What’s in a Uniform?

For the first week of January, NY Mag’s The Cut, explored how to up the anti when it comes to all facets of personal style, including purging your closet to figuring out your signature scent and finding your work uniform. The result was a variety of articles that are great places to start if you’re trying to come to terms with your own personal style and what it stands for. The article that stood out most to me was “Lessons on Women and Power Dressing.” Author, Lisa Miller, writes about her career as a writer and how it allows her to have a more business casual uniform. When talking about her uniform of choice (jeans and a t-shirt) she reasons her decision based on the same reasons other women choose their own: it’s reliably flattering, comfortable, meshes with her work environment, and flows together so there are no last minute mishaps on what to wear. Miller isn’t saying that successful women don’t care about what they put on their back, she’s making a statement that what you wear says more about you than you think. Your uniform, whether it be for work or personal, reflects you and the image you put out into the world. Diane von Fürstenburg famously said that when she was growing up she didn’t know what she wanted to do but she knew the woman she wanted to be. For a woman who ended up being a princess, I’m sure DVF had her wardrobe all figured out. She continues to write about how your uniform is your public self-facing and a costume that you wear when performing the central role of your life. Posing numerous questions on the topic, I was left wondering, where do I fit in to this puzzle?

As my career path of choice is non traditional, I have the opportunity to wear whatever I so choose. Of course it has to be appropriate but I feel grateful that I’m not confined to any restrictions. I’ve always had role models in mind when it came to people whose personal style I envied and they’ve certainly changed over the years. For a long time I was into the dark, gothic look. Channeling Marilyn Manson was my goal but I think my mother was pleased when I left my coloured skinny jeans and black lipstick behind. Then, I fell down the rabbit hole of personal style. Over the last few years I haven’t been able to pinpoint where my aesthetic lies. Am I a girly girl? Or should I dress more bohemian? What about minimalist? Or avante-garde? The options are endless and I know that I don’t have to pick a specific niche yet the overwhelming sense of variety has left me feeling a bit frumpy. My role models in style as of late are model Rosie Huntington-Whitely, style blogger Jane Aldridge, and Refinery 29 Editor Alyssa Coscarelli. They all share this classic, effortless style that I wish I could pull off. These girls aren’t like the other in terms of what they wear but at the end of the day they all look beautiful, happy, and like they woke up that morning and took five minutes to get ready. The sense of ease and confidence that comes from their day to day outfits is something I am working on in my own wardrobe.

alyssa coscarelli{Alyssa Coscarelli via The Style Line}

jane aldridge
{Jane Aldridge}

rosie hw
{Rosie Huntington-Whiteley}

Going back to The Cut’s article, Miller talks about what constitutes a successful uniform. She points out recognizable women like Margaret Thatcher, Sheryl Sandberg, and Anna Wintour. Each of these three women have identifiable re-occuring uniforms that work for them and speak to their own personal triumphs. I remember reading somewhere that apparently Anna has had her signature bob since she was 15 years old – talk about commitment. Yet this is the look we know her for and with that look carries a lot of character and knowledge of the woman we are set to encounter. The uniform that you see day in, day out is one that represents more than the woman yet the job she does in the clothes and the life she lives in them.

SHERYL SANDBERG{Sheryl Sandberg}

anna wintour
{Anna Wintour}

Miller closes her article on an interesting note, talking about United States ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. Not sticking to one particular colour palette or style, at first glance Power appears to have a wishy washy collection of items that don’t come together to create a wardrobe. Yet the one thing you notice about Power right away is that something else shines through: her confidence. People may not look up to her as a style icon but they do see her intellect and ambition right away. It’s like the late Diana Vreeland once said, “it’s not about the dress you wear, but it’s about the life you lead in the dress.”

samantha power{Samantha Power}


2 thoughts on “What’s in a Uniform?

  1. ah-mazing post!! what you say is so true. diana vreeland’s quote is everything ❤
    instagram: the_ch1ara


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