Whether it’s dance recital your mum made you do back in ’97, or that café you worked in to fund your soul-searching trip across South East Asia, we’ve all had to wear a uniform at some point. At school we were told a uniform made us equal; in our first jobs, it made us look professional. In the service industry, the uniform is commonplace. In business, it’s a suit. But in the creative industries, where we’re given freedom to express ourselves through our clothing choices, a uniform seems counter-intuitive, right?
We rely on women in uniform. They’re our doctors, our nurses, our soldiers, our engineers. In the creative industries, however, a woman in uniform conjures an image of some pant-suit bitch who glares at you over the rim of her gold-framed Gucci glasses. We need to change that. Uniforms are traditionally about practicality and professionalism, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be creativity and style.
Loads of love to the craftswomen at @Filippa_k for setting up the new edition of my uniform ?. Will be a pleasure to dress the same way to work for at least 5 more years. Even the baby bump approved of the pants ?. Read more on the subject in the interview with @ELLEsverige | Link in bio | #NotThatComplicated
The uniform has long asserted itself as a creative asset in high fashion. Think military fashion, the ‘90s Chanel jumpsuits that signaled the Karl Lagerfeld’s new era, Carhartt, Dickies, and Vetements-does-DHL. Slowly but surely, creative workplaces are following suit, and the uniform is making its way into creative workplaces. In 2015, Saatchi & Saatchi’s art director Mathilda Kahl made waves with her Harper’s Bazaar essay, “Why I Wear The Exact Same Thing to Work Every Day”. Donning black trousers and a simple white blouse (accessorised with a black neck-tie), Kahl made a strong case for uniforms in creative workplaces. The trend took the internet by storm, prompting Stylist.co.uk’s uniform challenge and women’s workwear guides by Fast Company and The Guardian.
GmbH Look_08 Daena Collection_02_SS18 'EUROPE ENDLESS' . . Styling @minahammal and @gmbh_official Hair @hollismithhead Make up @ingegrognard Production @brachfeldparis Casting and production @hammalcaide @alqaede Music @lukas.heerich PR @ritualprojectsparis #gmbh #gmbhofficial #pfw2017 #europeendless #ss18
Still not convinced by a uniform? Let’s address the obvious benefits:
Ease – A work uniform makes your mornings that little bit quicker and more stress-free (and who couldn’t use that?)
Simplicity – We’re big advocates of the ever-applicable “less is more”, and while your uniform itself doesn’t have to be basic, it gives you one less thing to think about.
Cost efficiency – Of course you need more than one shirt/ trouser/ skirt/ dress combo, but you can say goodbye to going overboard, or jumping on that fleeting trend (why oh why did we buy those kitten heels back in 2002?).
Style – Who said a uniform has to be boring? Your work uniform should be as bold and daring, or as simple and classic, as the person wearing it. It’s entirely up to you to find something you feel confident, comfortable, and well-dressed in.
Claire Campbell is one designer who can’t get enough of the uniform. “I love the clothes of working people,” she told Sleek. For Campbell, who founded her label HIGH in 2007, uniforms are a source of inspiration for “everyday couture”. Putting a decorative twist on something utilitarian is the principle behind HIGH USE, one of the lines within the HIGH collection.
The relationship between HIGH USE and uniform is harmoniously reciprocal. On one hand, it borrows from the principles of utility and function, on the other it is the perfect choice for a uniform that is also creative. With its clever cuts, strong silhouettes and thought-through, no-nonsense details, HIGH clothing embodies a very modern attitude.
Set apart from many other contemporary designers, Campbell’s brand demonstrates a softer approach to the uniform. The designer’s keen eye has always sought out the decorative elements found within workwear, and her designs emphasise the beauty of certain details. Intricate folds, pocket flaps and collars give a sophisticated twist to a practical design. For the designer, who says she works in “a three-dimensional way”, the silhouette as a whole is important: many of the HIGH designs come decorated with intricate details on the back or at the sides.
If we’ve convinced you that a work uniform is the way to go, our one piece of advice would be this: focus on timeless garments with an attention to detail, clothes which reflect who you are, and how you want to be seen.
To get inspiration for your creative uniform head to HIGH’s website.