The Piecemeal Man (abmann) wrote,
The Piecemeal Man
abmann

On Uniforms

Why did you crop out your arm?

I declare myself “fashion backward”. I’m giving up bothering about dress insofar as I’m simplifying how I shop and what I wear.
Backward is probably the wrong term. Maybe fashion resistant… Like a tamper-proof seal.

Photo of the Purge Pile
Friday, 12/2, I purged my closet of all the crap I hadn’t worn in ages. This included stuff that didn’t fit, stuff that I didn’t like, stuff I shrank in the wash (damn sweaters) and stuff where I asked myself “why do I own this?” It was sizable, more than I was expecting, actually, and numbered well over 30 articles of clothing.

Aside from the obvious body changes – I’ve fluctuated more in size this last year than in any year prior – I believe most of it reflects a change in personal image. I’ve become much more conscious of how I present myself in my life, both because I’m ostensibly In Charge of Things at work and I’m starting to actually like myself, and want to be seen as together, elegant and vaguely authoritative. Image matters. More than I like, really, but I’m willing to play the game – even at a tech company.

Work is funny. My company’s dress policy is “you must wear clothes.” Some pretty grubby people are in charge. But, even where I work, the people in charge, especially the people in charge of the people in charge (which I am too actually), dress at least one step ahead of the rest. My team lead dresses really well. My development lead’s team always has nice slacks and a polo on. Likely, because these are the people I talk to the mostly, I feel the need to emulate them. And, I will note that there are a few leads I know that, on the Monday when all leads meet, wear grubby sweats frequently and I find that kind of appalling.

Add to this that I now own the Formal Friday concept in our on-line expert tracking database…. Not sure how that happened, actually….

Which is to say it is all inward pressure to emulate people I respect in some capacity. That probably also means it is all me.

Personally, I have started caring much more about how I look because I actually like the way I look these days. I attribute this to better diet and regular exercise though I haven’t really lost any weight. And I attribute it to how I’ve been purchasing things lately. I’ve started paying much more attention to the construction and quality of things. I’m getting kind of tired of replacing crappy goods – both clothes and otherwise – and have been tending to spending more up front to spend less over time. (I want a proper, rich white dude retirement damnit)

I think it started with the Windows to OS X changeover. It sort of opened up the concept to me, both in build quality and operation but, also, Steve Jobs.

Ok, so he is sort of my hero, all right?

Thing is, I hated how he dressed. Light wash jeans look blah on pretty much anyone. But the concept is kind of intriguing, right? Not having to think in the morning? Being able to get to the things that matter that much faster? Like breakfast bacon? That’s kind of awesome.

I learned from switching to OS X that I had spent a ton of time fighting with my computer. Ridiculous amounts of time. It just sort of came with the territory- regular OS reinstall, finding new drives, why is Flash crashing my browser- I shouldn’t have to do that. And I don’t really want to any more. I’ve got better things to do with my time.

So, I reviewed my wardrobe, assessing what I liked and what I didn’t, what looked nice and what didn’t, what was fun and what wasn’t. I arrived at a few key things:
1. I, like most people, look good in black.
2. A good accessory can accompany pretty much anything
3. Jeans are king off versatility.
4. A guy can’t outrun a nice pair of slacks.

In the purge, I took the extreme route and removed anything that wasn’t a black or black/white shirt or sweater. I ditched all the jeans but one pair and kept some nice black slacks that fit.

My closet consists of these items now:
7 black button ups
4 with French cuffs
3 regular cuffs
4 argyle sweaters
1 black sweater
1 pair of grey-blue jeans
2 pair black slacks
2 black vests
Various socks and undershirts
2 belts (black and brown)
Black leather Bormio FiveFingers
Black KSO Fivefingers
My black coat from Nice
Brown jacket for fall
Awesome leather bag of awesome
Numerous ties
Gym clothes – running shorts and a few Ts (these are actually next on the cull list as I define what I like for workout clothing) and my FiveFinger Sprints

And that is it. I have various lovely ties and cuff links with which to express myself and, I think, that is a far better way to do it. I mean, clothes are nice and you want high quantity stuff, but you can integrate better and standout in more subtle but elegant ways, in accessories, I think.

It actually feels like a lot. Honestly. And I am worried about having too many ties or cuff links to choose, though that decision doesn’t fill me with any dread; rather, it seems more fun than wondering what damn shirt to choose.

Now, when I shop, I know where to go for shirts and jeans, it takes 1 stop and about 5 minutes. I don’t even have to, like, go to the mall if I don’t want to.

And that is fine by me.

I’m curious what you think? Am I de-boarding the fashion train early in life? Have you ever thought about doing something like this?

Additional reading:
http://blog.seanbonner.com/2010/08/26/personal-uniforms/ (minimalism and clothing)
http://curiositychronicles.tumblr.com/post/11314068255/curious-about-personal-uniforms (similar to above)
http://unclutterer.com/discuss/topic/minimalist-wardrobepersonal-uniform (discussion on forming uniforms at the Unclutter.com forums)
http://gawker.com/5848754 (on Steve Jobs’ uniform)

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