Menswear

I Love a Man in a Uniform

Every season, Tom Ford sends models down a runway or photographs them for a lookbook showcasing a collection of stunning clothes. Yet the man himself – the architect of a shamelessly louche and luxurious look and lifestyle – has been basically wearing the same thing for ten years.

And it works. Beautifully.

If one is a fashionista with the desire and the money, by all means, go nuts every season with the latest and the nowest. But, as someone on a budget, I find it particularly fascinating that some of the most successful people who are in the business of pushing more clothes, accessories and other gear into our lives seem to live and work in essentially one outfit in their own lives.

Tom Ford

Tom Ford stands out to me as an obvious example. Despite the entire wardrobe he designs every season, we only see him looking like the chicest chauffeur alive in his black suit, white shirt and black tie. The lapels and button stance may vary here and there, and he’s been working that tie pin these days, but the look is basically the same.

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani is another, usually seen in his form-fitting navy tee (short or long sleeve) and navy pants. Sometimes he works a sneaker to keep up with the athleisure kids, but his regular day-to-day uniform is a casual column of dark blue.

Thom Browne

The other T in menswear, Thom Browne, has cornered the market on the shrunken remix of his father’s business attire: gray suit, white shirt, black or gray tie, black shoes – as if Agent Smith from The Matrix left his suit in the dryer too long (and lost his socks). Other than the shortened fit, another uniquely Thom Browne affectation is the unironed oxford cloth button-down shirt with the collar buttons left unfastened. That’s his uniform.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs did some experimenting before he found his look. Older fans and users of Apple computers will remember his suit and bow-tie dandy phase, which was my personal favorite. But, as we all know, he settled into the black mock turtleneck and dad jeans with sneakers. Not glamorous, but it was an iconic uniform that was all his.

Anna Wintour

Though not a man, Anna Wintour navigates a man’s world fiercely. To get a sense of the breadth of her power and influence, one just needs to do a Google her name or watch the very entertaining documentary The September Issue. Her hair has been the same since the Declaration of Independence, and her dress, although in different patterns and colors, is essentially the same. She found a look, locked into it and made it the uniform in which she runs the entire fashion world.

As I get older and busier, I find myself slipping into the same model of dress. When I’m at home, it’s a simple t-shirt and jeans or chinos. Whenever I step out for work related business or when I’m representing “me,” I’m in a simple suit and tie much like Tom Ford’s mode, though I move in blue and gray circles, never black (except for shoes). What my uniform lacks in flamboyance it makes up for in stealth, with interesting details and nuance only noticeable up close, not from across the street. And it’s all about the tailoring, of course. Clean, simple and effective.

Long live the uniform.




5 Comments

  1. Christopher Fortunato Reply

    I love Thom Browne, but as a lawyer, would not be able to wear it like he does.

  2. So well said. Further evidence that you do not have to have a bedroom-sized closet or hundreds of items to dress well. Dressing well is like all things in life, those that succeed take the comlex and make it simple. Nice work George.

  3. I too find it intriguing that people with the opportunity to wear whatever they want choose to only wear one thing. I guess it’s the “paradox of choice”. I’m trying to find my own uniform too – as a fair-skinned, low contrast complexion type it is basically navy/blue suit over blue shirt over navy/blue tie, with splashes of olive chinos here and there when I’m going business casual. I consider having a limiting complexion to actually be a blessing in disguise as it narrows down my choices.

  4. Pingback: I Love a Man in a Uniform – Fashion Panda

  5. As a carpenter/cabinetmaker, it’s a tape on the belt, a pencil I need the ear. Feel naked without them.

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