About three years ago, I had one of those typical Monday mornings that many women have experienced. With a fairly important meeting on the horizon, I started to try on different outfits, lacking any real direction or plan. As an art director at one of the leading creative advertising agencies in New York, I’m given complete freedom over what I wear to the office, but that still left me questioning each piece that I added or subtracted from my outfit. “Is this too formal? Is that too out there? Is this dress too short?” I finally chose something I regretted as soon as I hit the subway platform.
As I arrived at work, my stress level only increased as I saw my male creative partner and other male co-workers having a “brodown” with the new boss as they entered the meeting room—a room I was suppose to already be inside. I just stood there—paralyzed by the fact that I was not only late, but unprepared. And my sweater was inside out. I had completely stressed myself out, and for what? This was not the first morning I’d felt this unnecessary panic, but that day I decided it would be the last.
The frustration I felt walking into that meeting late remained with me. Should it really be this hard? I knew my male colleagues were taken seriously no matter what they wore—and I highly doubt they put in as much sartorial time and effort as I had. But gender issues aside, I needed to come up with a solution to simplify this morning struggle.
I have no clue how the idea of a work uniform came to me, but soon, the solution to my woes came in the form of 15 silk white shirts and a few black trousers. For a little personal detail, I remembered my mother loved to put bows in my hair as kid, so I chose to add a custom-made black leather rosette around my neck. Done. During the colder months, I’ll also top my look off with a black blazer. I shopped all the pieces in one day. It burned a hole in my wallet to say the least, but in the long run, it has saved me—and will continue to save me—more money than I could imagine.
To state the obvious, a work uniform is not an original idea. There’s a group of people that have embraced this way of dressing for years—they call it a suit.
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