Uniformly Fashionable

Uniformly Fashionable

The world’s top fashion designers are getting into the uniform business. No longer are the policemen, stewardesses and the like beholden to the plain Jane, prim and proper uniforms of the past that have plagued these professions.

Heck, even Armani and Valentino are getting in on the game with a makeover for Italy’s police force several years ago, while the airline industry and design world have been working together on stewardess’ uniforms for quite some time. Did you know that Givenchy designs the uniforms for British Airways, Richard Tyler for Delta Airlines and the flight crews of Air France sport designs by Chrisian Lacroix?

With the uniform fashion running headfirst into the design world, stylish results are bound to happen. Check out the latest trends in uniform style that are heading our way:


The U.S. military is giving itself a much needed fashion makeover. Their uniforms haven’t changed in over twenty years. Talk about behind the times! The Marines are introducing a new pattern of camouflage to their uniforms. Out with the large splotches of black, brown and green – the woodland cammie – and in with a new, smaller pattern that can help a Marine virtually disappear by walking into brush or woods. Safety, first – definitely a fashionable way to think in this category.

The pattern isn’t the only update though, permanent press material, zip off sleeves, reinforced knees and suede boots will complete the stylish ensemble. Not only is this fashion change updating the look, but it’s making it more easy care to reflect today’s lifestyle changes. Now if they just made some more female-friendly uniforms, they could really catch up with the times!

Flight Crews

No longer the stewardess dress of the 1960’s, flight crews are going fashion friendly with many airlines nixing the boring navy blue and going into hot red dresses and more. In fact, fashionista flight attendants freaked when Richard Tyler designed the trendy new red dresses for Delta Airlines only up to size 18!

One trend we’re sure the crews are quite happy with, pantsuits and the comfort of working nonstop flights with no pantyhose involvement. For a fun look through stewardess fashion throughout the 20th Century, check out Uniform Freak.

What is it about those fitted, three-quarter sleeve jackets, matching knee-length pencil skirt, white blouse, pillbox hat and practical pumps that men find so attractive?

Southwest Airlines certainly pooh-poohs the high style of airline fashion, going with the casual khakis and button down shirt, and their airline is thriving. Does that say something for classic casual?

Police Officers

As we mentioned, Armani and Valentino have both been involved in the makeover of the uniforms of the Italian police force. Police uniforms are a big deal in Italy, since they have no less than FOUR different police forces,

  • Polizia di Stato: federal police, mostly uniformed and always armed.
  • Carabinieri: military police, in uniform and with guns, this force is directly involved with civil policing duties and the most visible in Italy
  • Guardia di Finanza: customs police, uniformed and armed, normally involved with catching the white collar criminals. Imagine people from the IRS with guns. That’s a scary thought!
  • Polizia Penitenziaria: police prison guards, the red-headed stepchildren of the force.

Each police force has a different uniform and all are quite snazzy, as you would expect in Italy. (Check out these photos for a nice little montage of the Polizia.)

Recently Italy took their fashion icon status one step further, literally, by outfitting its female offices with official Italian police stilettos designed to make the uniform look younger and sexier. I guess chasing the bad guy is out of the question, or do they cover running in heels in training?

Elsewhere in the wonderful world of police officer uniforms, things are not quite so glamorous. In the U.S. most female officers are forced to deal with frump, and the only makeover these uniforms are getting is that they’re using more easy care fabric. Yuck!

Postal Carriers

The U.S. mail carriers are cursed with some of the ugliest, stiffest uniforms on the face of the earth - check out the photos. We don’t see any significant fashion makeovers coming for them in the near future, unfortunately. We did notice they have actually used a little bit of cotton for breathability in their fabrics now, instead of the 100% polyester of yesteryear.

I guess this is all part and parcel in this industry, as Fedex uniforms and UPS uniforms are nothing to write home about either

Sports Uniforms

Retro is in for all U.S. major league sports’ uniforms. NFL teams in particular this past year sported throwback logos and colors. While most were pretty sporty in our opinion, we have to say the Denver Bronco’s rated #1 in the ugliest throwback uniforms in football, followed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

If you’re a sports fashionista, feel free to check out the official NFL shop – to get your football fashion.

Nursing Uniforms

Many of the starched white uniforms and prim hats have gone the way of the Nehru jacket – gone, but not forgotten. Instead comfort has taken front and center stage in medical fashion, and more people in this profession are choosing the ultra comfortable scrub like uniforms of their surgical team counterparts.

One trend we like in nursing uniforms, standard white has been replaced with colorful designs and playful patterns. One popular website even offers annual collections for nursing uniforms - Scrubs in Fashion!

Hotel Employees

Businesslike, that’s all we can say about hotel uniforms in the more upscale chain hotels. But lately we’ve noticed a little touch of fashion being introduced into the mix. In fact, many chains work with custom uniform designers like Top Hat Imagewear to design uniforms that reflect their brand image.

If we had to sum up uniform fashion trends, we can truthfully say, they’ve come a long way, baby. But in our opinion, many professions, particularly in the service industry, have a ways to go. While it may not be every fashion designers dream to enter the uniform industry straight from design school, it’s certainly a fashion field that could use some fleshing out!