New York-based Art Director Melinda Kahl explains why she wears the exact same thing to work every day:
To state the obvious, a work uniform is not an original idea. There's a group of people that have embraced this way of dressing for years—they call it a suit.
I've long thought that the amount of time I put into dressing myself for work stuff is egregious, and I fucking LOVE clothes. But the mental work necessary to get dressed, especially in White Collar Creative (which is what I know in my day-to-day but probably in almost everything) is crazy for women. By comparison, my husband gets up every day and puts on dark jeans, a collared button-up shirt, a belt, and some shoes. The shirts vary, the jeans occasionally vary. If it's cold, he'll wear one of five blazers that all look more or less the same but are made of varying materials. He could literally get dressed in the pitch black darkness and it would make zero difference.
I guess I could just think: "I do this to myself. I could just agonize over this less, and get dressed quicker. Who cares what I'm wearing?" But that's part of the problem: people (inexplicably) do care what I'm wearing. I am a woman and I am judged by how I look. If I look unstylish, there's a chance — maybe not a small one — that a potential client will think I'm not up to date on trends, or un-creative. Or they might just think I don't fit their mental image of Design Person and give me a hard pass.
It's anxiety-inducing. One time I spent two days looking up the fashion sense of business I was interviewing at, and to this day I think I messed that one up. I have cared too little and been given the ugly "once over" by someone who ended up being way younger and "cooler" than I had anticipated based on our email contact. Of course none of this should matter. Of course I should be evaluated solely on my work (and maybe my personality). But there's the rub! For a lot of professional women, sartorial choices are — either consciously or unconsciously — considered an extension of 'personality,' which of course then becomes a part of the ever-elusive 'workplace fit.'
Do you 'fit' this brand? This agency? Do you look creative, hip, smart, stylish? Do you reflect us the way we want to see ourselves? (Not in those pants!)
I'm down to build a uniform.