A personal uniform – how to choose your uniform patterns (Series: Part 3)

In my last blog about personal uniform colours we talked about how you could choose a colour palette that you’re happy with all year round. I am going to add two accent colours per season, but I also wanted to add some patterns I would be able to go to all year round. If all I am going to do is be hidden in a swathe of four or five plain colours it’s not going to be very inspiring or fun to wear!

So how do you go about choosing patterns for your ultimate personal uniform? I found mine were quite easy, but that’s because the colours I had chosen had sort of pulled up a theme for me. They’re all pretty much of a nautical persuasion; red white, blue, navy and yellow. Although I could also be accused of dressing in the colours of pretty much half of the worlds flags!

Another way of identifying the two themes for prints I was going to have in my uniform (which is by now becoming more of an arsenal than a very simple uniform and so might have to be refined at some point) was looking at what I already had in my wardrobe. What prints did I own that I loved? I have florals, but they don’t really feel like me. I have a few geometric prints that I love but they tend not to come in the colours I want to wear.  There’s lots of stripes in there, and I also have quite a few prints with birds on and I’ve recently bought a dress I love that has a little boat print on (which I have featured below).

So I have decided to go for two key patterns; stripes, and nautical prints. The nautical prints because they will pretty much go with my colour themes, and because they’re cute; I love boats, birds and anchors on clothes. The stripes because they’re a classic and I love them too. I take no regard for whether or not they make me look bigger; you couldn’t hide the Titanic under a blanket, and I refuse to be hidden too.

I am going to trial these two sets of prints this season to see whether I feel like I am just about to step on a cruise liner in a pair of sensible bronze wedges (a la a retired and fairly wealthy global traveller) , or if I feel stylish, wild and free which is probably more the feel  I’m going for. The beauty of trial and error is you can soon get rid of anything that doesn’t quite feel right. The key thing is to invest in the statement classics, such as your plain neutrals and a classic print like a stripe which is, and I quote my fabulous almost sister-in-law Amy (check out her fashion label, Novo London) , a timeless pattern which is never going to date,  and then you can bring in the more statement prints season to season from the cheaper end. Hell you can even change your print every season. There are no rules to follow, only the ones you make for yourself.

Coincidentally, a lot of people who are following the personal uniform approach are creating a french style uniform which also involves a lot of stripes, black, white, cream and navy.. So it’s a fairly safe bet you won’t be alone if you decide to go for them!

Here’s a couple of the items I’ve bought this season for my nautical personal uniform…

Dorothy Perkins boat dress
Dorothy Perkins Curve Dress – £23
Ti shirt
Stripey Set Sail T-Shirt – £10

A couple of people have told me they really like the idea of a capsule wardrobe or personal uniform, but don’t know where to start. So at the end of my series I am going to give you a kind of ‘How to’ to try for yourselves. Next in the series – Shapes and items – one of the most important parts of a uniform is knowing what shapes work for you, and what items you want in your wardrobe e.g. skirts, t-shirts, shirts, dresses etc. So let me know if you’re inspired to try any capsule or personal uniform styling!


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