DORE_FASHION_DDESIGNERS_UNIFROM

Designers on their Chosen Uniforms

3 months ago by

Back-to-school season is upon us and, whether or not you spent any of your grade school years in an actual uniform, there is still a nostalgia about that preppy and scripted outfit that conjures up feelings of new beginnings, crisp weather, and updated wardrobes. Today, our uniforms look a little bit different than they might have between the ages of five and 18, but they’re no less thrilling.

We oogle over the new styles of the moment, playing true dress-up by night and mixing new and more trendy pieces into our wardrobes by day, but at our core, we still have that go-to outfit formula in which we feel most ourselves. And, ironically, so do the designers behind some of the most of-the-moment looks from season to season. So, we turned to the experts to ask them a little about their own personal uniforms, how they came to be, and how each look makes them feel.

From designer to designer, the theme of empowerment continued to come up, each speaking to the power of a uniform to make you feel their most confident. Additionally, when asked how they found the look they now practically call ‘home,’ they came out in droves with a resounding appreciation for the look choosing them, instead of the other way around. Ahead, read about the chicest of the uniform dressers—and how their go-to look inspires them to be the creatives they are.

Meredith Melling Burke | Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer, La Ligne

Her uniform:
“Stripes and vintage. Very often, this is realized as a striped sweater with vintage Levi’s. Or a vintage dress layered with a sweater or tee.”

How it came to be:
“When I was at Vogue, getting dressed was a part of the job. And, while I used to love experimenting with seasonal trends, I was always loyal to stripes and always on the prowl for a vintage frock. The experimenting sort of fell by the wayside when entrepreneurship and motherhood (I have four children) left me short on time in the morning— there are four other people I have to get dressed before I can!

Why is this “you”?
“Well, I love stripes because to me they are a ‘neutral’ and work with everything I own. And I loooove vintage—I love the hunt, the discovery, the individuality, and I feel good about making something old new again (conscious consumption). I’m not sure if I chose this particular look, or if it chose me?”

What is the power of a go-to look?
“The confidence in knowing what works for you and owning it. It makes life a lot simpler. One less thing to concern yourself with.”

Molly Howard | Co-Founder & CEO, La Ligne

Her uniform:
“My uniform is driven by comfort and simplicity. I go back to the same pieces over and over again, usually anchored by a jean. I typically pair that with a La Ligne tee or sweater and sneakers.”

How it came to be:
“I think I used to overthink getting dressed, and as I grew up and got a little more confident, I wanted clothing that I wore, not clothing that wore me.”

Why is this “you”?
“I feel comfortable in my own skin when I’m in this type of look. Not trying to be someone I’m not.”

What is the power of a go-to look?
“Confidence, not fussing over what you have on and being able to focus on whatever you’re there to do.”

Valerie Macaulay | Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, La Ligne

Her uniform:
“Tailored tomboy.”

How it came to be:
“It has always been my preferred way of dressing.”

Why did you choose this particular look as “yours”?
I have always felt more powerful in pants and relaxed silhouettes with beautiful tailoring.

Why is this “you”?
“Confidence. No one can ignore a woman who owns the room when she walks in.”

What is the power of a go-to look?
“I think it’s important to know what you feel your best in, whether it’s floral and feminine or masculine and minimal–own that version of yourself. Self-confidence should be everyone’s uniform.”

I feel comfortable in my own skin when I’m in this type of look. Not trying to be someone I’m not.

– Molly Howard

Amy Smilovic | Founder and Designer, Tibi

Her uniform:
“Clean and minimal with an emphasis on interesting proportions.”

How it came to be:
“It was always my look of choice, I just didn’t know it for a few years. When I go back through my high school and college uniform, I realize this was it. I shopped in vintage menswear stores for big oversized blazers and I lived in denim with a beat-up penny loafer or trainer. Of course, when Sex and the City and all that early 2000s contemporary look was going on, I lost my way for a while. I always wondered a bit why I never quite felt like myself wearing a green skirt a red top and a blue felt bag with a cat embroidered on it. I was clearly no Carrie.”

Why is this “you”?
“I don’t know that you choose a look, I think it’s more that it chooses you. Every time I put on a blazer, something in me just relaxes. I just feel more like myself.”

What is the power of a go-to look?
“There are times when you just don’t know what you want. Your mind and your cravings are all over the place. The go-to look is like your safe home base, you can always retreat there until you decide which way you want to run. I suppose that when you know your uniform, you in a sense know your true self. So, when I say minimal, effortless, modern dressing I think of myself as a person that is not overly fussy, I’m very pragmatic, and I’m always curious about what’s next. I suppose when you know your uniform, it should speak volumes about who you are and that, in a sense, is really knowing yourself.”

There are times when you just don’t know what you want. Your mind and your cravings are all over the place. The go-to look is like your safe home base, you can always retreat there until you decide which way you want to run

– Amy Smilovic

Beth Bugdaycay | Founder, Foundrae

Her uniform:
“The way I dress is definitely defined by the jewelry I wear. I have my pieces that I don’t take off, and it’s actually quite a bit. I just counted and it’s 28 pcs. Then I usually add another 1-2 necklaces depending on what I’m wearing. What I wear at the top is typically a solid color, a T-shirt, or a collared shirt. The bottom part can go all over the place from a slouchy black pant to a bright printed yellow skirt.”

How it came to be:
“I have always rooted my wardrobe choices in jewelry. Before I began Foundrae, it tended to be a mix of vintage and contemporary designers, now I wear Foundrae. I also shop in the men’s section, trousers and shirting, and that is new for me in the last few years. I think it’s a combination of preferring more structured yet relaxed clothing, but I also think it’s because the assortment in the men’s departments have really changed.”

Why is this “you”?
“I feel that I have the most authentic sense of self-expression through my jewelry.”

What is the power of a go-to look?
“I like that I can convey a bit of my story—my history—within my jewelry and that it’s identifiably me. I like that if I took these pieces off and laid them out on a table, friends and family could still recognize them as me. I think it’s important to develop a unique, personal look that speaks more to the individual rather than to any new fashion trend. The look can and should evolve with time and trends in order to stay current, but also have your own fingerprint on it; the definition of real style.”

Roxanne Assoulin | Founder and Designer, Roxanne Assoulin

Her uniform:
“Jeans, sneakers, and a navy or grey sweater in the winter. Jeans, sneakers, and a navy or white shirt in the summer…and an occasional pale blue.”

How it came to be:
It has probably always been my look of choice, yes, although I’ve tried many other ways and failed… I just wasn’t comfortable in polka dots, skirts, and heels.”

Why is this “you”?
“I think it chose me…I kept wearing it because that’s when I felt best, and then it became a habit. Soon I stopped buying things I only wore once.”

What is the power of a go-to look?
“It’s easy. It’s comfortable. It’s economical (I think of all the things I’ve bought that hung in my closet with tags still on them…). It’s efficient, and it packs really well.

Jenny Klatt | Co-Founder, Jemma Wynne

Her uniform:
“Relaxed, feminine, casual and layered. I’m either in a floral print dress, lace or knit midi skirt with a T-shirt, an oversized cardigan or sweater, and sneakers OR tight black leggings, a T-shirt, and an oversized chunky knit sweater. I wear a lot of black and grey but also love color, anything with metallic threading is a plus and my favorite neutral is Leopard print. Some of my favorite go-to brands are Christopher Kane and Missoni- they always have the perfect pieces that speak to me.”

How it came to be:
“Some version of this look has always been my ‘go-to’ but it has definitely evolved. Over the last 10 years or so, I have become way more comfortable experimenting with mixing and matching.”

Why is this “you”?
“I feel like this look is just me- it captures my essence—and I feel most comfortable in this look.”

What is the power of a go-to look?
“I like having a signature style and basically every look somehow revolves around it. Being an entrepreneur and a mom of three is crazy enough and knowing I have the comfort of my ‘uniform’ removes the stress of getting dressed in the morning and getting out the door. A uniform is an extension of oneself and finding that, honing in on it and wearing what makes you feel like you is essential.”

Stephanie Wynne Lalin | Co-Founder, Jemma Wynne

Her uniform:
“Tailored but casual: jeans, a T-shirt, and a blazer—almost always in a black, white, navy, and gray palette. Usually with sneakers or boots, but I love to dress it up with a pointy-toe shoe. My favorite blazers, hands-down, are by Veronica Beard. I just love the cuts and versatility. I also love Helmut Lang and Balmain. I almost always pair them with a T-shirt by ALC, & Other Stories, or Gucci and jeans by Frame, A. Golde, or Zara.”

How it came to be:
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt the most comfortable in this look or iterations of it. It’s definitely been my look of choice for most of my adult life.”

Why is this “you”?
“I love the feeling of a tailored looking blazer. They can come in many different silhouettes, but the end result is always a look that is put together. I love to pair them with jeans and a T-shirt because it just feels like a very cool juxtaposition of super casual and dressed up without over doing it. I also always feel like it’s the perfect canvas to add accessories, such as a great chain or chunky gold bracelet stack.”

What is the power of a go-to look?
“For me, a working mother and business owner, having a ‘go- to uniform,’ that I know looks good on me, makes it that much easier to get dressed in the morning. I can think and focus on other, more important things. It’s easier to shop for myself without the stress of wondering, does this work for me. It’s one less added stress in my day that is full of decisions. When you find a look that makes you feel good and comfortable everyday, why wouldn’t you want to just wear it all the time?”

A uniform is an extension of oneself and finding that, honing in on it, and wearing what makes you feel like you is essential

– Jenny Klatt

Eva Zuckerman | Founder and Designer, Eva Fehren

Her uniform:
“My uniform is typically black and white: a long skirt matched with a ribbed Rick Owens tank or T-shirt, or a black dress with a leather belt and black ankle boots (Saint Laurent or Dries Van Noten) and a leather jacket (always Rick Owens)… and lots of jewelry, of course. I have always been more into accessories than clothes and I change-up my jewelry almost daily, so I tend to keep my clothing pretty simple. As a final touch, I always add my favorite chunky black sunglasses for an intimidation factor.”

How it came to be:
“As a child, I was very committed to a uniform. I like head to toe looks—my Harry Potter look-alike phase (pre-Harry Potter, just for the record) was unfortunately followed by a monochromatic head-to-toe fuchsia phase. Thankfully, those days are behind me, and I have since been pretty committed to my current aesthetic for many years. In terms of style, I think I really came into my own over the last ten years, but I have always believed in having a uniform. As my life became busier and more complicated, I figured out what my ‘go-to’ pieces were and what really works for my body. I have fantasies of adopting an EVEN stricter uniform eventually, but I haven’t been able to fully work that out yet. Limiting my wardrobe to black and white has definitely simplified my life.”

Why is this “you”?
“It was never something that I consciously mapped out. It came out of a desire to wear clothing that flattered my body, while having a bit of toughness to it and acted as a good backdrop to my jewelry. I am drawn to pieces that give me an extra boost of confidence and feel effortless to wear. Items like a drapey leather jacket, black cashmere sweater from The Row, or a pair of graphic, sharp black leather boots tend to make me feel my best. I hate fussy, overcomplicated clothing.”

What is the power of a go-to look?
“I believe in the power of the uniform for the sake of simplicity and consistency. When you establish what makes you feel most like yourself, it is empowering to put on your uniform. That said, I don’t think it’s important for everyone! Some people love to play with what they wear and express their creativity through their style on a daily basis. I tend to be someone who would rather find something I love, stick with it, throw some jewelry over it and wear it to death. Life is complicated enough without having to reinvent my look every day.”

Rachel Mansur | Co-Founder and Designer, Mansur Gavriel

Her uniform:
“We really care about materials. In the winter we live in cashmere, and in the summer linen.”

How it came to be:
“We have always loved materials and this has always been the driving idea behind why we choose certain items for ourselves.”

Why is this “you”?
“An easy elegance.”

What is the power of a go-to look?
“We believe it’s most important to feel comfortable and at home in your clothing.”

Floriana Gavriel | Co-Founder and Designer, Mansur Gavriel

Her uniform:
“We wear Mansur Gavriel cashmere sweaters and coats, which are very cozy and beautiful. In the summer, we switch to all linen tops and pants. Linen is breezy, comfortable and elegant.”

Why is this “you”?
“Timeless quality.”

What is the power of a go-to look?
“We believe it’s most important to feel comfortable and at home in your clothing.”

3 comments

Add yours
  • It’s interesting that many of these women speak of having a style from childhood, slightly losing their way in fashion trends as they grew up, and then finding the same general childhood style. I recognize that. I was an active kid and wore boyish clothes, dance clothes, things I could move in. My almost-60 yr old version is leggings, oversize top, big sweater. Sometimes a dress over leggings; long and big over tight. I will go waaaay out of my way to avoid tights; leggings and socks are better for me. Flat shoes of many kinds. Very little jewelry.

  • Would have been great to see images of some of these women in their uniforms!

  • I too was very much looking forward to seeing pics

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