The argument for a work uniform

In April 2015, Matilda Kahl, then an art director based in New York, penned an essay in Harper’s Bazaar to explain why she wore the same outfit to work everyday. After experiencing the frustration of wasting time trying to cobble together an outfit every morning, Kahl decided to invest in a few key pieces. The result? An understated, yet classic combination of black pants, white shirt, and a custom leather rosette. Practically speaking, it’s easy, suitable for every season, and work-appropriate to boot.

Yet Kahl was still questioned by colleagues and friends alike for her choice. Why would someone working in the creative arts industry of all places voluntarily give up their freedom to dress whatever way they pleased? Because not only is it one less thing to think about, says Kahl, but it also helped her regain a sense of control in a society where women are intensely scrutinised, and then criticised, for their choices in clothing. Kahl’s most apt remark, perhaps, is, “To state the obvious, a work uniform is not an original idea. There’s a group of people that have embraced this way of dressing for years—they call it a suit.”

Sure enough, countless articles and websites have revealed that successful (and time poor) personalities including Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs, have all made use of the concept of a work uniform in order to reduce decision fatigue. As told to Vanity Fair in this feature, Obama said: “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” Add to this that reducing your wardrobe to a few key pieces will save money in the long-term, and depending on where you source your clothing from, is likely to reduce your impact in the damaging world of fast fashion (for a great introduction to sustainable and ethically sourced clothing, check out Clare Press’ book and podcast series here).

I firmly believe that what you wear and how you present yourself in the workplace will speak volumes about you. Job interviews, client meetings, and presentations are all nerve-wracking, but it is astonishing what the right outfit (or a bit of red lipstick) can do for your confidence. I know someone who swears by her pair of hot pink suede heels on workdays that she needs to feel a little bit killer. Having a go-to work uniform means that you have hand-selected an outfit that you know you look and feel good in. Wear it long enough and it will eventually become part of your personal brand, and something you become known for. Just ask Matilda Kahl.

Photo: via Matilda Kahl’s Instagram, @lilltrill

A go-to dish for cold, rainy nights

By November, Sydney is well and truly in the throes of spring. The pops of purple jacarandas, beginnings of daylight savings, and complaints of hay fever are but a few signs that the warmer months are upon us. Lately though, the weather has become unseasonably cold with temperatures dropping below 20C. Add to this chilly winds and rain and you’ve got yourself a valid reason to stay indoors with a cup of tea (or whiskey).

Given the winter-like outdoors, I wanted to whip up something hot and comforting for dinner this week. The first dish that popped to mind – and I’m sure many others thought of this too – was the classic mac and cheese. You simply can’t go wrong with a pasta and cheese combo! Using this as my inspiration, I decided to go with the ‘adult’ version of mac and cheese and pulled out a recipe for cacio e pepe. This little baby hails from Rome and is beautifully simple: all you need is spaghetti, Pecorino Romano, and copious amounts of black pepper.

I followed this Martha Stewart recipe to great success. To jazz it up a bit, I also tossed through a handful of rocket (that’s arugula to my overseas friends), and omitted the extra-virgin olive oil for truffle oil. Totally worth it.

What’s your go-to comfort dish?

Photo: Julia Child via Matchbook Mag

What songs get you bustin’ a move?

There are a great many scenes in the universe of movies and TV shows that feature a happy song montage. You know the one. The main character overcomes a challenge, gets the guy or gal of their dreams, or in some cases, is simply spending a weekend at home with their dog. In all cases, the scene features a song that gets the character bustin’ a move.

Seriously though, there is no downside to a happy songs soundtrack. Some of the best parties and weddings I have attended have been the ones that feature a killer DJ or playlist. Even everyday mundane activities like showering and grocery shopping are improved by 156.5% when you have the right songs to go with them*. So in the movie of your life, what would be the songs that make you simultaneously joyful and dancing up and down the streets like nobody’s business?

In no particular order, my top ten picks would definitely have to be:

  • Come and Get Your Love – Redbone
  • Dancing with Myself – Billy Idol
  • Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) – Backstreet Boys
  • Forever – Chris Brown
  • I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston
  • September – Earth, Wind, and Fire
  • Shut Up and Dance – Walk The Moon
  • The Twist – Chubby Checker
  • Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars
  • XO – Beyonce

But really, you could pick any theme song from an iconic 80’s movie and be done with it. Flashmob, anyone?

*This is a scientific fact and was definitely not made up.

Photo: Pete Souza/White House