As soon as we were old enough to start school, uniform becomes a part of our everyday lives. Being costumed into pleated skirts, grey trousers, polo tops and a variety of coloured jumpers by our parents is the bane of every child’s morning. Why did we have to look the same as everyone else? Why couldn’t we wear our pyjamas to school? Bethan Beddow discusses uniforms, from school to corporate jobs, and asks, why do we care so much?
The school uniform truly was a baffling concept for young me, and I’m sure for many others, too. Yet the uniform rigidly upholds our society; it creates equality and opportunity, it allows a person’s identity to be distinguished, and most importantly, it gifts us the chance to belong collectively.
Uniforms were an equaliser as they prevented people from flaunting their designer clothes
For school, wearing the same thing made us all feel like peas in a pod, and sardines in a tin. We shuffled between classes in a crowd of black and red, searching for our friends yet struggling to find them amongst shouting students. School attire was the beginning of our initiation into the professional world. Teachers would lecture that having your skirt a specific length meant you were more likely to get a job.
While it is true that uniforms were an equaliser as they prevented people from flaunting their designer clothes, teenagers will naturally rebel against such rules. Students want to feel a sense of uniqueness and individuality. Wearing the same clothing as everyone else is suffocating and prevented us from expressing ourselves freely. Our fashion taste is hindered due to mustard yellow ties and striped blazers. How can such articles of clothing make us stand out?
Sharing complaints of your uniform can even help with work friendships!
The corporate world is also known for enforcing uniforms. Professional clothes typically include suits, ties, blouses, and mid-length dresses. These are seen as smart, tidy, and appropriate for the workplace.
Uniforms in the workplace may allow customers to recognise you as a member of staff and therefore ask for help. For businesses, uniforms are integral when designing logos and ensuring that your business stands out. Take McDonald’s, for example, with its quintessential grey top and golden yellow ‘M’ logo.
It feels like an achievement when you see visual proof of your corporation and furthers a sense of community between you and your fellow co-workers. Sharing complaints of your uniform can even help with work friendships! Finally, by wearing a uniform, staff represent themselves well in the professional sphere.
But does ink really determine how well you do your job?
Yet despite uniform aiding a sense of kinship and belonging, it can limit so much within us. People with tattoos and colourful hair still face judgement– but does ink really determine how well you do your job?
There is more to work than what you look like; people who work from home scarcely need to worry about dressing up. So how can a tie and polished shoes help you with submitting a well-written article or helping customers with their shopping? Nonetheless, a uniform can provide individuals with confidence, a feeling of self-worth and belonging. The question is, do we place too much value on uniforms?
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