Book Links Uniforms and Respect

Like it or not, society has given credence to the importance of defining who you are by how you look and what you do for a living. As a result, many people’s identities and sense of self-worth are often defined by their jobs.

Given that link between image and work, the apparel people wear on-the-job has taken on widespread significance with workers everywhere, according to Paul Fussell, a cultural historian and emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania who authored “Uniforms: Why We Are What We Wear.”

In his book, Fussell says work uniforms are popular because they provide evidence that their wearers have jobs that are likely permanent in nature and, therefore, are deserving of respect. Fussell’s research also revealed that welcomed sense of self-esteem was not limited to any particular occupations, but was universal in nature.

“Although the link between clothing and respect can be more readily observed when the uniform in question is worn by a police officer or firefighter, it is nonetheless present to some degree in all uniforms that workers wear,” said Robert Isaacson, director of marketing for UniFirst Corporation, a leading supplier of uniforms and work apparel throughout the U.S. and Canada. “The professor’s findings also help to underscore why many enterprises personalize their employees’ work apparel with logoed emblems and name identities—doing so helps their workers to stand further apart from the crowd and provide them with an even stronger business image.”

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