Decoding the dress code
Company uniforms speak volumes about rank, culture, and (let's be honest) style.
by Kate Bonamici

(FORTUNE Magazine) - QUAD/GRAPHICS CEO LOOK Everyone from the CEO to plant workers wears "Quad blues." Late founder Harry V. Quadracci implemented the dress code in 1993 to remind all employees that they are production workers.

FABRIC Though the pants are identical, plant workers wear sturdier shirts made with polyester, while office types wear cotton dress shirts.

VERDICT "I'm impressed," says Jarvis. "It's current and egalitarian, a revolutionary thing for the workplace."

BRONSON HEALTHCARE R.N. LOOK Like many hospitals, Bronson went casual in the 1980s, but debuted a code in 2000 to clarify rank: Nurses wear white tunics, aides wear teal, and cleaning staff, burgundy.

PANTS With the redesign, Bronson added extra pockets to basic scrub pants for holding phones, notes, and tools.

VERDICT "Slightly generic but nice. If I were a male nurse, I wouldn't want to wear the green pants," says Herman.

MARRIOTT Doorman LOOK Hotel uniforms haven't changed much since a century ago, when they took style cues from military designs to connote respect and authority.

HAT Based on an Army forage cap with a bell crown.

COAT The contrasting cuffs and collar are 19th-century military; the covered placket is a modern twist.

VERDICT Herman isn't a big fan. "It's right out of a catalog, and it has no shape!"

STARBUCKS Barista LOOK This epitomizes the '90s DIY trend: Starbucks supplies the apron; employees wear their own gear underneath.

HAT An add-on in places like New York City, where food service workers must cover their hair.

APRON Distinctive Starbucks green turns employees into brand builders. Little-known fact: Highly trained Coffee Masters get black aprons.

VERDICT Herman loves the "friendly" color, pointing out that before Starbucks most coffee shops fell back on coffee-bean brown.

Stan Herman is a famed uniform designer (FedEx, JetBlue).

Peter Jarvis consults for film, TV, and the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Correction: This story misspelled the name of Peter Dervis. Top of page