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How To Make A Uniform Less, Um, Uniform

Uniforms are great. However, the day may come when one flings a certain cashmere v-neck across the room, crying, “No, no, no, not again!” Then what? Must we rummage through our closets, in search of something, anything, to wear? Sturdy Gals are allergic to angst. They like to put on a bright smile and forge onward, ignoring doubt. What purpose, after all, does it serve? And the best way to avoid closet doubt is to plan well.

Enter the second uniform, a Chanel-esque jacket and a tee. Above is a purple tweed version by Étoile Isabel Marant. From Marant’s mid-level line, i.e., I didn’t have to sell my car to afford it.

I’d been looking for something in this style ever since I started back at work. The Chanel-esque jacket is an elusive beast. Dani recently experimented with a J. Crew version, to no avail. It’s hard to do boxy well, especially in the absence of high-end fabrics and attention to detail. Probably because women aren’t boxes.

I chose this jacket because:

  • The fabric is subtle and interesting
  • Quiet purples are hard to find
  • It’s Chanel-esque enough that I am buoyed by the reference, and sufficiently edgy to rise above dull imitation
  • I’ve always wanted a jacket that zipped
  • Fraying hems are fun

The scarf is by Etro. My brother gave it to me. He has such good taste. I usually wrap it around my neck rightly for the walk to work.

You can see the jacket a little better here, along with some fray. Ignore the pensive expression. Purple tweed doesn’t make me question life’s meaning.

I’m also wearing brown bootleg cords from J. Crew, brown and burgundy heels from Beautifeel, and a tee from Petit Bateau. A more adventurous soul might try a pale blue top. I’m taking baby steps. The jacket, by the way, I found at Barneys.

I found it hard to decide between purple, and black. As below.

So I got both. All in the name of good planning and angst reduction, mind you. Had absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s imaginary rock and roll self deconstructing a classic. Nothing whatsoever.

Purple jacket via Barney’s
Black jacket via Barney’s

34 Responses

  1. it IS hard to do boxy! That’s why Chanel jackets are cut to look boxy – but they actually have a great deal of shaping (usually some combo of princess seams, a side panel, and darts). The sleeves are always two-pieced and quite curved and slender on the hanger. The way the fashion fabric is quilted to the lining also really de-boxifies the drape. There’s a Chanel boutique in SF, i’ve poked my head in there more than once to take a look at how the real deal is put together.

    Wonderfully chic new uniform! The colors are especially yummy, steph

    1. Mrs. Eccentric, you are correct. My jacket pattern (taken directly from Chanel RTW by the pattern-maker) has nine, count ’em, nine seams around the body. It’s a lot of sewing, but it builds a divine shape into the garment.

  2. Love the new “uniform” – how about a gray tee with the outfit you’re wearing though? I think the white is a little too “bright” with it, and generally, I’m all about white tees. Both jackets are great.

    1. A sign the jacket was a good pick. Already you’ve got multiple ways to go with it.

      I like the zippers verses the j.crew model with the braid/fringe.

  3. “It’s hard to do boxy well, especially in the absence of high-end fabrics and attention to detail. Probably because women aren’t boxes.”

    Fairly certain that quote made my AM.

    But yes, I love going against the uniform drudgery. Today, I am wearing a leopard-esque silk blouse, with a simple button front. People who know me know I love my bow blouses, but I am not wearing one today!!

  4. This ” uniform ” looks great on you. All of it. I would not change anything.
    The Marant brand is very trendy, but I am somewhat disappointed about the quality.
    When the design is great, why save in the quality?

  5. you know one of these days i’m going to go into an actual chanel store and try on the perfect jacket and see just why they look so good. every boxy jacket i’ve ever owned looks just awful on me.

    i like this combo on you. purple really suits you!

    1. it’s probably your hourglass shape! french women like coco have different bodies.
      the hourglass is meant to show its waist! :-))

  6. I really enjoy your blog. Love the uniform concept, I’ve been using that approach for years (mostly out of laziness and frugality), but my uniform is in need of tweaking. Wouldn’t have thought of purple tweed as a semi-neutral, but now I’m pondering. Would you share the details on your glasses (I need some sharp readers) and shoes (they look comfy AND stylish, so hard to find for me). Thanks again!

  7. I love the new uniform and both jackets, as soon as I saw the black I thought “oh I hope she bought that one too!” and once again you have Not disappointed me.
    Thanks so much for the link to my blog. My quest for the Chanel skirt suit look continues, I found the real thing “pre-loved” and in black linen, on etsy. Will report!

  8. Im a lurker ,popping out to say the purple tweed fabric makes my mouth water .
    Love the raggy edges too . I struggle with that type of collar as I grow older – they can be unkind but yes, scarves are good friends . Can imagine you will use this a lot , over an LBD for evening & casual with denim jeans too . Love it .

  9. Why would one need to question the meaning of a life that had purple tweed in it?

    I love love love that scarf! And the cut of the jackets, and the texture…faced with such a dilemma, I would have done exactly the same.

    1. “faced with such a dilemma, I would have done exactly the same.”

      Absolutely, so would I.

  10. Prefer the shape of the black tweed even more if it was in the purple! The scarf has such elegant,delicate colours love it. Ida

  11. Having read your blog cover-to-cover, so to speak, I now de-lurk to comment (feels like bad manners to comment on Chapter 39 without having read the first bits). What a wonderful jacket! And thank you for general inspiration: I’ve resurrected my college devotion to owning one pair of ironic shoes and sporting them with the onset of Spring – which happens to be today out here in the wilds of the Midwest. Cheers!

  12. You couldn’t have said it better, the allergy to angst is very real, and we’ll move all manner of mountain to avoid it. The jacket is outstanding, the texture and color and drape are beautiful, really an updated take on the dreaded Uniform-with-a-capital-U.

    Sending you a smile,

  13. I’d take the leap to the pale blue shirt, as the white against the purple is… oh I don’t know… just not as “you”. Glad you chose both jackets!

  14. With boxy, the length is the key. It has to sit just above your waist, or at least for me since I am short. Otherwise, your upper half is just a big triangle. I found a very similar jacket (without the frayed hem), with an asymmetrical zipper and a leather facing at The Gap. Love The Gap!

  15. All those soft colors in the scarf would be wonderful as tees under the jacket: pale yellow, soft aqua, pink, gray, peach.

    Lovely neutral, that dusty purple tweed. So versatile.

  16. Oh, I like the color and the zips on the jacket you’re wearing. In the first photo, I thought the zip was asymmetrical. I had a bad style day–wore a full skirt that was TOO long. No photos!

  17. Oh those jackets are nice. Good boxy jackets, like Chanel, aren’t boxy at all, they just give that illusion, which is why they are so flattering. Unfortunately budget-destroying as well as mind-bending at times.

    The purple looks really nice on you, and I think pale blue underneath would suit you even better than the white, perhaps the next step in the evolution of a uniform.

  18. Really LIKE that look! This jackets are great, would have them bought both, too.

    I can understand the white tee, feels more “analytic” for work. All the mentioned colors would be fine, but more “fashionable” – perhaps not what you are looking for in your industries.

  19. Good morning Lisa. I’ve answered your question that you asked on my blog in the comments section and hope I’ve helped. I wanted to reply via email, but the comment was a “no reply.” Let me know if you have further questions.

    Wishing you have a wonderful weekend.

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