In July last year I switched from low-level fretting about what I wore to work each day to a self-imposed uniform. After a while a few people noticed, I got asked about it, I carried on. It’s been the easiest and most effective thing I’ve ever done to reframe the way I go about my work and my life. I’m not going to say the impact has been profound or dramatic, it really hasn’t, but I feel a benefit and don’t regret it one bit.
In January I also embarked on a challenge to run at least 3.2km (2 miles) every single day, the reason I mention that is that I’ve managed that without any deviation whatsoever. However, the uniform thing has wobbled a tiny bit. There have been work days when I’ve spent most of the day in my running gear some winter days where I opted for the icebreaker merino, or I’ve switched to a suit, or something else formal, for a pitch or crucial business meeting. That’s probably happened fewer than twenty times. Other than that it’s been grey Abercrombie & Fitch iconic v-neck t-shirts and Nudie Thin Finn jeans every single working day.
Over the same period, I’ve sent a load of clothes to charity. When you don’t wear a variety during the week you realise your weekend wardrobe can be pretty basic too. I’ve switched all my underwear and socks to Happy Socks and Björn Borg (no more plain black socks needing to be paired post-laundry). With great satisfaction, I have seen out the year and am keen to move it on. Because of the fact that I’d felt under-dressed on a handful of occasions at work (partly because of our new office location in the City and my increasing new business remit). The A&F tees have disappointed, to be honest. For just £17 each I shouldn’t really have had much expectation but they pilled badly very quickly and quickly looked raggy. With that all in mind, I’ve taken the decision to switch this year to a sharper look. So, out goes the denim and in comes some navy chinos. I went with the J Crew 484 fit in a broken-in finish. These balance the right amount of formality with a silhouette that matches my frame and an acknowledgement that I’m in marketing, not corporate finance. I’ll be pairing these with a proper City look, a Jermyn Street poplin white shirt. I’ve gone with Thomas Pink and, unlike last year, I’ll be alternating between two variants: the Independent shirt (slim fit, Maughan) and the Freddie (super slim fit, poplin). Partly this is down to cost, unlike a £17 cotton t-shirt, these are shirts that run north of £100 a piece, buying 5 is a bit of an ask and at the current moment I was able to get a decent price on the Independent shirt. Additionally, I wanted to try two looks. The Independent is designed to be worn without a tie and has a more robust collar for that reason, however, it doesn’t come in the super-slim fit and as a 64kg chap with a 14.5 collar, I thought I might suit a really neat tailored shirt. Both will be button cuff as I’m a big fan of a turned sleeve, and both are simple poplin which I believe is the classic London weave.
Shoes were the big failure of the past year. I kept alternating between increasingly tired pairs of Nike Frees, Adidas Adipure and some (still unrepaired) Oliver Sweeney for formal. When the weather got bad over winter I’d throw on some hiking boots for the commute and put my Nike iD Roshe (office slippers) on when I got in. Wholly unsatisfactory. This year I’ve decided to buy some dedicated work shoes; because of the amount of walking each day I need a good sole and something decently weather proof but with a look that will work with the chinos. Timberland’s Bradstreet Oxford has a SensorFlex sole and ticks the style and protection boxes with the upper.
I can’t honestly say I’ve kept my life as simple this time around. There’s going to be a bit of a burden in ironing and keeping on top of things. I’ve probably spent hours working out what items I wanted to get, making sure I could rely on getting ‘more of the same’ if required and seeking out deals/rewards through programes like Gate365. I’m almost certain I’m going to have to buy another pair of chinos and probably another shirt at some point and neither were cheap. Winter variations are already in the planning. I have my Rab microlight Alpine (which has been perfect) but for the coldest days I’ll add some wool and current thinking is something grey, zip necked by Ulvang (Berg), Bergans (Ulriken) or Fjallraven.
Finally, I’ve also decided to take a hard look at my running gear. I’ll be sticking with Adidas, the fit is just bang-on (although my Mizuno tee from the Amba Hotel City Mile is a great cut) but I want to have just two or three pieces and in plain solid colours.
Right, back to blog posts on user experience and suchlike, until next July.