Battle of the Sexes: Should Your Business Use Gender-Specific Uniforms?

[caption id="attachment_1083" align="alignnone" width="1000"]Male vs Female Dress Infographic Image source:[/caption] If you're looking through custom clothing options, then at some point you're going to have to ask yourself, "Do I want gender-specific uniforms?" It's a tough question, one that doesn't have a cut-and-dry answer. Still, these general guidelines can help you decide whether or not gender-specific uniforms are right for your business.  

It's Old-Fashioned

Back in the day, women were expected to dress like women and men were expected to dress like men. That expectation has dwindled here in the 21st century, but you can still find groups of people who like to conform to old-fashioned traditions. The fact that gender-specific uniforms are old-fashioned isn't inherently good or bad -- it all depends on the type of message you're going for.   [caption id="attachment_1084" align="aligncenter" width="610"]Men vs Women Clothing Image source:[/caption]   A great example is the new set of retro McDonald's uniforms that I mentioned in a previous post. Designer Wayne Hemingway created the uniforms as a nod back to the 60s. Naturally, gender-specific uniforms fit into the aesthetic quite nicely because it added to the old-fashioned charm. You might want to avoid gender-specific uniforms if you're business is very forward-thinking or pushes a modern image. Because so many people associate the modern era with increased gender equality, gender-specific uniforms in a progressive business might send a mixed message.   [caption id="attachment_1085" align="aligncenter" width="638"]Interview Clothes Image source:[/caption]  

Highlight Gender Differences

Sometimes, it's important to highlight the gender differences of your employees. If you own a gym, for example, you would almost certainly want to gender-specific uniforms for your personal trainers. Male trainers with customized sleeveless shirts will advertise muscle and athleticism to your male customers, while female trainers with form-fitting clothing will advertise fat-burning workout routines to your female customers. Because men and women generally come to the gym for different reasons, using gender-specific uniforms for your gym employees can send specific messages to each demographic. [caption id="attachment_925" align="aligncenter" width="609"]Gender Differences in Clothing Infographic Image source:[/caption]

Function Over Style

But what about a unisex uniform? What sort of advantages would come from giving your male and female employees the same outfit? Well, as I'm sure you've noticed, just about every unisex uniform replicates male fashion. It's common to see women in pants and a shirt, but you're not going to walk into a business (outside of Vegas, at least) where the men are wearing skirts and blouses.   The reason for this is because male outfits are usually more functional than female outfits. Traditionally, female outfits are designed to show off body parts -- the whole point of a skirt is to show off the wearer's legs. Male outfits, on the other hand, are traditionally more practical in that they don't get in the way of the wearer. If you give your female employees a unisex outfit, then that would enable your female employees to take advantage of convenient clothing.   [caption id="attachment_849" align="aligncenter" width="574"]Doctors Operating Image source:[/caption]   A delivery business is a great example. You definitely wouldn't want your female employees running around town in foot-damaging heeled shoes, and you wouldn't want them to have to bend over and unload packages from the back of a truck while wearing a skirt. In that case, functionality definitely trumps fashion. Medical care is another good example. Who wants dangling earrings and a low-cut blouse when you're hunched over a delicate surgery?   Gender differences in uniform all boil down to one question: is it important for the overall aesthetic of your business that you distinguish between your male and female employees, or is function more important than style?
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