/11 August 2020
More often than not, workwear is updated and changed in line with an event or circumstance that has occurred and highlighted flaws within the current uniform, the last five months has certainly been a big indicator of this.
Below we take a journey through time, where traditional work uniforms have evolved as a direct result of a historic event.
During both WW1 and WW2, women took up posts originally occupied by men who had since gone to fight in the wars. As soon as men returned from the war, they either took up their previous position or walked into the available jobs, over women.
Many women were of course left unimpressed at the thought of returning to more ‘womanly roles’. The Striking Women resource highlights that “The Sex Disqualification Act of 1919 made it somewhat easier for women to go to university and take up professional jobs, accounting for about a quarter of all such posts [civil service] by 1935”.
Therefore, employers were required to ensure uniforms were provided for women in addition to their male counterparts or, at the very least, a one size fits all solution was provided for unisex wearing. Typically, at this time women were seen wearing dresses, be that for a nursing role, textile warehouse worker, or clerical work.
By the time the 1980s rolled around, Generation X were taking up positions throughout the working world. Not only were workplaces being revolutionised with the increased favour for PCs, but also bringing more liberal views towards workwear for women.
Presenting ladies’ suits and cigarette trousers, women literally began to wear the trousers in the workplace. As equal rights finally began to reach the forefront of business, woman decided what they wanted to wear in order to comfortably carry out their roles, be professional and make their own choices.
Around the same time as it became more socially accepted for women to wear suits and trousers in the office, the 1980s also saw the closure of what is known as the ‘Golden Age of Nursing’.
Before this, nurses were typically seen to be wearing a dress, pinafore apron and cap, inspired by the nuns’ attire.
However, as practicality, a better understanding of hygiene regulations and the ability to do one’s job to the highest standard took priority over stylised uniforms, scrubs became the preferred choice across hospitals and remain the chosen healthcare uniform to this day.
There is no clear date, year or event that resulted in protective workwear being a compulsory part of tradesmen uniform, but the earliest recall of a skilled worker, aside from soldiers, wearing some form of safety clothing dates back to blacksmiths wearing aprons and gloves to protect themselves against the intense heat.
Since then, and as technology has advanced, protective workwear (and PPE accessories) has grown from strength to strength, ensuring workers are safe on site and in industrial plants. From the introduction of simple equipment that we don’t think twice about now such as helmets, safety goggles, gloves and steel cap toe boots, to more specialist clothing such as fire-retardant workwear and metal splash garments.
Protective workwear continues to evolve as new technology is developed and further measures are incorporated into working environments for safer spaces.
Most recently, the latest global state of affairs has resulted in a significant change in workplace culture, layout and attire, with PPE on the forefront of everyone's minds.
Zoom video calls, one-way systems, and reduced communal areas are all examples of what the ‘new normal’ looks like for many work environments.
Uniform wise, although not compulsory for most industries, facemasks are quickly becoming a default addition to most people’s daily outfits and uniforms at work. This accessory enables employees to feel more at ease when venturing in and out of work every day, to take responsibility for their involvement in breaking the chain and is imperative for any employees who are unable to work 2m away from colleagues and customers.
How are we adapting our workwear range in line with the latest moment in history?
Here at Alsico, we pride ourselves on forward thinking and leading by example when it comes to workwear. We have designed and manufactured protective workwear, including a selection of facemasks and coverings to suit various industries and job roles.
Should you require a fuss-free protective accessory that allows you to get on with the job at hand, workwear that can endure high temperatures without compromising efficiency or new uniforms that act as precautionary barrier when client facing, then we can help.
Throughout the years, there have been numerous memorable moments that have led to an evolution of workwear and the environments in which we work. The latest will go down in history alongside the rest and we’re proud of the part we’ve played in ensuring workplaces are able to protect the health and safety of their employees.