The satisfaction of declaring a uniform is ephemeral. The uniform itself, if it’s a good one, will last — that’s the point — but that self-congratulatory high five starts to feel more like a left-to-right-palm seal-clap once the novelty of no novelty wears off. Spend two seasons max in nuanced variations of the same outfit and you start to feel like Pepper Ann or Doug Funny.
Our sartorial minds are frustrating that way. Those who lead busy lives or have tightly-kept budgets or who feel anxiety when faced with 10 different styles of jeans take comfort in knowing that the right choice, the only choice, is waiting for them each morning. Even if your uniform is not a matter of simplicity — perhaps you’re actually someone who thrives in chaos and lives for that spontaneous, wild moment of going rogue and adding a brooch (watch out world!) — you’ve still set the repeat button on your daily look because it reflects the drop-pin holding court on your current timeline.
Recently, I don’t feel “right” if I’m not wearing high waisted jeans and a turtleneck. (For the former I’ll blame Leandra and the ’70s. For the latter, Diane Keaton.) Something about that says something about me right now. It’s like a craving that comes about due some unconscious trigger — the end of fall? November? Stress? The need for comfort? — and until it’s fully satisfied, it won’t go away.
But that’s the thing about style…it’s never fully satisfied. That’s what keeps it chugging along; what encourages us to buy new variations of the same exact thing. It’s why uniforms seem to repeat themselves in different iterations, and if insanity is repeating the same thing over while expecting different results, then the majority of us are officially kooks.
There’s a remedy to the madness, however. A way to trick your own mind, to scratch the itch while satiating the need for repetition:
Tell yourself a different story.
A few years ago I took inspiration from the Dead Poets Society. Thanks to Spring ’14, it was new-prep runway. I’ve cited books, my grandfather, the men of Milan — the list goes on, but the outfit stays the same. And now that it’s almost winter and that nagging need for a jolt in my wardrobe is back, this season’s story is Wes Anderson’s Rushmore.
I’ll just need one blazer, like the main character, Max.
While I can only praise his green velvet suit — mostly because the best version I found is over 3k), I definitely can find a great shirt to wear backwards, like his love interest, Rosemary Cross, does in one scene.
To further copy Rosemary (a master of the basics) I’ll need one simple crew neck knit, a modest skirt, a pair of loafers, a touch of blush, maybe a discreet chain.
And then, for color, I’ll pick up the same “pop” the movie does, and consider red:
There’s something to be said about the cliché, “Don’t fix what isn’t broken.” We’ll keep on trying the same thing and expect new results, because as humans who crave familiarity, it’s what we do. But when you switch the narrative, it changes your perspective. When you view the same story through a different lens — even if the outfit barely changed — it somehow makes you feel a little less insane.
If you’re anything like Steve Jobs and uniforms are your thang, have you thought about what uniform you’d wear if you were a cartoon character? Or you can just screw the uniform and start YOLO dressing…