Beauty Uniforms aka Dinner Ladies on counter

After my Love Letter to Beauty Departments earlier this month, I’ve spent quite a lot of time in department stores. 

Beauty Halls are an ever-changing machine, space is at a premium and brands spend a fortune on installations and keeping things fresh. Selfridges changes its counters more frequently than M&S rearrange their food department.

So here’s my question: why don’t they do something for their poor members of staff stuck in outdated, polyester, 80s uniforms that rather than scream ‘Hi Lovely Customer! Respect me, trust me. I’m a professional!’, pathetically weep ‘Lord Have Mercy I hate this uniform please don’t look at me.’.

Years ago I worked for a well-known brand for about 6 weeks. This particular brand has the theme of red running through their marketing/uniform. In my time with the company I wore my uniform maybe three times. It was always ‘at the cleaners’. Bad Caroline. I couldn’t do it. I would turn up for work in a fitted head-to-toe black suit with red lips and nails and a sleek ponytail every day, and told the staff they could do the same. Bad Manager Caroline. The department manager and store loved it. Our sales went up. Staff were noticeably happier in their work. And more comfortable. In our uniforms we looked like tomatoes. Sweaty, polyester-armpit tomatoes. No.

Tabards. Oh tabards. The less said about them the better. Burn them. Leave them with the dinner ladies, at least they protect their clothes from kids throwing food. No danger of that with moisturisers. Customers can be awkward but they generally refrain from throwing a product at you. 

Therapists. When did it become au fait to stick us in these things:

Look at this lovely lady. Stuck in a wraparound-tabard-from-hell and polyester elastic-waisted trousers. Sweaty, uncomfortable, hot, ugly. 

Which brings me to……

When I was in Harvey Nichols last week, the new department was shiny and brand spanking new. Brands had used real innovation with LED lights, massive installations with video content, iPads, everything modern. And in the middle of it was Clinique. 

Please, for the love of reality, ditch the white lab coats. Unless of course you’ve started employing lab technicians or doctors without telling us.

Although I suppose it could be worse. You could be an air stewardess in the 70s.

*this post was inspired by two separate conversations with buying directors from the biggest department stores in London. It’s not just me being a grumpy ex-counter girl. 😉

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