Cate YoungCriticism

In Defense of Uniforms (And Repetitive Dressing)

Cate YoungCriticism

In the short time I spent as a fashion tourist in the US, I noticed that "uniform" is a dirty word.

While school uniforms were a pretty normal part of my childhood growing up, (both in primary and secondary school), in the US, uniforms seem to be a cultural signifier of private schools and the upper crust; a shorthand descriptor of strict Catholic schools stripping teens of their individuality with dowdy pleated skirts and plaid ties.

The idea is so pervasive that hundreds of teen movies employ the trope. How do you know the new private school student is a social rebel? They refuse to conform. They reject the uniform, and refuse to wear it as requested. It's so common, it's cliché.

But when it comes to fashion, choices and practicality, I think there's a serious case to be made in defense of uniforms.

Adult uniforms aren't quite the same as prep school pleats, but uniforms have practical advantages. Who doesn't love not having to worry about what to wear everyday? Fashion is always changing, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest styles over time, through seasons, and on a budget. Creating a "personal uniform" can be an easy way to always have an idea of what to wear, without actually wearing the same thing each time.

That's where wardrobe building comes into play; accumulating timeless pieces that you can mix and match to create great looks that make you feel great, help you add variety, and not have to go shopping every week. Things like blazers and straight leg pants, are always in style, always looks good, and are generally appropriate in most formal situations. Creating a personal uniform is like creating your own personal fashion shorthand that you can easily access in different situations.

Depending on what you do everyday, a personal uniform may or may not be practical, but it's an easy way to stay fashionable and comfortable, and reduce the number of times you find you "have nothing to wear".