Ugly Uniforms Deflate Employee Confidence

Ugly UniformsLast week, I attended a conference at a hotel in Florida where all the employees were dressed in terribly outdated, unattractive uniforms – faded royal purple and turquoise jackets with pleated beige blouses and royal purple pants with pleats and elastic waistbands.

I think uniforms in general are fine, especially in customer service jobs. They simplify getting dressed in the morning and help customers easily identify employees. Uniforms don’t need to look like something the employees could walk down the runway wearing. But, there has to be a happy medium between hideous and high fashion.

If a company’s uniforms are so unstylish and awkward that they make even customers cringe, are they really serving their purpose? They certainly aren’t impressing customers or encouraging employees to perform their jobs with more enthusiasm. Ugly uniforms bring down employee morale and leave customers with a less-than-positive feeling toward the company.

In my working life, I’ve had to wear lots of uniforms. Some of them were more attractive than others. In my tackiest uniforms, I remember feeling distracted and eager to hide my clothing and face from customers. Unattractive uniforms also made me anxious to leave work so I could change into something more comfortable.

In my current job, I wear something of a uniform – business suit, dress shoes, hose. But, since I’m able to tailor this “uniform” to my own style, I don’t have to feel awkward or like a fashion ad from 1987.

What do you think about uniforms? When do they help a business, and when can they hurt it? What are some of the best/worst uniforms you’ve worn?


  1. Sarah

    I completely agree with you. I think uniforms are fine, so long as they are attractive. Having to wear ugly and/or frumpy uniforms makes the worker look bad and feel uncomfortable. My first job, us ladies wore a simple black cap sleeved shirt with a small white restaurant logo on the corner and black pants. Black is slimming, the shirts were meant to fit well (not baggy or tucked in), and the men wore plain black shirts with the logo across the chest.
    I never felt insecure wearing this uniform. I thought we all looked very cute.
    Next job was Ralphs where we had to wear extremely baggy gray houndstooth shirts where the sleeves sagged to my elbows. Alon the elbow and the collar, it was black with red and tan stripeson it. You hadto tuck it in, and since the shirt was made so long, you either had a huge poof going around your stomach making everybody look as though they’re 60 pounds overweight, or you had to tuck it all in and have this stupid crease line where the shirt is bunched up in your pants.
    Right now I work at the Riverside Hotel in Laughlin, and some of the uniforms are alright. My bf is a host and he wears a long sleeved white dress shirt with black slacks, a green vest, and a green bowtie. he looks amazing. The restaurant where I’m going to work, the hostesses wear white dress shirts that end at the elbow and are poofy on the shoulders with black slacks and a black and gold vest. They look cute. The SERVERS however have to wear disgusting baggy black hawaiian shirts with gold leaves on them. They are hideous.
    Here’s how I think of it: If I owned a restaurant, I’d want to make money. Having your workers (especially people like servers) wear ugly frumpy baggy clothes only makes them look sloppy and unattractive. Giving them nice, well fitting uniforms that AREN’T printed in a disgusting pattern can only help business. I have no idea what some people are thinking when they buy uniforms.

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