Friday, April 20, 2012

It's Time to Give Up

I've been engaged in some soul-searching for the past, like, 24 hours, and I think I have finally realized that it's time for me to get a uniform. I know what you're thinking: "but, Carly! You're so young, thin, hip, and trendy! You don't need to limit yourself by sticking to a daily uniform! You can wear anything!" I thought that, too. But I was wrong. This may come as a great shock to you, but I am actually NOT young, thin, hip, or trendy! I am 33, needing to lose several pounds from having baby #4, a fuddy-duddy who thinks the Urban Outfitters catalog is pornographic, and still figuring out boot-cut jeans (forget about electric blue "jeggings").

I think I've been in a little bit of denial about my appearance. And I keep buying clothes that go against my inclinations, trying to "branch out" when really what I need to be doing is scaling back and wearing things that make me look good. So I have this wicked-yuge wardrobe full of things that I don't wear very much. Then I feel guilty and paralyzed each day when it's time to get dressed. I feel like I have all these cute things but I don't feel comfortable in them and don't know how to put them together. Getting dressed in the morning has become the fight of my life. I'm serious! (Let's hope nothing truly bad ever happens to me.)

So I have been reading about uniforms. Mostly I read this loooong blog post about a man scaling back on his pocket squares and ties. Even though I was somewhat shocked that a dude would put that much thought into his clothes, I was inspired. Why NOT have a signature look? Why NOT take the guess-work out of getting dressed every day? It may seem restrictive at first but it's actually quite freeing.

I tried it today. I was getting dressed and I said to myself, wear your uniform, and I did. And I didn't look back. And I didn't feel guilty or shameful about neglecting the other things in my closet. It ruled. Then I put Ruby in the same uniform. She looked so good.

Now I bet you want to know what my uniform will be. Mike guessed "black stretchy pants" but that was only my depressing pregnancy uniform in Taiwan. My 33-year-old-mother-of-four uniform is actually pants (jeans, khakis, neutral), a shirt (t-shirt, usually, but I am considering some button-ups), and a cardigan. This is what I wear most of the time, anyway. I just needed to own it, embrace it, articulate it, and hone it.

This is a good look for me. I wish I could have wild, curly hair, too. But that's another blog post.

Lately I've been suppressing my desire to wear cardigans in favor of doing something "different," but now I realize it's time to stop fighting. It's time to give up and accept my fat-hiding, practical, fuddy-duddy, nod-to-Mr. Rogers-when-he-comes-home-and-takes-off-his-blazer uniform. Who knows? Maybe if I start teaching again I will get some blazers so I can come home, take them off, hang them up, then put on a cardigan with patches on the sleeves and change out of fancy work shoes into comfy sneakers. It feels oh, so good.

When the weather is warm I will wear skirts and t shirts. Sundays will be opportunities to branch out and experiment (since I have to dress up for church and I enjoy it), but I will try to focus more on what looks good, not just on what is trendy.  This is a really grown-up decision for me. Even though it has come to fruition over the past 24 hours, I realize it has been developing in my mind over the course of a couple of years. I think it started a while ago, when the things in Lands End started looking good to me. It's okay. I'm 33. I'm a mom. I'm pear-shaped. It's time.

The next big grown-up decision? A hair uniform. But that's a ways off.


  1. That's been my uniform for years. Welcome to the club.

  2. I don't think having a uniform is necessarily giving in to frumpiness. Young people have uniforms. Take Urban Outfitters--their uniform is pornography.

  3. Steve Jobs wore the exact same outfit for decades and was praised for it (seriously, his closet had like 150 black mock turtlenecks and 100 pairs of Levi 501s). Good job Carly!

  4. You always look wonderful to me! Oh to be 33 again and fit into size 10 jeans. Enough said.

  5. Yeah, I went with the uniform look for many years, until Heidi and Dana begged me to order the light pink fleece hoody, instead of the dark blue, and black (like usual). I took a gamble and....loved the pink one! Now I have probably too many pink summer tops that I love.
    So, morale of the story - uniforms are good, just don't let them turn into fashion straight jackets!

  6. I've been pondering a similar change to my wardrobe. I find this post quite timely. My problem with this plan is that I hate shopping and need someone to do it all for me. Also, it has to be office friendly since the majority of my time seems to be spend at work. Which is dumb.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement, everyone! JP, I bet you can google and find some good office-appropriate uniform ideas. I love to shop and wish I could shop for you. Personal shopper is my dream job. Good luck with your journey to a uniform.