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Style, substance, & savings: 3 ways a work uniform can improve your life

By Beth Henary Watson

About two years ago we reconfigured our 2-bedroom home, which a church built in 1960 for its retired ministers. Design preferences and space demands dictated that, to add a bedroom, we make do with much less closet space in the new master bedroom. Either that, or move.

We had just listened to Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up on a road trip, so we embraced the challenge of paring down our wardrobes. I had read news articles about “work uniforms,” where an employee or business owner wears the same thing every day without being required to. Thus I decided that “work uniform” would be the overarching theme for my closet purge.

Two years after the initial thinning out, I cull seasonally, or when the closet gets too tight. Below, I share three ways adopting a work uniform has improved my everyday life.

I am not a radical. I did not rush out and buy 15 of the same shirt and 15 of the same pair of pants. My uniform has put itself together over the last few years.

Here’s what I did: First, I eliminated everything I disliked either in color, fit, or style. Surprisingly, I discovered that I resented some pieces, either because they didn’t work out or due to negative circumstances surrounding their acquisition.

Once you’ve made the hard choices of what to keep and what to donate, your personal style becomes clearer. Subsequent decisions become easier as your uniform starts to take shape.

During a recent closet-clearing session between Texas’ two seasons, cool and burning hot, I discovered that I hadn’t been wearing my yellow shirts.

Coming face to face with these little-worn yellow pieces, I realized that I like yellow as a color because it’s happy, but that I don’t think it looks good on me.

Today my uniform consists of similarly colored dresses, pants, shirts, and jackets, with a few pops of color. Almost everything is interchangeable. If I find something I like, I buy it in all the appropriate colors and plan to wear it for multiple seasons.

Unless you are in the fashion industry, your goal with your clothing should be to blend in with your environment, while commanding the respect appropriate to your position (or the position you aspire to). Frayed pants and cheap suits stick out on a top-notch accountant, attorney, or lobbyist. Don’t wear them. Same thing for clothes that are ill-fitting, too revealing, or super flashy.

If you are a serious person doing serious things, you want people to consider your ideas and work product, rather than your appearance. A classy, consistent, and understated appearance helps keep the focus on your personal substance.

I’ve discovered that, since purging my closet and adopting a work uniform, I’ve been able to devote more time earlier in the day to solving clients’ problems. It’s so much more fulfilling for me—and it gets solutions faster to those who need them.

Thus the added benefit of projecting substance through an appropriate work uniform is that it can add actual value to your work product by giving you more time to think about important matters.

Last but certainly not least (for a financial planner, anyway), adopting a work uniform means less money spent on shopping. No more experimental or aspirational purchases if you know what what works for you.

Many Americans—women in particular, but many men as well—own hundreds of clothing items but wear few of them. Even my closet that is tiny by today’s McMansion standards contains superfluous items.

If you shop frequently even though your closet is bursting at the seams, I encourage you to consider adopting a work uniform. Though home logistics initially forced me to purge my wardrobe, the activity has yielded many benefits in the form of a consistent personal style, more time to spend on substantive matters, and greater savings.


Beth Henary Watson is an LPL Financial Planner and Marketing Director with Corner Post Financial Planning. Reach her at


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual