HSBC has recently introduced what it calls a “more casual” uniform for its branch staff, including jumpsuits and jeans, “menopause-friendly” clothing, as well as “ethnic wear”. The uniforms aim to make staff immediately visible to customers and also signal a clear corporate message of a friendly, approachable high street bank.
Last year, Virgin Airlines announced that staff could wear any version they wish of its Vivienne Westwood-designed staff uniforms, giving space for personal expression of gender identity.
Such changes hint at the difficulties involved in working out what to wear at work, especially for women working in offices or in customer—and client-facing roles. Without a uniform—be that employer-designed or a female version of the traditional work suit—women have often had to forge their own identity at work.