How to Create and Maintain a Personal Uniform

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One of the few things that makes Monday mornings even more dreadful than they already are is when one has to rummage in the laundry hamper, dig through the drawers, and tear through the closet in order to piece together a superb outfit and make it on time to work or school.

As ideal as spending the previous night picking out and coordinating the perfect outfit sounds in our minds, in reality, most of us are either too busy or too tired to bother. Yet most of us also refuse to (or just can’t) opt for sloppy, less snappy ensembles.

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In light of the time crunch college students face, a uniform might not be a bad thing. No, I don't mean a plaid skirt and collared top à la Catholic schoolgirl, but a general schema for how you dress every day.

Contrary to popular myth, a uniform is not a sign of a lack of individuality or a lack of creativity. After all, Jacqueline Kennedy was known for her pillbox hats and tailored suits in the sixties, Alexander Wang loves his cotton t-shirts and dapper sneakers, and Karl Lagerfeld is never without a sharp tie and a pair of black sunglasses. Having a personal uniform saves time and relieves stress in the mornings—and gives you a signature look that others will remember you by.

Tips for Creating & Maintaining a Personal Uniform

Creating a personal uniform for yourself appears to be a daunting task at first, but can save you time and gain you a lot of attention in the long run. Start with these simple steps, and work your way into (slightly) less stressful mornings and dashing style:

  • Take photos! Invest in a Polaroid camera or just use the self-timer on your digital camera to take photographs of your outfits in order to figure out what you like and don’t like.
  • Figure out what your signature accessories are and stick with them. Do you always wear a strand of pearls around your neck? Do you have thirty pairs of tights and stockings that you always wear with skirts or dresses? Make sure you have enough varieties of your signature piece to last you all week, whether it’s a collection of patent leather heels or giant cocktail rings. Even if you decide to mix and match the rest of your outfit, a signature item will reduce the time spent accessorizing and completing your outfit in the morning.
  • Make guidelines for each piece—while still leaving a lot of flexibility into your uniform. You can easily do this by “naming” or categorizing each component of your uniform; for example: a structured blazer, an A-line dress, or straight jeans. A structured blazer ensures that you’re picking something work-appropriate, but is open to interpretation (think about it, what does “structured” exactly mean?) at the same time.
  • Choose your uniform components based on what looks best on you. That includes only wearing trends that look good on you. You’re much less likely to change your entire style or wardrobe if you are already wearing what looks best on you.
  • Organize your closet and drawers based on pieces instead of colors or seasons. That way, even if you’re half-awake in the morning, you can choose an outfit efficiently without frantically searching for a peacoat.
  • Think investment, not disposable. Disposable fast fashion can be fun, but investing in high-quality, unique, or classic pieces will eventually save you time and money. That doesn’t mean you need to sell your kidney in order to buy the latest Alexander McQueen collection, but it does mean you should buy pieces that you know will last you a long time and that you will wear for a long time—whether it’s a pencil skirt from H&M or a vintage Chanel 2.55 purse.

Having a personal uniform doesn’t have to be dry at all! It’s time-efficient, consistently interesting, and conceptually unique—so you can spend less time rummaging through your closet and more time turning heads as you stride to work or school.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out Sheena Matheiken on The Uniform Project, where she wears the same dress every day for an entire year, raising money for The Akanksha Foundation.

What do you think?

Do you have a personal uniform, and if so, what does it look like? Also, do you have any other tips for creating a personal uniform? Tell us with a comment.