Inside: Craving more simplicity than a capsule wardrobe offers? Learn how to create a daily uniform for yourself. After all, if some of the most influential people in modern history have a personal uniform, maybe we should, too.
During elementary and middle school, I attended private schools where I wore…yep, you guessed it: a uniform. The uniform changed when I switched schools, but the plaid was still there (what is it about plaid?!).
I don’t necessarily remember hating the uniform. Of course, my friends and I often dreamed about what it would be like to go to public school where we could wear whatever we wanted.
Freedom seemed like such a glorious idea…until you’re standing in front of your closet every single morning during high school asking yourself, “What the heck am I going to wear today? I have nothing to wear!”
I said this to a closet and dresser packed full of clothes. The irony isn’t lost on me.
Changing outfits ten times to make sure I looked o.k. Shoving things to the back of the drawer. Trying on and discarding that same shirt I thought would look so awesome.
Fast forward a couple decades and things haven’t changed all that much. It was that exact same getting-dressed-in-the-morning nightmare that drove me to declutter my clothes and adopt a capsule wardrobe.
But lately, even a capsule wardrobe doesn’t feel simple enough. I’m craving something even more straightforward, more routine, fewer decisions.
I want to think about getting dressed every morning even less than I already do.
Enter: the daily uniform.
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The Best Reasons to Choose a Daily Uniform
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Probably the most famous person to create a personal uniform is Steve Jobs. He was famous for his black mock turtleneck, blue jeans and New Balance sneakers.
Others, such as Barack Obama limit themselves to the same two color suits – in his case, blue and gray.
Almost everyone who adopts a daily uniform will give you same answer about why they severely limit their wardrobe: they want to save their decision-making energy for more important things than choosing a different outfit every day.
Capsule wardrobes limit your choices, sure. But even if you choose to participate in a minimalist challenge like the well-known Project 333, where you choose 33 articles of clothing (this includes shoes, jewelry, scarves, outerwear, etc.) to wear for 3 months, you can still create 25,176 different outfits.
Yes, you read that right: over 25,000 different combinations can be made with 33 articles of clothing.
A daily uniform eliminates the need to choose which shirt should go with which top, should go with which jewelry, should go with…
You get the idea.
Creating a uniform for yourself makes your life even easier than having a capsule wardrobe. You don’t need to think about what you’re wearing that day because the decision has already been made in advance (the Lazy Genius would be proud!).
And if you need to replace an item, you probably know exactly where you got it – especially if it’s a classic piece – or exactly what to look for.
Beyond eliminating the decision of what to wear every morning, a daily uniform can save you money, time and space. All of those things can also reduce anxiety.
Convinced yet? Great. Here’s what to consider before you decide on a personal uniform.
Related: 10 Unique Minimalist Living Tips from a 5-Year Minimalist
Finding a Uniform: What to Consider Before Choosing Yours
There are a few things to think through when deciding what kind of daily uniform you want to try out.
It may take a bit of experimenting to find the perfect daily uniform for YOU, so don’t be afraid to tweak things here and there as you go.
1. Reflect on what you reach for every day: you might already have a uniform!
What do you reach for day after day? Which pieces make you sad when you realize they’re in the laundry?
You might without knowing it already wear an everyday uniform of sorts. The items you reach for already are a great place to start.
2. Decide how extreme you want your daily uniform to be.
A daily uniform can be as extreme as you want it to be – from the exact same outfit, to an outfit formula with some variation.
Thinking back to the days of school uniforms, we still had some choice. I wore the same polo every day, but in four different colors. I had a couple different bottoms, including a skirt and shorts/pants.
You could pick the same color top, like Mark Zuckerberg who wears a gray t-shirt every day, but not necessarily the same t-shirt. Although apparently, he does have a few of the exact same one.
You could choose the same style tops or bottoms, like Joshua Becker who wears the same style t-shirt every day (a v-neck tee) with pants and black shoes.
You could choose the same shirt and get varying colors, which is what I decided to do this summer. Then grab a few different bottoms to go with it.
You could choose the same base outfit, like the wool& dress challenge, and have a few items to wear with it to mix things up when you want to.
Or you could literally buy 7-10 of the EXACT same top and a few of the EXACT same bottoms.
A few questions will likely influence your decision:
- How much do you want to spend to create your daily uniform?
- What do you already have to start with?
- Do you want any variety, or do you not care about what you wear?
- What is your lifestyle like? Do you work outside the home, at home? A stay at home mom?
From my perspective, there is nothing wrong with trying a more extreme daily uniform for a set time period. When the two weeks or month is over, you can also add more variety with different colors or accessories if you hate wearing the same thing every day.
3. Know what types of clothes make you feel confident and put together.
I theoretically would love to wear v-neck tees, but for whatever reason, I never feel good wearing them. The fit is always slightly off for my figure.
So v-neck tees, while they work for Joshua Becker, would never be a good choice for me.
If you already have a capsule wardrobe, you’ve probably already done this work. So take notes from what you include every season.
Is there a certain style top that makes you feel amazing every time you wear it? Do you have a favorite pair of jeans that fit like a glove, and you reach for them day after day? Are they bell bottoms, skinny jeans, boot cut?
As you pair down your current wardrobe to a daily uniform, try sticking with similar styles of tops and bottoms. You could always choose different patterns for tops and fabrics of bottoms, but stick to the same basic cut.
4. Evaluate your lifestyle before choosing an everyday uniform.
It goes without saying that if you work at an office and need business casual clothing five days a week, your daily uniform will look quite different than mine.
You might need a work daily uniform and a home daily uniform. Or you might forgo the home daily uniform altogether and only apply this concept to your work clothing.
Even minimalists who have capsule wardrobes typically have lounge clothing for around the house beyond those items.
You don’t need to be extreme and get rid of the rest of your clothes…unless of course, they fit terribly and you never, ever wear them. Then please, do sell or donate them.
5. Start with what you already have.
If money is no object and you know for sure that you want an extreme daily uniform, then by all means, go out and buy a week or so’s worth of the same exact tops and bottoms.
But if you have a budget (like most of us) or are just super frugal, try to start with what you already have. For example, if you have several tops that are the same style but different patterns, start with a less extreme uniform.
After a while, if you know for sure that you love the daily uniform concept and want to take it to the next level, replace items one by one as they wear out.
6. Experiment with a daily uniform before fully committing.
While you’re still experimenting, consider putting clothes away in a storage bin for a few months before parting with them permanently.
Only buy a few of the same top before you decide the personal uniform you chose is “the one”.
Decluttering regret is real. Buyer’s regret is real.
A little caution can save you from both.
7. Be prepared to change your daily uniform seasonally.
This probably doesn’t need to be said, but just in case: you will need to change up your uniform by season, unless you live somewhere the climate stays the same.
My summer daily uniform is far simpler, with fewer pieces than my winter daily uniform.
It might be as easy as adding a few cardigans, or you might need to swap out items altogether. Consider swapping things out if only to make your clothing last longer.
My Daily Uniform Experiment This Summer
For the record, I’m a work-at-home, homeschooling mom of 5 with no reason or desire to dress up (if I need a dress for a formal occasion, I’ll find one at a thrift store or rent one). At 36, I finally know what types of clothes work for my postpartum body, and I really detest shopping in general.
I started out with a capsule wardrobe five years ago, but I’m craving even more simplicity. So now I’m testing a relatively extreme daily uniform because I pretty much reach for the same things every day anyway and get really sad when they’re dirty.
This summer, my everyday uniform will include the following:
- J Crew Factory Vintage Crewneck Tee (in gray and green)
- Medium Blue Shorts from Stitch Fix
- Gap Army Green Hiking Shorts
- Birkenstock Thong Sandals
- Dark Gray Pull-On Gray Sneakers
Any variety will come from a few different pairs of earrings and occasionally changing my glasses with Pairs toppers.
My winter daily uniform last year had a little more variety…but not much. I still wore the same basics every single day, which inspired this step towards a more extreme uniform.
I still have 4-5 graphic tees in good condition that serve as back-ups for days when I just want to lounge around the house in a tee and leggings. But when I need to go out this summer, I’ll wear the uniform.
Secondary Benefit: I don’t need to fold anything in my uniform! Everything can be hung up or dropped into a drawer. (See the guide below how I stopped folding clothes altogether.)
Related: A No Fold Laundry System for Adults Who Are Tired of Folding
Is A Personal Uniform The Right Choice for Everyone?
If clothing is a major form of self-expression for you, a daily uniform might be downright depressing.
If choosing an outfit in the morning from a closet full of clothes you love is your favorite part of the day (and not a mental burden that makes your brain feel like it’s going to explode before breakfast), you really won’t like having a daily uniform.
Then again, is it a coincidence that some of the brightest, most influential people have a personal uniform? Probably not.
In short, no, a daily uniform is probably not the right choice for everyone.
But if you want – or NEED – to crush decision fatigue, you generally hate shopping and already reach for the same clothes every single day, I’m pretty sure this decision is a no-brainer.
Creating a daily uniform has the potential to save you a lot of brain power, money and space in the long run.
Why not give it a try? What do you have to lose?
Have you tried a daily uniform? I’d love to hear about your experience! Share in the comments for the benefit of others who are still deciding.
Read Next: 10 Compelling Reasons to Become a Minimalist (benefits for moms)
I wear Skorts all the time
mostly the denim ones but I also have a pair each of crisp black and of red ones
I am over 60 and my legs are my best feature . the Skorts are plain usually solid color so I add color and flair with the tops.
I have I great idea for a line of clothes based on Skorts. if any one wants to talk business… ha ha
bring back the Skorts!!!!
I add leggings during cold mo
Love Love Love this idea!! I’m a woman who does not like to try to put outfits together, as I’m really no good at it! Instead, I’m pretty simple so trying to peice together different things everyday is stressful. Thank you so much for sharing!!!
You’re welcome! I’m so glad it was helpful!
How many tees do u rotate?
I got three green tees and three gray tees.
Love this! Just did the gap factory for tees and two pairs of shorts. I’m a mom who’s busy and wants to be comfortable. Thanks for inspiration!
You’re welcome! 🙂