When CTO consultant Janet Kasdan gets dressed for work in the morning, she shimmies into a pair of skinny jeans, tosses on a loose-fitting, untucked blouse (she owns about a dozen of them, in different colors), slips into comfy flats and finishes off the look with gemstone studs to match her bright top. For the past several years, Kasdan has been wearing this exact same outfit — every day — with minimal variation. She’ll trend toward darker hues, boots and the occasional sweater during the winter and on weekends, for example, or opt for lighter shades and ballet flats in the summer.
Boring, you say? It might seem so. But by mixing up colors, accents and accessories, Kasdan makes sure it never looks (or feels) that way. And the benefits she’s enjoyed from sticking to one basic uniform have far outweighed any initial concerns about redundancies.
Kasdan says her go-to outfit emerged organically. She works in a creative field, so she wanted a basic wardrobe that nails that elusive balance of looking polished yet informal. She was naturally drawn to the skinny-jean-plus-dressy-blouse style and found that it suited her; over time she realized that she’d stocked her closet with the stuff
“Since tech is a casual environment, I tend to look a little dressier than most people, without being out of place,” she says. And she’s found that can give her an edge. (Think Sheryl Sandberg in her sleek shift dresses versus Silicon Valley’s typical CEO in sloppy hoodies.) “My outfit evokes a sense of authority minus the stuffiness of a suit, and people seem to respect me more.”
Kasdan’s work uniform is also a good fit for her physically as well as professionally. The combination of trim pants with a relaxed shirt complements her petite frame, and sticking to bold colors ensures that she won’t be overlooked, despite her diminutive size. And her sartorial simplifying has paid off. “I used to wear a suit, but I get a better response to this,” she affirms.
Hearing that positive feedback makes her more confident. And that can only have a positive impact on her performance at work.
Comfort was also key to Kasdan’s uniform choice — both literally and figuratively. “I feel comfortable in the clothes, and I also feel at ease in almost any situation because my outfit is so versatile,” she explains. “Unless everyone is wearing corporate suits, I know I’ll always fit in.”
It’s a relief not to worry whether you’re dressed appropriately, she says. (That’s especially important when you’re a consultant, like Kasdan, working in a variety of locations.) And it’s helpful to be able to transition from the office to a dinner date or cocktail event without having to pack a change of clothes. And don’t underestimate the power of physical comfort — after all, it’s hard to focus on work if your stilettos are strangling your toes. That’s one reason Kasdan made sure her look was both chic and easy to wear.
Other benefits of building a basic uniform? For one, there's the money saved by focusing on key pieces instead of buying a new wardrobe every season. Plus, with fewer sartorial decisions to make, she’s been able to subtract minutes and stress from her a.m. schedule — “My mornings are much easier!” Kasdan says. And she can use those extra minutes once spent sifting through the closet for more enjoyable pursuits — like sleeping in.