Inside: Today I’m sharing my personal uniform, basically the specific set of clothes that I consistently wear to make my life easier.
I’ve been thinking of creating a personal uniform for years. While I still dream of opening up my closet and seeing 15 identical black t-shirts, 7 pairs of black skinny jeans, and 2 pairs of black riding boots, I know that’s not entirely realistic. And while I’ll never have quite the minimalist wardrobe of my dreams (think Mark Zuckerberg with his soft gray t-shirts, Barack Obama with his blue suits, and Steve Jobs with his black turtlenecks), over the years I’ve figured out what I like to consistently wear.
Here’s the thing – I’m a traveler at my core.
And I like to use all my free time, energy and mental effort reading guide books, dreaming of far off adventures, practicing how to say a few basic words in foreign languages, and learning about the cultures of the places I want to visit.
For me – I like to spend minimal effort on my clothing. Is it clean? Affordable? Comfortable? Perfect.
I have friends who love fashion. And they love to spend all their free time, energy and mental effort shopping, putting together outfits, reading fashion magazines and blogs, and dreaming about the outfits they’d wear while sipping a cappuccino in Italy or playing roulette in Monaco.
And that’s totally cool. But you can probably stop reading right here because this isn’t for you.
Many people think a personal uniform means you wear the exact same thing every day. But it can also just be an easy formula. Think of it like a sandwich. You have bread and a filling and some condiments. You can switch up the type of bread, the protein and the condiments in hundreds of different ways, but it’s not complicated because you’re just making a sandwich. Just some bread + filling + condiments.
How I Created A Personal Uniform
I’ve been dreaming of an all black uniform since college in the way I dream about becoming Elise in the movie “The Tourist“. It’s not realistic at all, but so much fun to picture in your head. And then one day, I realized that I already had one. I was packing my tiny carry-on bag for a 10-day trip to Europe, and I was on autopilot. I was grabbing the exact things I always pack for a trip overseas. 2 pairs of black leggings. 1 pair of skinny jeans. 4-5 tank tops. A long sleeve knit shirt. 2 cardigans. A sports bra and a couple regular bras. Socks and underwear. A pair of riding boots to wear on the plane, and a pair of dressier-looking sneakers for my suitcase. Done and dusted.
I love these items for a trip. High-quality black leggings are a dream for traveling. They work overtime – super comfy for travel day as you contort yourself on planes, trains, and airport lounges. Perfect to wear to the hotel gym for a quick workout. Great to wear as pj’s. And you can even dress them up with a nice, longer tank, cardigan + boots.
A pair of skinny jeans + riding boots + a tank + long sleeve knit shirt or cardigan works for just about any occasion – a dinner out, a day at the museum, walking through the markets in Germany or tucking into some melty Alpine cheese at an outdoor fondue restaurant in Switzerland.
But as I thought about it more – it also perfectly fits my life stateside. I’m a working mom, who spends my day mostly remote-working, squeezing in a quick workout whenever I can, shuttling my kid back and forth to swimming and dance classes, with the occasional casual dinner out.
And then I got rid of most of my clothes.
Drastic, perhaps. But I just didn’t need all the distraction. And there’s something quite magical about eliminating decisions that you don’t particularly care about. And then I spent a few months trying different things until I found my favorites (which I then bought multiples of, lol)
So today, I thought I’d show you my personal uniform. All of it is comfy, affordable, and lasts forever.
My Personal Uniform – Bottoms
I pretty much live in leggings, so I have absurdly high expectations. They need to be squat proof (you know, on the highly unlikely chance that I might find myself squatting?). They need to be made from a high-quality fabric that stretches, but doesn’t stretch too much, feels like butter against my skin, and doesn’t cost 5 bajillion dollars a pair. (Lululemon, I’m looking at you. As if.) I also love a high-waist and pockets. Nice, deep pockets.
But really – a good quality legging is perfect for my life. I can dress them up or down, I can sneak in a quick 10-minute Peloton workout, and I can even sleep in them. Leggings are life. My favorites are these. I get them from Amazon, they’re super cheap, and I own 6 pairs of black, and 1 pair of red.
I also have 3 pairs of these exact same leggings in a capri cut. I know that sounds excessive, but seriously, these leggings are perfect. I’m not the only one who thinks so, either, because these have over 18,000 5-star reviews!!
I also love a great pair of skinny jeans. I don’t know if they are in style or not, but I don’t really care. Skinny jeans make me feel sexy, plus, they look great with riding boots or sneakers. And this girl pretty much only wears riding boots or sneakers. My favorite skinny jeans are these Levi’s. They have a nice stretch to hug your curves without stretching out. And they are labeled as a mid-rise, but I have a short torso so they fit more like a high-rise on me and I LOVE that. I love muffin tops as much as the next girl, but I prefer mine to be blueberry.
Are they the most stylish, expensive, fancy-brand jeans out there? No. Do I care? Also no. I love them, and I love that I can get them for less than $30
But with 47,000+ 5-star reviews, I’m guessing you’ll love them too.
That’s it. Skinny jeans, leggings, and capris get me through the day about 90% of the time.
My Personal Uniform – Tops
I love tank tops. For me, they aren’t just for the summer – they are essential, year-round. I wear them to work out in, sleep in, as a layering piece, or just as a top with my leggings around the house.
My current favorites are Tek Gear brand – I bought about 10 different colors at Kohl’s on sale for like $6 each. They tend to be a seasonal item, but when they’re in stock, I love to scoop them up.
They are super comfy, and easy to dress up with a nice cardigan. I found a couple sportier options here, but the ones I have are mostly solid colors or basic stripes. Stalk Kohl’s – they always go on sale for CHEAP!
Another great tank I love to stock up on are these, and I especially love these for layering – they are labeled as “true to size” but I prefer to buy these one size bigger because the length is a bit longer that way but they don’t look baggy because of their slim fit.
I also love cardigans. I almost always start my day in leggings and a tank, and end up throwing a cardigan on if I get chilly. And if it’s a day I’m heading in to the office, I grab a pair of skinny jeans, a tank and a cardigan. This is such an easy combo and it’s almost always appropriate. I can wear it on a casual date night, to meet a friend for coffee, to head into school for a parent-teacher conference, to go run errands, etc. Obviously this may not work if your office requires more formal attire, but for my casual work-from-home-most-of-the-time-life, it’s an easy choice.
I have a few shorter cardigans like these and a few longer ones. I don’t have a ton, and everything I own matches my black leggings. I keep things pretty simple around here.
For my longer cardigans, I love these. Super cozy and soft. And they don’t shrink when you put them in the dryer!
And finally, I wear a sports bra. Most of the time. Because I’m weird? I don’t know, they are just super comfy to me. I mean, I own regular bras. And I occasionally wear them, but most days, I’m reaching for a medium support sports bra.
These are my favorite – I think they are super cute. And come in a bunch of pretty colors. According to the reviews, they are a pretty good dupe for the Lululemon bras (I wouldn’t know, I’m never going to pay that much to find out) and they have 22,000+ 5-star reviews!
My Personal Uniform – Shoes
I’m a boots girl. I don’t know why. I love riding boots. I would wear them every season if I thought I could get away with it. I find them comfortable (love how they are flats – heels are never comfortable to me) and sexy. My husband loves me in riding boots, so I’m sure that helps, but even if he hated them, I just love the way they make me feel. So I have two pairs.
Both this brand. And I’ve had them for years. Take good care of your boots and they will last for decades.
I have a pair in black leather:
And a pair in whiskey leather, both look great with black leggings and skinny jeans.
I also love a “dressy” sneaker for every day life and also for traveling. My favorites are these – especially for travel. Every seasoned traveler will sing merino wool’s praises and these shoes are 100% lined in merino wool. You can wear these with leggings or jeans and they are super comfortable and lightweight. You can walk or run in them, and they don’t scream AMERICAN GYM SHOES if you wear them in Europe.
And that’s it! My personal uniform saves me money, time, effort, and eases my mental load. It’s almost always entirely appropriate for the activities in my daily life, and I feel good when I’m wearing these items. Everything goes together, and everything is easy to wash and dry.
Do you have a personal uniform? Are there certain combinations that you reach for time and again? I’d love to hear about it!