There’s a certain stigma that comes with wearing the same clothes every day. People immediately think you don’t know how to dress, that you’re uncreative, lazy, boring, possibly unwashed and unloved. This isn’t a shocking revelation for a generation that was told from birth to be individuals (as well as rinse and repeat), but it’s also not always true, especially in the case of many men who define style and fashion on a daily basis.
“In a lot of ways your uniform can signify who you are and what you stand for,” says Ernest Sabine, founder of the upstart menswear brand Ernest Alexander. “Dressy or casual, it really speaks to who you are and what you portray.”
You’ll find Sabine in jeans, boots, and a chambray button-down shirt nearly every day, which he considers “toothy,” but with a versatile work/life element. “You don’t mind getting it a little wrinkled and beaten up. But then you can button it up, put on a tie, a double-vented blazer, and all the sudden you have a ruggedly dressy look.”
We talked to a number of rising menswear designers from different backgrounds who wear a daily uniform, including one that wears the same clothes until they nearly fall apart. All arrived at similar conclusions: A uniform can provide comfort, feed your nostalgia, set you apart as an individual, be versatile, durable, and adaptable with the seasons, but still look damn good day in and day out.
“And it’s nice to have a go-to so you don’t have to worry about what you’re wearing when you’re so tired from thinking about everything else.” Yes. And that, too.
Below, three more designers on why they embrace the uniform.
Dwight Fenton, Bonobos
"Wearing a uniform was never a conscious decision, it just evolved that way. What started out as a school uniform – five-pocket corduroys, a button-down shirt and L.L. Bean Camp moccasins – has evolved into a comfortable, easy default that provides me a few minutes every day where I don't have to think about clothing. If I had to put as much thought about what I wear every day as I do about the lines I create, I'd probably drive myself nuts.”
“For me, the uniform is a way of finding something I'm comfortable with in spite of all the trends and non-stop fashion vortex I think about all day long. It’s minimal and not trend-dependent. That’s really the appeal. There's also a more subconscious part of it that is a connection with the past, which is also a form of ‘comfort’ I guess. Not that I want to get Freudian about this...” - Dwight Fenton