Uniforms at Work

Uniforms are too common. Military members, factory workers, police officers, firefighters, security guards, construction laborers, fast-food servers, nurses, janitors, and delivery drivers are among folks who are widely required to wear clothing selected by their employers. It may often be too little or too much, because it is chosen not by the person who needs something but by someone else for them.

Their duties are also assigned and may include standing still for hours out-of-doors in a cold wind or running like mad to catch someone, sweating up a storm under winter clothing.

The weight of clothing is often an important factor, but sometimes the weight alone can be critical in a life-or-death sense. Too heavy a load may slow someone down, and interfere with what one needs to achieve. If someone has to carry things, like a gardener carrying sacks of soil or a soldier who is days from camp having to carry weapons, ammunition, food, and tools, clothing may have to be limited. They’re all going to have to be warm enough with whatever they’re wearing, which means maybe they won’t be warm enough.

Some clothing may have to be functional beynd the usual level. Firefighters’ outfits need to be fire-resistant even in the winter. Security, police, and military need the benefit of being rapidly recognized by people fighting on the same side or neutral in a dispute, even from behind where faces can’t be seen.

This spread of uniforms doesn’t even include people who are subject to appearance standards by their employers, even though some argue that they, too, wear what in effect are uniforms. They usually benefit from some personal choice and flexibility in exactly what they wear. But if the appearance standards are too restrictive, they may still freeze.

Too often the best to hope for is adapting, like wearing insulation underneath that won’t be noticed; getting employers to change their demands; or getting another job. Someone whose job is under Federal regulation by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is allowed to wear warm clothing, although the individual person may have to buy it for themself. Someone whose job is not under OSHA’s regulations may find it’s under their state’s law or the law of another nation where they are.

Red crabapples on branches and covered with ice.

A uniforms policy may limit your choice too much. Sometimes, you can make changes without being noticed.

Websites of Interest

These websites have some interesting content, although I disagree with some of it:


Hiking organizations:

General retailers of outdoor products:

General information: