Whether workwear can be stylish depends on whether you are referring to PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) or simply clothes you wear to work. It is unlikely there will be any rush on the catwalks of Milan or Paris to show the new collection of designer couture in workwear if PPE is what you are thinking about. By it’s very nature PPE clothing has to be practical and functional with a particular emphasis on health and safety for the wearer. Thus it has limitations, embellishments that might cause and accident or present a hazard are out of the question and as it is often seen as utility wear there is little or no expectation for the garment to be trendy or fashionable, functionality and practicality are greater issues. Strangely, some designers may use PPE wear as an inspiration for a collection. Overalls, dungarees and work boots often make appearances in fashion shows and many a poor art student has creatively customised a donkey jacket or adapted various high visibility clothing into something resembling skiwear when paired with moon boots and a muff or scarf. However, on the job and in context these makeovers are inappropriate and have no place. There may be improvements to workwear as technology develops new fabrics and this may affect the design of some pieces but despite innovations they will remain PPE and may perhaps be sported by outdoor types for activities that require well insulated, waterproof, lightweight, high visibility clothing like hill walkers, hikers and ramblers. So, it may not be ‘stylish’ but compared to the sort of prices you would pay for similar clothing from a retail outlet specialising in outdoor wear it is certainly affordable.
For workwear that is not PPE, there may not be the range of patterns and designs that are available on the high street but there are wonderful designers providing the types of clothing most popularly in demand for the workplace. Practical, easy care items that can be co-ordinated to give a cohesive look to a company establish an identity for them and promote a professional image are readily available. Workwear, when provided by an employer for free cannot really be criticised too badly. They have to find clothing that fits both genders, is available in a range sizes and will look well on any age group. These aren’t often a consideration for individuals when shopping for themselves; the individual has only to consider their personal taste and budget. Often the workwear appears boring when compared to the styles in vogue being worn on the street but they are made from excellent quality materials, often are part of a designer collection, are well cut and stitched and…in their field very stylish and affordable. By limiting their ranges to corporate clothing and/or workwear the companies can keep costs lower and pass these savings on to their customers. Also the amount of units they can shift in bulk orders allows them to offer discounts to customers with large orders, again making them more affordable than buying from high street chain stores that have to follow trends and can carry only that season’s stock.