My Style Uniform

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My Style Uniform

Words by Mr Tom M Ford

2 September 2015

The MR PORTER team picks out essential items they return to time and time again.

In the world of style – where personality and creativity is king – the word “uniform” can have negative connotations. Perhaps it brings to mind the stiff blazer and tie combination we battled with at school. Or the bland ensemble (complete with name tag) thrust upon us by that first soul-sapping job. Indeed, to wear a uniform is to be dictated to. It’s what you wear in the army, after all. And dressing by decree just won’t do. Quite simply, there is no place for such a word in our vocabulary. Right?

Well, not quite. Creatures of habit that we are – all of us have our own personal uniform. It may not feature a military beret, or a crest-emblazoned jacket, but however many clothes we own, and however versatile we see our style, we each have an ensemble that captures the essence of our personality that we return to most frequently. It’s an indication that we have matured. We have finished experimenting, settled down and discovered a familiar foundation upon which we can build. Even the most legendary style icons have their bread-and-butter looks; the clothes that are sewn into their identity. Consider Mr Paul Newman. Despite being the picture of a gentleman in a tuxedo, he was most recognisable in a grey V-neck sweater, cotton chinos and plimsolls.

With the above in mind, we asked the MR PORTER staff for the three pieces that represent their own style uniform. So, sit up straight, pay attention and start taking notes.

“Though I find myself relying on it less and less as I get older, there’s still something reassuring about stepping out in head-to-toe black. It’s the uniform of the fashion industry, after all. This Rick Owens bomber jacket – or some variant of it – makes an appearance in every fall collection that he produces. I’ve been told that it makes me look as if I’m working the door of a Berlin techno club. I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“Because you never know what a new term might bring, it’s important to have a comfortable and versatile blazer such as this corduroy one from Boglioli. It will look proper with grey flannels and Oxfords for a trip to the headmaster’s (read: boss’) office, or louche with jeans and suede Chelsea boots for a bit of self-medicating when the cool kids (read: guys in IT) give you the nod.”

“I’m absolutely incapable of making any decisions before 9.30am, so tend to stock my wardrobe with five or six iterations of the below outfit. I can then get dressed with robotic efficiency before work each morning. Its key virtues are timelessness and adaptability. The black sneakers are slightly more sleek and workplace-friendly (I think, anyway) than white variations, but should be swapped for black Derbies if you’re seeing someone important for lunch.”

“This really is a uniform for me. I wear a white Thom Browne Oxford shirt almost every day at work, usually with black skinny jeans and a hard shoe. I also spend the entirety of the warmer months wishing it to be cold enough for me to wear a cashmere sweater (always in either charcoal, grey or black) over said Oxford shirt. This combination is super easy – smart enough for me to throw a blazer over for a meeting, but casual enough that I don’t feel too stuffy if I go out after work.”

“I guess you could say my uniform is, rather aptly, “navy”. I tend to wear a piece in this hue 90 per cent of the year – usually in the form of a knit and a trim, cropped trouser. You can sometimes overdo it with blue (so I’ve been told), so I like to finish things off with a simple black shoe. The boiled texture and relaxed fit of this Acne Studios knit contrasts nicely with the tailored cut of the Marni trousers. Since both are fairly understated, I can add the polish and shine with these WANT Les Essentiels Derby shoes.”

“I find myself wearing the below, or a variant of it, almost every day. There’s something comforting about pulling on a pair of slim black jeans, so these rarely change. It’s on the upper part of my body where I can really start to experiment. Sometimes I wear a white shirt, for example. Everyone needs a good pair of hard shoes, and I favour simple Derbies, which are super versatile.”

“I’ve worn black jeans for as long as I can remember. During the skateboarding days, the cut was loose but nowadays they’re slightly slimmer, such as these ones from Acne Studios. They go with absolutely everything, much like a white tee. If I ever find myself bored enough to count them, I would probably discover that I own upwards of 20 plain white T-shirts. And the sweatshirt? Well, apparently they are the new knitwear, which is good for me. Until recently I’ve suspected people thought I was wearing my gym stuff into the office.”

Illustrations by Mr Joe McKendry