Uniform Hunting

And now, a break from our irregularly scheduled pattern reviews for some sartorial navel-gazing…

Several years ago I was with some friends on the weekend. At one point in the afternoon, a guy in the group looked at me and said: Oh look, it’s your Saturday outfit.

I remember this because I was embarrassed. Some sort of holdover from when you learn you aren’t supposed to wear the same clothes two days in a row, I think.

But his comment was pretty accurate. At the time, I had one pair of mocha-colored sateen pleated shorts. They were a few steps above something you wear gardening  (hah, as if I could manage gardening), and were suitable for errand running and bar sitting. And, it was hot year round where I was living, so I probably did wear them every. single. Saturday. Almost always with a loose black tee shirt.

So, I had a Saturday outfit.

And I still wear it.

What I haven’t managed to get is a Monday outfit. Or a Tuesday outfit. Or one for the rest of the week.

I envy men their suits. I think about this quote from US President Barack Obama way more than he probably meant for anyone to:
You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.

Obviously I’m not a president. (Also, I understand there’s some inherent irony to thinking so much about one man’s comment about how little he thinks so little about clothes, but no one’s laying what to do about ISIS at my feet, so I have a bit more head space than he does for this).

My husband also wears a work uniform, but his is scrubs (are scrubs?). He doesn’t mind, but that’s not where I want to be. Yes, I want to avoid the ‘what-should-I-wear-what-how-about-this-oh-wait-I-have-to-go-to-a-conference-today-I-should-look-less-casual-how-about-this’ hemming on a daily basis. But I wouldn’t want to wear some boxy outfit that someone picked out for me either.

So I want a work uniform, but one that I pick. I don’t want a lady pantsuit, though.

This is, of course, related to the many minimalist wardrobe initiatives floating around in the bloggo-cultural ethos. I went through a bunch of them at the end of last year, and I’ve since done a big closet purge, aggressively getting rid of things that didn’t “bring me joy” and folding my clothes so they stand vertically like files in a cabinet (this, btw, is the absolutely correct way of doing things and anyone who tells you otherwise is a monster who wants you to lose a sweater you love in the bottom of your drawer).

But while culling some pieces helped, I’m not in love with a minimalist wardrobe so much as minimal effort in dressing.

To me, that means being able to grab something off the hanger in the dark (which I do, because my scrub-attired husband works nights and is often asleep while I’m getting dressed), putting on whatever shoes are next to the door and leaving, without looking like a hot mess or being dressed inappropriately.

So what does this have to do with sewing?

Time to sew something other than a party dress!

For now, I think I’m after a sleeved dress pattern. Something that I can adjust easily for fit — which is just as important for women as men, even though you never see an article like this in a woman’s magazine. I’d also like to see something with:
– a jewel collar (you know, rounded, with your clavicle peaking out)
– bracelet sleeves (that weird length between 3/4 and long is my favorite).
– probably straight skirt? I’m a little open here, and I always worry a pencil skirt will make me look too corporate-y or like a summer intern. Ditto that striated gray that’s always in pencil skirts, but never mind.

For a while, I thought this might be it. But I think the sleeves are a bit restrictive and that bell bottom is just not very subtle. I’ve thought about something with a waist seam. I’ve thought  about trying to hack this top and this skirt together. But I’m just not sure!

Thoughts? How do you dress for work? Does it influence your sewing, or does what you sew affect how you dress at work? Do any of the rest of you have any winning tips for getting dressed in the dark?

No comment on a millennial’s prototypical excessive introspection about something that’s probably not very important?


  1. I wear dresses, skirts or pants to work. Lighter, brighter ones in the summer – darker, heavier ones in the winter. I sew so much of what I wear to work, it makes me wonder what to wear at home! I plan out exactly what I’m going to wear to work the night before, it makes it easier to dress in the dark!

  2. I was in the process of doing the same thing except for Kabul. Basically, I decided on slim fit (not tight) pants in breathable fabrics and tunic tops. But we decided last week that we would move back to the U.S. because of the security situation so my life is in flux right now. I have to re-adjust my thinking for a more casual wardrobe (which I also need), while I figure out next steps. Once my brain catches up to the life changes – I’ll have to re-visit. I might also just sew whatever I want and not stress about it.

    I think both of the Vogues should work – you want a bit of variety within the uniform, right? Why not sew up both? I liked the Marfy too but prefer the more fitted look.

    1. Thanks for your notes! I like to read other people’s ideas about this. I think sewing what you want is great, honestly. Especially if you always feel good in what’s in your wardrobe. I just don’t at the moment.

      SPEAKING of DC intern (which, I was one once, ain’t nothing wrong, but now I’m 30)…today I was over in a congressional hearing and spotted a girl in a pencil skit that was red on one half, blue on the other, and upon closer inspection had phrases from the constitution scrawled all over it. Shocking.

      1. That is shocking! DC Interns, why aren’t y’all scared and in gray and black like I was?

        I don’t feel great about my wardrobe but I spend too much time thinking/reading sewing blogs and not enough time actually sewing.

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