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The Uniform

Stop into any boutique design firm in Manhattan and chances are that everyone is wearing black. Long before the Matrix came out, New York designers made it an unspoken law that all-black clothing would be our uniform. Whenever I go out-of-town to clients, they always make comments about how New York we are as we stand in the middle of Khakis and blue collar shirts. A Friday topic? Yeah, I think so.

How did the black uniform start?

Is it just a New York thing? just a Designer thing?

Do you have a Uniform?

And the tough question,
If we use colorful business cards to represent ourselves, why do we dress only in black?

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ARCHIVE ID 1565 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON Aug.22.2003 BY David Weinberger
Adrian’s comment is:

My old uniform was flip-flops, shorts and a wife-beater, now I have to wear business casual. I miss the old days.

As for black uniform, it was started way before I knew what I wanted to be. So, no help from me.

On Aug.22.2003 at 08:36 AM
David W’s comment is:

If we use colorful business cards to represent ourselves, why do we dress only in black?

Keep in mind that I do not want Tan to start wearing clear frosted plastic.

On Aug.22.2003 at 08:38 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Good friday topic.

>Do you have a Uniform?

I'm a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy. But when the weather gets cold (which is not very often here in Chicago) I would kick the shit out of anybody trying to mess with my black turtleneck. I wear it with jeans, so it's not all black... but damn, I love my black turtleneck sweaters!

And I also love my thick, dark, designer eyeglasses. You forgot about that David, eyeglasses are a big part of the designer's uniform.

On Aug.22.2003 at 08:39 AM
graham’s comment is:

crispy kicks, indigo strides, fresh tee every day.

On Aug.22.2003 at 08:42 AM
Tan’s comment is:

> Keep in mind that I do not want Tan to start wearing clear frosted plastic.

hahaha...dude, just for that, I'll be sending you a very special little photo of myself for your desktop.

As to my uniform, I'm Jekyll and Hyde. Non meeting days, it's tshirts, jeans, and my Chacos (like Tevas, but better). My business attire is more expectedly black and shades of black. We all love black because as Debbie pointed out in another thread, black means "premium". My dress shirts all come from Banana Republic for some reason.

And I'm with Armin. Cool glasses among designers is the new caveat to be judged by. Small frames with attitude, or large industrial ones like Malcolm X. It's mandatory for coolness.

On Aug.22.2003 at 08:53 AM
brook’s comment is:

i cant STAND when designers dress in "the uniform."

i love seeing kids (not that i'm much older) still in school dress like that. like they think they NEED to do it. the aiga student conference we have in MN can be damn hilarious. it's almost kind of a 'poser' thing. like...hey give me a job...my portfolio sucks, but i look the part!

ah it's not that bad i guess. just funny. so no offense to anyone who dresses that way.

shorts, khakis, jeans, tees, polos.. simple stuff here, i guess.... my workplace is quite casual.

On Aug.22.2003 at 09:00 AM
Erik D’s comment is:

I wear black because I'm too lazy to match my clothes with anything else :D

On Aug.22.2003 at 09:01 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Seattle (and Mnpls too) are more casual business cities. For some stupid reason, hot cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and San Diego are more formal -- so suits are more expected.

I dress for comfort. I also try not to overdress or underdress my clients. I have a cool guy client at AOL that mostly wears Puma track suits, ala what deejays wear. I swore that one of these days, I'll come to a meeting in a smiliar track suit.

On Aug.22.2003 at 09:07 AM
graham’s comment is:

>so suits are more expected.

an honest question with nothing clever or rude implied-how does one know what is 'expected', clothing-wise?

On Aug.22.2003 at 09:09 AM
Bradley’s comment is:

Wherever I go, no matter what I wear, its a given that if (big "if" there) a girl starts talking to me, asks what I do, she's NEVER surprised by the answer. "Oh, you just LOOK like you'd do that!"

And typically I wear jeans (hipster designer ones that look all rugged though--the Lucky Strikes of blue jeans, if you will) and a white t-shirt. Some times a black one. My favorite is the black t-shirt with the skull on the front--people take me very seriously when I wear it.

For awhile I would only wear Gene Meyer, but you can never find enough of his stuff. But when I wore ANYTHING Gene Meyer, it was just that much more obvious.

And for clients? Pin stripes all the way.

On Aug.22.2003 at 09:14 AM
Armin’s comment is:

>how does one know what is 'expected', clothing-wise?

If I'm meeting with bankers or lawyers I go for the dressy pants and bue dressy shirt, that says "I'm a classy guy, but I'm not wearing a suit just because you are all a bunch of tight-asses". For smaller clients, jeans and a muted color shirt do the trick. Here in the US, the new business casual look has made wearing a suit and tie a thing of the past. There is a pretty cool quote in Crain's that goes... hold on, gotta get up and look for it...

"What happened with 'business casual' was that people were left to their own taste, and what companies realized is that a lot of people didn't have taste"

On Aug.22.2003 at 09:32 AM
tim’s comment is:

i have a large afro, wear a ween hat, typophile or some type related shirt, shorts and sandals. i want to avoid the 'designer' look and dress like myself.

On Aug.22.2003 at 09:39 AM
Sam’s comment is:

"I'm a classy guy, but I'm not wearing a suit just because you are all a bunch of tight-asses"

Set that in Cooper Black italic, put it on a t-shirt, and watch the cash roll in!

On Aug.22.2003 at 09:45 AM
Joe VanDerBos’s comment is:

All black goes way back.

When I worked in Austin in 1986-7, the designers at the firm I worked for would all wear all-black on fridays. No overt rule, just a common wavelength. And it was hot out. Creepy, in retrospect, but we were overcompensating for being in a very laid-back city, I think. Don't even get me started on Texas fashion in the 1980s -- The shoulder pads were Lone-star-state sized.

Chicago, circa 1988, same thing, but worse. Paul Smith... OOH!

Now I work at home and can't find a thing to wear if I an actual client meeting comes up.

On Aug.22.2003 at 09:52 AM
Tom’s comment is:

the new business casual look has made wearing a suit and tie a thing of the past.

The fashion industry is desperately trying to push business attire back to formal - so as to reinvigorate sales! If you bought new business casual wardrobe 2-3 years ago, they need you to re-up, and they believe a trend back to formal will make the cash register ring.

On Aug.22.2003 at 10:16 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

I shop at target.

On Aug.22.2003 at 10:37 AM
Justin’s comment is:

It started just like everything else -- with Hollywood.

On Aug.22.2003 at 10:48 AM
Sam’s comment is:

"The first rule of Texas fashion is: spend any amount of money."

I read that years ago and it's till dang-tootin hi-larious.

On Aug.22.2003 at 11:04 AM
rebecca’s comment is:

color is the new black. get with the program.

On Aug.22.2003 at 11:04 AM
Tan’s comment is:

> an honest question with nothing clever or rude implied-how does one know what is 'expected', clothing-wise?

fair question graham -- maybe 'expected' is the incorrect word.

When I was in school in Houston, I worked in a downtown corporate office that had a dress code -- ties, no tshirts except on "casual Fridays". My wife worked in PR at PriceWaterhouse, and they specifically outlined business attire for women -- including a "skirt and dress only, no pants" policy. It was shocking.

There are definitely cities that are less casually dressed -- just look at a downtown crowd during lunchtime in Dallas or Atlanta, vs. Seattle or SF. I'm not saying it's better or worse, just pointing out the difference.

Then there's the type of work you do and clients you have. Entertainment, corporate, the arts, etc.

My point is that, I dunno, if you do corporate work, and want your work and opinions to be taken seriously, then you should dress appropriate to the surroundings. And it's more for your clients' comfort, not your own. How you dress is as important as how you speak to people -- it's a social courtesy that you can either choose to accept or reject.

I know it's also a shallow image conformist thing, but dammit, I didn't make the rules.

On Aug.22.2003 at 11:05 AM
Day’s comment is:

I'm in Vancouver, and I've noticed that the designers either dress for the outdoors or for a party. Some dress like lefty protestors.

Of course, around these parts there's a big intersection of all three clothing paradigms.

As a frequent visitor to Seattle, I've noticed lots of similarities in designer-chic, and I think the differences in dress of youngish designers in the two cities has to do with musical history. I.e. the difference between guitar players and house DJ's. Anybody from Seattle care to comment on the stylings of your northern neighbors?

On Aug.22.2003 at 11:05 AM
Tan’s comment is:

you beavers in Canada have really cool shoes. And cheap too!

You're totally right Day. The fleece and Gortex look is just funny. Some designers around here look like they're planning to go rock-climb during lunch or hike 10 miles to go home.

I've noticed that Vancouver is a bit more formal than Seattle. We still have a residue of the grunge look, while you guys have more access to cooler European-driven chic fashion.

The architecture of our two cities are becoming more and more alike too.

On Aug.22.2003 at 11:17 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

I dress like myself although I assume it's taken as designery.


Black t-shirt

Camo shorts

Puma Avanti's


Black t-shirt

Blue jeans

Black down jacket

Black socks

Puma Avanti's

It's that simple and it's simple for a reason.

On Aug.22.2003 at 11:28 AM
rebecca’s comment is:

I think it's worth noting that no women have posted with their wardrobe strategy. I'm not going to speculate as to what that means about men, women, or whether designer men are a bunch of dandies.


On Aug.22.2003 at 11:33 AM
Colin’s comment is:

I hope the business trend goes back to suits. I love wearing suits. You get instant respect in a good suit... at least until you open your mouth.

On Aug.22.2003 at 11:57 AM
marian’s comment is:

I used to be a really outrageous dresser, but around 10 years ago (gee, around the time i went into business) i got pretty predictable. I usually wear black pants, white (men's) shirt and a long, gun-slinger jacket to business meetings. Sometimes I like to wear a tie, but then people think I'm a dyke.

But since i moved to an island my day-to-day wear has become increasingly casual. I'm really into the Mac jacket. Now I'm trying to mix it up. Last year I was wearing the red Mac jacket, puffy down vest, with red rabbit-fur pom-pom scarf--usually with jeans. Then there was my purple velour, post-rave, neo-disco, shower-the-peole-you-love-with-love bunny-hug (er, hoody).

I want to keep mixing up high and low fashion, and I'm trying to find the time to put together some truly bohemian, grunge-romantic ensembles. I have not yet decided how far i could take this with clients: probably stick to the uniform as above, although at a client meeting last year I met a woman wearing the Perfect Outfit: a crazy neoprene Miu Miu Jetson's type affair, and I figure if she can do that in a corporate environent, so can I. So I'm saving up for some Miu Miu.

I love black, but i really try to avoid all-black, as it is just so damned predictable.

Right now I'm wearing pyjamas, but hey, I'm aaalll aloooone here ...

On Aug.22.2003 at 12:03 PM
David E.’s comment is:

It started just like everything else -- with Hollywood.

Absolutely. And there are still some movie industry types that think its the 1980s—middle aged men in black suits, ponytails, pinkie rings and black cowboy boots.

That being said, I love wearing black. In fact, I have on a black pullover shirt today with olive pants that are cut like jeans from... uh...banana republic? The problem with black is that it's not good for the hot southern california sun.

I notice so many people in San Francisco wearing black. It makes me think they're somehow more sophisticated than people around here. Im more of a cool-climate type of person anyhow—I think I'd rather live in a place like that. Businessmen in London are really great dressers, too.

I kind of wish there was a little more formality in the way people dressed. I always feel good when I'm dressed in a jacket and tie. It's a feeling of power I suppose.

On Aug.22.2003 at 12:03 PM
marian’s comment is:

(make that Emigre Hypnopaedia pyjamas)

On Aug.22.2003 at 12:15 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> designer men are a bunch of dandies.

Ok, first you complain about Speak Up being too macho and the dudes this and the dudes that. And the moment we try to get in touch with our feminine side and share our fashion secrets you give us crap?

Talk to the hand 'cause the face ain't listening girl.

On Aug.22.2003 at 12:15 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

Haha!!!!! Armin, you totally got me!

On Aug.22.2003 at 12:20 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

Seriously, I do think men have a tough row to hoe wardrobe-wise. It must suck to have to strategize so much. Marian's talking about neoprene dresses while the rest of you are talking about business casual. Sucky.

On Aug.22.2003 at 12:44 PM
KM’s comment is:

Does anyone remember those, I believe Mohawk, paper ads a while back? Designers wardrobe: Black - good for sudden career changes such as a ninja or poet. Good stuff.

I'm not much help. Been wearing black since I can remember. It's all about the Misfits and Danzig. Oh, and colorful tattoo sleeves w/ fresh kicks. I am in Seattle - maybe I should switch to fleece and Chacos. No offense Tan!

On Aug.22.2003 at 12:44 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Do any of you guys know of a good facial scrub?

I have multi-zone skin, and haven't found anything just right yet.

On Aug.22.2003 at 12:50 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> I am in Seattle - maybe I should switch to fleece and Chacos. No offense Tan!

None taken! You can do both, KM.

Today, I'm wearing a black long-sleeve graphic print tshirt, black jeans, and sporting my Chacos. Oh, and a black rubber Nike watch and black glasses to accessorize.

So damn predictable.

On Aug.22.2003 at 12:54 PM
David W’s comment is:

Black Jeans?

Do they still make those?

On Aug.22.2003 at 01:00 PM
Day’s comment is:

Here's a question. Today I'm wearing a shirt with my (former) freelance logo on it. How many of you out there are wearing a corporate logo? Your own? Your boss'? A supplier (i.e. paper company, Apple, etc.)?

On Aug.22.2003 at 01:01 PM
Paul’s comment is:

I can't help it; I love black clothes! They go so nicely with my black designer-y glasses!

Dig this, though: when I'm going somewhere and I anticipate meeting another designer (you know, like the Apple store, an AIGA meeting, or, um, Target), I tend to avoid wearing black. It's like some kind of wardrobe rock-paper-scissors...

On Aug.22.2003 at 01:04 PM
Bob’s comment is:

So I guess I'm the only one here that shops at the Gap.

Tan or Olive khaki pants or shorts (occassionally jeans when I'm on location at a laid back company).

White or gray t-shirt.

Plaid button-up short sleeve shirt or solid polo shirt.

Belt with ridiculous belt-buckle.

Brown Timberland low-cut work shoes or my comfy bright blue Nike Prestos on my feet.

Don't forget to accessorize!

Silver Eddie Bauer Watch

Messenger Bag from Wilson's Leather

I'm not sure if I'd pass muster on Queer Eye, but it gets me by.

On Aug.22.2003 at 01:08 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

How many of you out there are wearing a corporate logo?

Never. Not because of Klein (or Adbusters), I just don't.

On Aug.22.2003 at 01:14 PM
marian’s comment is:

Day, I often used to wear digitopolis's logoized t-shirts (ahem, black) and black vest: with pride. Otherwise I'm an anti-logo fanatic and will go to lengths not to display a brand of any kind (except for the strange exception of Krispy Kreme). funny you should ask, too, because I have one of those orange Strathmore Elements t-shirts that I'm looking at ways of modifying to get rid of the branding. In fact, that's something I was thinking of doing today, instead of working on m website like I should be.

On Aug.22.2003 at 01:17 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

My first interview suit was hardcore double-breasted pinstripe. It was a bit of overkill, but I did look good.

At Landor, typical client mtg wear was pants and nice shirt for me. Sometimes a suit if the players were high-level or it was an early-on meeting at their office. I had one client who was very into my shirt/tie selection, so I had to keep buying new clothes before every meeting. Office wear was anything you wanted, except maybe a speedo.

Nowadays on my own, I'll wear anything from jeans and a nice shirt to khakis and shirt. I won't pull out the tie unless I feel it's necessary. I do worry about the respect issue, though, when I'm dressing down a little.

I do think that if you can talk the talk, then that helps overcome most sartorial issues. Landor had a guy that wore baggy cargo shorts, surfer kicks and hawaiian shirts to presentations and usually did fine.

On Aug.22.2003 at 01:28 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I'm selective about graphics, but not a snob about it.

There are vendor tees that are cool to me. I have an old Mead one that say "Creativity is a blood sport" that I still wear on occasion. I also have a fave black tee that just says "Helvetica (in small, tiny type below: Is not an Adobe Font" from Linotype. Then there are the various AIGA conference/event shirts. Many, many of them get worn once and then tossed.

I also have a number of Grip tees or cool tees we've made for clients.

it seems more authentic to me than buying the old/new graphic tees from Urban Outfitters or Gap.

> Black jeans? Do they still make those?

Of course they do -- I have 3 pairs of plain-jane black jeans from the Gap. They fade fast though. Sucks.

No one's talked about men's shoes yet. Campers, Kenneth Cole, Aldo? It used to be bleak -- nuthin but Rockports and Florsheim (blech!), but nowadays -- I think men have almost as many choices as women for dress/casual shoes.

God this conversation is prissy. Can't believe I'm in it -- really, I'm not that fashion-vain.

On Aug.22.2003 at 01:36 PM
jonsel�’s comment is:

I'm not that fashion-vain.

Weren't you the one asking for facial scrub? ;-)

On Aug.22.2003 at 01:53 PM
Tan’s comment is:

it's sarcasm Jon. try it, it's fun.

Actually, I was just talking the other day w/ a girl coworker about Queer Eye, and how the guy's always harping on skin care products. Skin care to most men, including me, amounts to shaving and washing w/ whatever soap's handy. So she says that she bought some Aveda products for her boyfriend, and he loves using it so much now, that he started snarfing on her stuff when he runs out. Because, of course, he can't possibly go buy it himself.

On Aug.22.2003 at 02:02 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>No one's talked about men's shoes yet.

I sport adidas most of the time. I have overall white with black stripes as my main choice. Then I have overall black with white stripes, which are a bit tight so I don't wear them enough. And my favorite — overall red with white stripes. Killer.

For meetings I go with Mr Cole. Kenneth Cole. Reaction of course.

And for hot summer days, a good pair of airy huaraches.

This is like, totally, the coolest conversation eveeeeeer.

On Aug.22.2003 at 02:02 PM
Krystal Hosmer’s comment is:

We are lucky here. The majority of our clients are out of state... so we pretty much dress however we want. The CD favors hawaiian shirts, I like capri pants and our other designer wears lots of beach type clothes. I don't think anyone has worn anything but sandals or flip flops since the beginning of june.

Our local AIGA prez. though, puts us all to shame. Victor has the most amazing array of shirts. He could take over for Carson on Queer Eye at a moment's notice. And one of the agency prez.'s showed up to our AIGA awards show in a teal green pin striped zoot suit with matching white fedora. It was a sight to see!

BTW.. we do have to dress up to normal business casual when clients are in town.

On Aug.22.2003 at 02:06 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

Puma's or Adidas. Nike for the gym. Dress shoes without laces - black only of course.

skin care products.

I'm a sucker for Rusk, American Crew, Anthony Aesthetics, and Aveda. Met some random girl in SOHO yesterday, she needed to borrow my pen. She asked what I do and I told her. "Oh, my friend is a designer for Aveda. He gets 75% off everything." Nice.

I heard "metrosexual" is the new term. I stop way short of any kind of manicure and whatnot.

On Aug.22.2003 at 02:12 PM
Max’s comment is:

For work: Black and Silver Saucony Jazz, regular old-fashioned blue jeans, and a polo, tucked or untucked depending on mood. I'm pretty boring. I can't fit into any of Banana Republic's stuff because my shoulders are too wide. I feel like Bruce Banner in the dressing room, ready to Hulk out.

As far as interviews and the like, I rock the navy blazer. Goes with everything and can be worn with or without a tie. It's casual, yet professional. I'd recommend it to anyone just getting out of school. It's not too expensive for a good one and it's versatile enough for formal events. You can also pretend you're a prepster. Hours of fun!

On Aug.22.2003 at 02:17 PM
Andrew Shurtz’s comment is:

We don't have many high-powered meetings here in the academic press world, so things are pretty casual (to say the least.) For shoes, I gotta love my dirty, scuffed black Campers. (confession: I bought my first pair when I saw they use Platelet on the soles!)

As for suits, I am an unstoppable force of nature in my seersucker suit. I think that's as far away from uniform black as you can get.

On Aug.22.2003 at 02:38 PM
pk’s comment is:

daywear: wifebeater/jeans/ten-year-old fluevog frankenboots, black leather wristbands, leather thing necklace, mohawk. this is season-independent. chicago has great indoor heating systems.

meetingwear: the statement is "more stylish than you but in your vocalbulary, so kiss my buttons and take my recommendations." a light-colored dolce and gabbana signature line shirt, flat-pocket tailored slacks, one of four amazing pairs of versace formal slippers i found on sale. the tattoos get hidden.

i NEVER dress in all black. what it says to me: "i can't actually mix colors with any effectiveness. i'm ripping you off."

On Aug.22.2003 at 02:43 PM
Andy’s comment is:

I like to wear a 1-piece, spotlessly clean blue mechanics jumpsuit with the name "Chet" embroidered on the name patch. With red shop rag dangling from the pocket of course! :)

On Aug.22.2003 at 05:10 PM
David E.’s comment is:

i once wore all black to my current job (in-house) and one of the marketing people remarked jokingly "all black...what do you think you are, A DESIGNER?" I havent done it since.

pk...i have a pair of fluvogs, too. 2-tone avocodo green. they kinda look like bowling shoes.

On Aug.22.2003 at 07:10 PM
David E.’s comment is:

last year i traveled to london (first time in europe). the style of dress shirt popular with businessmen had a shortened collar that made the bottom edge horizonal when buttoned to the top. when i got back to L.A. i bought one for myself (made by The Duffer of St. George) at my favorite mens clothing store of all time, kbond

—unfortunately, a recent victim of the economy.

I think Paul Smith makes shirts like that too.

On Aug.22.2003 at 07:30 PM
David E.’s comment is:

lets try that again...


On Aug.22.2003 at 07:37 PM
kia’s comment is:

I wear black so my boobs look smaller.

Purely practical reasons.

On Aug.22.2003 at 09:53 PM
Mike’s comment is:

For meetings, you can't go wrong with a suit [if it's a good one].Beware of the boyfriend who loves your skin care products.

On Aug.23.2003 at 10:32 AM
jesse’s comment is:

Ok, first you complain about Speak Up being too macho and the dudes this and the dudes that. And the moment we try to get in touch with our feminine side and share our fashion secrets you give us crap?

Talk to the hand 'cause the face ain't listening girl.

Wow, Rebecca, you walked right into that one. So, what are you wearing right now?

On Aug.23.2003 at 01:21 PM
Nathan’s comment is:

Well, it's not Friday anymore, but here goes anyways.

I never particularly liked wearing all black. Maybe I was traumatized during my learning years by the old SNL Sprockets skit. "And now is the time on Sprockets when we danse!"

During spring and summertime you will probably see me in some neutral-coloured shorts, a white t-shirt, and sandals. Fall and Winter I do wear black dress pants and black shoes, but with a dressy non-black shirt of some sort. I find that Winners is a great source for non-black clothes, but I think that might be a Canada-only outfit.

I once wore a *shudder* tie to a customer meeting when I first started with the company. Never again. I think I wear the sandals now to pay pennance for that tie.

On Aug.25.2003 at 01:56 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Wow, women talking about boobs and men talking about fashion. Thanks David, for such a therapeutic thread.

On Aug.25.2003 at 08:16 AM
David E.’s comment is:

i almost forgot to mention American Apparel, who I've decided to buy all my t-shirts from in the future. Really high quality fabric that stays smooth and soft after you wash it. And best of all, they fit (I really hate oversized t-shirts). They make all different styles and colors for women, men, little kids and (belive it or not) dogs. Also shorts and underwear for women.

Also, they're "sweatshop-free" and provide year-round employment and benefits to their workers. They have a really cool little catalog—unfortunately the part of their website that you order it from doesn't seem to work.


On Aug.25.2003 at 11:34 AM
rebecca’s comment is:

Wow, Rebecca, you walked right into that one. So, what are you wearing right now?

Glen plaid double-breasted suit, power tie, and burgundy wingtips.

(Okay, okay. I am actually wearing that outfit's diametrical opposite: black-and-white vintage housedress, see-through black CK cardigan, and red Steve Madden mary jane flats.)

On Aug.25.2003 at 02:19 PM
bbaltimore’s comment is:

A few theories on why the design/artist uniform is black:

Perhaps designers don't want to distract from their work. Or perhaps we're mourning the death of the dot-com boom, non-digital design, etc. I've heard that New York is a dirty place so people took to black because it hides dirt. The rest of the U.S. is just copying. If we didn't dress by black mandate then we would have access to millions of colors and you know what happens then...

Maybe if we could put together something like Garanimals but restricted to the web color palette then we could bust out of the black wardrobe?

On Aug.26.2003 at 11:43 AM
kev leonard’s comment is:

i have been out with the flu. this looked like a fun topic and i hope i didn't miss it all. this is by the way the first time i've submitted to s.u., not for lack of wanting to, just lack of time... you know the drill.

i used to work for an agency. i did the all black thing once or twice. i now work for an in-house 1/2 the time and the other 1/2 i work for myself. my wardrobe now runs the gamut from yard sales and good will to nordstrom. i think the important thing is comfort and let's not forget that it's really all aboutt the shoes.

On Sep.08.2003 at 10:58 AM
priya’s comment is:

my roommates call my closet 'The Black Hole' because you really get lost in all the black. if i buy a color it's either tan, white or bright red. (because sometimes you just gotta pop.)

usually you can see me rocking:

+ tan, gray, or bright red pants. or really dark wash bootcut denim (although i only own one pair of jeans.)

+ fitted black shirt. (i'll only buy clothes that have odd assymetrical cuts, interesting texture or weird collars / details. i love nehru collars. Basic crew neck long sleeved tees are extinct in my closet.)

+ Black pointy toed stillettos or strappy stilletto sandals. (Or 3 inch heeled knee high boots when it's winter... which should be here in ohhh about a month since it's Buffalo.)

+ fitted calf-length Nehru collar wool coat (when winter hits.)

my roommate is teaching me the joy of color... i did buy a dress at Sak' Off 5th in dark fuschia a few months ago out of the blue. i feel her tutelage in color will all go to waste as i plan to leave for NYC in december to begin an internship. i feel that then it'll be Regression, Regression, Regression.

On Sep.08.2003 at 10:51 PM
Rick Moore’s comment is:

Is this thread still going?

I have more polo shirts from Old Navy than I care to think about. I prefer blue to black. We wife is constantly ribbing me about the amount of blue in my wardrobe. Maybe it's my optimistic side...

On Sep.09.2003 at 12:12 PM
jose ’s comment is:

nope. its definitely not a new york thing. i see it here in manila since even before i was an artist let alone a graphic designer. and its not limited to our kind as well...most visual artists at gallery openings and other formal events as well wear this uniform. i am uncertain though as to where this thing originally started. it might have been new york. =)

On May.01.2004 at 10:30 PM
jenny’s comment is:

I wish I had the guts to wear a neoprene dress! I have a crocheted plastic raffia skirt from the '50s I wear sometimes, probably the closest thing I have. I do wear some black, but nothing near all; a fair amount of vintage, some DKNY, some Max Studio.

My husband is a design director down in Silicon Valley. Last Halloween, he dressed up like an "artist": black turtleneck, black pants, black shoes, black beret, horn-rimmed glasses (he never wears all black). His boss asked him, in all seriousness, "how come you didn't dress up for Halloween this year?"

On May.02.2004 at 08:47 PM
Jerry Reyes’s comment is:

No set uniform. When I'm at my most �designer-like’, it’s usually just polos or button shirts (muted tones though, lime green and stop-sign red are just too chipper for me), jeans with black shoes with a rubber bottom, cause I don’t have a car. I only own two black tops, one pair of black pants. Gray is a whole other story. Charcoal and Heather grays are my favorite.

When I’m being totally me, my clothes is a nod to my hip-hop background: high school circa 1995. Ol’ skool kicks (usually Adidas, but dusty olive/fog suede Puma Romas for now), sans fat laces, though I did have some fatties in HS, some loose jeans, and a printed T-shirt (Public Enemy always a favorite). I don’t wear glasses, but if I did, I’d sport some vintage Cazal frames.


On May.03.2004 at 04:28 PM
graham’s comment is:

af1's for random

gr dunks (also at1 pythons and burst grey flecked sole) as beaters

aj11 low wht/zen grey for fresh air

air max 95 neons for tippy-top comfort

at1's/aj1's (o.g. colourway but '94 retros) for feeling down to earth

aj2's (re-retro) and atmos air max 1's (both colourways) for stylin'

zoo york/reese forbes dunks and atc2's (orange/blue) for flossin'

safari's (o.g. colourway retro's) forever

On May.03.2004 at 04:43 PM
Daniel’s comment is:

My guess is that, here in America, the Beats started the whole all-black wardrobe thing, along with the members of the New York art scene around the late 1940s to early 1950s (Jackson Pollock and the whole abstract expressionism crew). They definitely had an early stake on the black turtleneck/t-shirt/jeans/chunky black glasses look.

Prior to that, I'd put a wager on Picasso and the whole Left Bank crew of artists, poets and writers, and the New Wave filmmakers of the very late 1940s through to the 1960s (Godard, Truffaut, etc.) .

Why? Because black doesn't show dirt, it's easy to match with other black items, and it goes along with the whole bohemian notion of not giving a shit about what you wear (and if it's clean or not), and of not conforming to society's standards of fashion and manners.

Just a hunch.

For the record, I never realized I "looked like a designer" until other, (possibly insecure?) designers and account execs pointed it out to me. Seriously, I just wore what I liked, nerdy glasses and all. I still wear what I like -- it has nothing to do with fitting in or looking the part.

My theory is that designers appreciate good design, whether it's a cool pair of sneakers, jeans, or an album cover. That's why I like fashion -- it's another form of design, and it's wearable. How cool is that?

On May.03.2004 at 05:13 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

>My guess is that, here in America, the Beats started the whole all-black wardrobe thing...

Daniel — don't confuse the Beats with the Beatniks. Briefly, the phrase "Beat Generation" described post-War individuals who were beaten down by the Depression, the War, and the threat of atomic annihilation, to the essence of what it meant to be an individual.

Their rejection of social norms — impoverishment, sexual freedom existentialism, etc. — became a phenomenon, ironically, through their work. Pretty soon, anyone who read "On The Road" could hang out in coffee houses and write bad blank verse. From there came Maynard G. Krebs, "Funny Face" and other media caricatures.

So, what did they wear?

According to the Gap, Kerouac wore khakis.

Neil Cassady was found dead by railroad tracks wearing only a T-shirt and jeans.

Burroughs was usually in a suit and hat — even though he later shilled for Nike.

And in 1984, Allen Ginsberg told me personally that his clothing came from the Salvation Army (I didn't quite believe him).

>...along with the members of the New York art scene around the late 1940s to early 1950s (Jackson Pollock and the whole abstract expressionism crew). They definitely had an early stake on the black turtleneck/t-shirt/jeans/chunky black glasses look.

The famous Hans Namuth images of Pollock and de Kooning show them in jeans and either a T-shirt or work shirt. Later in de Kooning's life, there were frequent photos of him in overalls.

Art has pretty much always been a middle-class occupation. So seeing artists/poets/composers in jeans and work clothes is a common thing. But, if you want to see a famous photograph of the New York School in suits; http://www.newenglandconservatory.edu/festival/nySchool.html" target="_blank"> look here.

Like the myth of Bohemia, berets and black turtlenecks are more about media portrayal than truth.

On May.04.2004 at 01:12 AM
Micah’s comment is:

I'm in Seattle and work for a very causal company. Drinks starting at 3:00 any day of the week is common. So, you'd think that dressing casual would be normal and accepted. As a general rule it is, but I've found that dressing causal can a detriment to a woman career.

I've tested it out and found that a woman is preceived differently depending on her attire. I've tired Jeans and T-shirts, which is typical around here and it seems like people just half listen to what I say and do.

Dressing more impressive garners more respect. Whether it's all black or wild colors, taking the time to look good makes a difference at least for a woman in a male dominated environment.

My typical attire is now skirt or pants with layered tops like a shell with an overshirt. I usually keep it funky. Still needing to be creative and not conform, but I do have to keep in mind that what I wear will affect how my day will go. If I want to deliver bad news, I wear muted tones or blues. Helps keep people calm. If it's good news, I wear warmer colors or reds. You want people to remember the good news and they will remember you in red. I just apply simple color theory to my attire and enjoy the affect it has on people.

On May.04.2004 at 11:29 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Now all Micah co-workers know� if she's wearing muted colors you might want to avoid her that day.

Me, still doing the T-shirt and jeans thing. A shirt creeps in rarely, but more commonly than last year�

On May.04.2004 at 12:14 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Funny that this old thread came back up.

I just read my old postings. *sigh* Gone are my days of tshirt and Chaco sandals to the office.

My wardrobe is still heavily blacks and greys. But instead of tshirts and jeans, now it's business casual and even suits some days, though no ties. Not big on ties. But you know, I don't mind dressing up more. It feels more professional, and it garners more respect with clients. And business dress attire isn't as boring as it used to be either. There are some really cool suits out there. Banana Republic, Kenneth Cole, DKNY has some fairly affordable, workweek stuff available.

Clients do notice, and the eccentric designer/artisté ensemble schtick will only go so far.

On May.04.2004 at 05:25 PM
mazzei’s comment is:

Speak up Survey?

now opinions on Uniforms?


On May.05.2004 at 03:43 PM
Daniel’s comment is:

M Kingsley, thanks for the clarification(s). I appreciate your historical references. I do think, though, that the term "Beats" is interchangeable at this point in time with the term "beatniks." Yes, the Beats were Ginsberg and crew, but the followers of the Beats, in my mind, can easily be referred to as Beats. (Semantics. How boring.) Indeed, whenever I think of Kerouac or Ginsberg, I think of khakis and rumpled shirts. Pollack too always seemed to be wearing a t-shirt and jeans or khakis (although I do recall seeing him wearing all black, but where I have no idea). So on those points you're definitely right, no doubt about it. Beatniks, on the other hand, did often wear black. I've seen the old photos, the old news footage, and I swear it's true.

As for believing in "media" portrayals, I don't. But I know what you mean -- the silly beret and black turtleneck thing is really just a cliche, a costume, an easy assumption of the mainstream.

I do believe, though, the non-famous members of these movements or generations or whatever we want to call them did often wear black, in one form or another. Or maybe I'm just recalling art school, where nearly everyone in the painting department wore all black (and 95% of them were abstract expressionists), and everyone who liked to imagine themselves as beats (or beatniks) or poets of some kind wore as much black as they could too.

Okay then. Next subject!

On May.06.2004 at 07:04 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

Daniel -

Read this short article.

On May.06.2004 at 11:16 PM
Bob’s comment is:

Beatniks rock

On May.21.2005 at 09:56 AM
linda georgina’s comment is:


On Aug.04.2005 at 11:48 AM