in Active Office News August 13, 2018
Way back when…
Historical research explains that work uniforms emerged as far back as the middle ages. Workers would wear symbols to indicate who they worked for; and their job role. For instance, royal messengers would wear badges with emblems representing the dignitaries which they served – a bit like the company logos of today. Likewise, merchants, the retailers of years gone by, would wear badges to indicate they were members of a wider trading society by means of guaranteeing a higher quality of goods to their customers.
FASTFORWARD… just a couple of hundred years.
In came the industrial revolution in the second half of the 19th century, turning the job market completely on its head. Predominantly agriculture-based jobs were replaced with their industrial counterparts. All of a sudden, denim jeans became practical, and society was desperate for factory appropriate workwear. With even more people being employed in factories through 2 world wars, there was an endless stream of demand for not only male workwear; but now also woman’s. Workwear during this time, was designed to serve only two purposes: to be practical and durable. More standardised, uniform-like workwear on the other hand, became the norm with the rise of industries such as retail and tourism. This includes what we come to assume of the stereotypical work uniform: brand colours, logo and name tag.
Those who grew up during the 1960’s experienced vast levels of social change, and as such, they were known to reject the traditional ‘old-fashioned’ values of their parents. Therefore, in the 80s and 90s, it gradually became more common for workwear to be part of an individual’s self-expression. It was around this time that people began to dress themselves in designer labels, in a means of projecting their importance and social status.
What about today?
The truth is, what people wear in the office today - the 21st century - is not just influenced by their job role or individual taste; but also, by their age and cultural experiences. Most senior managers and executives are likely to sport business/professional attire, as a way of expressing differentiation and superiority. Whereas younger generations are known to see their career as only partly of what defines them, expressing their personality through their workwear accordingly.