Jenna Lyons – creative director of J. Crew.
I understand what Ms. Lyons is saying, she likes the creativity of dressing, but I’m not so quick to dismiss the uniform. Of course it depends on the uniform itself. Modern nurses’ uniforms? Sloppy, unflattering, and just plain ugly. Nope … wouldn’t want to have to sport that everyday. But nurses’ uniforms sixty plus years ago were tailored, chic, and reflected a sense of professionalism. (Take a look at the uniforms in the PBS drama Call the Midwife.) Also, with good-looking uniforms, which are often suits, one can get creative with accessories like a snappy hat, a bold brooch, or a colorful scarf.
There is also what I call the personal uniform, which is a go-to outfit, or look, one wears regularly. My mother was big on this idea when she was raising three children in San Francisco. Living in a city and being fashion conscious, she wanted to look good but she had to be comfortable. Her go-to outfits for day were tweed skirts, Oxford shirts (with her monogram), knee-high socks and leather flats or perhaps desert boots. She played with color and texture, sometimes echoing the pattern of her skirt in her socks or picking up a color in her skirt with her shirt. Mom’s personal uniform always looked individual and sharp.
Yes, uniforms have limitations but striving to be unique within those limitations is where creativity begins.