I Finally Understand Sartorial Uniforms

My first time ever using uniform in the context of style!

Mostly because I used to think the concept of a uniform is complete bullshit. Why would you want to follow a strict formula for dressing yourself when instead you could wear whatever the hell you want? I like the latter option better. With my opinion disregarded, the term has been used when discussing fashion ever since people started writing about fashion. I always viewed it, both in writing and real-life, as a cop-out—in writing, it would be the easiest route to dissect someone's style, and in real-life, it would be the easiest route to get dressed in the morning. Here are some examples in the media that always pissed me off:
And a whole. Lot. More. Just google "style uniform" and the results are endless. This isn't necessarily a critique of those publications, as all three of those are three of my favorite fashion websites. They're simply writing what their audiences want, as everyone and their mother seem to find the style uniform as the most groundbreaking thing since sliced bread. My love for them aside, I just couldn't agree with their statements. I always felt that the smartest way to dress is to do the opposite, and wear anything that feels right to you, sans all the uniform bullshit and fashion rules and overdone trends, etc etc etc. People like Leandra Medine enforced this in me, but then other people like Courtney Trop with her relaxed yet sophisticated LA signature look and Alyssa Coscarelli with her sartorial NYC look usually featuring classic bottoms (hello, Levi's) and super funky and usually vintage tops seem to have their shit together by (mostly) following the uniform route of dressing, and something sparked within me. 

Maybe I didn't entirely disagree with uniforms after all! Apart from the influencers I saw on IG that were killing it with their outfit recipes, I truly began to understand the concept when I saw many people in the CMG office this summer follow outfit recipes as well. One would base their outfits around their favorite pair of Levi's every single day, one would always show up in a thrifted midi dress with mules, and another would always have this sleek, London style, which varied upon outfits, but always consisted of her leather jacket and some form of slides. This might sound like stalking to some, but I'd rather call it "seeking outfit inspo," or more accurately, "outfit stalking." Then something within me clicked. 

You can have more than one style uniform! Who knew. 

And I don't mean just two or three or ten. I mean, like, an infinite amount of style uniforms. 

Only a select few have a single uniform and honestly, that's just boring. Ten can be boring, too. But in reality, in almost everyone's wardrobes, lies an infinite amount of uniforms. How mind-blowing is that! Before I get too tenth dimension on you all, I'm going to stop with all the infinite nonsense because even my brain doesn't know how to process that correctly. Instead, I'll approach it in this way: it's not about the number of uniforms you have, it's about how you approach your everyday look. I used to, and still do to an extent, approach my look by waking up, looking in my closet, and picking out what felt right. Easy as a slice of cherry pie, but also, what if you have no clue what feels right? Enter the uniform. 

Inside the tiny, or large, depending on who you are, sector of our brain that is reserved for all things personal style/self-expression is an infinite amount of style recipes. Reserved for those who aren't in the correct creative mind to pull an outfit out of literally nothing. We go running to that place when we need a crutch or need help from our imaginary fashion fairy god mother. It's like the more personal and private version of scrolling through Who What Wear or the style board on someone's Pinterest—it's not copying one's outfit, it's taking fashion schemas that we're already familiar with and remolding them to make them our own. For example, if I woke up one morning wanting to embody a nonchalant French girl who hates accessories and loves easy (but dressed-up) shoes, enter one style uniform: a statement midi + mules. Another example: if I woke up another morning being in a pants + t-shirt mood but really didn't feel like putting on jeans, enter a uniform consisting of a graphic tee and colorful trousers. And so on. Lately, especially this past summer in NYC, I've felt more of my outfits falling victim to being a sartorial uniform, which is almost necessary in a city where style is a requirement. Although I've left the city, I still feel the impact! So commence a style uniform I've just recently invented, perfect for those end-of-summer blues:

a. the jeans that are glued to my legs all summer (and fall and winter and spring), even in the hottest of days, because apparently I'm a jeans kind of gal now

b. a v minimal top, preferably one that is easy to tuck into above jeans and does not require a bra, but also anything that's way cooler than a plain white tee or tank

c. some kewl shoes!! ones that make those jeans POP

d. a layering piece that is my go-to jacket this summer and can be worn three ways: arms inside arm-holes, arms outside arm-holes, or tied around the waist

And voila. An outfit is formed. 

Jeans are vintage Levi's. Bodysuit by Reformation. Shoes by Creatures of Comfort (similar here). Jacket by Madewell.

I thought this would be a one-time ordeal after I bought these jeans, as I've never been a jeans person, well, ever. But the uniform concept really stuck! Ever since I copped these bad boys, I've worn them at least three times a week. Laundry has been happening more than it should be. There are many wonders of this new approach to dressing, or the sartorial uniform approach—you can do it in oh-so-many ways (imagine this instead with a cropped wrap top, a jean jacket the same shade as those pants, and grandma pumps!!), and it's only one of a katrillion style uniforms you have. You can wear the uniform more than once (which is what makes it a uniform, yes?), but you don't have to wear it every single day. Sounds like the best fashion compromise ever: when you're too lazy to actually produce an outfit with no help whatsoever, but don't want to be an outfit repeater, delve into your secret stash of uniforms that will always save the day. This one happens to be at the top of my list, as it's perfect for that transition into fall fashion when it's still hot outside. And it also is a friendly reminder that wearing the same piece more than once is actually a good thing. Why would you purchase something if you're only going to wear it a few times a year? 

So yes, after too much research, philosophical thinking, ranting, and even pulling evidence from my own sartorial decisions, I finally understand the style uniform. Do you finally get them, too? Or did everyone understand them all along, and it just took me this long?

Photos shot by Venesa.

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