My daughter sent me a picture recently. It was her and her roommates on a rooftop at some party. I asked her what the theme of the party was.

She said “what theme?”

And I said: “Well, you’re all in medium fade jeans and black tank tops. You’re all wearing white sneakers. And it even looks like your apple watch bands match.”

She responded: Nah.” No theme. That’s just the XYZ University started pack for weekend evenings.”

And I laughed. Because the group of kids most responsible for screaming about individuality and having 50 ways to express one’s sexuality is also the group most likely to become conformists.

And my daughter sent me a group shop of other people, and I saw what she meant: a bunch of young women in almost the exact same outfit. The guys all in jeans and graphic T shirts and sneakers…

So what makes these kids do this? Is it a feeling of belonging to a community? Or are they actually too scared to show who they really are?

I have friends who, like me, wear black most of the time. And then when they go on vacation, they attempt to figure out the style of the place they are going and adapt their wardrobe to that place. (FYI- I get that if you go to a tropical resort you may have to change up your style as your furry boots and wool turtlenecks might not work) I mean going to someplace with the same temperatures, but having a different style/look than you normally do.

Do you do this to blend in?


Do you do this to not stand out?

Are you adapting because you want to fully experience the place where you are, to add to the interest of your trip? Or are you trying not to be seen at all?

Now I fully admit that the style and look of the clothes my daughter wears is the same in DC as it is in NYC- her favorite clothes here are her favorite clothes there. So maybe this is just how Gen Z dresses…but I really don’t know

But now think about yourself: Do you dress in the clothes that make you feel confident from the inside? Or do you dress to feel accepted from the outside?

I know I feel more confident in my battery of black dresses and shirts and sweaters. I like the solid neutral palate that I can dress up with fun accessories. That’s my look and I’m sticking with it, no matter where I go or what I’m doing or who I’m with.

So how do you dress? As you like it, or as others do?

85 thoughts on “The Uniform

  1. Such an interesting observation about teens dressing the same while apparently wanting to express themselves as individuals. Funnily enough I’ve kind of always dressed in whatever I liked at the time – generally jeans with whatever top is appropriate to the weather. I’m not high fashion by any stretch but I also don’t want to look weird 😂. I always want to be warm though so if it doesn’t tick that box I won’t wear it.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I personally dress for myself. I wear tights and dresses. It’s not the same as all the moms at my kids school, but I wear what I like. I’ve noticed my teen son (17) tends to wear what his friends are wearing, while my daughter (14) is much more adventurous with her clothing.

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  3. Im pretty laid back in my dressing. I suppose i understand what you mean blending in because i was a victim to that. In my opinion, at least based off my personal experience, i tried to blend in cuz i was afraid of not being accepted for myself. It was a defence mechanism type of thing. I grew up though and acknowledged myself for me and me alone and now i dress up when i want to and dress down when i want to. I think it’s a phase we all go through in the whole process of life anf maybe it’s just a tad bit more noticeable among the Gen Z.

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    1. Yes. I totally get that…wanting to be accepted, and not being exactly sure what to do. You’re’s a phase. I don’t know if everyone grows out if it though


  4. I think we all have always wanted to fit in, generally. Teens and young adults in school, especially. I remember recently seeing my son’s girlfriend’s mom post a picture of her and her friends in high school, in the 80’s. I laughed hysterically and replied with a picture of me and mine in the same era. It was almost exactly the same and I lived in a different country than her!

    Today, as always, I wear jeans and a casual shirt of some kind. Dress up means black jeans for night events, and new denim for daytime ones. The top changes for weather. Boots or tennis shoes. The only change for me is the older I get, the less worried I am about offending someone or standing out by what I’m wearing. Grey hair means I’ve leveled up to, “I do what I want!”

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  5. I have never dressed for others. My SIL says she can’t wear her nice things because of COVID shutdowns or gripes about paying to get her hair done because there is where to go. I dress up and makeup pretty much every day – not for someone else but just for me. BTW I heard once that women don’t dress to impress men they dress to impress other women. I wonder if that is true. I only dress for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely think women dress more to impress other women. And I get dressed with make up every day no matter what I’m doing. However…I admit if it’s a writing day I will wear sweats and furry slippers

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  6. I too wear mostly black. I love black. If I shop I always seem to buy another black item. But I also love color. And I’ve been a jeans girl since college. I am most comfortable in a pair of jeans and a black too I collect jeans from from different decades. And I love themes. I think some people dress not to stand out others do the opposite. Me? I always have a theme going on in my head. . Today it’s the 70’s.I’m sitting in the waiting room of my oncologist’s office. and to motivate myself to be here I’m wearing a pair of vintage ankle jeans, slightly flaired with hand beading on the hem. A flowy Lori Goldstein black top, black blazer, black flats, and I blew dry my silver hair in a 70’s inspired hair do. Why you say? Just because. I’m old and I’m fighting cancer, so I can dress how I like! But I’ve always dress like that. I pick a moment in time. . I guess it’s the former actress in me. Perhaps I’m playing a part. . But I just like to dress up. To throw outfits together. That makes me feel youthful , vital, healthy. It works. So my style varies. I do tend to adapt wardrobe colors based on weather and location. It’s all dressing up to me. I modeled as a teen. Fashion shows were a way of life and I loved it. I guess it stuck with me. My style is probably classic, with s bit of 60’s -70’s thrown in.

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      1. Yes, my doc. Visit went very well. My pet scan was good, my ca 125 good, will soon be on maintenance . A monthly infusion and a daily chemo pill. I wasn’t quite aware of how intense maintenance is but I think I’m up for it! 🤞🏼

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  7. I dress for me NOW. When I was younger I desired to dress to fit in, but was inhibited by budgetary and self-esteem issues.

    Today I dress for me within budgetary restrictions and I don’t give a flying hoot about others.

    Funny though how this made me think of my 14 and 16yo… if I’m driving them to school or picking them up I see the rest of the school body and with a very few exceptions, they really all do look the same. 🙂 At least in winter weather. I’ll look for this again in the spring when dressing creatively becomes a thing more so than it does when it’s a gazillion below zero.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I wear what is comfortable. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes; in fact, a lot of my clothes are second hands given to me by friends. Hmm! Are they being kind or are they telling me I need to step up my game? I mainly wear black pants and a variety of tops with largish t-shirts being my favorite and purple as often as possible. I did text my daughter this week to find out what would be appropriate for my granddaughter’s in-studio recital with the goal of not embarrassing anyone by being under or over dressed.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. What a great post because I really had a rush of thoughts on this one plus I love the comments. I don’t think many kids break away from their peers until late 20’s. Middle school thru college is about fitting in usually and clothing is an easy way to do so.

    I immediately thought of my daughter because she has had to undergo a huge fashion transformation. In high school, she followed the pack. Her school had a loose uniform code, but she always followed whatever trend her friends were doing. In college, she was a sorority girl and being from Miami, very short dresses and very high heels was the evening look. She told me she and a girlfriend went to an Emory fancy event as someone’s plus 1. Apparently their attire was a bit too hoochie for the event. 😂😂 Mind you, she is not at all provocative. Then she had to transition from college student to med student. I ended up enlisting a personal shopper to help with that. She has found her style now.

    As for me, I love color and patterns, but I try to keep it reasonable otherwise I would probably dress like a 6-year-old complete with sparkles. I am most definitely a comfortable shoe person, but try to keep it interesting. At work, it is slacks and dresses. I like the simplicity of throwing on a dress and getting out the door. It looks like I made more of an effort than I did. I tend towards more classic looks – they fit me better.

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  10. i always like to wear loose clothing that does not reveal my fat figure. As far as you are comfortable in wearing an outfit, i think the outside factors cannot influence your style or type of clothing you wear.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I dress for myself and for comfort. I love certain colors and enjoy blending them. I don’t enjoy shopping for clothes (in stores or online) and will be happy to wear what’s currently in my closet for the rest of my life. Shoes, especially, must be comfortable—fashion be damned.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I’m a big fan of sundresses. I’ve worn them for years. I’m sure it has to do with the climate I live in. As for the younger people, I used to laugh at the LA millennials who would visit Palm Springs in matching outfits and the guys all wearing Fedora hats.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It is all about comfort so it’s all about me. I don’t even own a dress anymore. Never liked wearing them and really have no need. Same for my “real” clothing. No style changes or thankfully size changes in years. I will be the 95 year old walking down the street in jeans-stretchy waist for sure- but jeans and a sweater or t-shirt always.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. They can be comfy, I agree. I really have never found a style that I like on me. Everything seems to accentuate the grandma tummy or then if not isn’t really casual enough!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have a small collection of cottony dresses that I toss a jacket or cardigan over. Now that being said, after I was out all day in my dress and knee high boots, I’m presently in polar fleece sweats and a t shirt…but it’s also cold…😆

        Liked by 2 people

  14. nice t-shirt and good pair of jeans are my go-to out fit. Just decluttered my wardrobe after another episode of minimalist mom, and what she said made a lot of sense. most of us have our “go to” tops, the other 80% we never grab… so why in the heck let them take up hanger space. I’m @ the far end of the “I don’t care what other people think” spectrum.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Since I was old enough to dress myself (in the 70’s) I have always worn graphic T’s (mostly concert shirts), jeans, shorts, baseball shirts (the white ones with colored 3/4 length arms), henleys, sweatshirts, and hoodies. As my attire has become commonplace and apparently I am following a trend (shriek in horror) I need to rethink my wardrobe. I have migrated from predominantly black T’s to grey or gray (the sun is very hot here). I did find a black Smashing Pumpkins shirt the other day I just had to have.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Clothing looks like a popular topic. I dress for comfort but have a closet of clothes I hope will fit me again. My wife wears black alot and it ‘s fine with me cuz it’s her favorite colour. I think neatness and cleanliness count more than the clothes themselves but a little style and colour is great. I love orange!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. That is a great observation about conformity and individuality. I think many college-age adults are striving for both, but conformity pressures are great enough to win out.

    As for me, I dress for comfort more than style. (It can be argued that I have zero sense of style.) I do not change my wardrobe when traveling, except as pertains to weather.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I usually wear black and accessorize with jewelry, scarfs, sweaters, and jackets. When I go on vacation I pack black and white clothing with one accent color which includes purses, shoes, scarfs, and hats! It’s so easy and I’m too old to change it up now and become a fashionista! Maybe when I’m 80! Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Nowadays I dress for my comfort and my comfort alone! That’s why I don’t even bother to put on clothes and just stay in my jammies all day most days. Thanks, Covid! I will admit, though, to going so far as to put on a bra and a real shirt and (stretchy of course) pants and even add earrings for zoom classes.

    As usual, I have enjoyed the responses of your wide assortment of readers, many of whom have shared our similar experiences re how our daughters have dressed over time i.e. before they really became adults and started making their own decisions, in this respect as well as others. I am also of course muy simpatico with my commadres i.e. us retired ladies who have mostly come to say the hell with fashion! I think we’ve earned it.

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