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.
Erik Schnakenberg, Buck Mason
"In Southern California we’re blessed having weather patterns conducive to literally being able to wear the same thing every day. For me that’s a five-pocket slim selvedge jean, a white crew neck tshirt, a Stetson, and one of my eight chambray button-downs that I throw on. A couple are vintage that I’ve had forever, and a couple are my design. It seems to be really functional. Definitely durable."
"I think about what the modern male uniform is all the time, and I think it evolves. What you look good in and what you feel good in, it eventually becomes like a comfort blanket. I started wearing jeans and a white tshirt every day because it was really easy, it’s just one less thing you have to think about, and truthfully I think it just looks good. And now it gets to a point where if I’m wearing something else it doesn’t feel natural. Honestly, if I designed something that’s a little bit more trendy for us, I still wouldn’t experiment with it in my wardrobe."
"It’s less creating some signature look or identity. It’s about taste and about following what’s natural. I grew up in a town of 2,000 people in the middle of Missouri, so workwear and functional pieces based on the weather were just a part of life. My sense of style has certainly evolved, but the root of everything I think about from a fashion perspective is really derived out of function, and out of seeing my father dress for work every day." - Erik Schnakenberg