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The Power of Simplicity: Joaquin Phoenix in ‘Her’
By Charlie Thomas
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There are benefits to developing a ‘uniform’ way of dressing. That is, finding a style and colour palette you like and sticking to it. A typical uniform might include a navy chore coat or shirt jacket, pleated chinos or jeans and desert boots. These form the basis of the look, and while you can easily layer these pieces with simple basics like T-shirts or Oxford shirts, and rollnecks or cardigans when it gets cooler, the basic look stays the same.

Finding your own uniform makes dressing easy – you don’t need to think about it and it takes one less stress out of the day. Steve Jobs famously wore the same black mock-neck jumper, faded Levi’s jeans and New Balance trainers day in, day out, and President Obama only wore grey or blue suits when in office – famously, he tried wearing a tan suit once and was lambasted in the press. “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”, he told Vanity Fair in 2012.

There are many examples of ‘uniforms’ in film, and while Spike Jonze’s film Her may not be the most obvious example, it may be one of the best. Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore, a freshly divorced writer who falls in love with an operating system in a not-too-distant future. But for a film set in the future, Theodore’s style is decidedly classic, showcasing the power of a good shirt and a strong colour palette. Moreover, his style is incredibly consistent throughout, which is perhaps something we could all learn from.

The way he dresses is simple, and effectively revolves around two elements: a shirt, either button-down or grandad collar, and a pair of high-waisted wool trousers, which he wears for the majority of the film. In fact, he wears only a few shirts throughout the whole movie: a pale blue mid-century staple OCBD and three grandad collars in hotrod red, white and a red check. His shirts are always tucked in, showing off the high waistband on his trousers, which lends him a flattering silhouette, elongating his body. This is the key: the shirt tuck adds an instant sense of formality, making him look professional yet relaxed and, when combined with his horn-rimmed glasses, gives a preppy feel to his look.

Theodore’s style is far from revolutionary, but his ordered, simple, ‘uniform’ approach is something many of us could benefit from in our lives. If you want to simplify the art of getting dressed, take a leaf out of his book and pare things back. Find what works for you and stick to it, and you won’t look back.

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