Now, let’s be clear; I am not talking about proper uniform. Decent, professional uniform, the sort policemen and army personnel must wear is both appropriate and desirable. Indeed if it were likely that nurses were to be allowed to wear their own clothes on the wards I would be the first person to start a petition in protest at such a deviation from tradition.
It is company work-wear I abhor. The style over substance work management ethic that if everyone looks the same the team will perform to a higher overall standard. This lookey-likey concept may be good business for work-wear manufacturers who have cleverly developed the marketing opportunities down the years but it is my experience that the standard of performance on the work-floor remains exactly the same as before the ‘company look’ became mandatory.
It’s not as if I do not appreciate the need for a company employee to look markedly different from a customer or client and it would be plain ridiculous for Manchester City, say, to turn out on a Saturday in a kit of the individual player’s own choices. After all one dark skinned, tattooed, corn-rowed, muscled millionaire looks very much like any other muscled, corn-rowed etc etc. I may have used a poor example using the football team currently walking away with the league title but it’s not the team strip that makes them play to a higher overall standard. They are simply better fancy Dans than their opponents. F.Y.I. When I say fancy Dan I refer to a flashy ostentatious person who doesn’t have any particle skill and not the Fancy Dan who was one of the founders of Marvel Comics ‘The Enforcers’ and was proficient at judo and karate.
Restaurant and café workers need only wear an apron and a hat to inform customers of their role in life. Factory workers only need protective clothing to alert their bosses to their positions within the company. The fact that a man is actually on the factory floor sweating his butt off, though, should be evidence of him being on the payroll.
When the wearing of company work-wear snowballed from novelty to revolution I could not help but be reminded of Mao Tse-Tung’s Cultural Revolution and the uniform of the Peoples’ Revolutionary Party. Everyone the same; individualism repressed, individuality erased. Style worshiped, substance given second billing.
And I haven’t yet deviated on to my loathing for reflective jackets. There was a time when reflective clothing was the mark of someone with authority like the police or firemen but now every Tom, Dick and Harriet walk around with the cool swank of walkway dayglow houte couture. A crocodile of schoolkids went passed my window the other day. It looked like their teachers were taking them to the scene of a traffic accident.
The reflective jacket thing maybe paranoia. Or it may be the most radical aspect of my belief that I can take care of my own safety and damn the consequences if I should be mown down by a one-eyed idiot who believes he has the right to use his mobile phone whenever he damn well pleases. But the reflective jacket thing is separate to my phobia of work-wear.
You see the work-wear thing is based on good observation as well as personal dislike. Firstly it makes no difference if you work indoors or out as in the majority of instances the work-wear provided is identical. Short sleeve top and perhaps a fleece of debatable use in a chilly wind. And no matter if you work 5 or 6 days a week you are given only, at best, 3 tops and 1 fleece. No matter if you are a free sweater or someone who believes personal hygiene to be the highest of virtues, all you ever receive is 3 tops to last the week. Which is why my argument that work-wear is the ethic of style over substance is unarguable.
The world, I can assure you, began its walk to Hell in a handcart the day company work-wear became de rigueur – the fashion of the masses. And as the majority of work-wear is manufactured in the sweat shops of China perhaps it would be appropriate to end with – Long Live the Revolution! Though to be consistent I should paraphrase it to - Down With The Work-Wear Revolution!