The Quest for a Handmade Wardrobe and The Uniform with Susan

As we explore both the happiness and constraints of a handmade wardrobe various ideas have come up. Today Susan (Kizmet on Ravelry) is sharing a guest post on her thoughts around “a uniform”. My current uniform is definitely the jeans and t-shirt kind. And a pair of ballet flats as they are the fastest to get on and off as I am in and out of the house all day. It could definitely do with some work!

Thanks for a thought provoking post Susan.

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To be honest, until 3 months ago, I didn’t have a wardrobe. I just had a closet with clothes. Now I’m exploring the concept of a Handmade Wardrobe along with Helen, other podcasters like Libby from Truly Myrtle and designers like Cal Patch, as well as dozens of challengers in the Ravelry Curious Handmade forum. While exploring this concept-two words keep reappearing: Uniform and Capsule. I think they offer two related but quite different approaches to a curated wardrobe.

In today’s blog post, I want to explore “The Uniform” with you.

The definition of Uniform includes:

1)   The same, as in character or degree; unvarying;

2)   An identifying outfit or style of dress worn by the members of a given profession, organization, or rank.

When you think of uniform, what does it conjure up for you?

For me, it’s-

– Nurse’s uniform (I started my nursing career in a hospital wearing uniforms. Now morphed into “scrubs”- which don’t only stay in the hospital anymore)
– Police uniform
– Doctor’s white coat
– Military uniform
– Bowling shirts, athletic team-wear in general
– School uniform

In other words-I think of work clothing that distinguishes the wearer with a particular profession, team-sport or school. One day’s outfit is pretty much the same, even identical, from day to day.

When I think a little broader, I remember my grandmother wearing her “uniform”-a cotton housedress with full-length apron over it. I have no idea how many of them she had-it could have been 2 or 10; they were memorably indistinguishable one from another, but they were definitely my grandma.

ways to look best

I’ve had friends who were both relieved and tortured when they first encountered a uniform requirement for their children’s camp or school. They claim to be cheaper and foster less competition in their wearers. And I know knitter-mothers who lament the coming school year’s need for yet another red sweater they feel compelled to knit for their growing child.

I worked with a woman who wore a uniform in the corporate world, and I of course noticed this. Every day, she wore a navy skirt, a light blue collared, button-down shirt and a navy cardigan style (collarless) blazer. Every day. I started to watch and confirm and then I watched how I first found this curious and intriguing. It was definitely a professional, polished “signature” look. I also noticed that I wasn’t noticing the men in the office who always wear their uniforms.


And yet among us, many are dreaming of their own uniform. In her Six Items or Fewer experiment, Heidi Hackemer found four reasons that drew volunteers to participate in this project and one of them was the desire for a uniform.


“Oh gosh, sometimes I just want a uniform.” What do we think a uniform would do for us? Would solve or improve for us? I’ll share my theories but really would also love to hear yours.

1)   Relief from decision-making: wouldn’t it be nice to open your closet door and pull out the next thing on a hangar, or one top and on bottom from the shelf and just put it on without a lot of thought and angst? It would fit, it would be “you” and your day wouldn’t start with an elaborate mix-and-match game.

2)   A distinguishable look or style-once selected, the uniform would be “you.”

3)   Ease of making (or focus in shopping)-my colleague surely selected her 3 piece uniform from ready to wear. Depending on what you selected for your uniform would shape whether you can go buy it if you choose, or make it. If you choose to make it, by making the same uniform pieces over and over, I think you’d better be able to get the fit down, buy the right amount of materials and make them efficiently (if that’s one of your goals).

4)   Creativity within constraints: once you have your basics down, you could play with the additional frills, aka accessories. This could be a real bonus for makers, as shawls, scarves, jewellery, even socks all could be the accompaniment to the basic uniform

What could be some of the possible uniforms?

Obviously, they could be anything. But some common ones that occur to me are:

  • T-shirt + jeans/shorts
  • Tunic + leggings
  • Dress + cardigan
  • Shell + waterflowy cardigan + skirt/pants

How about you? Do you have a uniform? What is it?

Do you want a uniform? Why?

We look forward to continuing the conversation over in the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge group, share your Pinterest pictures and join the Instagram Game with #CHWChallenge.

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