School uniforms can cost up to £500 (Getty) / Getty

It’s strange that we spend most of our adult lives putting ourselves back into a uniform, despite rebelling against them as children

We spend most of our childhoods rebelling against the uniformity of uniform.

Just about everybody has done something to alter theirs: plucking school colours from ties with a compass or knotting it the wrong way around or extra short; rolling up your skirt to higher-than-regulation across the thigh; or any act of undetectable defacement, pushing the status quo until you’re hauled off to detention and ordered to buy a replacement.

It’s strange, then, that we spend most of our adult lives putting ourselves back into a uniform. I don’t mean actual uniforms – most people forced to wear those probably still despise them (I once worked for an investment bank and loathed the necessity to suit and boot every day). But elsewhere, a uniform develops. Perhaps subconsciously, perhaps just for ease.

It struck me at the spring/summer 2015 Paris shows, mostly because, having travelled across four cities in four weeks, I’ve been packing a lot of suitcases. And the suitcases invariably included the same garments, in multiple permutations. T-shirts, normally in black, narrow black jeans (detect a theme?), some form of lightweight jacket that’s easily bundled into a bag. That is pretty much it. Fashion? What fashion? This is a working wardrobe.

Other people take rather more idiosyncratic approaches to the idea of uniform. Look at American Vogue’s Anna Wintour, invariably clad in Manolo Blahnik mules, a fluted A-line skirt and a necklace of gems the size of Werther’s Originals. The whole point of a uniform isn’t the constant visual recognition or identification, but for ease and speed. It’s far more efficient to truss yourself up in similar garments day in and day out – get out, do the job, get back.

That doesn’t mean the more uniformly clad of the fashion press enjoy the spectacle of the shows any less. I suppose it’s about knowing what works for you, and on you, and sticking to those guns. It’s uniform in the best sense of the word – reliable, constant, and can take you just about anywhere. Plus we’re the ones who decide on it, and there’s no head-teacher to rap our knuckles if it isn’t quite right.

Comments