Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Personal Uniform Fights Clothing Clutter

clothes in closet

One way to avoid clothing clutter is to simplify your whole approach to clothing. I first read about this strategy from The Thoughtful Consumer, but in the last few days a few folks have blogged about very similar approaches.

Crazy Aunt Purl writes, in part: "My basic wardrobe is very simple -- I don't want to waste time each day worrying about what to wear for work, what's appropriate for the dress code, what matches, what is business professional enough, etc., so all my work clothes are based on one color scheme (black) and I have a limited but good quality selection of work clothes. Instead of buying 37 cheap tops and 19 pairs of inexpensive bottoms, I invested in eight really quality pairs of trousers and ten or so high-quality tops. I have two skirts (I don't wear skirts often at all) and a few jackets and that's it. Also hanging in the closet are some tops for nights out and jeans and so on. My work wardrobe is probably boring but I don't lose sleep over it. I realize this automated method of dressing for work makes the more fashion-minded folks in my circle break out in hives, but it really works awesome for me and I never have to wonder what to wear to my job." [Thanks to organizer Janine Adams for pointing me to Crazy Aunt Purl.]

On Simplicity pointed me to the Abundance Blog's post on creating closet bliss, which includes this suggestion: "Consider dressing in a personal uniform. That is, find a look that suits you and stick to it.

A few, well-selected quality items that look good on you will go much farther than owning a lot of clothes, none of which seem to fit right. Figure out which style slacks are the most flattering, which line of skirts suits your build, which length of jacket looks best on you, and so on. Many well-dressed men and women who find a suit or other piece of clothing that they like, buy it in several different colors because the cut and fit complements their build and the different colors make the outfit appear different."

Michele also wrote about her simplified wardrobe: "I buy almost everything I wear at Old Navy, so shopping is easy and not very expensive. Because I am meticulous about fit, everything in my closet looks good on me. I deliberately buy my clothes so that almost everything can be worn together."

Going back in time, you can read more about this idea on Unclutterer, starting out with the Steve Jobs jeans and black mock turtleneck look and moving on to other people's approaches to personal uniforms of sorts.

And over on Garbo Writes, there's this: "I used to have an artist friend who pitched out all her clothes and bought seven white oxford shirts and four pairs of blue jeans. She wanted to have time to do her art all the time and if she wore identical clothes, she spent no time sorting and matching and deciding. Plus she looked like an artist."

[photo from Rubbermaid]


Anonymous said...

Hello Jeri,

Here is a link to an article a client shared with me about Jamie Lee Curtis turning 50 and shedding jewelry, clothing etc.



Anonymous said...

Jeri, thanks for this inspirational post. As we start thinking about the transition from simple summer to more complex fall wardrobes (something I usually avoid until the first snow flies)you've given some great resources here to get me thinking about what I'll keep/pass on/add both in packing up my summer things and setting up the fall wardrobe.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jeri: I had a "uniform" in law school because I wanted to look good but I didn't have a lot of time to be fretting over my clothes. It worked really well for me but then I guess I forgot about the idea and now I'm trying to come up with a uniform again.

Michele said...

This is a great post - you had me thinking even before I got to the part where you include me!

SueBK said...

This is my style. I work outside the home two days a week, and I wear the same thing week in, week out. Living in the subtropics, in winter I add a jacket, in summer I swap to short sleeves. Even my 'at home' wardrobe consists of jeans and shirts.

However, this is a lot easier for men, where, although fashion changes the basics tend to stay the same. I find it so hard to find women's outlets that sell anything except for what's in fashion. As an example I do not like hipster trousers, but for the last couple of years high waisted pants has required solid days of shopping.

Jeri Dansky said...

Anonymous, I really liked that story; thanks for the pointer.
"No more high heels" - personally, I am SO with her on that one. But the whole story was a delight.

Joan, a seasonal change for me is much less radical than for you; I wear many of the same clothes year round. But the changing of the seasons often feels like a nice time to make some re-evaluations, even when the seasonal changes are more subtle.

Marelisa, it took some time before I figured out what my "uniform" was as an organizer, but I do have a basic approach now that works well for me.

Michele, thanks for being one of the inspirations for this post - glad you liked it!

SueBK, I know JUST what you mean. My latest frustration is how hard it's been for about a year now to find women's tops that weren't the babydoll style - or whatever it is they're calling it on this incarnation.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Belated thanks for the mention of The Thoughtful Consumer!

I enjoyed that article about Jamie Lee Curtis, too, though I also love the colorful minimalist wardrobe in the photograph on this post. If you can't deal with only black and white, that looks like a very workable option.

It's true that the uniform is not appealing to everyone, but just looking at Geralin Thomas' beautifully organized, vast selection of clothes and shoes shown on the July 31st post makes me hyperventilate. I could never cope with that many choices -- and I rather doubt that I could find that many different types of clothes that would fit me!

I agree with Crazy Aunt Purl that if you're going to go minimalist, you need to pop for higher quality items. And if you hate shopping as much as I do, remember that they'll last longer so you'll need to shop less frequently!

Jeri Dansky said...

Cynthia, I'm one who can't do black and white - black is a good color on me, white is not. (Having my colors done certainly helped me simplify my wardrobe, and my shopping.) I read some travel advice just a week ago urging people to simplify their travel wardrobes by wearing just black and white, and thought "If you're a Winter, and those colors look good on you, great - but otherwise, pick some other colors!"

Louise said...

I have a uniform: solid color knit shirts and basic pants/skirts. No prints or logos on anything. Short sleeve tees in summer, long sleeve tees in transitional weather, and turtlenecks in winter. Jeans, jean shorts, jean skirts and same in khaki. All shoes are black or khaki.

Living in 300 square feet, this simplifies my clothing tremendously. Every top goes with every bottom and I wear each item until the laundry basket is full.

I love this system. It never feels limiting to me because I only choose shirt colors that I love. I never have to wear that strange beige top because I got rid of it long ago. Every color in the drawer is a favorite! My accessories are different glasses frames and several high quality purses.

Luxury is simplicity, simple is a luxury.

Jeri Dansky said...

Louise, I'm not surprised to hear that the uniform approach works well for you.

And I'd encourage anyone - not just those living in a bus - to find a new home for that "strange beige top"! Why not have clothes that are all "favorites" - whether or not one uses the uniform approach?

Anonymous said...

Trying to implement a uniform of my own. I really enjoyed this article and searched for others and found an interesting one about 5 New Yorkers that wear the same color everyday.


Jeri Dansky said...

Anonymous, that was a really fun article - thanks for pointing me to it!

Anonymous said...