Choosing a uniform for your company’s personnel can be a surprisingly emotional undertaking. After all, how your employees dress is inseparable from customer contact and how your brand is presented in the day-to-day running of your operation.

But on another level, selecting professional apparel is a purely functional exercise. The clothing you choose should be appropriate to the industry your business is in and, even more importantly, it should help your employees help themselves rather than making their tasks more difficult. A few basic guidelines can be useful in navigating the various choices available.

Thinking Fabrics: It’s A Material World.

Luckily, the fabrics used in uniforms don’t run the spectrum that’s found in the world of retail and fashion. The type of fabric you select will generally conform to the type of work your personnel are engaged in, as well as where you’re comfortable on the cost spectrum.

The least expensive choice is the polyester-cotton blends. These fabrics maintain good appearance under normal wear and are available in various blends. Poly-cotton blends keep a neat, well-pressed appearance throughout the workday and are appropriate for most tasks. How long such garments will last depends on how hard personnel are on their clothes.

The next level up is 100% cotton. All-cotton garments add marginally to your initial uniform investment, but such fabrics will not “pill” like poly-cotton blends. Additionally, cotton is known to be a more breathable, comfortable material and is naturally hypoallergenic.

A final category includes fabrics treated for flame resistance. Such fabrics are more expensive still, but should be used in specialty situations in which exposure to heat or open flame is a job hazard. Poly-cotton blends will melt under extreme heat, and cotton fabrics will burn.

All fabric selections considered for professions that may have hazardous environments should be chosen based on OSHA requirements for safety in the workplace. The requirements will need to meet ANSI, UL and NFPA standards for those industries as suggested by best practices from OSHA. In these situations, your Miller’s route representative is knowledgeable in how to handle specific regulatory uniform needs.

Match The Clothes To The Task.

This may sound basic. Come to think of it, it is. The clothes you select should conform to the type of work the wearer does. Various trades and professions have established standards that usually have sound reasons, such as the white attire typically found in professional kitchens.

Industrial and highway workers, for example, should be dressed in jeans or polyester pants, depending on work conditions. Those engaged in paving roads, for example, may need jeans. However, consider whether or not they typically get asphalt stains on their clothing; in the latter case, poly pants may be preferable.

Construction workers ordinarily require cargo pants, since they need the storage space for various tools and implements. County workers typically are dressed in fluorescent or high-visibility colors that use reflective material to increase visibility on the job.

Workers engaged in factory work often favor cotton uniforms for comfort. Mechanics need flaps instead of exposed buttons, since the latter can damage a vehicle’s finish when the wearer is leaning over a quarter panel.

Office workers are usually best dressed in dress shirts or polo shirts, along with khakis. You may want to consider both short sleeve and long sleeve options to accommodate seasonality.

To Brand Or Not To Brand.

The use of a company logo, emblem or patch is a personal preference. Your employees are brand ambassadors, so it should be remembered that their presentation reflects directly on a customer’s perceptions on your company and brand.

Company logos, emblems and patches are often used to boost morale and enhance brand loyalty. And even if you choose not to have a logo on your uniform, a regular, professional appearance will convey positive perceptions about your brand.

For these reasons, it is also advisable to make certain your clothing inventory is always up to your standards for wearability and appearance. A Miller’s route representative can help lead you through the various uniform options available, and select apparel that perfectly reflects your company’s brand.