometimes in certain settings.
C: Brilliant explanation. This is getting more and more attractive as a post, your words placing it suddenly among my top translation interests for dressing: the story we tell others.
I asked a man what he thought of women wearing the same clothing, or clothing theme, to work every day. He said,
“Finally, someone got onto it.”
He has a point. It is not our responsibility to produce a fashion parade at work.
Not sure about Season with neutral colours?
Scrunch up the fabric and look down in the folds, in daylight if possible. Lighting makes an enormous difference because it’s light that makes colour in the first place. If too much yellow is going in, too much yellow is coming out, amplified if the fabric is shiny.
We are not at work to be Friended or Liked, agreed with, supported, or loved. Shared maybe. With my usual emphasis on clarity of purpose, we are there to be hired, re-hired, and referred. Those are the reasons for the wardrobe.
Knowing your white might be the biggest payoff to having your colouring analyzed if you happen to be an Autumn, on whom wearing white every day is a series of unfortunate events – therefore the absence of white-white in the Warm Whites panel below.
When Autumn gets her colours right, no colouring conveys capable strength better. She looks like she can take on anything, gorgeous and fearless.
PCA is a big payoff for Springs. Life is so much better when she knows her ivory and cream. She could wear a small number of Autumn beiges, like the turtleneck marked *1 in the Warm Whites group, but why? Ivory quite literally illuminates her from within. Her pores go away, the skin is smooth as cream, the eyes sparkle. If you scrunch up her whites and look in the folds, imagining what colour the fabric would be if you concentrated it more, you would see versions of peach and egg yolk, as the blouse top row centre.
See the *2 shirt in the Warm Whites board? Might be fine in either row. It has a very slight pink tinge that puts Soft Summer thoughts in my head too. I couldn’t place this one without having it in hand.
White is a high maintenance colour. If I had to pick one colour family that is spectacular on every colouring when it’s right, I’d choose blue-green. Green can be unfortunate, but even when it’s close to yours, its greatness can be hard to beat.
Plentiful in stores for all Seasons, blue-green is also hard to beat in professional situations as the colours of Nature and money. It is appropriate and civilized. Below, with the odd could-not-resist, like periwinkle for Spring.
Black is easy and may be successful with your colouring; it is also usual. Transform it to be interesting. Eyes like something fun to do. When the appearance just gets better the longer you look, as colour-analyzed appearances do, there’s no incentive to stop looking.
Work is self control as much as crowd control. In that sense, uniform dressing may fit the bill.