When Kim K let slip on a podcast recently that her staff have a colour palette dress code, I was instantly taken back to my days working at Gap in the 90’s. Without realising it my uniform colour restrictions there had allowed me to learn how to create a capsule wardrobe that would last for many years after I had left my job .
I was really surprised at the reaction that followed Kim's admission. After all the idea is hardly a new one is it? Was this not simply a case of giving staff a freer approach rather than issuing a particular set of clothes?
Kim was quoted saying "it would make their lives easy". I can relate to that, my life was super easy when I dressed around a uniform palette. It was the best uniform I have ever had because I could choose the clothes I wore every day and outfit planing required virtually no effort at all.
Bonus point - no one outside of the shop knew the garments were my uniform. This saved me a fortune on buying clothes to wear for 'going out'.
Kim’s employees wear “greys, heather grey, black, navy, white, cream, khaki ... and it seems to be that the objective behind Kim’s colour dress code is to create a harmonious link with her surrounds.
I'm sure Gap didn't have the same intentions for us, if we'd camouflaged with the stock our customers would never of found us!
All employees were encouraged to be individual and express their own style. One employee used to come to work on his skateboard with khakis hanging so low most of his boxers were on display. The customers loved him. Everyone who worked at the shop had their own identity, it was great to be part such a diverse and interesting collective.
Alongside the skateboarder we had a rock chic, hippy chic, school gate Mum, fashion student, pharmacist, rocker, mod, architecture student and more.
GAP 1993 UNIFORM GUIDELINES
Black, White, Navy, Khaki, Denim and Stripes
Any classic garment in the above colours could be worn.
Classic Gap Collection
Classics were wide ranging and even included hoodies and sweatpants. Can you imagine how nice it was to go to work in such comfy clothes ?
We choose our clothes working within the guidelines above and were given generous discounts for our uniform purchases .
I became a loyal fan of the brand after realising that the clothes were extremely hardwearing, well cut and made from natural fabrics of the highest quality.
Sadly Gap lost its way in the 2000's and eventually all the UK stores were closed down. Uniqlo then stole Gap's crown by modelling itself on their successful formula of providing well priced high quality core basics with a splattering of timely collections to add interest. Also reducing unsold pieces at rock bottom prices if you are patient.
The only element missing is an extensive denim collection with as wide range of styles and sizes as Gap used to stock.
Lessons I learnt from my Gap Days
Buy clothes in limited colours so all mix easily together into outfits.
Be selective with buying prints as they can quickly ‘date’.
Natural fibres wash best and are the most comfortable to wear.
Stick to classic styles for longevity (seek out the garments that are constants).
Buy 'standout pieces' at reduced prices.
Look out for accessories in sales. Silk scarves, bandannas, leather belts etc
Wash your jeans inside out, it keeps them looking good for longer .
Natural fibres can be dyed and refreshed if colour fades.
Children's basics are often similar to adult basics and are cheaper due to no VAT.
My most worn items from Gap
Fitted Shirts - Brown , White and Denim
LBD - Little Black Dress
Black scalloped lambswool Jumper
Cardicoat - long cardigan worn as coat.
On reflection I now realise the Gap Uniform concept was a sustainable one and actually ahead of its time. I left the job and moved on with a wardrobe full of hard working basics which I wore for years rather than a boring a uniform destined for landfill.
I continued to buy from Gap after I left, both in stores and on line, and clothed both my kids with endless bargains from Gap "rounder rails" .
Whilst researching this blogpost I was really pleased to find out that Gap Uk in the last couple of years have opened stores in the UK .
To find your closest Gap bricks and mortar stores in the U.K.
Incredibly I also discovered Mike Bise - a former employee who has uploaded playlists from original store issues ranging from 1992-2017 on Spotify. We both share a similar passion for Gap.
Mike / Gap Playlists can also be found on Instagram
Further Links & Reading
To find out more about the history and story of Gap follow
Vogue Guide to Wardrobe Essentials April 2023
Capsule Wardrobe Guide
You can buy Gap on line https://www.gap.co.uk/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwgLOiBhC7ARIsAIeetVCDkXv45lXjRt6qha8iHBNO5n-ZDCA8Qz9RImlBSfOfO8V
Preloved Gap is plentiful on line at usual outlets .
A good selection of denim jackets are here https://m.marketplace.asos.com/men/brand/gap?mp-mobile=1&pgno=2#pgno=2
ALL PHOTOS MY OWN
"EXCEPT FAMOUS FACES GALLERY" AND "JUST WHAT YOU WANT " WHICH ARE OWNED BY GAP.
KIM KARDASHIAN STAFF - GETTY IMAGES