Is ‘uniform dressing’ turning men into clones?

Fashion brands now hawk coordinating sets of basics for men who are busy, unimaginative or both. For some, these looks are a no-brainer solution, but others find them uniformly dull.

METHOD MAN Guys dressed in basic uniforms—whether one of the orchestrated ensembles from Everlane or a more ad hoc outfit, as in this photo illustration—may encounter doppelgängers on every street corner.
/Illustration by John Kucza

By Jacob Gallagher | The Wall Street Journal

This fall, the San Francisco basics brand Everlane introduced “Uniform,” a collection of 12 menswear essentials that are sold separately but designed to work together. It’s the fashion equivalent of a paint-by-numbers kit, a way of dressing that demands minimal thought, reports Jacob Galllagher of The Wall Street Journal. The resulting outfit combinations look serviceably polished, though not pointedly stylish. Put on this white oxford shirt, these blue chinos and this black bomber jacket.

Voilà, you’re a graphic designer who creates labels for craft beer bottles or a marketing assistant at Google. In short, you look clean and up-to-date but uncomplicated, which is how so many men want to dress right now, says The Journal.

Template based clothing collections, like Everlane’s ‘Uniform’ line, market an uncomplicated but pedestrian, approach to getting dressed.

Wardrobe NYC, whose catchphrase is “modern luxury wardrobes,” is the most prescriptive of the bunch. This two-year-old startup sells its clothes in groupings labeled “Street,” “Sport” or “Tailored.” Within each, men can choose to buy either four or eight companionable pieces.

Template based clothing collections, like Everlane’s ‘Uniform’ line, market an uncomplicated but pedestrian, approach to getting dressed

The four-piece “Tailored” bundle (a commitment at $1,500) includes a black blazer, a shirt, a long sleeved T-shirt and trousers. It looks like a “Reservoir Dogs” starter kit. The eight-piece “Tailored” bundle (an even steeper $3,500) throws in an overcoat, a hoodie, a cardigan and an additional pair of pants. All eight harmonize together seamlessly and unprovocatively.

Clothes from all the aforementioned brands are clean, well-cut—and nothing new. “The crew neck T-shirt or the chino or a rinsed jean—these are things that have been in the men’s fashion space for over 30 years,” said Nate Peltonen, senior merchant at Everlane, referring to Uniform’s designs, which all cost under $100 and come with a 365-day guarantee.

For some men, adhering to a uniform squelches the very spirit of style. Gavin McLaughlin, 32, a software sales consultant There’s no one right answer for how to dress, he told The Journal.

Even the brands pushing the uniform concept seem aware of this. The hard-liners at Wardrobe recently yielded, and began selling the pieces individually on MatchesFashion. If you want just the shirt from the “Denim” batch, it’s yours for $162. Everlane, Esntls and Uniform have always allowed folks to buy items individually, though on social media, these brands show the pieces styled together.

Mr. Peltonen noted that few men have actually bought all 12 of Everlane’s Uniform items at once.Ian York, 25, a photographer and analyst for a marketing company in San Francisco, is more typical of Everlane’s customers. He bought a few pairs of chinos, a bomber and a shirt jacket from the Uniform collection. “I’m not head-to-toe everything,” he said. He likes the Uniform pieces, just not enough to make them his uniform.


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December 2019