I made the intentional move to a wear a “personal uniform” and have found it to be advantageous for life and for full-time travel. I had a few goals in mind for a personal uniform:
I was tired of the daily “what’s clean and what goes with it” decision in the morning. I wanted to get out of bed and be able to grab pants and shirts with my eyes closed and know they would work together color-wise.
I didn’t care if that meant I wore the same thing every day - I wanted to save that brain power for more important work.
Did you know there is such a thing as decision fatigue?
Moving to an RV-based lifestyle means becoming a minimalist. While there is always more to purge we necessarily have to own fewer things to live this way.
Our clothing storage is limited, so having a smaller wardrobe makes sense.
Easier (and less) Shopping
With a “designed” wardrobe approach I’d know exactly what I needed and in what color.
When something wore out I could buy its exact replacement online.
I have made a few spontaneous purchases but overall I have been less subject to the whims and fancies of the fashion industry.
My goal was to own less but have higher quality versions of what I do own. I haven’t minded paying premium prices for key components of my wardrobe. I prefer brands that have lifetime warranties and have been able to exchange clothes under those warranties.
Everyone has different social settings they need to dress for. In the vague order of casual - to - formal I needed to be appropriately dressed in:
- The driver’s seat
- Project mode, working with tools
- Campgrounds and parks
- The outdoors - kayaking, hiking, fishing, etc
- Retail stores, libraries and museums
- Professional conferences
- Business meetings with clients
- Classrooms where I am teaching
My life is made easier by the fact that the profession I am in usually dresses casual.
For meetings and conferences no one wears shirt and tie anymore. If I have a button up shirt on I’m often dressier than the average.
I am not a sports fan so feel no need to have clothes with team logos on them.
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Our range is from roughly 30 degrees to 90 degrees. If it’s colder or hotter we probably aren’t going to be there long.
I set out with a plan to choose a color scheme, purge what I had that didn’t work within that, and purchase the necessary items to round it out.
I started with t-shirts. But what color?
- I ruled out white (too hard to keep white in ever-changing laundromats).
- I ruled out black (too hot in the upper temperature ranges).
- I settled on gray and wore gray shirts for ~3 years (what you see in these photos). Turns out on hot days I’d trade out for my quick-dry lightweight running t-shirt anyway. So when the gray wore out it was back to…
- Black. It just looks dressier.
I decided to upgrade from simple t-shirts to a henley style with a button-up neck. They were a few dollars more but I liked looking just a tad dressier when just in the single layer.
From there I choose olive-colored pants. With just about every style it seems olive is a color option and can be easily dressed up as needed.
So my base layer is black and olive, from there I can build up with other gray, black or navy items.
The Complete Wardrobe
Here’s what I currently own for a wardrobe:
- Keen full-toed sandals. I practically live in these - worn with a pair of black socks they look like hikers. They can get wet so work for kayak shoes.
- Hikers. I’ve used these on longer hikes where I want full-foot protection. I haven’t worn them much lately and have considered getting rid of them.
- Sketchers. I wear these when I need to be more dressed up. Their casual-but-dressy style works well for me.
Pants (4 pr)
- I have two pair of olive-colored dress pants that I wear day-to-day. I can get these at Goodwill for <$10.
- I find that dress pants are actually more comfortable than jeans - especially in warmer temps.
- I have one pair of second-hand jeans that I wear if we are WWOOFing or workcamping which puts me outdoors and around animals.
- I have one pair of lightweight nylon outdoor pants that zip off into shorts. I found these at a 2nd hand store for $3.
- I have one high quality black leather belt to wear with my pants.
- Tshirts (8)
I have 8 black short sleeve Henley versions from LL Bean. They were initially a bit expensive but became less so when LL Bean exchanged them all for free after 3 years (the collars had worn, and LL Bean has a lifetime guarantee). I could get by with fewer shirts but sometimes we can’t get to the laundry any sooner.
- Short Sleeve “Dress” Shirts (3)
I like shirts that button up and have a collar but aren’t necessarily meant to be worn with a tie. All my short sleeve shirts are gray/black.
- Long Sleeve Button Up Shirts (4)
I wear these for dressier professional events or while teaching. They are black, gray, navy blue or other neutral tones.
- Outdoor/Sun Shirt (1)
This is a very lightweight, vented moisture-wicking style shirt perfect for kayaking or hiking (I hate putting sunscreen on).
- Insulated Shirt (1)
Lined with polarfleece, this is my ‘bathrobe’ that I wear inside the trailer in the morning when it’s chilly. I could also layer it for colder days outdoors.
- Black Pullover (1)
This has a zippered neck, and is useful for layering while still looking professional.
- For mild temperatures I have one of the classic The North Face outer layer jackets in black. The coat straddles the formal to casual look nicely. I can wear it to business meetings, on a hiking trail, and it serves well enough in a light rain.
- For colder temperatures I have a Lands End Squall jacket in dark blue. It covers a wide range of temperatures and is also dressy enough for business meetings or church.
- My main hat is a Tilley full-brim with a paracord hatband. It floats, it has a pocket, and it’s a Tilley.
- I have two fold-up cadet style hats. I keep one in the truck and one in the trailer. I have two because I misplaced the first one, ordered a replacement, then found the first one.
I also have running shorts, a running shirt, sweatpants, long underwear, bathing suit, etc.