• Steven Heller

When Uniformity Was Hip

Whether a beautician, manicurist, cashier, cosmetician, waitress, maid or nurse, the 1930s were a time when women’s uniforms — and so, uniformity — were hip, or at least proscribed and expected. Uniforms were crisp, somewhat sexy and decidedly identifiable. Of course, uniforms are still in vogue as pieces of wearable branding. Some are more elaborate (and better made) than others and certain rules apply to how they’re worn. World War II, with women working in heavy industry, set trends in motion that impact today’s uniforms — depending on where one works, today they are a lot more casual than the selection below. (Here’s a great website devoted to women’s WW II work fashions.)


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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →

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