The Working Closet

where life meets style

why it helps to have a uniform

Oh you all, this week is killing me. I have a huge project launching on Saturday, I’m crazy busy at work, I’m trying to get ready for Sunday’s half marathon — and of course, on top of that, everyone in my house has a million doctors appointments this week, all scheduled months ago and all falling during the school/work day. Plus? I seem to have a head cold. Just to make things more fun.

In other words, it’s a completely normal working mom kind of week.

This is the kind of week where I do not have one extra second or ounce of energy to waste on choosing an outfit. Which makes it a perfect week to have a uniform.

My uniform is a striped top, most typically navy and white, and solid bottom, ideally in some bright color. Add a belt around the middle, a pair of comfy flats and a necklace that won’t make me crazy and I’m out the door. I’ve worn some version of this outfit every day this week. And last week. And possibly the week before.

(Seriously, it’s cuh-RAY-zee here right now. Also? 90 degrees today. Send help.)

Everyone has a uniform, whether you realize it or not. For lots of busy stay-at-home/work-at-home moms, the uniform is yoga pants and a t-shirt, or (shudder) pajamas and flip flops. Your uniform is whatever outfit you throw on when you don’t have time to plan or curate an outfit. Which, for most of us, is most of the time.

Here’s the secret to the uniform: It doesn’t have to be some combination of workout clothes or things you found laying on the floor in the closet as you were racing to get everyone to school. It’s easy to pull together chic, stylish outfits that require no thought at all — think a simple tee (one that fits properly and does not have the logos of any local sports teams or businesses on it) and a comfy bottom (ideally not designed for a yoga studio or gym). That’s all it takes, and you can wear it every day and look totally pulled together.

I don’t get dressed, for real, until after I take my kids to school — now that we do the drive-through carpool line, I wear my running clothes to drop them off, and then I go running and shower and get dressed in clothes that I do not want to sweat in. But my deal with myself is this: I don’t leave the house for the day until I have put on some actual clothing, even if that’s just shorts and a tee. No hanging out all day in my running clothes, both because that’s gross and because it’s so easy to put something else on — and look nice.

What’s your Mom Uniform? Do you make a point of getting dressed every day, or do you feel like you need a reason to take off the yoga pants?

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20 comments on “why it helps to have a uniform

  1. Tanya
    April 25, 2012

    Good advice…and may I add…while everyone is being good & getting dressed in “real clothes”…take 5 mins to do your hair & put on a little makeup :o) I’m constantly amazed by the amount of women at work who throw on crummy clothes, throw their hair in a ponytail & never put their makeup on. To GO TO WORK. This is where you spend the majority of your time. It’s how you present yourself to the world. Just do it right…you’ll feel sooo much better :o)

    • Susan
      April 25, 2012

      What Tanya said.

    • meegs1982
      April 26, 2012

      Agree about the hair, but disagree about the makeup. I don’t wear it, and I don’t think I look unprofessional for it.

  2. quiltinkate
    April 25, 2012

    Love this look! Can you provide sources (especially shoes!)?


    • Susan
      April 25, 2012

      The tee and skirt are J. Crew, from previous seasons (sorry). Belt is Target, and the shoes are Payless. I would show you exactly which pair, but the Payless website appears to be down right now. Nice.

      • quiltinkate
        April 25, 2012


  3. Kim
    April 25, 2012

    For me, it is a blazer, tee, jeans, and statement necklace in Winter and skirt, tank, and statement jewelry in Summer.


  4. Love the pink skirt! Great pop of color!

  5. Julie Marsh
    April 25, 2012

    Oh geez, I’m reading this at a quarter of three in my running clothes. I did just run, but still.

    Point taken. Thank you.

    • Susan
      April 25, 2012

      If you just ran, then you are off the hook. Also, if you are training for an Iron Man triathlon, you are TOTALLY off the hook. ;)

  6. Lynn
    April 25, 2012

    Totally agree. I’m originally from the south and one of the most important fashion rules my mother taught me was ” get ready for the day…and don’t leave the house without lipstick.”. I lived in several cities-Dallas and Houston) two that are close to you ;-) that climate nefinately required a khaki skirt with navy or white T. I also wore a polo shirt / dress. Always nice jewelry, usually David Yurman. In colder climates it’s khacki pants with navy or white… You can’t go wrong with classics. To add color I add a colorful scarf. Eeezy Peezy.

  7. Mandie
    April 25, 2012

    I have recently settled in to a standard uniform. Tank plus cardigan (just found some great short sleeve cardigans at old navy for summer!) and a pair of very stretchy but professional pant. I am plus sized, so don’t look so cute in the skirt. And I love my Stella & Dot jewelry which helps make my black cardigan black pant combo not quite so boring :-)

  8. Lynn
    April 25, 2012

    Oops…Susan, I know you love Stella and Dot. In no way dissing it. I love it too. ;-D

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  10. Everybody (mom or otherwise) needs a uniform. Mine? Jeans + blazer + crazy-print oversize scarf. Any combination of jeans and flats make this work pretty well. (Also, I scored a basic black blazer at my local gap for 75% off. You can imagine my glee over this.)

  11. travelingtrish
    April 25, 2012

    Susan, I adore the skirt. So cute! I’m a size 16 and short (5’3 to be exact). And yes, I exercise, but my love of carbs seems to continually cancel that out. I have really short legs, and I’m not that fond of them. But I love, love, love skirts. Can you recommend some for everyday wear, like your fantastic little hot pink number? I just picked up some pencil skirts for work, that I will brave as the weather gets warmer, but I’m stumped on what to choose for a more casual, but classy look.

  12. curvyceo
    April 25, 2012

    I’m not a mom, but Alison over at Wardrobe Oxygen first hipped me to the concept of having a “uniform.” For work, it’s a great dress. Done in one swoop! For travel, it’s a belted cardigan sweater over pants. Both with flats.

  13. Melba
    April 26, 2012

    I love your outfit above. That skirt is PERFECT on you! I WOH and so dress up during the week, but my weekend uniform is not pretty. Thanks for reminding me to step it up!

  14. Heidi
    April 28, 2012

    I’m a SAHM and am still chasing around a 3-1/2-year-old boy–with that caveat, my uniform is the following. Bottoms: JJill “Pure Jill” knit pants, both long and cropped, and Athleta “Whatever” skorts. Tops: Lands’ End cotton/modal v- and scoop-neck tops, short- and long-sleeve. Nearly all are solid colors and interchangeable. It is all very boring but serviceable and passably attractive. These clothes wear like iron and look practically like new no matter how many times they’ve been washed.

  15. sarah
    May 2, 2012

    oh my! i would have never guessed that you had so much going on last week… you were so cool and collected at the engage event. way to pull it all off, mama.

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This entry was posted on April 25, 2012 by in style made simple and tagged , , .
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