Let’s Talk About Uniforms!

Uniform 1This post is in response to a bunch of questions I got when I posted my book review of The Curated Closet (by far the BEST book on everyday fashion I have ever read). In that post I talked about how the book helped me find my "three uniforms", and a lot of you wanted to hear more about them! So here I am. 

Uniform #1: Short Dresses
This one was obvious to me. I have always loved above-the-knee dresses. Maybe it stems back to my high school years when I attended Christian schools and your skirts had to go below the knee? Haha! 

Nah—the real reason I love short dresses as opposed to long ones is that I feel like they make me look taller. And looking taller is something I am always striving to do. I know a lot of people dress with a "problem" they are trying to solve (like to minimize this or play up that), and I'm not saying that it's a good mindset to have. But I will say, I LOVE feeling taller. That's why I wear platforms with basically every outfit. 

I guess now that I think of it, maybe I'm happy with my height because if I was ACTUALLY as tall as my heels make me, maybe I wouldn't want to wear them. I don't know—someone tall please tell me how it feels! 

Anyway, short dresses are one of my go-to uniforms. I like ones with a defined waist the best, but I'm still open to shift dresses. Although I do typically stay away from the trend of dresses that look like they could maybeeee be a maternity dress. They tend to be less flattering on me (again with the looking short phobia, I think!). 

Uniform 2Uniform #2: Button-up (or Zip-up) Skirts with a Tucked in Top 
This uniform is new to me (that's why most of these photos are from within the past six months). In the past I bought a lot of skater skirts, which are a similar cut but fuller and sometimes fluffy. And I didn't wear them as often as I wanted to. But recently, I figured out that these button-up or zip-up skirts (almost always high waisted and on the shorter side) really work well for me. They come off less casual than a dress, and they give more opportunity to mix and match. They also coordinate really well with coats and jean jackets—better than dresses. 

I like this uniform because I can wear it pretty much anywhere. The denim skirts can even go with a t-shirt or sweatshirt, and then the scalloped ones can be dressed up for a date night. 

I just realized I am wearing the same pair of shoes in all the photos. Ha! I've been trying to branch out a bit in the shoe department. I love Hasbeens (I mean, obviously, I'm like their #1 fangirl!), but I've been looking to add some new styles just for variety's sake. So if you have any shoe brand suggestions that you think would fit my style, please share! 

Uniform 3Uniform #3: Jumpers, Rompers or Overalls 
Basically anything that makes using a public restroom a nightmare because you have to completely undress… ha!

The book helped me find this uniform even though it was hiding in plain sight. These outfits make me feel really confident, and are a lot of fun to wear! I have this pair of overalls, and I've probably worn them, I don't know, fifty times at least. They're not even that photogenic, but I wear them in real life A LOT. 

So ever since I completed the homework in the book (around Thanksgiving), I always remember to check the rompers section when I am shopping online. They can be really hit or miss, but when they're a hit, they're a big one. 

Stuff I realized I don't love wearing as much…. 
One of the best pieces of homework in The Curated Closet is the homework to take a photo of EVERY outfit you wear (I think for two weeks) and rate how confident you felt while wearing it and also what you were doing when you wore it. This helped me to weed out some bad outfit habits I had formed (stuff I wore because it was easy but always made me feel kind of blah), and it also helped me to realize what kind of clothes I really need and use in my everyday life. 

So, one of the big things I learned was that jeans and flat shoes (especially Birkenstocks) make me feel very meh most of the time. I am now working on creating outfits with pants or jeans that make me feel confident. It's definitely a more put together look. For super easy/casual days I've learned that throwing on a simple dress and jean jacket suits me better. 

By taking the photos, I also discovered some pieces that I don't think are that flattering, so I decided to sell or donate them. 

Oh! And there are definitely exceptions in my closet! Here are some of my "oddball" outfits. They don't fit into my typical uniforms, but they're still super flattering and fun to wear! 

Oddball outfitsI don't normally love long dresses, but because I love off-the-shoulder things, I decided to give it a try and I LOVE it. I even wear it with flat shoes! And a full midi length skirt isn't normally a go-to for me. I've tried a lot on that weren't very flattering, but this one was special. Same with this long red skirt. I saw a friend wearing a similar one, and it looked so good on her. So I gave it a try and loved it. And sweaters have been tough for me. I think I tend to like very thin sweaters more than big chunky ones? 

Anyway! Rules are made to be broken. I consider my three uniforms kind of easy go-tos, but I definitely won't limit myself from trying on anything that looks fun. It's always worth a try! 

I learned so much from The Curated Closet. I feel like the biggest help to me, because I mostly shop online (and I return A LOT), is that I now recognize when I'm purchasing a "safe" piece that I know I'll wear a lot versus a risky piece. And the second best thing I picked up is shopping for occasions. I know when I'm shopping now which pieces I'll wear over and over and over and which are more for a certain special occasion. In past years my closet was mostly filled with "photoshoot clothes" (loud, bold pieces that look awesome in a photo but that you don't wear that much in everyday life). Now it's mostly everyday clothes, but it's still a mix of both. 

Ah! That was a fun post to write. I hope it was helpful to you and maybe will kickstart a few of you into getting curious about your own everyday uniforms. xx -Elsie 

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photos (all from past sister style posts or Instagram) by Diana La Counte, Jeremy Larson, Amber Ulmer, Emma Chapman and Alyssa Rosenheck

  • Love this! This book has been on my list ever since you first mentioned it, and I was super interested to hear about your “uniforms” 🙂

    Also, coming from someone who is actually tall (5’10” with legs that take up like 75% of my body haha), you probably wouldn’t wear heels as much if you were taller as is. My go-to outfits tend to be midi skirts and dresses with flats, and short skirts normally make me feel pretty uncomfortable. I always envy how cute and not obnoxious they look on people like you 😉 But then again, we all want what we don’t have! Anyways, loved this post! Super excited to read the book 🙂

  • Thanks for the post! I am interested in reading the book! At 5’10”, I grew up slouching trying to be at the level of my friends who all seemed to be about 5’4″-5’6″. My grandma always tried to grab my shoulders, pull them back and make me stand up straight. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I needed to own the body God gave me. I won’t wear heels over 2-3 inches tall but I am not embarrassed to wear them! I bought a pair of tall boots once that I returned and the guy sales clerk asked why I was returning them and I said because my husband said they made me too tall (they made me taller than him). The clerk just looked at me like he was crazy and said you can never be too tall! I still exchanged the boots, but kept his words! We all are special in our own way!

  • I just got this book in the mail!! Ordered if after I read your original post on it. I am so excited to get to work 😉

  • This post just solidified what I already knew…YOU ARE SO STINKIN CUTE. 😉
    Also giving me some inspiration…looking to revamp my closet. And what a mighty task that is…

    xoxo,
    Jenna

    A Whimsy Wonderland

  • I have a tall girl (5’8″) comment about uniform #1!

    I used to love wearing short/er skirts and dresses but now I’m over 30 I feel like I can’t get away with looking quite so…leggy, in the way that petite girls can—we just show a lot more flesh because there’s more of it!

    Know what I mean?

  • The outfits you have listed as oddballs are the most flattering of all your outfits.

  • Hey Amanda,

    I know how you feel about short skirts! They are a nightmare when you are tall, I always feel like they don’t cover everything when I’m moving around! ?

    Kerry x

  • I’m 5′ 11″, but almost all my height is in my torso, so I’m all about the heels (lots of clogs!) to make my legs feel a little more proportional. High waisted bottoms with slightly cropped tops, high shoes, and a pendant necklace is pretty much my go to.

  • YESS to everything about being short! My husband thinks I am crazy when I say things make me look shorter or taller because I am 5’1″, but it matters! I would love to find the perfect long dress, but for now I will bear my knees!

  • I’m 5’9 and still love heals! But I do consider my height when pairing dresses/skirts with heals and even the people I am going to be around. Thankfully, my husband is taller than me so overall, I just wear heals if I want to. Enjoy the wedges! 🙂

  • You’ve got such a cute style Elsie! The past couple years I’ve really been honing my wardrobe to (mostly) pieces that fit all of my criteria – good quality, flattering fit, versatile, and things I’ll wear OFTEN. I sold a bunch of stuff on Poshmark and was able to fill in the gaps through that app as well. It’s easier than sifting through thrift stores and flea markets (though I love doing that too) because you can search by brand or type of item, ask as many questions as you want, see photos of someone wearing the item, and haggle on the price! 🙂
    http://www.wonderlandsam.com

  • My uniform tends to be a bit less exciting haha! I’m a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl for the most part, but in the summer I love shorts or maxi skirts. I also tend to mostly wear basics, plain items without pattern in black, white, grey, and green. Those are the colors I love for myself and my home! And it means almost all of my clothes can be mixed together. Then I keep a few accent pieces like jackets, sweaters, and/or scarves that can zazz my outfits. It’s been a few years of this and I love it. I’m also that person who finds something I like (a shirt, tank, or pants) and buys several at once in all my favorite colors! Lol

  • Thanks for the ample pictures to go with your styles. I found it helpful. I think having outfit pics to reference is so smart in figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

    I think through seeing Sisters Style posts I’ve seen trends and I think with that in mind asking my friends what they see me gravitate towards might be really helpful.

    I definitely sense from the SS series you like shorter dresses, things with a 60’s/70’s flare, hasbeens, funky/statement sunnies. And for Emma, I noticed a trend of feeling confident in layers, strappy sandals, plaids, and med/larger sized prints.

    I bet my friends could also help me feel around with some pics. 🙂

  • I’m 6′ tall and have a very slender build. Finding clothes that fit is really difficult. It’s gotten much easier as stores have expanded their sizing range. I love any store that sells “tall” clothing. I love heels but I am rarely able to wear them. It’s awkward being 1-2 heads taller than everyone you’re with!

  • 100% agree! I’m mid height, 5’7″, and I never wear heels or short skirts. I do tend to lean toward a tomboy style, and also have bad memories of twisting ankles when I tried them I’m high school. LOL.

  • I love these personal posts 🙂 I have a couple ‘uniforms’ for my work days, and some for my non-office days too. slowly finding what makes me feel good!

  • I really love your fashion posts!
    Curious- in the uniform 2 photo collage, where did you get those black knee socks? I feel like every time I try to find some they end up being shorter than I thought and yours are THE length I am looking for.
    Also, I’m totally in love with your white with black polka dot jumper, where is it from!??

  • Since you and Laura always wear super short dresses, do you have any tips for keeping covered? Can you raise your arms or bend down without it coming up? Do you wear underwear with more coverage? Sorry TMI, just curious. I’m always on uncomfortably high alert wearing short dresses because even a quick walk can cause them to flip up and going up stairs is plain difficult.

  • Totally!
    Most of the time I either wear tights or tiny shorts. If not, I have to remember to be really careful. I also avoid styles that can blow up. I mostly prefer structured skirts.

    xx- Elsie

  • I’ve been wanting to read the book since you talked about it, and this is really solidified that for me. I’m really struggling, especially with dressing as a mom (not wanting to wear ‘mom clothes’) and with a body that has shifted. These examples help so much to see what the idea of a uniform looks like! Also, you look amazing and have really figured out what suits you, though I think you could pull anything off!

  • I love this and how did I miss the original post on your review?? I think you have one of those figures that would look flattering with anything -_- but I totally get wanting to feel good too. When I wore gold Birks all these cute old ladies came out of the woodworks to compliment me, ha

  • Agreed. The longer skirts and dresses are much more figure-flattering and slimming!

  • Now I really want to read that book! I’m super curious if your uniforms will change alot after baby. I was working really hard to be more polished at work, then had said baby, and now I still try, but find I often opt for what I can chase a toddler wearing, even if I’m headed to an executive meeting. I’m having such a hard time defining my Monday through Friday “uniform” because of this.

  • What are some stores where you have had luck buying rompers and jumpsuits? I am 5’1″ and I have yet to try on a romper or jumpsuit that fit my torso.

  • I LOVE these posts. They are so interesting and useful. MOAR! I bought The Curated Closet and am just starting the two week outfit photos today. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I’ve had a clearly defined personal style that I love, and I’m so stoked to start the journey! 🙂

  • I haven’t read the above comments so I’m not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but just a little forewarning that you miiiiiiight need to tweak your go-to uniforms a bit when your baby comes. There is a lot of bending over, whether to play or pick things up (all the things, all the time), playing on the floor with your little, and if it’s already a nightmare using a public restroom while wearing a jumpsuit, it only gets more complicated having a small child or infant with you. So I’m just sayin, you look BANGIN’ in all these outfits and maybe you can make it work with a baby but….something to think about. It’s especially good that you’re learning this stuff now so you can find more practical mom outfits before the baby comes. If you want of course.

  • I agree Ellen !! Elsie looks fantastic. However I disagree with the short skirt theory. I always thought that a calf length skirt or dress was much more elongating and figure flattering, especially with her clogs. If you can see someone’s knee it marks where the leg ends and shortens them. I refuse to wear anything shorter than knee length because honestly it’s too stressful to worry about flashing my bits, and still being 5’7 my legs look short. Clogs plus calf length 50’s style skirt = supreme.

  • Yeah I’m short too (5’3) and I have short legs and a normal length torso and to top it all off, I am curvy…….like thighs and booty curvy but small waist and small boobs…….shopping is hard! My go to’s are high wasted pants (low rise is my enemy because I have to go bigger to fit my thighs and butt and then I get a huge gap at the waist). I’m an A-line dress kinda girl, tight up top and flare down below, any fitted dress makes me look like a lady of the night trying to get a client (sorry for the visual). And I refuse to wear any skirt that fits below the knee. It just shortens my legs even more. In fact, the last picture with the polka dot sweater is totally my jam…..where did you get that sweater, it is adorable! As for the tall girls, I’ll be honest, I love it when I see a tall girl holding her back straight and wearing heels, totally owning her length like it’s nobody’s business. It’s so sad to see them slouch and stick to plain flats. I say that and I have my own self conscious habits to get rid of but I’m working on it 🙂

  • Love those hot pink block heels in your “oddball” outfits! Do you mind sharing where they’re from? 🙂

  • “Combine with a necklace and lace dresses with sleeves makes me feel really good.The reunion went perfectly after that. Thanks for your article wise suggestions and I highly recommend you to try this dress out as well!”

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