Millions of clothes upon clothes are produced every year, yet this question still remains: “What am I going to wear today?” It’s a perpetual query that plagues our closets and mystified minds from the moment we step out of the shower each morning. So many options, so little time. What’s even more mind-boggling is that this struggle is such a non-problem but it takes up a considerable amount of time that could otherwise be spent on more important things, like curing cancer or cramming that essay for your 8 a.m. class. Admit it: even if you hated your high school uniform, mornings were way easier back then.
If one of your 2017 resolutions is to be more focused and succeed in all that you do, removing unnecessary stress is key — and this little problem is one of them. The answer? Build a personal uniform. Having a streamlined wardrobe lessens your decision fatigue, which then allows you to channel more brainpower into other things. Case in point: Steve Jobs always wore a black turtleneck and jeans, Barack Obama sported a dark suit, Mark Zuckerberg’s gray tees — and look at what they’ve achieved. Of course you can’t just wear the same thing every day and expect to be a millionaire, but it’s one of those things you can cross off and make a small difference in efficiency. Here’s how you start.
1. ESTABLISH A LOOK
This isn’t high school anymore. Throw out the starchy button-downs, scratchy trousers, and tablecloth-pleated skirts. If you’re going to wear the same thing over and over, make sure it represents who you are. You might think that having a uniform is lazy and devoid of style, but I would argue that it’s the complete opposite — what you wear every day is a representation of who you are as a person, and tells us what kind of details you pay attention to. For example, Steve Jobs’ black turtlenecks weren’t just any old turtlenecks from The Gap. They were designed by Japanese designer Issey Miyake, who Jobs had commissioned after he saw the uniforms Miyake made for Sony; and perpetual college dude Mark Zuckerberg wears gray tees (he even has a T-shirt cannon for them) because he likes to think that he’s the antithesis of a traditional CEO look.
2. BUY QUALITY
It’s hard to resist a red-hot flashing sale sign when you see one, but the key to building a solid uniform is restraint. Less is more: less quantity, more quality. You’re going to be wearing these clothes day in and day out, so you’ve got to make sure that they withstand the perils of daily wear and tear. You don’t want to have to worry about yours fading too fast or shirts getting holes in them two weeks after buying them. Remember, the point of having a uniform is not having to worry about what’s on your back — sometimes that means spending a little extra on a brand with excellent quality over cheap fast fashion. Trust me, it’s worth it.
3. STICK TO A COLOR PALETTE
Part of this wardrobe dilemma is having to select your outfit’s colors, which will likely add another layer of stress to your already running-late morning. Which color goes with which? Will I look like an Oreo in this outfit? Complementary colors, tertiary colors… what? I took a color theory class and I still can’t get the hang of it. Sticking to something like neutrals (black, white, beige, navy blue, gray) or earth tones will allow you to mix and match with ease even with your eyes closed. You also don’t have to worry about organizing them in your closet (as a proponent of the all-black outfit, I only have one stack of clothes) and you’ll save yourself the hassle of having to segregate colors in the wash.
4. PAY ATTENTION TO FIT
One of the upsides to wearing a school or work uniform is that you have to get it tailor-made, which, no matter what size you are, will always make you look a million times better. Sometimes you’re lucky and find something that fits to a tee off the rack (a case in which you must hoard this item), but oftentimes a little nip/tuck on your clothes is required. It can be as simple as getting the length on your jeans shortened or getting the hem tapered. Your neighborhood tailor can do these things quickly and cheaply — which means you have no excuse to be sloppy — and the best part is you’ll look a hundred times fresher. Why do you think men in uniform are so hot?
5. MAKE SURE IT’S COMFY
This is the most important part of building a personal uniform. Remember that clothes must always serve a function before they are stylish, and that you should never compromise on your comfort — at least not when you want to get yourself together and take over the world. And no, this doesn’t mean you should bust out your Juicy Couture tracksuits or wear your Lululemon leggings outside the confines of your gym. Anything too tight constricts you; if it prevents you from moving around, it’s not advisable for everyday wear (unless you’re into that, but then maybe save it for your “me” time?)