Julia Olsen Spataro

Uniform Essay

by Julia Olsen Spataro

My Gramma was my inspiration for the uniform project. She had an amazing wardrobe of seventies polyester suits in bright colors that reflected the radiance of her being. Gramma instilled in me a love of seventies fashion, and she also introduced me to thrift shopping. Although she lived through the late 1990s, her sense of style never moved past the seventies. She also loved oversized costume jewelry and she had a necklace made from pale blue styrofoam McDonald’s hamburger containers that I was fascinated by as a child. Gramma’s capacity for love and kindness was deep, but she had a fierce sense of fairness and right and wrong that sometimes made her intensely critical. I wanted my uniform to create an exterior shell of strength, as if I could take some of Gramma’s warmth and strength and wrap it around me.

I asked Jamie for a mod seventies secretary-style dress. Although I love bright colors, lately I prefer muted colors for their calming quality and ability to blend in. I envisioned it being kind of edgy while still being something that I could wear in my everyday life without it feeling like a costume.

Things I like: structure, comfort, simplicity, architecture, openness, femininity.

Things I don’t like: pastels, ruffles, lots of bunchy fabric, pink.

Feelings I wanted to convey: calmness, warmth, strength.

Feelings I didn’t want to convey: sweetness, severity.

Bio Julia Olsen Spataro is a native Chicagoan. She grew up surrounded by an eclectic mix of influences and people in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Julia studied art at Washington University in Saint Louis, and her love of literature led her to get a Master of Library Science from Dominican University. She currently lives in the Irving Park neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and three cats. When not working she enjoys thrift store shopping, drawing, and pottery.



Photo by Alix Lambert, Artwork by Damon Locks

Pattern & Sewing by Chichi Tailors


Sketch by Jamie Hayes

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