Business clothes or work wear, the clothes worn by a great portion of the population, is rarely written about. However, the history of this does deserve some attention, since it is inextricably bound up with social issues of the day. Diana de Marley, made an intriguing review of corporate wear and Staff uniforms for the professionals and artisans throughout the twentieth century.
The battle was on between frock coats and top hats versus lounge suits and bowlers hats, as individuals picked their company clothing. She stated that following the First World War most professional work wear was black, so many people were in mourning, however throughout the gray suits became more common.
The Brief coat gradually replaced the frock coat, and at the same time the sofa lawsuit became more popular among the working class. They wanted to wear suits, even when they had been shoddy. The brief coat and pants were the modern variant of the hip length coat and knee breeches which they had been wearing since the seventeenth century. The lounge suit had none of the hassle of long frock coats, so the employees adopted it in great numbers to this extent that black couch suits were approved as Socialist suits.
The male staff had to wear black suits and the girls black dresses with high necks. Following the War in the Twenties the women were permitted white blouses, black cardigans and black stripes. The guys still had black suits. This was typical of corporate uniforms for big retailers of product at the moment.
A terrific many uniforms followed style. The women working for Heinz wore long striped blue dresses with gigot sleeves, white aprons, and big white caps to cover their hair. During the twenties staff uniforms in food factories in Spirited Away Merchandise shifted to shorter skirts and reduced waists, and at the Thirties that the waists went up and the hems went down within their return to a more feminine appearance. It put companies to lots of expense, but employees did not like to seem dated when the cinema made them more aware of changes in vogue.
The Great Western Railway prided itself on its own smartness and looks, which characterized how many companies, anticipated their employees to represent the corporate image. The GWR rule book when on duty be neat in appearance, and where provided, wear uniform, badge and number.
Recently, we now see more emphasis on corporate clothes and work wear linked to the service industry, where the corporate image and brand consciousness plays a more important role, and the understanding of the business to its clients is more important, reinforcing the need for classic corporate wear.