Steve Jobs’ uniform, as we all knew it, consisted of a black turtle neck, jeans, and sneakers. Cornel West is known for circulating four different black suits that he pairs with a black tie and white shirt. Hillary Clinton did it, Mark Zuckerberg still does it, and a parade of celebrities, stars, and designers such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Sofia Coppola, and Vera Wang also do it - they all wear more or less the same thing all the time.
Since I started my custom dress business ELSA AND ME three years ago, I have ended up doing it too. I have been wearing the same dress for the past three years. Okay, to be clear: I don’t mean I wore one specific dress every day (that’d be a little extreme), but rather the same TYPE of dress in different colors and with slight variations (sleeve length, neckline). The ELSA dress (named, like my company, after my beloved grandmother) is my own design, so I am somewhat partial to wearing it and for also thinking it’s a true gem. But despite my bias, I learned some amazing benefits from accidentally finding my very own uniform and signature style.
You Need Armor for the Professional Battlefield
Since the primary use of the Elsa dress (my company’s main product and my preferred daily attire) is ideally for professional settings or events I’ve started to think of it as my dress for battle. Meetings for which I feel that I need to be extra brave, events in which I need to present myself at my best, and so on, the dress is my shield of confidence that tells me I can do and overcome anything. Not that I have a particular negative view on society or the business world and how it reflects towards me, but sometimes, some days, anyone could need an armor, right? And the Elsa dress is mine.
Getting Dressed in the Morning Is a Piece of Cake
It’s pretty evident that my thoughts nowadays on what to wear when I am heading off to that meeting in the morning are minimal. I always wear the Elsa dress (or sometimes our other dress, the Ruth, which was added to the line in 2014) and pair it, depending on the weather and occasion, with pumps, boots, tights, and accessories to match. It’s definitely turned out to be a true time-saver that really simplifies not only my morning routine, but any time I am due to represent, myself.
I Save Money I Would’ve Spent on Clothes
Finding a signature style to wear hasn’t only shown to be a time-saving activity, it has also enhanced my overall clothing purchasing decisions for the better. I now spend less money overall on clothes and I am more prudent in what I buy. Everything I purchase (which isn’t much these days) is a reflection of the dress; a shoe for a certain occasion that pairs well with the dress, a jacket that matches with one or more colors, an accessory that fits for a fancier occasion, etc. Wearing the same type of dress has made my wardrobe more functional and clutter-free with the added benefit of no longer wasting money on stuff that I never use (and there’s the added environmental benefit too, obviously).
I Conserve My Creative Energy
I used to put a lot of thought and effort into what I wore. The decision-making process of picking out my outfit for the next day used to take up a lot of my creative brain power. But by sticking to one dress, I’m exempt from having to put too much thinking into what to wear, which makes it possible for me to channel more creative energy into other aspects of my daily life, like my business. Less time spent creating an outfit from scratch means more when it comes to time and energy for other stuff.
It’s Become My Own Personal Branding
Wearing the dress has not only been good branding-wise for my business, it’s also been a good way to affiliate myself with a certain attitude and style. I think that the dress represents both who I am and how I would like to be perceived, especially professionally, and I still, after three years of wearing the same type of dress feel very proud wearing it (I promise it’s true!). People have started to comment on if they ever see me wearing something else than the dress, like “This is the first time I’ve ever seen you wearing pants Maja. I didn’t know you ever wore pants.” I think the idea of having a signature style makes it easier for people to remember you, which is a simple way of making a statement and a short-term impression. And I guess in this day and age, when personal branding in all aspects of your professional and personal life has become more important, finding a simplified version of you in a piece of clothing, might be something for everyone to consider?
What would be your signature style?
Maja Svensson is a Swedish-born, Brooklyn-based fashion entrepreneur. She started ELSA AND ME, a custom dress business for women like herself, business women and corporate office workers who crave a more diversified and feminine look at the office.