The New Uniform: letting go and owning your style

Do you have a uniform?
Is there a look 
or a certain combination of items that you seem to gravitate to
 when  you get dressed?

For me, the awnser is Yes....yes and double yes

Try as I might to be as chic as a Parisian
 I am pretty much a California "basics" sort of a gal.
Sadly, in the past I often purchased things that had no business in my closet...
by that I mean they will probably never get worn, at least by me.

 It's not because many of my fashion choices are not cute or's because I wear the same really simple, comfortable things over and over again and pass on the new and trendy thinking that today is not the "right day" to wear it.  
Weird....I know  

So if today is not the right day to wear something 
that pretty much sums up the theory 
that I'm buying things that just are not working with my lifestyle

The photo above is Matilda Kahl an art director at a big New York Ad house.  
She grew incredibly frustrated with the daily chore of finding the right out fit for she decided on just one and now wears it to the office every day.....always accessorized with the little black bow
 read the whole story here.... 

she wrote in her article for Harpers Bazaar:

 "The simple choice of wearing a work uniform has saved me countless wasted hours thinking, "what the hell am I going to wear today?" And in fact, these black trousers and white blouses have become an important daily reminder that frankly, I'm in control.
Today, I not only feel great about what I wear, I don't think about what I wear."
Hoo Ray!!!!!
Matilda found her uniform

This is not a new concept by any stretch 

The French are famous for it
Chic women know how to do it...and they do it really well 

one of my favorites is Ines de la Fresange,
model and Chanel fashion muse
Ines is often seen in the same flats, comfortable jeans and wonderful Chanel jackets 

Style legend Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, always simple and chic
in her classic black and white

Even my favorite bloggers know how to pull it off....Janet for instance,
has written so many great posts about small wardrobes,  fashion on a tight budget
 and owning your own style

so cute and so very Janet!
Janet knows her style and she owns it

another chic blogger  
Cindy just wrote a great post 
about the classic tailored white shirt 

personally, the way I dress now 
is just one part 
of the ongoing process of letting go, 
moving on and finding freedom in living more simply

When we sold our home in Ojai and it came time to pack it all up 
(...there actually was not much to pack)
I made the decision to try to simplify my life even more. 
 I purged....I tossed, I donated and I purged some more.

I gave away the impractical super high pumps I wore just once, I tossed coats, blazers, pleated trousers and handbags. 
 I chucked pantyhose, itchy lacey boy briefs, push up bras and knee socks. 
Interesting combo right?

Gone are stupid bathing suits (never worn) silly hats and too tight tops and bottoms

Adios to the puffer coat, the mens leather back pack and 
the hawaiian print vacation clutch that got packed but never made it to the Luau.  

Siyanara girlie golf shoes(except the lucky pair I wore when I hit that long drive)
see ya stupid running cap
so long uber chic pointy will never make me blister and bleed again

all gone....

I donated at least 30 container store clear shoe boxes...full of shoes!

Was it hard?...well kind of, but when I started making trips to the Goodwill, sometimes daily,
 it got easier and easier.

And what was more amazing?  When I looked at what remained in my closet 
(which is now 1/3 as full as it was)
I finally had a glimpse of what my style really was.

I felt good too, donating things that I knew would be purchased and used by someone else. 
 There was some really good stuff in those donation bags!

After the closet
I tackled the bathroom with the same gusto

My make up drawer was just down right silly

lipstick....yucky colors...check...see ya
sticky foundation....the wrong shade....done...out a here
under eye cream samples....all 25 of them...what is up with all those eye creams? the trash 

I kept the basics...
One foundation, one mascara, one shadow box  etc
I chucked all of my old makeup brushes and purchased new useful ones
I chose a makeup brand or two that I really like
(Bobbi Brown and Clinique)
I have really enjoyed heading off to Sephora to purchase new items, 
in the right shades and in small quantities.

  Makeup that is super good for my skin and easy to use

My collection of nail polish was edited to just 4 or 5 favorite shades 
(down from about 30 half empty uninteresting nail colors and an inordinate amount of clear, base, top coat, healthy nail hardener know the stuff...)

And what started as cleaning and packing project
 has morphed into a lifestyle change

One area that I have always probably shopped and used correctly is jewelry.  
I look totally ridiculous in lots of jewelry...sort of like an overdecorated christmas tree, so all of my jewelry is simple and I don't have a lot.
 I like really good or great pieces, just not too many 
and I love big mens watches instead of a bracelet.

I have started to purchase clothes that I know I will and can wear...every day...for business, running errands, shopping or walking the dog.  

*An important side note on this uniform thing is my need for comfortable shoes.  I refuse to wear shoes that give me blisters or that I can't make a mad dash down the street in.  

Here are a few of my favorite items
from my "style me" pin board
 big chunky
denim and chambray

 anything Ines wears
white jeans, simple tops and an awesome jacket
(great handbags are a must)

 camel hair and loafers
slouchy boots, simple skirts and comfy sweaters

I put together a style board of a few things I wear all the time 

slouchy cuffed trouser: Anthropology
basic cotton long sleeved T:  Gap
denim jacket: J crew
fun scarf:  Madewell
comfy shoes: Zappos
bad hair day cap: Ralph Lauren
shopper tote: Madewell
readers: Warby Parker
sunnies:  Ray Ban

what is your uniform?
does it look like mine?

these are really fun posts to write and they really get you thinking...
especially the idea of owing your style 

I should probably try this technique in my kitchen but that's a whole other can of beans

Have a great week and don't forget to be awesome!

  1. Oh my do I love a uniform. I attended Catholic school my whole life so it comes naturally?! Most of the girls at school hated their uniforms but I loved mine. It was so classic and easy. Black and white houndstooth check skirt, white peter pan collared blouse and red sweater...and black and white oxfords. I'd prob still wear that today!

    I love that you are finding your style and unfortunately for most of us it has to start with a big clean out of the closet. It's depressing seeing all that money wasted but so liberating once it's all gone right?

    I love all your choices for your real life! I'm up in Utah helping my ageing father in law and I only brought a few things with me to wear and guess what? I barely even wear what I brought. But compared to my small wardrobe at home this one is minuscule so go figure. Less choice seems to be my mantra?

    Last but not least, thank you so much for including me in your incredible list of women. I'm so flattered and you've made my day...hell you've made my year. love you! x

    1. you can get away with just about anything in Utah....!!! And there is always a Nordstrom nearby ; )))))xo Kelley

  2. I love this post!! I love your style, and everything you picked out. I have been trying to figure out
    what my style is. It has to be very casual. I don't like getting dressed up!! You should see me now!!
    Old tee shirt, sweat pants, and sneakers! I'm a happy girl right now.


    1. sounds like a super comfy Monday outfit to me ; 0 ))

  3. Simplify!!! I think that is going to be my mission once life slows down a little bit. I have never been someone who purchased a lot of "stuff." I don't have a lot of clothes, or shoes, or really anything. but I have stuff I don't wear/use anymore. Stuff I need to give away. I too want to buy really GOOD stuff, and wear it over and over and over. Thanks for the encouragement! Blessings!

    1. I agee but I honestly don't feel really compelled to buy just the best when often my favorite items come from the Gap at 50% off....and more money left over to go to the flea market with! yippee

  4. Sorry about my comment. The writing is all over the place. It seems when i leave comments
    for some reason the writing is all messed up. Can't figure out why that happens.


    1. oh Kathy! don't ever worry about comments. It's just us kids ; )))) not messed up at all and your monday outfit is just perfect. Just my thoughts on the closet and how to make it better
      xo kelley

  5. Hi Kelley!.. I have so enjoyed reading this post! Being considerably older than you are, I am still looking for my 'look' or uniform! I must say though, I love your chosen look - you couldn't possibly go wrong!!

  6. Kelley,
    Purging and refining my "world" [closets, cabinets, drawers] has been my 2015 goal and it feels so good. I wonder why it took me so long before I realized I needed to stay true to the style of clothing and accessories that made me feel like I looked like me!? My list is similar to yours. Lots of white blouses, (Cindy of rough luxe had some great options), black pants, jeans, cardigans and crew neck sweaters with good flats and a great handbag or two. Simple and uncomplicated.
    I'm saving this post for those days when I see something cute on someone usually much younger that I'm tempted to try! :-)

  7. I am so on board with this! I have been doing the same thing...editing my life. ..for awhile now. Owning your style is freeing and I now care more about how an outfit or makeup makes me feel instead of how it makes me look...hopefully that makes sense. :) Great post, and happy weekend!

    xo Kat

  8. love your style and mantra......edit, toss, do over
    guess i want to be a "mini" you!
    great post

  9. I guess it turns out I was very lucky. While working at my career I couldn't wear much jewelry, nail polish was a no no and basic black was pretty much my everyday wardrobe. I have one small makeup bag that holds everything I need. I wear white linen tops all summer with simple pants that normally come from either the Gap, Ralph or Banana Republic. I do live summer straw hats with large black ribbon. In the winter it's mainly boots, blue or black jeans with simple sweaters. Now that I think of it my style has always been about the same since high school!! It's just the cut of the clothes changes over the years. I always wondered if it made me boring. I stress out about different stuff hahahah

  10. Wonderful post, it's the French in me that relates to Ines style, I've been compared to that often, yet here on the desert of Southern California I get stopped and told ( I love your artsy look) I'll take that.
    I wear jeans, beat up jeans with holes sometimes, white shirts and tees, and dark Blazers Black Ralph Lauren totes bags and pointy heals or flats.

    I so relate to Janet's look as well a favorite blog of mine as well.


  11. First off thanks for the mention I am going to post this on Facebook! PLEASE do a fashion post every once in awhile. You are my fashion muse! Of course everything you picked I like...and hey hooray for the return of overalls!! I had my eye on the ASOS pair in gray...sold out darn it!! Let me know if you find a good pair. Wish I had saved mine from the 80's...

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  13. Love this post! I think you should do more "personal style" posts!!!

  14. Great post and I am not far behind you. I have purged a bunch, but still need to purge more and more. I basically have a uniform as well. Summer time it is walking shorts and a t-shirt or a light weight knit dress, flip flops are my go to shoe for around the house, and running errands. I have a couple of comfy sandals if I need to step it up a notch. Winter, boot cut jeans, gingham shirt under a cashmere sweater is my go-to. Thanks for writing this post, I really enjoyed it and posted it on my FB page for others to read,

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