No more wondering what to wear to church each week when you create a uniform for yourself.
Today I am going to talk about one of my favorite things, which is style uniforms. This is based on my own framework that I teach to my students and clients called the Youniform Framework. I will talk you through how I’m using it to create a new style module for an activity in my life that we have recently restarted.
I’m excited to share with you the system I found for making my wardrobe simple and easy and it keeps me from buying too much stuff and going overboard and dealing with shiny object syndrome. Before I jump into why I need a new style uniform in my wardrobe I want to just review the concept a little bit with you guys.
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What to Wear to Church: Reviewing the Uniform Concept
Think about Steve Jobs before he passed away, he always wore the same black turtleneck and a pair of jeans and tennis shoes. This is what I mean by the concept of a style uniform. It’s basically a very similar outfit that you wear all the time. A lot of people hear me say uniform and they think about work uniforms and it is kind of like that.
I grew up with a grandfather who did this and I thought it was super weird. He had the exact same shirt and the exact same pants. I remember as a kid wondering why he wore the same thing all the time. Then I looked in his closet one time and he had like seven each of the shirt and pants. I thought, “Okay. He’s just wearing the same thing every day, but it’s clean at least.”
I don’t think I’d ever had that realization before and I’ll be honest, I still didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand why he did it, but the reality is that there are many people in the world and they’re usually highly successful and often highly creative people who have adopted this method of having a style uniform concept.
Mark Zuckerberg does it, I think his is a gray shirt and jeans. There have been several women in the fashion industry, high-ranking women editors, and fashion designers who have used this concept as well. It’s not something that’s just relegated to men who are the same thing every day.
Women can also do this just by adding a little more creativity and thought to the process. I teach my clients to find a basic silhouette that works for them. By silhouette, I mean top and bottom, or one piece, like a dress or a jumpsuit.
Then I encourage them to buy 4 pieces of that silhouette, be it a top and bottom or a dress. If possible they should buy them from the same retailer, the exact same one.
Your four items would be two neutrals and either two colors or color and a print. Four is where I typically start telling people where to start, but you may need more or less depending on your lifestyle. At its heart, it’s just an outfit, essentially one outfit formula that you are recreating by changing up the colors and patterns.
Pretty simple when you think about it but also keeps you from getting bored. On top of your base piece, we talk about adding in completers or layers. We’re not quite as strict here about maintaining the silhouette you just want to buy all four of the same cardigan or something like that.
Another way to go about it would be to add a little more variation based on what works for your body.
This is just a super quick review of my Youniform framework and how I use it because I wanted to give you some backstory before I start talking about what I’m doing with it. You can read more about it in this blog post.
What to Wear to Church: Why I Want/Need a New Uniform
Now let’s talk about why I need or want a new style uniform in my life. We have been out of church for several years, since Covid, had babies, search for a new church, and lots of different reasons. We have finally found a church that we’re enjoying going to, and I just wanted a new uniform for church essentially.
Often, when we’re around the house, my outfits are very comfortable and I wear them out in public all day long, but I just like to look a teeny bit nicer when I go to church.
Also as a stay-at-home mom that also works from home, I don’t need to dress up. Church gives me an excuse to dress up just a little. I didn’t want to buy a bunch of new items because that’s against my personal ethos really when it comes to fashion in the first place.
I really wanted to be mindful about what I had and then how to change it up a little bit from my basic dress and t-shirt or just dress and basic top that I wear around the house.
Plus I wanted to keep it really comfy. I actually ended up with three variations of my church uniform, which again, is very advanced on what I just said. I can do this because I’ve been doing this for a long time now and I understand the process and I know what goes into it.
If you’re hearing this for the first time and you’re super excited about it, just start with one basic uniform and don’t get overwhelmed. If you need help I have the intensive, which is where I teach from start to finish, color, style, body type, and all the things you need to know to build a uniform.
For myself, I went ahead and created three variations so I would have some variety for myself. I have a great basic wardrobe so I had a lot to work with from the start.
What to Wear to Church: Adding Cardigans to Existing Dresses
The first one that I ended up creating was just taking the dresses that I’m already wearing and I added some cardigans around my house that are a little bit nicer. Some of them are a silk blend and have some different elements that just don’t feel quite as comfortable for wearing around the house for 12 hours a day. One of them has some bell sleeves on it and it’s just a little bit fancier.
My first solution was just to add these fancier cardigans that aren’t getting as much use as I would like to the existing dresses that I already have. I kept it really simple. This isn’t really a new uniform because a dress and a cardigan is one of my basic outfits anyway, so really nothing new here. Just a commitment to use some of the fancier cardigans that I haven’t been using.
What to Wear to Church: Printed Zuri Dresses
The second uniform that I came up with is actually a little bit of a completely different uniform for me. Most of my dresses are solid colors because I buy Merino wool dresses and they don’t offer them in prints for the most part. So everything I have is pretty much a solid. I have to add my love of prints elsewhere in my wardrobe. Last year (maybe the year before), I discovered a company called Zuri.
They make these dresses with fabric designed and printed in Africa. It’s very much fair trade. They’re into helping women improve their lives in these third-world countries and the prints are just beautiful and the dresses are created, and designed the exact same way.
It’s the same dress, basically in different fabrics. Again, it’s a uniform, essentially. I bought one of these dresses last year and just like the cardigans a little bit, it was just a little fancy for my everyday life: being at home, running my business, homeschooling my kids, cleaning my kitchen, doing all the things that we do.
But it’s perfect for going out to special places and events. It was the first thing I wore to the new church the first day we went. Then I realized this is a perfect church uniform. It’s everything I love about style and fashion, but it’s just something extra, something special more than my everyday look.
So I actually bought two more of those dresses. I did not want to go overboard because I don’t want to be an irresponsible consumer, but it is a slow-fashioned brand. I do appreciate their ethics. And I did find two dresses I really liked and I added those.
It’s not like I could only wear this to church. I could wear this to go out to dinner or out to have coffee with my friends. Basically, anywhere that I’m going where I’m not going to be scrubbing the floors! I mean I could scrub the floors in it, but I just don’t want to.
What to Wear to Church: Silk Sari Skirts with Neutral Cardigan
The third uniform was created by looking at how I can utilize clothes I already have that just haven’t been getting as much wear. I like to be comfortable around the house.
Again, I’m changing diapers, doing all the things and I just want to be cozy and comfortable. I typically wear slip-on tennis shoes around the house too because it makes me feel like I’m in work mode as far as being a mom. Also if I step on crumbs in the kitchen, it doesn’t make me crazy.
There were a lot of these things that are nicer pieces of my wardrobe that I don’t want to get rid of because I really love them. I just was struggling to find a place to wear them sometimes. Having this option to create these different church outfit uniforms is great here.
The final thing that I did was take these silk sari skirts that I’d collected quite a few years ago. It was almost like an art collector’s extremist moment. I sold some because I had too many, but I ended up with four that I still really love. I do try to stick to the number four in my wardrobe because I feel like it does offer you enough variety without being excessive.
I am taking these silk sari skirts and pairing them with the wool shirts that I already have or even over some of the wool dresses I have because it makes a great almost chaise base layer underneath the dresses. Then I added one item, a neutral fitted cardigan to wear with the skirts because I often get cold and sometimes I just want my arms covered. A lot of my dresses are sleeveless because I layer them with other tops. But I wanted something to cover my arms.
If you’re paying attention, I only bought two Zuri dresses and one neutral-fitted cardigan for this whole entire building out of the church uniform module. With things that I already had I ended up being three totally different looks.
I typically follow the method where I only buy about five things in the spring and five things in the fall and winter, aka, the French five-piece wardrobe. But sometimes things come up and we need to add some variety to our wardrobe.
It’s amazing to me that I can use this concept, this framework of having a style uniform, and create variety. Quite a bit of variety actually. I could probably wear a different outfit to church for at least three months and not repeat the same thing. I have the ability to vary it so much with a small amount of clothing – those four skirts and three dresses.
It’s really changed how I approach clothing and shopping. Looking at my clothes from this perspective has also given me the beauty of not focusing on how I look as much because I am confident that everything that I own has been chosen for a purpose and a reason. I know it makes me look good. I know it makes me feel good.
When I do need to add some things for a specific purpose, like going to church and I just want to look a little bit nicer, I don’t have to go on a whirlwind shopping spree or go buy a bunch of different things that don’t make sense. I can simply look at what I have, think about what I need, and make a very small set of purchases that make my wardrobe richer and true to who I am and what I believe in.
Final Thoughts on What to Wear to Church
If this is just a crazy mind-blowing concept, you’ve probably never thought about wearing the same thing every day. You can choose items basically in different colors and prints, of course, because we’re women and we should have some fun with our clothes.
I’m not asking you to be Steve Jobs and wear a black turtleneck and tee or jeans every day. However, I have done that before when I was really busy in my life. That was my weekend uniform essentially, and it was great too! There’s a way to do this and bring yourself and your personality into it, but still have this super easy wardrobe that highly successful creative people know is a game changer for reducing your decision fatigue.
It’s just changing how you approach clothing in general. If you’ve never heard of this before, I would just challenge you to think about your favorite outfit. The favorite thing you like to put on. It could be jeans and a T-shirt. It could be a cardigan and a dress. It could be a blazer and slacks. It could be anything.
Now, imagine how much easier your wardrobe would be if you had that outfit, that perfect outfit that makes you so happy, times four.
Really, it’s more than times four. It’s like times 64 when you start doing the math on mixing your pieces. How much would your life change if you could just wear the same thing every day that you really love? How would it change? What would you have more time for? What would you spend thinking less about? Would you feel better about how you look? Would you feel better about what you own?
Would you feel like you have more spoons for the day to deal with the things you want to do? Because that’s what this really does.
It reduces your decision fatigue. It allows you to move forward in your life doing the things that God called you to do without wasting your time on something that’s transitory and short term and really is just one piece of a puzzle with who we are.
Now you can take these tips and create your own uniform instead of wasting time and energy deciding what to wear to church each week.
Stacey is the owner and creator behind Radiantly Dressed. She is a certified image consultant and AICI member focusing on creating simplicity in wardrobes via color and style.