DO YOU NEED A PERSONAL UNIFORM?
Hands up if you've ever peered into your overflowing wardrobe and thought, "I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!" Be honest now. My hand is up, and I'm willing to bet actual money that I'm not alone. Because I-have-nothing-to-wear syndrome is an epidemic.
Alas the most obvious salve - buy more clothes – never seems to fix it long-term. Could a uniform be the answer?
Sigrid McCarthy thinks so. She is so committed to her signature style that she calls it her "personal uniform".
"I don't know where I first heard the phrase, but I've adopted it," says McCarthy, who works for Ethical Clothing Australia, and is also the founding editor of online magazine Intent Journal. "It feels like a really nice way of describing how I approach my very curated wardrobe."
This consists of a black turtleneck, worn with black tailored pants or a black skirt. On her feet? Black leather loafers or R.M. Williams boots. Yes, they're black too. "It is a uniform that's more comfortable in winter," concedes the 28-year-old Melburnian. When it's properly hot, she swaps the turtleneck for a crisp white shirt. Ta-da! Her summer uniform.
Does she ever deviate and dabble in, I don't know... navy?
"Sometimes I add in grey, when I'm feeling really out there," she deadpans. "It sounds very military and boring when I say it out loud, doesn't it?" says the woman who is anything but. McCarthy is a dynamic powerhouse of a person, funny, and fabulous as well as high-achieving and strong. "It's not for everyone but it works for me."
McCarthy speaks of the beautiful simplicity of waking up each morning and not having to worry about what to wear. Dramatically paring back her outfit options has left her with more time and more confidence. "I feel strong and capable in my clothes," she says. "There's a freedom in that, I find it empowering.
"I'm not an extreme minimalist - some people own five things and that's their entire wardrobe, but I do buy clothes. I just don't buy an excess of them, and everything I buy, I wear often." That's made easier by the fact that almost every piece of clothing McCarthy owns goes with everything else.
While it would be a stretch to call McCarthy's approach a trend, it is not unprecedented. Australian Vogue's first editor Sheila Scotter famously stuck to a black and white wardrobe. In 2015, New York art director Matilda Kahl told the world about the joys of wearing the same thing work every day, by choice.
When Today presenter Karl Stefanovic wore the same blue suit on air every day for a year, no one noticed, but women in the public eye are still pilloried for wearing the same outfit on repeat.
"I don't judge other women for wearing the same thing over and over, in fact I love it," says McCarthy. "I think it shows that they're confident in who they are."
McCarthy's personal uniform is intrinsic to who she is. "It's tied in with being mindful about how I live in general," she says. "I feel I should only be buying things that I know I will use and that add purpose and value to my life."