The Uniform: Work

I wore a uniform to work for two years. I worked at a plant and had to wear company-issued, ill-fitting and high-waisted khaki pants, collared shirts that were only slightly less unflattering than the pants and closed shoes. Needless to say, I didn’t like my uniform and tried to minimize the times I was seen in public in it.

A few months back I moved out of the plant to our Makati offices. And yes, as shallow as it sounds, one of the things I looked forward to the most was not having to wear my uniform anymore. A few weeks in, though, I wanted my uniform back.

For the first few weeks, I found myself sitting on my bed, with closet and cabinet doors flung open, staring. I was now back to having to think about what I had to wear to work. I took for granted how easy I had it when I could dress myself while half asleep (which was the case sometimes, since I woke up at 4:30 am to go to the plant). I just had to grab a pair of pants from their pile, any of the shirts from theirs and I was good to go. Of course, that was no longer the case now.

To save myself the unnecessary stress and, also, to get myself to work just that teeny tiny bit earlier, I figured I should come up with my own uniform for work: a wardrobe that would require minimal effort in putting outfits together in the morning before work. I wouldn’t have to worry about putting together outfits half an hour before leaving the house. I’ve done the careful thinking and stressing before I’ve even bought the pieces, making sure it will fit with the look I want to achieve, and will go with multiple things that I already have. In other words, I could still be half-asleep and dress myself appropriately for work, albeit this time with more variety, and better-fitting pants.

In the two years I was at the plant, I didn’t shop for work clothes. I’ve had to overhaul my wardrobe a bit, clean out the stuff that no longer fits me either physically or style-wise (stylistically?). I’ve had to really think about what I wanted to look and dress like. I had to be careful about not buying things on a whim, like I did when I started earning money, only have to those purchases end up in the discard pile after my wardrobe clean-up. So after careful thought and consideration, this, in condensed form, is what my new work uniform looks like:

The Uniform

Pencil skirts – I bought two black ones from Zara and had our family tailor copy one of them for three more. Two of them where in basic fabrics, khaki and houndstooth-ish gray. But the third one was in a bright purple-blue tweed with green, yellow and pink threads running through.

Skinny cropped pants – I bought a pair of J. Crew Factory Winnie pants during my NYC trip, fell in love them and promptly bought two more. I’ve been looking for a similar fabric in other colors to have some made, but no luck so far.

Sweaters – Zara and Uniqlo for fitted v-neck ones, but I also have looser sweatshirt-ish ones similar to the gray one above.

Shirts – Slim fit cotton ones from The Gap and Uniqlo and flowier, looser silk ones from Massimo Dutti and Joe Fresh. Alas, Equipment is still beyond my reach.

Pointy flats and heels – The flats pictured above are J. Crew Vivs, but mine are my favorite Anthology Carnabys which pretty much look exactly the same. Massimo Dutti, surprisingly, has some well-made, comfortable and relatively affordable heels.

I will spring for something printed (dots) or with texture (like that tweed skirt) or with more color (a deep purple silk shirt from Joe Fresh) sometimes, but as you can see, almost everything is in a neutral: white, black, gray, navy, khaki (the influence of the plant?) or blush.

And because everything is in either a neutral or in a classic style or cut (or both), everything goes together. Like I used to with my plant uniform, I can pick any bottom and any top (there will be some exceptions, of course) and be good to go.

I have a uniform again.

Uh-oh…

I just discovered something that will, no doubt, take up a ton of time that I already don’t have or should be spending on something more productive (i.e. work).

Worse than Facebook and Sodoku for Blackberry (yes, I’m a geek. I know that): Polyvore. In the same vein as Lookbook and Looklet, but with a be-your-own-magazine-editor twist. Using from photos from hundreds of online stores, from the high-end (Net-a-porter, Luisaviaroma) to the high-street (Topshop, Uniqlo, Gap), you can make your own “sets” and plot them on a page, à la In Style magazine’s “Instant Style” pages.You can even do interior design sets (Ikea is one of the stores!), if your in to that.

But I’m just about the clothes. So here goes my first two sets:

I want to wear this Gap-intense outfit, like, NOW. But the nature of my work and the Manila weather is keeping me from doing so. So my new “baby” will have to wait for her first day out.

Now this is an outfit I would wear, if only I could find boyfriend jeans that don’t make my already small derriere disappear. I’ve tried every single boyfriend jean the Gap has made (that makes it to Manila) and even in the 24’s my butt looks like Sandy Bullock’s boobs when she first tried on the wedding dress in The Proposal. So until I find boyfriend jeans that don’t make me look more like a boy than I already do (because it’s unlikely I will ever grow a butt to fill the jeans out), this outfit will remain in the realm of Polyvore.

Boyfriend-jeans-related frustrations aside, Polyvore is awesome, fun and harmless, as long as you stop yourself from actually clicking on the links to actually purchase the clothes. So sign-up and start making your own sets, guys! So I won’t be the only one whose work performance will be suffering from here on out.

You can view what I waste my precious time on at my own Polyvore page. I’ve shown you mine, so show me yours!