The Case for Plain Clothing: My Simple Uniform

There’s a great scene in It Might Get Loud in which Jack White talks about his views on creativity.  He says: “Opportunity doesn’t do anything for creativity. Yeah, it makes things easier and you can get home sooner, but it doesn’t make you a more creative person.” He talks about how limitations make us more creative … and that really resonated with me.

The cycle of buying and neglecting clothing had become boring (and impractical). I had too many disparate choices. I wanted limitations. I wanted to create a uniform–something simple, super comfortable and understated.

The first place I looked for inspiration was husband Brenton’s well-organized closet. His clothing was formulaic — the same silhouettes for his button-downs, t-shirts, pants, etc. His wardrobe was endlessly mix-and-matchable. My wardrobe, on the other hand, was rife with contingencies. Certain things only paired with other specific items, and often none of it made any sense for practical needs like staying warm (or comfortable).

I decided I wanted to replicate this menswear approach in my womanswear closet: staple items that were endlessly mix-and-matchable. And then about a year ago, I first heard the idea of a capsule wardrobe.

Over the next few months, I donated or gave away or altered my clothes (having a sewing machine is the ultimate wardrobe creativity tool!). I whittled and whittled and whittled. Here’s what I learned through the process:

1. Easy layering can elevate an otherwise casual look

This has been a wonderful revelation because I love to look put-together, but I *hate* uncomfortable dressy clothing.

Dark jeans and a tailored tee with sneaks are the perfect basic outfit. Add a necklace and block-heel sandals for a slightly dressier option. Get dressy AF by donning a structured blush blazer. When it’s time to relax, I just swap out jeans for yoga pants, ditch the blazer and we’re ready to do some pre-bed stretching. 😉

This has been incredibly helpful for me, since I need a slightly dressier look for work. Although, to be honest, I’ve found myself wearing the first look (t-shirt, jeans + sneaks) to work because it’s so athleisure-chic.

Casual AFDressierDressier Blazer

2. A limited color palette works wonders

Blue, gray, black and occasionally blush. That’s pretty much all I own … and I’m so smitten with this color palette. It’s delightfully understated, calming and chic! I have no use for patterns, unless we’re talking about stripes. 😉 Limiting patterns has been a HUGE relief. I realized that I have to be in a certain mood for most patterns and there’s only room for frequent-flyers in my closet these days.

3. Shoe silhouettes matter, a lot!

You know something most men never do? Wear uncomfortable shoes. I’ve been avidly avoiding treacherous heels for years now. My heel heigh limit is around 2.5 inches. Anything above that height makes my ankles and my toes hurt … and there’s nothing cute or necessary about that.

I’ve been playing a lot closer attention to the silhouette of my shoes this year. I prefer neutral shoes that have a really clean outline and I’m a big fan of the block-heel look (comfy, too!). This summer, I’m wearing two main sandals. On casual days, park-visits, or walking the dogs, I choose between two sneaks (same style in different colors). And I wore two boots in similar silhouettes all last winter and that worked swimmingly! Simplicity is a beautiful thing.




4. I only really need a few pieces of jewelry

For the past year, I’ve primarily worn this matte gold lava-stone necklace and hexagon studs. On days when I need a little extra pizazz, I’ll wear these matte gold leaf studs. I never thought I could wear the same jewelry every single day … but it’s surprisingly very satisfying when the pieces are this simple and pretty.

I do own a few other pieces, but these are my every day staples.


I haven’t gone as extreme as some folks (my wardrobe isn’t quite as small as 30-some items, and I haven’t tried Project 333), but I’ve radically pared down with a restricted color palette and predictable, chic silhouettes that can be endlessly layered.

I’ve been surprised with how this this shift has also allowed me to come to terms with my natural essence. I quit dyeing my hair last November, I put my blow-dryer in storage, and I broke up with nail polish (on my fingers) earlier this year. Seeking simplicity in my wardrobe has unshackled me from the need to alter my other attributes.

Plain and simple never felt so gratifying.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s