Saturday, January 30, 2016

Should I start wearing a uniform?

Today we're going to talk about something I strongly dislike: clothing. I have never been one of those girly girls who loved to go clothes shopping. I think part of that has to do with my lifelong struggles with my weight and subsequent body image issues. And while I've gotten a lot better at picking out clothes that work for me and go well together, it's still not something I enjoy. I always feel like I'm getting dressed for other people and not for myself. And I loathe shopping. It's seriously a chore for me and I feel like I have to reward myself when it's over.

So, with that background, you'll understand why I was excited to hear about an idea I think might be perfect for me. Have you guys ever heard of this thing called a capsule wardrobe or a daily uniform?

The idea is that you wear pretty much the same thing every day so that you don't have to make decisions about what to put on every single morning. At first I was skeptical, but I've been getting more and more into minimalism lately, and I feel like this is something I should try since I basically wear the same thing every day anyway.

A similar idea is Project 333, in which you choose 33 items to wear for three months. I actually decided to do this recently and for the most part I've enjoyed the process so far. For one thing, I love that all of my clothes fit into three small drawers and a small section of my hanging space. That just makes me super happy.

In case you're curious, my 33 things are:

1. black dress
2. blue dress
3. patterned dress
4. long patterned skirt
5. purple skirt
6. short patterned skirt
7. WGU polo
8. pink blouse
9. green cardigan
10. gray cardigan
11. white cardigan
12. green jacket
13. gray peacoat
14. red hoodie
15. blue hoodie
16. pajama pants
17. Ghostbusters t-shirt that I sleep in (It's super comfy)
18. Amador Dons Boys Volleyball t-shirt (sometimes I sleep in this too)
19. yoga pants (also good for sleeping in)
20. pink sweater
21. black pants
22. sevenish shirts of various colors

And apparently one or two things I'm forgetting because I'm not at home right now.

Things I'm not counting in my 33 items: shoes, socks, tights, underwear, jewelry (which I hardly ever wear), my fitbit, gloves.

Like I said, I've mostly enjoyed this process. It started out just as an experiment to see if I would want to keep doing it, and I think I do, but I've also been surprised by a few things.

1. There are still clothes in my closet that I don't want to wear, even when they're my only options, which makes me wonder why I even own them if I don't absolutely love them.
2. I really dislike that there's a societal expectation that we not wear the same thing two days in a row. As long as your clothes look and smell clean, I don't see why it matters if you want to wear the same thing you did yesterday.
3. I still feel like I have to figure out what to wear every morning and that it's actually harder with fewer things than with more.

With respect to that last one, part of the issue is that several of the 33 items I picked only work with some of the other items, not with all of them. What I'd like to do is build a versatile wardrobe with only one interchangeable element so that everything works well together and I don't have to fight with my closet every morning.

I'm envisioning something like this:

- two pairs of black pants
- one long gray skirt (or maybe navy or a neutral green)
- gray cardigan and white cardigan
- seven to ten colored t-shirts
- one black dress (short or long, depending on the weather)
- pajama pants
- sleep shirt
- hoodie to wear to bed
- yoga pants
- one green jacket or one gray peacoat, depending on the weather
- maybe a scarf
- gloves
- socks or tights
- tennis shoes
- sandals or boots, depending on the weather
- a pair of nicer flats for church/work
- a pair of slip-ons or casual flats for work and running errands
- workout wear
- swimsuit

Doesn't that sounds idyllic? 

Okay, it probably doesn't for you. I understand that there are plenty of people out there who actually love the process of getting dressed in the morning. They like assembling ensembles and picking their perfect look for the day.

I am just not one of those people.

More and more I'm realizing the one of my biggest core values is simplicity. I love it when my everyday life is easy and automatic. This frees up my brain for bigger creative endeavors, like writing, and it makes it more likely that I'll be able to spend at least a little time each day doing nothing at all except admiring the beautiful world around me. Whether I'm sitting in a park with my journal in my lap or driving down a deserted country road or walking (hiking) around my neighborhood, those are the moments when I feel most alive. And for me, there is nothing life-enhancing about the process of getting dressed in the morning.

Back in the day (only about 120 years ago) most people had a de facto daily uniform because they only owned one or two outfits to begin with. And it seems like that worked out just fine for them. For girls it was usually something like one or two school dresses and a nice dress for church, plus some underwear and outerwear. Honestly, that doesn't sound so bad. I'm not advocating that we all go back to that; I'm just pointing out the precedent.

There are plenty of modern folks who do (or did) this too: Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Albert Einstein. Check out this article for more info.

So yeah, don't be surprised if I suddenly start wearing the same thing every single day. I really think I might do this. If you can think of any reasons I shouldn't or if you just want to comment on the idea in general, feel free to leave me a message, here or on facebook.

Of course, the one barrier to this plan, and it's a big one, is that I don't currently own all of the items I'd want to include in my capsule wardrobe. And that means I'll have to do something I really don't want to do: go shopping. Ugh. Wish me luck with that. I'm going to need it.

But maybe the benefits will outweigh the initial burden. I'll just need to keep reminding myself that once I've assembled this wardrobe and worn it for awhile to make sure it works. I could theoretically get rid of all my other clothes and move right into my tiny house, with no need to store excess clothing. Plus can you imagine how easy it would be to pack for a vacation? Sounds awesome.

One thing I do think I will want to change if I do this is how I approach my laundry. I've long admired this little hand-powered washing machine.

It doesn't hold a ton, but I don't see why that would be a problem if I don't own much to begin with. And it really doesn't make sense to run a big, traditional washing machine with only my small load in it. Plus, again, it would make sense in a tiny house, where I'd like to cut down on the amount of energy I use.

It all just makes sense to me. What do you think, though? Are there issues I'm not considering or concerns I haven't thought of yet? Would you want to wear the same thing every day? If not, why not? Or should I just go for it and see where the choice takes me?


  1. I love shopping but still wear the same old things that I feel comfortable in.
    I love this idea...I think it would be great for my 14 year old.

    1. I'll let you know what I think once I've actually tried it out!

  2. I love this idea, and I'm still working on getting rid of stuff I don't wear much but hang onto because I like it. I also tend to get bored with the same outfits all the time, and thrift store prices are tempting when I find something new and cute. It's a work in progress. I've found that getting some nice hangers, they not only take up more space, but they mean I can't get more than will fit on them.

    1. I'm all for shopping at thrift stores or at sales, but I always try to remind myself that it's only a deal if I was planning to buy it anyway. And I don't think it's necessarily bad to keep things you don't wear if they still like them, but at that point it's more like a decoration for your closet than it is an actual outfit. I have a blue dress I've only worn a few times, but I love it and I may still keep it as a closet decoration. :)