top of page

The Evolution of Workwear

For many people, wearing a uniform is a privilege. It demonstrates that you are a member of a specific team aligned with a brand. Corporate clothing can also be valuable for employers regarding productivity, efficiency, and, most importantly, employee engagement.

There is no single definition or description of what workwear entails. The type of uniforms employees wear can be heavily influenced by a country's office and a company's corporate culture.

However, culture is not the only driver of change in workwear history; age and societal experience also play a role. According to some business mentors and personalities, such as French author Mireille Guiliano, clothing is part of your packaging that conveys a message to your colleagues, boss, associates, and customers.

According to historical evidence, the first proof of work uniforms can be traced back to the Middle Ages.

Workers at the time would wear badges on their clothing to indicate their specific job role or to align themselves with a particular employer, often the army or Lords. This action allowed them to quickly demonstrate their legitimacy when performing their services and made it easier for others to recognize them.

Merchants who belonged to specific guilds wore badges to show that their work and goods were of sufficient quality to be accepted, demonstrating to the public that they were trustworthy. Today, many organizations' uniforms have a similar legitimacy.

Liveries quickly replaced badges representing workers in service to a specific person. These are garments decorated with colors, house seals, and crests related to the family being served. These were particularly common in the 18th and 19th centuries, with many households requiring their servants to wear specific liveries. Being employed by a notable house was often regarded as an honor, and uniforms were worn with pride. Employees today, in a sense, continue this tradition of wearing colors and crests to represent who they work for by wearing branded uniforms in the colors associated with their employer.

The rise of modern work uniforms can be attributed to the expansion of chain companies that began to operate in various areas. Customers would be reassured that they would receive the same service regardless of where they were if employees wore a single uniform nonetheless of where they worked.

This familiarity also aids customers in quickly recognizing a brand, even if they are in a different location. Of course, uniform wear evolves as more consideration is given to diversity in the workplace. Many uniforms incorporate technological features or are adapted to suit the technology the wearer will be using. Style and personal safety are also important considerations, and new fabrics are being introduced with distinct advantages for the wearer.

bottom of page