I’m not kidding. I get dressed everyday in about 30 seconds. I’m not a morning person – at least not until I’ve had my coffee – so I keep my routine as simple as possible. The biggest secret to getting dressed quickly and also looking your best is pretty simple: The daily uniform.
Having a daily uniform it is not only easy, it is iconic. Steve Jobs became known by his black mock turtleneck and jeans. (Here’s a list of 9 other famous men who wear the same outfit everyday.) I can think of half a dozen more (less famous) male bloggers and podcasters who keep their lives simple by wearing the same look daily. Gray or black T-shirt. Pair of jeans. Hoodie if it’s cold. Black tennis shoes. Sometimes a hat.
Basically, clothes are something they don’t want to have to think about, so they’ve found what they like and they stick with it. It frees the brain up to focus on other things. They no longer have to decide what to wear everyday, but these men aren’t slobs either. They wear things that fit. Things that aren’t threadbare. When something wears out, they replace it with a new, identical version. The daily uniform is gaining popularity because it is the most stylish way to NOT have to think about clothing.
But should the daily uniform be limited to just men? And does it literally have to be the same outfit everyday? Absolutely not. I’ve come up with my own spin on the daily uniform that may be adopted if you’re slightly more into fashion and variety than the guys I’ve mentioned above. I’ll call it the “outfit algorithm.”
1. Find Your Favorites
No matter how into fashion you are, you’re probably always looking for the next item you can love and wear on repeat. Our favorite pieces are our favorites because they flatter us, they give us confidence, and they give us a signature “look” all our own. You don’t have to be a minimalist to have favorites that you wear again and again. Most of us wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. Identifying this 20% is the first step.
Identity those pieces that are already your favorites and set them aside. Ask yourself why you’re drawn to them. Do they fit well? Feel soft? Match everything? What do you actually wear and what do you never go for?
I’ll be honest. A few years ago I decided to wear a lot more leggings and athletic wear because I hated how jeans and t-shirts felt! (If you lift weights, maybe you feel my pain. Jeans just aren’t made for the athletically-built.) If you’re a jeans and t-shirt person, no worries. Embrace it! Build your wardrobe around it! If you live in dresses, great! There’s no rule that says you have to own 10 pairs of jeans if you hate wearing them. This part is entirely up to you.
2. Designate Sections
Most of us have more than one section in our wardrobe. This is normal, and doesn’t necessarily mean you have too many clothes! It just means you do different things on a regular basis that require different kinds of clothing. These sections are determined based on our everyday life activities.
My wardrobe has four sections:
- Activewear – this is the largest category for me because I participate in a lot of activity. Cute activewear can also be worn out and about, running errands – especially if you do some errands by foot or by bike! It has to cover all seasons, so for me this includes a whole lot of thermal fleece and some wool pieces for winter. It takes space to store it, but I can’t downsize it because it gets used daily in the winter seasons!
- Basic capsule – casual but mine includes a lot of dresses because they are an easy instant outfit. Mine also includes about a dozen long-sleeve black shirts, black leggings, three T-shirts, and two pairs of jeans.
- Loungewear – this is what I wear around the house. Everything is cozy and comfy. I have tried to cut out this category in the past, but finally decided to just embrace it. I love my cozy clothes. And I really don’t want to sleep in my normal clothes, as it wears them out! Designated house clothes feel special after a long day. The key is to change out of them every morning before doing anything. They aren’t special if you LIVE in them all the time.
- Occasionwear – this category can be pretty small if you only go to a handful of dressy events a year. A perfect-fitting LBD. A formal gown. One black suit or suit dress. A businesslike dress, and a statement dress round it out. One pair of black or nude heels. While these things don’t get worn very often, they prevent me from having to go out and buy something new every time I’m invited to a fancy event. The key is choosing things that will not go out of style anytime soon like a pantsuit, sheath dress, sold-color cocktail dress, etc.
These are my four categories. Yours may look different if you need a lot of business casual or if you wear a uniform to work. Maybe you can get away with just two sections instead of four! I struggled to create a “capsule wardrobe” for many years because I didn’t understand that it had to include a section for each of my main activities.
3. Create a Uniform or Algorithm
Once you have your sections, create an “outfit algorithm” for the places you go most. You can have more than one tank top, for example, and this is where you get variety. But it’s easy to build the outfit because you know you’ll need a tank top and shorts. This is why basics are important. Ideally, these pieces will all mix and match with each other.
Here are some examples from my closet:
- For rowing: a sports bra, bike shorts, tank top, visor, sunglasses, socks, and Crocs. (With a pullover if it’s cold.)
- For church: a dress and comfortable shoes. (Add a sweater if it’s cold)
- For errands: leggings, black long-sleeve shirt, sweater / hoodie if it’s cold, sneakers
- For a day in nature: tank top, running shorts, sneakers, hoodie and sweatpants in my backpack for when it gets chilly after dark.
You get the idea. With a couple algorithms in place, I can get dressed in about 30 seconds.
Accessories that match everything add the final touch. For instance, throw on some basic stud or hoop earrings and a gold necklace and you’re all set!
Have one purse or backpack that is black (or a solid statement color of your choice) and it will match anything. This is one of those instances when minimalism makes life a lot easier. When I have had more than one purse, changing them out can be a hassle. Keeping just one that you like the most will guarantee you’re never stuck without your wallet or keys because you changed purses and forgot them.
4. Pass On The Rest
Decluttering your wardrobe is a big deal right now thanks to Marie Kondo’s Netflix show. But it’s not just pop culture. There is something beautiful and lovely about a curated closet. When everything in your closet fits and flatters you, you’ll be able to get dressed quicker and with less stress. Trust me, you won’t miss having to sort through the stretched, stained, and too-small things just to find what you’re looking for in the morning. If things you no longer wear are in good condition, give them to a friend or donate them to charity. You could even try selling them if they are a sought-after brand. If they are stained or threadbare, find a recycling drop-off box for clothes and shoes near you. I have one just down the street from me! None of your cast-offs need to go in the trash, but all of them should leave your home as soon as possible.
A few clothes that fit well and suit you are better than a large wardrobe of clothes that feel like someone else. You should feel like YOU in your clothes. The only fashion rule that matters is that your wardrobe should feel like YOU. If you put it on and it feels like you stole it from someone else’s closet, it’s probably a no-go.
Now that you’ve found your favorite items, broken your wardrobe down into sections, created a uniform algorithm for every occasion, and passed on the excess, you can sit back and enjoy your blissful new closet! Familiarize yourself with what you have, so you don’t buy duplicates. In fact, now is a great time to take a break from buying clothes. Spend a month or two just wearing what you have and see if any holes appear. You might need to purchase one or two things to round it out, but that can be done thoughtfully. No rush to fill it up again. Or it could be that you need fewer clothes than you thought you did. Maybe you enjoy how effortless it is to throw on something and look great! Maybe this new, iconic style thing is exactly what you needed.
The goal of simplifying your wardrobe is to free up your brain for other things. So now that you no longer need to stress about what to wear on a daily basis, what will you do with this newfound time and energy? Take a few more moments to play with your kids in the morning? Read a couple pages of a book over coffee? Do an 11-minute morning yoga routine?
The truth is, these tips aren’t really about clothes at all. They are about streamlining the things that don’t matter as much so you can devote more of yourself to the things that really do matter. Enjoy!
Do you struggle to get dressed in the morning? Do you waste time digging through piles of laundry or trying on outfits you don’t like? Do you already use any of the tips I mentioned? I’d love to know your thoughts on how you simplify your life in order to make space for the important things! Thanks for stopping by!
Photo credit: Amanda Vick & Emily Hedlund