have often said that I am at my most creative when forced to work within a set of boundaries. This, however, is not at all true when it comes to dressing myself. Give me a dress code and I will come up with the most boring, by-the-book outfit I can find. As such, I’ve always admired people who can put a signature spin on a prescribed outfit: servers who manage to add flare to the required striped shirts and black pants, hip teens who make their high-school uniforms unique, and Man Repeller’s mail carrier, Aubrey Dowridge.
Aubrey is hard to miss. From the handlebar mustache he occasionally sports to his choice in glasses, he not only looks cooler than the average postman, he looks cooler than most men, generally. Since he started working for the USPS in 2004, Aubrey has found ways to make his uniform his own.
“The only thing we can get away with wearing that’s not technically the uniform are T-shirts,” he says. “And that’s only sometimes, because we are supposed to always be in uniform. So my options are limited to trousers, polo tees, or the oversized button shirts, and then the cardigans and jackets for the guys.”
So how did he get from point A to a very fashionable point B? “I started thinking about how I could change the look without violating any rules,” he explains. “I started by cropping the pants as well as narrowing the legs a bit. This inspiration came from Thom Browne as well as Christian Boyd—this really cool brotha who worked on my route at the time. A little ankle is sexy, so why not show ‘em?”
It will probably come as no surprise that Aubrey has developed a bit of a cult following around the office—to the extent that it started to feel wrong not to feature him on the site. So last week, I asked him to kindly break down how he put together a few of his choice looks and share the thought process behind creating a wholly memorable and individual style identity out of a uniform. He was an absolute joy to talk to and also wanted to make sure to credit the USPS uniforms themselves: “I’ve been told by customers that we have the best-looking uniforms of the couriers and I agree. They’re incredibly versatile.”
Read on and take notes!
Start at the Top
“The first look was all about the mustache. Up until I started doing it, I don’t recall seeing any black guys doing it. Not to say they didn’t, but I didn’t see it. It was just another way to convey my will to be a little different without being too obnoxious or violating any uniform rules.”
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“One of my favorite ways to wear pants is to tuck them into my socks, which I discovered creates free space on the socks to stick a button pin and accentuate the look,” he says. “It’s also inspired by horse jockeys.” So, do people notice the care and time he’s put into cultivating a look? “I do get comments on my outfit! Mostly because of my pants,” he explained. “People seem to love the pants, especially when styled with the cardigan.”
“I would love the opportunity to design these uniforms professionally,” he adds. (This is a VERY GOOD IDEA, post office powers that be.) “The pieces are amazing. The fit though I’m not too crazy about. So I would start there. Fit matters!”
Put It All Together
“I’m wearing my Docs, which are one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I’ve ever had,” he says. “I added elastic to the hem of the pants to resemble joggers because I like that look and it goes with the look I’d already established.”
This outfit shows the small ways in which Aubrey has stretched the sartorial rules to create a big impact. “When I was figuring out my style, I thought about how I would dress when going to church and the look of some of the older carriers with the button front shirts and the ties, so I added those. Then I started getting these shirts from H&M and add the postal patches because I love the fit of those H&M dress shirts. From then on I just started customizing everything.”
So, there you have it: Even with a packaged uniform, it is still possible to deliver great style.
Photos by Madeline Montoya.