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Uniform of Porfirio Díaz

A uniform is a type of clothing worn by members of an organization while participating in that organization's activity. Modern uniforms are most often worn by armed forces and paramilitary organizations such as police, emergency services, security guards, in some workplaces and schools and by inmates in prisons. In some countries, some other officials also wear uniforms in their duties; such is the case of the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service or the French prefects. For some public groups, such as police, it is illegal for non members to wear the uniform. Other uniforms are trade dresses (such as the brown uniforms of UPS).

Service and work uniforms

Uniformed newspaper vendors in Mexico City, Mexico
White lab coat and colored scrubs of a healthcare worker
Uniform of KFC worker

Workers sometimes wear uniforms or corporate clothing of one nature or another. Workers required to wear a uniform include retail workers, bank and post office workers, public security and health care workers, blue collar employees, personal trainers in health clubs, instructors in summer camps, lifeguards, janitors, public transit employees, towing and truck drivers, airline employees and holiday operators, and bar, restaurant and hotel employees. The use of uniforms by these organizations is often an effort in branding and developing a standard corporate image but also has important effects on the employees required to wear the uniform.

The term uniform may be misleading because employees are not always fully uniform in appearance and may not always wear attire provided by the organization, while still representing the organization in their attire. Academic work on organizational dress by Rafaeli & Pratt (1993) referred to uniformity (homogeneity) of dress as one dimension, and conspicuousness as a second.[1] Employees all wearing black, for example, may appear conspicuous and thus represent the organization even though their attire is uniform only in the color of their appearance, not in its features. Pratt & Rafaeli, (1997) described struggles between employees and management about organizational dress as struggles about deeper meanings and identities that dress represents.[2] And Pratt & Rafaeli (2001) described dress as one of the larger set of symbols and artifacts in organizations which coalesce into a communication grammar.[3]


Vietnamese school children in the library of an International school
Chilean schoolchildren during class photograph

Uniforms are required in many schools. School uniforms vary from a standard issue T-shirt to rigorous requirements for many items of formal wear at private schools. School uniforms are in place in many public schools as well.

Countries with mandatory school uniforms include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, India, Australia, U.A.E, Singapore, some schools in China, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, among as many other places. In some countries, uniform types vary from school to school, but in the United Kingdom, many pupils between 11 and 16 of age wear a formal jacket, tie and trousers for boys and blouse, tie and trousers, skirt, or culottes for girls. The ties will usually be in a set pattern for the school, and jackets will usually carry a patch on the breast pocket with the school's name, coat of arms, and motto or emblem. Jackets are being replaced in many schools by sweatshirts bearing the school badge. Children in many United Kingdom state primary schools will have a uniform jumper and/or polo shirt with the school name and logo.

Civilian officials

Image from the 1943 Soviet regulations concerning the diplomatic uniform

From about 1800 to after the Second World War, diplomats from most countries (and often senior civilian officials generally) wore official uniforms at public occasions. Such uniforms are now retained by only a few diplomatic services, and are seldom worn.


Prisoners in Utah c.1885 wearing horizontally striped prison uniforms.

A prison uniform is any uniform worn by individuals incarcerated in a prison, jail or similar facility of detention.

Rail road workers and wood cutters

In December 1870, Jacob Davis American immigrant who work as a tailor was asked by a customer to make a pair of strong working pants for her husband who was a woodcutter. To create suitably robust pants for working, he used duck cloth and reinforced the weak points in the seams and pockets with the copper rivets. Such was the success of these pants that word spread throughout the labourers along the railroad. Davis was making these working pants in duck cotton and, as early as 1871, in denim cotton. Before long, he found he could not keep up with demand and this event conducted to the a creation of the JEANS ó BLUE JEANS as we know it today. Realising the potential value in his reinforced jeans concept, in 1872, he approached Levi Strauss, who was still his supplier of fabric, and asked for his financial backing in the filing of a patent application.Strauss agreed, and on May 20. 1873, US Patent No. 139,121 for “Improvements in fastening pocket openings” was issued in the name of Jacob W. Davis and Levi Strauss and Company. That same year, Davis started sewing a double orange threaded stitched design onto the back pocket of the jeans to distinguish them from those made by his competitors.This trademark feature became Registered U.S. Trade Mark No.1,339,254.


Most, if not all, sports teams also wear uniforms, made in the team's distinctive colors, often in different variations for "home" and "away" games. In the major North American sports leagues, the choice as to which color uniform a team wears depends largely on the sport/competition. Customarily, National Football League (NFL) and National Hockey League (NHL) teams wear their color uniforms for home games. By contrast, Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Basketball Association (NBA) teams wear their white uniforms for home games. However, these are not strictly enforced rules for any of the four major leagues in North America. Some NFL teams, most notably the Dallas Cowboys, prefer to wear their white jerseys for home games. When Joe Gibbs was the head coach of the Washington Redskins, first from 1981-1992, and again from 2004-2007, the Redskins exclusively wore white jerseys at home games.[4] In the United Kingdom, especially in football the terms "kit" or "strip" (as in 'football kit') are more common.

Security and armed forces

US Navy working uniform
A Russian honor guard wearing their full dress uniforms during an official ceremony

Military uniform is the standardised dress worn by members of the armed forces and paramilitaries of various nations. Military dress and military styles have gone through great changes over the centuries from colourful and elaborate to extremely utilitarian. Military uniforms in the form of standardised and distinctive dress, intended for identification and display, are typically a sign of organised military forces equipped by a central authority. The utilitarian necessities of war and economic frugality are now the dominant factors in uniform design. Most military forces, however, have developed several different uniform types.

Military personnel in most armies and some civilian officials may wear some or all of the following:

  • battledress: khakis or other drab colored working dress. Increasingly superseded by camouflage clothing for field wear, outdoor work and even office wear;
  • service dress: formerly active-service and ordinary duty wear. Now worn for semi-formal occasions often with abbreviated forms of embellishment (such as using duller buttons or replacing medals with ribbon bars). Equivalent of the civilian lounge suit.
  • dress uniform: worn at ceremonies, official receptions, and other special occasions; medals are typically worn.
  • full dress uniform: special parade or ceremonial dress, often of colorful materials and traditional cut. Modern usage generally restricted to limited categories of personnel such as ceremonial guards, military bands or military academy cadets.
  • mess dress, formal evening dress worn in the mess or at other formal occasions after about 6pm. Equivalent of civilian black tie. Usually worn with miniaturized medals.

The practice of wearing a form of dress uniform off duty ("walking out dress") has now largely died out as the modern soldier prefers the casual clothing of his civilian peers.


Indonesian National Police officers in uniform during a patrol

The Police in every country has a uniform for identification as a law enforcement personnel or agent. They are distinguished from the public by the uniform the police wear during police activity. Usually in each country has its own different police uniform.

Such as the Police uniforms of the United States is an example of the police uniform.

Domestic workers

Domestic workers are often required by their managers to wear a uniform.


The beauticians use uniforms to protect their skin from oil and acid. These chemical resistant and water proof uniforms are completely safe to be used during work.


The R. Tait McKenzie sculpture Ideal Scout depicts a Scout in proper uniform

The Scout uniform is a specific characteristic of the Scouting movement, in the words of Baden-Powell at the 1937 World Jamboree, "it covers the differences of country and race and make all feel that they are members one with another of one World Brotherhood". The original uniform, which has created a familiar image in the public eye, consisted of a khaki button-up shirt, shorts and a broad-brimmed campaign hat. Baden-Powell himself wore shorts since being dressed like the youth contributed to reducing perceived "distance" between the adult and the young person. Nowadays, uniforms are frequently blue, orange, red, or green, and shorts are replaced by long pants in areas where the culture calls for modesty, and in winter weather. The campaign hats have also been dropped in some Scouting organisations.


A button from an Italian army uniform, 1979

Some uniforms have specially-manufactured buttons, which, in the case of antiques, often outlast the fabric components of the uniform, and become highly collectable items.[5]


In some countries or regions such as the UK, Australia or Hong Kong, the cost of cleaning one's uniform or work clothing can be partially deducted or rebated from the personal income tax, if the organization for which the person works does not have a laundry department or an outsourced commercial laundry.[6][7]

See also

Sailor (Harry Walker, photographer, circa 1910)


  1. Rafaeli, A. & Pratt, M. J. 1993. Tailored meaning: On the meaning and impact of organizational dress. Academy of Management Review, 18(1): pp. 32-55.
  2. Pratt, M. & Rafaeli, A. 1997. Organizational dress as a symbol of multilayered social identities. Academy of Management Journal, 40(4): pp. 862-898.
  3. Pratt, M. & Rafaeli, A. 2001. Symbols as a language of organizational relationships. Research in Organizational Behavior, 23: 93-113.
  4. "White at Home in the NFL". www.uni-watch.com. Retrieved July 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Peach State Button Club (2010). "Uniform (Division II)". Button Country. Georgia, USA: buttoncountry.com. Retrieved 11 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. HM Revenue & Customs. "SE67240 - Tax treatment of nurses: expenses deductions - laundering uniforms - amount to be deducted". Retrieved 1 November 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Australian Taxation Office. "Claiming a deduction for laundry/dry cleaning of work clothing". Archived from the original on 27 February 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>