Work Uniforms in Different Workplaces: Common Design Requirements and Differences

There are both common and separate design requirements for work uniforms in a variety of industries. In general terms, the common requirements run as follows – comfort, ease of maintenance, basic safety and cost effectiveness.

The actual ways in which these requirements are expressed, from industry to industry, can depend on any number of factors. The environment in which the product is going to be worn, the company colors of the client business and the perceived trendiness or tradition embodied by that particular company.

A holiday company with a specialty in providing travel for younger people (teenagers to 30 somethings, for example) might wish to dress its reps in clothes that make its core audience respond positively to them. This means employing people in the same age group and dressing them in a way that both instantly identifies them as working for the company in question; and which makes the target clientele feel relaxed in their company.

To continue with this example of work uniforms, travel reps may also need clothes that can be worn comfortably in potentially quite hot destinations: skirts and blouses or tops that allow good air circulation and will not look bad if the wearer is sweating. Shorts and tee shirts also perform the same function for male reps.

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Visibility is a key requirement of the rep, or of any employee in charge of a large group of people. So the company logo or colors may be incorporated into the designs of these kinds of work clothes, in a way that makes the wearer a beacon in a sea of potentially similarly dressed people.

The other end of the spectrum, from a customer facing point of view, is the sales assistant or manager in a shop that likes to convey an upmarket or understated image. As well as larger department stores and some technology shops, this sort of uniform – the work suit – may be extended to people working in estate agents; clothing chains; anywhere, in other words, where the clientele might expect a specific kind of understated or smart appearance.

These kinds of clothes are no less work uniforms than the bright tee shirts of the reps already discussed: they are just, in their own way, more suited to their environment.

Trade work clothes have different requirements again. The trades require that their workers adopt some potentially dangerous methods – using tools and getting into positions that carry a risk of cutting, scraping and grazing. With so much movement and the higher level of basic risk associated with the role, the work clothes designed for manual labourers and trades people must be correspondingly different: tough and easy moving.

All work clothes are essentially designed to single out the wearer as belonging to a specific organization, or of performing a specific role. In the cases where role is the most important defining article the work clothes may have specifically recognizable colors – red and yellow, for instance, for beach lifeguards – regardless of the logos or colors of the company that actually pays the wages.

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