How I Avoid Fast Fashion With A Personal Uniform

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 years ago | Features

Image: WMC Fashion Editor Rosie Dalton wearing her favourite Miss Crabb slip dress, the Helena.

I used to hate uniforms — particularly those of the schoolyard variety. For me, this meant an ankle-length tartan skirt in the fetching tones of maroon and blue. Along with a buttoned-up shirt and a maroon tie (yes, really). But it wasn’t just the look of the uniform that bothered me; it was also the niggling sense that wearing the same thing en masse seemed to strip all of the personality out of getting dressed. And I have long believed that fashion should act as a mouthpiece for your beliefs.

But gradually I have also come to realise that uniform dressing can actually be an incredibly powerful way to achieve just that. And — as fast fashion continues to make us all more homogenous dressers over time — I have learned that I would rather dress in a personal uniform everyday of the week, than look like everyone else in the same watered down trends churned out by cheap clothing brands. So with this in mind, developing a uniform has become my way to push back against the social and environmental cost of fast fashion. My personal uniform mightn’t be the most experimental approach, but it does reflect my appreciation for quality clothing, timeless silhouettes and a distinctive accessory thrown in the mix.

It has helped me to reduce my cost per wear overall and work out which aspects of my wardrobe are most important to me (the indulgences, as well as the core values). I’ve found that sustainable fibres both look and feel better on, while jewellery is more impactful when it’s handcrafted and my pieces tell a better story when I actually know the brand story (which often means shopping local). At the end of the day, this makes getting dressed super easy of a morning — I know what works for me and I don’t have to sweat the small stuff. So, as a total convert to uniform dressing now, this is how I would break down my core wardrobe.  

1) Vintage style denim
I virtually live in vintage Levi’s denim most days of the week. And when it’s not a pair of jeans that I have thrifted and had tailored to fit, then it’s responsibly made denim that has been cut in a vintage-style manner. I love the slightly flared silhouettes of Denimsmith’s Aubrey and Morgan styles, for example, or the reclaimed vintage vibes of Nobody’s Issy Jean. I feel comfortable, sexy and truly myself in a well-fitting pair of jeans and I find that they really do never get old.

2) Organic cotton T-shirts
It mightn’t be the most exciting item to go shopping for, but once you find the perfect white (or black, red, navy) T-shirt for you, it is like finally understanding that tricky Maths equation. Suddenly, you no longer need to bend your brain over what works with your favourite pair of jeans, or underneath a slip dress. Because once you have that small but crucial item crossed off your must-have list, you can purchase one in every colour. My favourite white tee is by The White T-shirt Company, because the moment I tried it on was the moment I realised how much more comfortable organic cotton was against the skin and how much ease the perfect cut can bring to your wardrobe.

3) Bold jewellery
I know that my personal uniform is fairly simple on the whole — and I’m totally comfortable with that. But for those evenings (or daytimes) when I want to jazz things up a little, I tend to look no further than some bold, handcrafted jewellery pieces. Because these items never fail to work a charm as a conversation starter. I find this is a great way to update the seasonality of my look without buying into something that will date too quickly. And let’s face it; a great pair of statement earrings makes for an incredibly effective distraction whenever I really can’t be bothered washing my hair.

4) Locally made slip dresses
There are no two ways about it: I love a good slip dress. But I tend to find these pieces far more impactful when I know a bit about their backstory. This is why I love to support local brands such as Miss Crabb in the eveningwear department — because I know the story behind the clothes and can therefore feel confident sharing that with others. When people ask about the beautiful quality of these silk pieces, for example, I can tell them about how they’re made onshore in New Zealand. Or when they compliment the cut, I can chat about the awesome women behind the brand and their impressive fashion industry credentials. It may sound simple, but it goes a long way in terms of making a lasting impression. 

5) Low-heeled lady shoes
Last but not least, another cornerstone of my personal uniform is a reliable rotation of low-heeled lady shoes. I say ‘lady’ shoes because the simplicity and androgyny of my overall look tends to invite a little feminine flourish here and there (see also: wearing a bow in my hair, or an Alice Band for some more of those unwashed hair days). Usually, I will gravitate towards a ladylike shape such as B Boheme’s Carrie style in classic black. But for days when I want to be extra special comfortable, I will turn towards a timeless black loafer or a slick white sneaker for contrast.

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