Many, many years ago (as in 30+), I heard artist David Lance Goines talk about how he adopted his uniform of Levis, a denim shirt and black leather vest. He said it gave him one less thing to think about, so he could get on with the business of making art. It was a brilliant concept that would never apply to me, presumably because it was a guy thing. Steve Jobs and his iconic black mock turtleneck and Levi 501s, yes…but not me.
However, that idea has hung around all this time—through the thousands of hours (and I suspect, dollars) of trying on, buying, and discarding clothes that didn’t feel (or fit) like me. My default outfit is a pair of jeans, a black v-neck t shirt (3/4 length sleeves in the winter), and flats. I wear silver jewelry, the same necklace and two bracelets, every day. Sometimes I (gasp) add a scarf or switch out my silver hoop earrings for the other silver hoop earrings. I dress up for client meetings, but even then it’s predictable. Recently a colleague invited me to a “dress bold” challenge and I couldn’t even pull it off for a full day.
I love Project Runway, and the idea of fashion, but I am far more comfortable than fashionable. I skipped the articles on building a capsule wardrobe (37 pieces, who can live with that?) and didn’t bother to read the article by art director Mathilda Kahl on why she wears the same thing to work everyday. (For the record, her same things are 15 white silk shirts and black pants…clearly she’s not a food and beverage spiller).
Not my thing. I love pattern, color, texture, decoration, variety. Why would I limit my clothing choices? I love choices!
But when I start my morning in frustration, pulling multiple options out of the closet, I am always happy when I realize I can wear a black t shirt and call it a day—and a good day, at that.
Meanwhile, I have been considering our September trip to Spain (yes, I know it’s four months away) and I keep thinking about the ease of packing a pair of jeans, a black dress, a pair of light weight pants, and lots of …black v necks. It would take care of my typical over packing problem and it seems like it would work. A uniform that would allow me to keep my bright blue purse and screaming green wallet, and perhaps bring along more earrings than shoes.
Maybe it’s time to reconsider for real life, too. What if I condensed my wardrobe to black v necks? The truth is, I look best in black, and fewer choices are easier for me, especially on under-caffeinated mornings, or when I am jamming from the gym to the studio. My friend jesikah refers to this as my Johnny Cash experiment (she’s also the one who invited me to dress bold).
Guys can do it, why can’t I?
So I am indeed experimenting…I am on week two of only wearing black v necks. I have a few alternatives for client meetings and special occasions, but I am testing a limited wardrobe. The truth is, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. It just feels…easy. And if it continues to feel freeing, rather than limiting, this weekend I am going to rearrange my closet with the black v necks at the front.
All fifteen of them. Because, choices.
Photo by Kim Tackett. Repurposed Stendig calendar.