When I was in middle school I had to wear a uniform every day. I remember loathing it, since I felt that it totally stifled my creatively. To make it a little more my own, I changed the buttons of my shirts to something a little more festive and wore mostly black. Funny how as an adult, festive buttons excluded, I have ended up with the same ensemble. Today I want to share the uniform pieces I have collected and culled over the years, as these are my true capsule collection.
My day to day outfit has pretty much boiled down to a “uniform” that I wear weekly. You won’t see dresses or skirts since I can never seem to bring myself to wear any. I’m pretty much a shirt/cardigan/sweater/pants kinda gal, and simplicity is what I usually go for. I’ve also wanted to create something easily mixed and matched, and let me tell you that the stress of what to wear in the morning is now a distant memory.
I like combining buttoned shirts with my black pants. I bought these rag & bone leggings (currently $142.50 at Nordstrom) about two years ago, and they are finally starting to show some wear (fading). I think the price was initially a bit hard to sallow (I paid full price) since I wasn’t sure if I should ever pay that much for a pair of pants, but they have been so comfortable that eventually I’ll be purchasing a second pair. Another thing these pants have going for them is that they are made in the U.S., which I love. Notice that I call them pants and not leggings, because they have all the markings of pants as far as I am concerned: zipper, button, belt loops, and back pockets. I also love wearing my Paige Denim black pants (similar here) year round, and they’ve actually held up a little better in terms of fading.
In terms of buttoned up shirts, I have a total of three fitted stretch shirts from H&M that have held up quite nicely for the last four(!) years. These cost somewhere between $17.99-$19.99. Eventually, I would like to replace them with full cotton tailored shirts made more ethically. I’ll note that my UNIQLO buttoned shirts have been quite a disappointment in terms of tailoring and fit. They seem to run large or just look too big on me (I wear XS). Also seen here is my one and only surviving J.Crew purchase: a chambray shirt. I’ll never shop there again since everything else I bought at the time literally fell apart on me within a month of wear. I’ve had this shirt for about a year now, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you can’t find a better shirt elsewhere.
For my second usual outfit, I usually go with my UNIQLO 3/4 Supima cotton shirt and Merino wool cardigans. I hand wash the cardigans, and they’ve held up beautifully. The shirts have been somewhat of a mixed bag, with my white one pilling and showing wear, while the rest of the colors (black, navy, and red) still look brand new. I’ll likely replace this in the future and retire these into my lounging wardrobe. I’ll talk about some possible replacements in upcoming posts.
To balance this really plain ensemble and move it into a more professional realm, I usually wear traditional tailored trousers. I have had these Raven Denim Mackenzie Trouser In Executive Black for about a year now, and they don’t show much if any wear. They were made in the U.S., and they have them in many colors. I like them, even though I wouldn’t tuck any shirts into these pants since the tailoring could be better. I think I paid about $90 for them when they were on sale, but currently they cost $157. I also have an H&M tailored black pants (I really only wear black pants to work!) that have lasted me about six years, and just keep on going. I don’t know what it is about H&M work collections that just refuses to give up! They aren’t made from great materials, but if you are just starting out in terms of building a professional wardrobe they are keepers. Also worth mentioning are Loft tailored pants. I had several of these, but they wear quite quickly. I wouldn’t buy any of them again.
The last ensemble includes a merino wool sweater and black pants. I alternate between my more tailored pants and my more skinny pants, depending on my shoe choice. I like styling my skinny pants and sweater combo with flats, whereas I stick to heels or espadrilles when wearing a sweater and tailored pants. Currently, the sweaters cost $29.99, but I paid about $19.99 for them since I bought them on sale. These are light, come in a variety of colors (I have them in black, navy, brown, and red), and have held up really well showing little to no wear.
Since my daily uniform combinations are quite simple, I usually like adding Hermes scarves and pearl necklaces to make it all a little more professional.
I love these necklaces my grandmother passed down to me from her mother, and I wear these constantly. I prefer jewelry that has some sentiment or family connection attached to it, so I find that most of the items I wear were a gift from my mother or have been handmade.
Let’s not forget scarves, shall we? I wear mine every day without fail. I recently added two more to my collection (total of six, although I have lent one to a friend), and would ultimately like to reach about twelve scarves. My latest purchase is the Hermes Mythiques Phoenix Coloriages in CW10, and I absolutely love the way it looks tied.
In total, I have:
- Five buttoned shirts
- Three merino sweaters on rotation (plus two more from the Lemaire collection)
- Three 3/4 t-shirts on rotation (I realized I don’t like wearing red!)
- Five cardigans (four merino wool and one UNIQLO cashmere)
- Five black pants
My next move is to invest in some quality silks, and I’ll talk more about that in my next post.I find that these simple basics suffice for my work place, and I feel polished most of the time. I’ve stuck to very specific colors I actually love wearing by choosing black, white, navy, light blue, and brown, which makes mixing and matching incredibly easy.
Which ensemble/uniform combinations do you wear daily? Share in the comments below!