October 2016

A brief history of uniform and how it evolved

Uniform delivers a message. It says that we are one and we belong to one place to achieve a common objective. But do you know how it came to being? How it evolved? And how it started in every sphere of profession?

In this article, we will look different walks of life and go back years to discover the history of the uniforms. No matter who you are, a student who is still studying in school, professional who is working in an organization or a chef who needs to wear his apron every single day to cook delicious foods or a police who has taken the responsibility to protect the public from any sort of harassment or crime, history of your uniform will help you connect with a bigger picture.

Let’s start with the uniform of school and as we go along we will look at different uniforms from historical perspective.

History of school uniform

In ancient times, students were sent to gurus for learning things in a small institution. They used to wear robes of different colours signifying different specialities of subjects. In Europe, students used to go to Catholic churches and they used to wear robes of different colours and caps. In Asia & UAE, it was more ancient. Students used to wear white or saffron robe for going to school. These were the first uniform of students back then. Time went by. And the robes and caps evolved into shirts & pants for boys and shirts & skirts for girls. Back then, uniform used to signify structure, unity and discipline. By inheriting the same values, every school now encourages its students to wear uniform so that they feel united, structured, disciplined and understand the bigger picture of all – the common objective of learning and expanding their horizons. The use of robe was started in ancient cultures even before the birth of Christ. The first recorded history of uniform found in 1222 in England. At that time, students used to wear robe like outfit which was called “cappa clausa”. After that, since 16th century schools in Europe, Asia and UAE began to appreciate wearing uniform in school.

History of Chefs’ uniform

Chefs’ uniform is not as ancient as the uniform of schools. Cooks who used to prepare foods were actually house-maids or the household and they used to wear normal clothes. But normal clothes were not useful to cooks if one wanted to prevent the daily hazards of cooking. So the need of a new uniform evolved. Back in the mid-19th century, the tradition of chef’ first uniform got started. A popular French chef of that time, Marie-Antoine Careme felt the need of designing a new type of cloth that could support the cooks and could help them avoid hazards. It was also being said that he didn’t invent the whole thing from scratch, but he just designed the clothes current chefs wear. The torques was already being used at that time, but he redesigned it to honour the chef. The white colour was chosen so that all chefs can encourage cleanliness and they could understand the value of customer satisfaction. Later, master chef George Auguste Escoffier then popularized the uniform in Europe and London.

History of Police Uniform

Police needs a uniform. Why? Because that uniform doesn’t only help police realize their motto, their oath to protect the public from any harm, but it also gives public a message that they are safe. So it’s important to know the history of police uniform. Let’s go back to the times when it all started. On 1st June, 1956, the first Dubai Police force started with just 29 members. Now it evolved to be the most progressive of all Arabic Police forces. With 15000 strong police officials, now Dubai Police Force is serving more than 2 million people. The standard uniform of Dubai police is olive green shirt, olive green trousers and black boots. Women officials wear a headscarf because Islam is the official religion of the state. If you notice, you would see that the uniform that Dubai Police wears signifies the culture, the tradition and the common beliefs of UAE. And as they are the protectors of the civilians, it’s expected that these uniforms will convey the message of peace, harmony and justice.

In the final analysis

So what did you discover through the history of school uniform, chefs’ uniform and police uniform? Why chefs’ uniform is similar in every country irrespective of the cuisines chefs are cooking? Why school uniform is different in different schools? Why police uniform is being created while keeping in mind the culture, common belief and religion?

Let’s investigate and understand the reasons inherent behind these questions.

  • Chefs are creators of food: Chefs cook foods not only for the customers, but also for their family members. And they face the same hazards no matter what their beliefs or style of cooking is. So, naturally, when they wear a uniform, they choose the same which are being used by all the chefs all over the word. It’s says that food binds us, but more than food what binds is what we wear.
  • Schools are creators of ideals: Every school has their own beliefs, traditions and objectives for their students. When they design a uniform, they keep in mind what kind of future citizen they want to create and accordingly they design the school uniform. As every school is different in perceiving the idealism, the uniform differs too in style, colour and expression.
  • Police are protectors of civilians: Police uniforms are the symbols of glory. And the uniform they wear signifies the tradition, culture and regional beliefs of the country they serve. So according to regional values and culture, the uniform differs.

From the above analysis we may conclude that there may be diversity in the uniforms; however, uniform binds us in an invisible chord, and that is the chord of unity and humanity.

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