How I overhauled my wardrobes and fell in love with a work uniform
I remember when I started Sixth Form (last two years before University in the UK) being so ecstatic that I could wear my own clothes every day. 'This is going to great!' I thought (I'd spent the previous five years wearing a truly hideous purple uniform). Yet the novelty soon wore off, replaced with wanting to fit in and being 'cool'.
Fast forward to January 2019. I was in a group chat with two of my school friends discussing how, as we were all turning 30, we wanted to become the women we always dreamt we would be. One way we decided we could do that was through clothes that told the world who we were.
Working in a tech start up, the dress code was definitely more relaxed than in other companies and I realised that I wasn't making as much of an effort as I used to. I surprised myself by really leaning into the idea of having a 'uniform': pieces that I felt comfortable in, could mix and match and which, ultimately, gave me confidence. At the time it didn't feel like such a radical idea but there was a noticeable shift in how I presented and carried myself.
To begin with, I opened my wardrobes and drawers and tipped everything out. It wasn't a case of going full Marie Kondo, but I did consider everything as I put it back.
Next, I looked at the clothes that I had left - were they "work appropriate" (would I be happy for a customer to see me wearing it?) or were they purely weekend clothes? This distinction was important as, for the first time ever, my work and weekend wardrobes had merged.
Finally, I put together different "uniforms" to work out what felt most comfortable and most like "me".
What I invested in
The uniform I adopted wasn't groundbreaking, but it hit the correct balance - practical enough that I could run around the office but well put together so that if we did have any guests, a quick shoe change was enough.
I have 4 blazers on rotation -
- a light, grey blazer that works well layered over shirts
- a pale blue linen 80s cut blazer that goes with slacks or darkwash/black jeans
- a structured white blazer that works best with black jeans or trousers
- a thicker black blazer with leopard print detailing on the cuffs
- Boots - heeled and flat depending on the day
- Heels - I know it's a massive cliché but heels make such a difference to my confidence. It's like putting on big girl pants but with extra height and better posture. Recently, I discovered the perfect pair of dress-down heels for work. They're yellow with a tortoiseshell heel. They shouldn't work. But they really, really do
I love jeans - always have, always will - so I made sure I had a good pair of black, dark wash and light wash jeans, that would go with everything. I love ASOS Ridley jeans as they're the right cut and fit for me.
That little bit extra
If you find an item of clothing that you love and it comes in multiple colours and/or fabrics, I would definitely recommend buying more than one if possible. I have the same ASOS dress in emerald green, black and a pale blue pattern; they are my go to when I need to be that little bit smarter. Also, don't underestimate the power of statement jewellery.
Having a uniform works really well for me as I don't always want to spend time in the morning or evening deciding what to wear. This has been especially important since starting my new role and adapting to a work from home/work from office hybrid. Having spent months in leggings, denim cut offs and loose dresses, falling back into the habit of having a uniform has felt reassuringly normal.