It’s not just about crafting some kind of killer ensemble that will make the dudes/ladies swoon and get you that high powered job where they dump gold Krugerrands in your pockets ’til they split. It’s that Fashion is an insatiable succubus that eats your creative decision making brains every day you have to wear clothes. And you can’t spare those brains, no not a one.
For years I labored under the impression that I liked defining my clothing style. Colors are pretty and fabrics are so nice and touchy, I wanted to possess that shade of sandwashed adobe brick and that flutter of translucent crepe de chine. I wanted to pet them and admire them in my closet and imagine the occasions where they would be the perfect thing to wear, thus bringing the occasion and myself into some fantastic zenith of experientialness. (If you have never felt this way about any clothing purchase at any point in your life after the rad tiedyed Hypercolor shirt you begged your mom for in middle school, hang with me, we’re getting there.)
The decision of WHAT TO WEAR is there, draining you every single day. I like these artfully whiskered cargo pants, but does my teal blouson jacket go with them? Or should I go with this neon tweed miniskirt? How about this ivory chemise? Oh shit, it’s still dirty from the last time I wore it two weeks ago because I have to hand wash it or send it to the dry cleaners and that probably isn’t happening this month. It’s no wonder many crumple under the pressure like that balled up pair of linen slacks that you failed to keep nicely creased and on a mahogany valet.
Putting together a stunning little number every day is work. Keeping the number clean and presentable takes even more work. It takes thought, planning, strategy, and resources, both financial and creative. A series of decisions and activities that after you add them up and multiply them by the number of years you’ve been clothing yourself, quartermastering the Battle of the Bulge sounds like a breezy frolic. That’s why when you have piles of money big enough to ski down, you can hire someone to dress you. (That’s what fashion wranglers are there for; they can wrestle Fashion’s bejazzled hide to the ground and make that feathered fascinator work with those topsiders.) But you don’t have a fashion wrangler. You probably have been making poor fashion choices your entire life, swinging between decade old Phish T shirts and flipflops and a charcoal synthetic gabardine suit that looks greenish under fluorescent lights and bunches unattractively under your arms.
Fear not, Deadbeats, the solution is crepuscularly beaming from behind the Fashion thundercloud of doom: UNIFORMS.
Johnny Cash, David Lynch, Charles and Ray Eames, Tom Wolfe. Successful, creative people who decided to eliminate the nagging drain of Fashion decisions and still look great. Each one has his/her own look, but has a set of parameters that they meet every time they get dressed. Developing your uniform is a process and one that may require separation from those ubercute suede fringy mukluks or that bias cut diagonal striped button down that you got lucky in that one time. Here are the first steps to uniformation to help pare down your existing wardrobe and guide future purchases.
1. Limit your palate. Color is a useful way to sift out the first giveaway/napalm-into-oblivion pile. Ask yourself these questions with each article: Does the color look good on you when you are hungover/sick? (if yes, keep) Does the color go with your other clothes without buying more clothes to wear it with? (if yes, keep) Does the color show food dribbles/sweat prominently? (if yes, napalm)
2. All clothes should be able to be worn with all other clothes. No more early-morning-everything-is-in-a moldering-pile-in-the-laundry-basket-except-for-a-paisley-tank-top-and-these-striped-velour-knickerbockers crises. If one top and one bottom are clean, you should be clothed stylishly and appropriately. Bonus: packing for travel becomes a simple weather + number of days game because everything is interchangeable. (See “Limit your palate”)
3. Maintainable sans lady’s maid or gentleman’s gentleman. Only items that rarely need washing (e.g. things that do not typically come into direct contact with your skin) can have elaborate, expensive, or time-consuming care procedures. The rest needs to be maintainable with a routine no more involved than machine wash cold, delicate cycle and rudimentary ironing skills. No exceptions – until you get your very own Jeeves.
Embrace these guidelines and you will be well on your way to uniformation. This process is not for the faint of heart. It will lay bare unexpected insecurities, reveal dark truths about your taste level, and expose shameful profligacy. Even if you are successful in this early stage, you may have to face taunts about the newfound sameness of your sartorial selections, snickers about each items’ “freshness,” and harangues about your peculiar lifestyle choices.
Be strong, Deadbeats. The rewards will be plentiful.