In uniform

vogue’s creative director and editor-in-chief, grace coddington and anna wintour, respectively, despite styling and promoting new looks every month, have both comfortably settled into their own individual fashion groove. coddington sticks with black (occasionally there’s a white shirt instead), and always pants. wintour favors a full skirt cut to the knee, with a fitted top nipped in at the waist, and heels. (an aside: it is interesting that these 2 inseparable colleagues seem to dress in a way that underscores their partnership. anna is the more colorful femme to grace’s dark mannish style.) their hair is perhaps their more famous unwavering accessory. the big red bush and the compact bob. (also, curiously, opposites.) neither is going to go dark or light, longer or shorter, despite the fabulous new trend surely to be found in their magazine. coddington does not look ready to embellish her attire with a must-have accessory and i cannot imagine wintour in a tory burch tunic with the line’s famous flats. these women have decided what they are comfortable with and are sticking to it.
are these 2 embracing a uniform or demonstrating personal style? their choice is to be settled (somewhat rigidly) on what they’ve decided works for them.

is it easier to stop making new choices? any harm in just settling on what works, once and for all?

(pics are from and i recognize that this is a semi-dramatization since these 2 real women might dress differently when not in the spotlight, but they do still illustrate the idea of a uniform quite effectively.)


Anonymous said...

Ahh Editor, you pose such interesting questions. I've been mulling the inspiration-post all day, and now this! Anna and Grace, what a pair. It is so interesting to me that many fashion editors and New York fashion icons, in fact, are very much all about their look/uniform. It's what makes them unique, and yet their career is so about the new and different.

Well, in my thinking about what inspires me, I have to say a defined style really is what knocks me out. I tend to draw from history - the 30s and 40s, sometime Victorian or Edwardian. I'm obsessed with people who's style has become immortal: Oscar Wilde, Audrey Hepburn.

So I guess in a way I like the tried and true. But I wonder if it's also possible to incorporate new choices into one's wardrobe without becoming a trendoid?

Oh la, I do struggle with these issues....

La Primavera said...

I adore your blog!

I think personal style can be an uniform. An uniform is not a negative word when used in the context of personal style.

I think you can settle for an uniform, it is even something that should be encouraged BUT before you can manage to have a working uniform you need to have a strong personal style. It takes years of learning to find out your true style and then stick to it and "uniform" it. I believe it is not possible to have developed a good "uniform" until you have been interested in fashion and personal style for 10-20 years, at least. An uniform can be the place where a cultivated taste leads you.

I hope I am making sense, it's awfully late here and I am sleepy.

editor said...

hope i'm not posting too many. :)
i'm not sure i'm giving enough time to read them and some might get lost under newer posts.

genx theorist - i was going to mention that these are 2 women who also have the fashion world at their feet, could wear anything, but then i recognized that therefore their choices were also political (within their industry) and by having their uniform, they could avoid offending many. despite being in a position to shape careers, they also depend on advertisers... but i digress, lol.

what i find interesting about immortal style (to paraphrase you), is that when it is so well-owned by the wearer, such an expression of themselves, it does, imo, become timeless. if kepburn (the late great kate) walked down the street in her high/normal waist trousers, loafers, shirt and cardigan this year, last year, next year, she would just look like a well-dressed, self-dressed person.

la primavera - you made perfect sense! i canNOT stress how much it means to have the participation of the handful of posters, yourself included! thank you

i agree, uniform is not a negative word and i love your explanation of how one might be lucky enough to develop one. (although using your math i am really late in getting mine together since i was pretty much born interested.)

Iheartfashion said...

I agree that having a uniform, and therefore such a strong sense of personal style and what works on one's body, is usually associated with older (middle-aged and up) women. Or maybe it's just that teens and women in their 20's are able to experiment more with trends without looking ridiculous. There comes a time when you don't want to try every new look that comes along if you already know that low-rise jeans/minis/drop-waist dresses/whatever don't flatter your particular body type.

Anonymous said...

Ooo no, not too many posts at all. I've been realizing I need to post more frequently, to keep my readers and because the whole spirit of blogging is catching those thoughts of the moment before they go away.

So true about Kate and friends. And I think too, there's something just quintessentially admirable about the artistry of beautiful dressing which she did so well.

Now I'm thinking about the years-to-personal-style thing. I really enjoy looking back at all my fashion morphing, 1972 - present. It's really fun to feel the beginnings of personal style and know that it's a work in progress.

Does anyone remember "fashion plates" from the 70s? I used to love those and am wondering if they assisted in the making of my sartorial self!?

editor said...

more later in response to what has been posted, but genx theorist, fashionplates, were those the thing where a body was broken down into 3 parts, 3 rectangular plates (head, torso, legs) and the outline of the body and different outfits was raised and then you put a piece of paper over it and rub it with a crayon (held sideways) and that put the print of the chosen combo on the paper???
i am doing a horrible job of explaining this, but if i'm right, you'll understand.
(i never had this but luckily for me a friend did!)

Anonymous said...

Yes - that's them...and then at the end you had yourself an awesome 70s outfit illustration?

I used to spend hours creating "outfits". :)

Iheartfashion said...

I LOVED Fashion Plates, and had completely forgotten about them. Maybe I'll have to look on eBay for my daughter...

editor said...

iheartfashion - you're making middle age sound pretty good.
"I agree that having a uniform, and therefore such a strong sense of personal style and what works on one's body, is usually associated with older (middle-aged and up) women."

laurieann said...

This is a very timely post as I see it discussed in other places as well. One of the British fashion magazines had a good article by Nigella Lawson talking about her uniform. She mused that she'd sometimes buy a beautifully tailored suit just to have it hang in her closet. The suit reflects her alter-ego but her "uniform" reflects her more true-to-daily-life self.

I completely agree that developing a uniform is a matter of looking critically at one's body and what works for an individual over time. It's the "over time" part that's key. And as other posters have said, a uniform worn over time ala Kate Hepburn becomes classic. Therefore the concept of a uniform is something to be cultivated and worked towards with happy anticipation.

The irony is for me that as I get older I'm actually much more interested in fashion but my body size has pruned my choices for me. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The fashion editing my body requires of me is helping me define my personal style which I hope will evolve into a uniform in a few more years time.

Candid Cool said...

I think it's a bit of both. They know what works for them and stick with it.