My Work Uniform

It was a brisk spring morning in Phoenix when I woke up for my first day of working from home. I slept like shit, no surprise, but woke up excited to get back to work and had my first intrusive thought of the day, “what am I going to wear?” Am I weird? I’m working from home and this is my first thought?

From the time I open my eyes to the last moment before I drift off into spiritual bliss, I’m obsessively thinking. I’m thinking about new projects to work on, new music to listen to, why some words should rhyme but don’t, why I can’t find pants that fit right, the perfect white t-shirt, camp collar button downs, the perfect sock to pair with trousers and statement shoes… the list is endless and growing rapidly. Of the million thoughts I have a day, the breakdown is as follows: 60% are style/fashion related, 25% about music, and the fractions get a little more tricky after that. I’m always trying to think of new ways to incorporate my thousands of ideas into interesting writing pieces, and the cycle continues.

“Why do I have so many shirts?”

“Why do I have so many WHITE shirts?”

The thought that followed was so inescapable that it left me spiraling for the weeks that followed; “Would my life be more simple if I owned less clothing?”. 

A section of my hanging shirts, I have drawers filled with more and an additional clothing rack.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that my quality of life would increase if I worried less about what I choose to wear, which may be an over reaction but how would I know unless I try, right? I decided to look for reference points that would back my initial statement because this isn’t a foreign concept in fashion lexicon. I’ve broken it down into two essential ideas: the idea of uniformity and minimalism. I’m going to focus on uniformity. The idea of uniformity may in fact be the antithesis of fashion as it exists within that realm. Fashion promotes opulence and hyper-individualism almost to the point of aggression because it demands to be in your face and it doesn’t want you to look away. For an industry that promotes individualism, it’s sad that almost everyone looks the same. Much of this conversation is about capitalism and consumerism but we will bookmark that conversation for another time. What if I told you fashion is headed toward a minimal renaissance? Where fashion is about tailoring and shape and not about loud, obnoxious colors, prints and graphics? Where there is an emphasis on the garments looking good on your specific body and fitting well? This is completely my opinion that may not be shared by most so please don’t rip my head off.

Lingering unformity questions in mind, I started to plan how I could incorporate a uniform into my daily life by picking a few staples to round off my wardrobe and limit my options. My choices included two pairs of pants, three t-shirts and a single pair of boots. My thought process while choosing each item was to pick my most versatile pieces that are comfortable to dress down, while also still being able to style up just in case I need to go back to the office. For pants I chose a classic blue denim and a forest green corduroy trouser. For shirts, I chose two American Apparel (pre-Gildan buyout) basics, a Power Washed white crew neck and a muted blue Hammer Tee. I then rounded it out with my favorite band shirt, which is a Cold World, Dinosaur Jr. “Start Choppin” rip. For shoes I decided to roll with a pair of all black Blundstones because they’re comfortable, durable, and I can wear them with anything. With my “uniform” picked out, I was excited to see how this would impact my mood in the upcoming weeks. During the second day I also adopted a pair of American Apparel drawstring cotton shorts and an unbranded black knit beanie, which is, in my opinion, my outfit staple. 

Also added the knit from American Apparel but it just hit 100 degrees in Phoenix so I won’t be wearing it.

By the third week I had noticed a decrease of internal dread over the past few mornings due to not having to rip through my closet. I spent most of my time thinking of possible connections in my head that could be responsible for this decline. What I came up with is this: from adolescence, we are taught the importance of following instructions and are conditioned to adhere to schedules in school and on through our professional and personal lives. I read a study many years back about the implementation of the school bell and its relation to classical and operant conditioning methods. I would link the study but after 75 minutes of googling I came up empty handed. Being told what to do and when to do it is the human condition, from bells in school to strict adherence based schedules at work. Cyclically, we are given a task and a deadline. Could this be why I experience so much anxiety when making decisions while getting dressed? Absolutely not. I was truant all through high school and I work as I please, so what is my problem?

If it isn’t my nature to fall in line then what could be causing my disdain towards my wardrobe? I’m still going strong on my third week and considering continuing this for at least three more weeks, so maybe I will need to update this article if I have any additional revelations.  I’m disappointed that I couldn’t yet connect all the dots to address my larger problems but I suppose it’s something that may need more time and soul searching. 

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